Monday, May 16, 2005

British Movies

In an effort to stem the tidal wave of Duff commentaries against any effort of mine to venture into political or social commentary, musings, ideologies or ramblings, I thought I best return post haste to some cultural thoughts (since that was where the blog started off).

So I was gladdened to read Norm's weekend posting on British Movies. Norm makes a brief remark that he disputed some titles as being described as British Films, and it certainly raises some issues. American money; British sentiment = British film? British cast; non-specific location (i.e. out of space) = non-British film? British writer; mostly American cast = British film? The permutations are endless. And then you have to fight against definitions of the 'style' of British films... what are the expectations? Do we want stuff that is parochial or universal?

Of course, I would say that one of the key difficulties is how much the list and response that inspired Norm's was driven by the great market forces of what is currently available on DVD - for example at HMV, as they produced the original list that so frustrated John Walsh at the Independent. As the regular brochures put out by HMV of "great movies you must own" make clear, every "must own" list is driven by what is currently hot on the market/recently released and only limitedly by what is actually excellent. I fondly recall a small booklet put out by long-since defunct magazine Neon which listed 1000 great movies to own on video (that's how long ago it was). Organised by genre, it smartly listed not only the top 10 for each genre with a must avoid, but also gave a preamble that accounted for the better stuff not available. Thus under Conspiracy Thrillers (American) its first remarks were that the list was deeply flawed: it did not have Three Days of the Condor or The Parallax View. Its unimaginable that a shop would ever admit that products it was unable to sell were actually better than what it could sell - so we're already hitting flaws in their list before we get to the detail.

Still, being a list-a-holic, I do appreciate looking over such things. Even if they all miss out one of my favourite British films Defence of the Realm. And that IS available on DVD. At less than £7.


David Duff said...

Sorry, but I 'do' culture as well.

I was a 'movie-man' for most of my life but gradually went off it in the '80s because the standards fell to 'schlock-horror' levels. I moved over to theatre, but just recently, and on a very discrinating basis, I have edged back to movies.

I would like to suggest a tighter list than the 'sainted' Norm. A list of those films you would be happy to sit through again. Suddenly, for me, at any rate, an enormous list of fims I would describe as "great", suddenly shrinks.

It's not just the quality of the films, it is the competition for time, which at my age is both diminishing and speeding up. I ask myself if really and truly I want to sit through 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' again when I could be on Lisa Rullsenberg's site making a nuisance of myself?

It's all relative, as that chap with the funny hair once said.

David Duff said...

Sorry for the typos.