Capturing Britishness


  1. Stinger839
  2. _kelly

As a non-UK viewer very interested in the culture o'er there, this list highlights British films which capture more modern UK cultures. Originally designed to include all of the UK, I will be pruning this list to be specific to British sensibilities, and as my knowledge of UK films grows, I will start new lists for each region. Still, I'm sure there will be some overlapping.

Very new list, and very much in need of suggestions. Special thanks to McKittrick for his input.

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  Stinger839's Rating My Rating
1
Play for Today: Nuts in May (TV SHOW) 1976,  Unrated)
Play for Today: Nuts in May (TV SHOW)
I'm American but I have a very strong interest in UK pop culture and British comedy to the exclusion of most American work. Because I have some increased familiarity with Britishry, I still got much of this movie that would be lost on non-Englanders. Specifically, this is character-based comedy wherein the primary moments of humor are awkward everyday situations.

Keith and Candice Marie are utterly unique film characters but startlingly real characterizations of a group of British tourists. The film focuses on rubbish camping holidays, which are common vacations for the British. If one grew up with rubbish camping holidays on tiny UK islands (like Russell Brand did), I'm sure the humor is doubled, but just based on listening to the holiday misadventures of a few British citizens (especially Karl Pilkington's), I found loads to laugh about.

Those not interested in subtle humor or character pieces will find this dull. I do think the film requires some real-life based reference points to get the full comedy from it.
2
This Is England 2007,  Unrated)
This Is England
A fantastic film that deftly juggles several themes, and delivers stunning well developed characters. The acting is great especially for the young ages of some talent, the scenes have an undeniable realism to them, and the human drama is portrayed at the perfect level of ambiguity which exactly mirrors emotions and conflict in real life.

The film also captures the era well. From production design to the characters as commentary on their generations, few dramas deliver such solid and real situations. This film is an interesting immersion into a wholly unique culture, and the favor the director does for us is that one needs only observe to understand.
3
Shaun of the Dead 2004,  R)
Shaun of the Dead
The best satirical genre movie about a movie genre - as classic as Young Frankenstein or Spinal Tap.
4
Hot Fuzz 2007,  R)
5
The Zombie Diaries 2006,  R)
The Zombie Diaries
A completely handheld zombie movie that I like. How often does someone who so much hates the handheld horror style and is so critical of anything zombie movie remotely like a movie done this way? Not since "Diary of the Dead". [REC] did NOT meet my standards by any means. I might get accused of bias towards slow zombies and non-linear storytelling, but both of those things, done right, makes for a better film than a decent linear verite with fast zombies. Leave full real-time verite for serial killer movies, and fast zombies for cheap-o apocalyptic scifi thrillers or horror genre parodies.

There are cooler zombie shots in this than in "Diary of the Dead". Obviously the closeups of Diary were better, but the hordes in this scare and shock like the original "Night". This movie has one of the best nightshot scenes in horror film (when the farm-camp becomes unraveled), definitely the best indie work I've seen (yeah, I like the angle and orchestration **way** better than the ending of "Blair Witch").
For zombie lovers, a must see that captures the strangeness and insanity of surviving in a zombie world. Don't know why they're re-making [REC] into Quarantine instead of just putting this movie, as is, out in American theatres ('tis a British film).
6
Match Point 2005,  R)
7
Withnail and I 1987,  R)
Withnail and I
Brilliant dialogue.
8
Last Orders 2002,  R)
9
Sexy Beast 2000,  R)
10
A Very British Gangster 2008,  Unrated)
A Very British Gangster
This is one of the best filmed documentaries I've seen since Winged Migration. The shots here make the film appear as a narrative piece, and the film-maker interjects himself just enough to remind us that this is the "cameras allowed" side of these people's lives.

Thoroughly intriguing portrayal of this crime family and of the social and political functioning of Manchester.

A film that proves reality is more compelling and creative than fiction. A must see for anyone.
11
Eden Lake 2008,  R)
Eden Lake
The introductory car scene is cinematically identical to Funny Games.

On deciding to confront the kids, "If everyone said that, where would we be?" Leave it to a fuckin Englishman to be so damn... English about it, almost deserves it. Still, with this kind of proactive approach, I'm expecting a fighting couple for a chance.

I've gotta do a hit by hit analysis as I've the browser open; expect many SPOILERS. First mistake was to be sorry about the dog; if he had acted all hard and used it as an opportunity to pound the lead little bastard, they might have stopped out of respect for equally reckless ego-driven violence. And then once they get the car, "I can't see!", right so how about slowing it down a bit; they couldn't catch a slow car on foot right away.

The knifing scene: and my case for keeping guns legal stands strong; I'd rather a few quick trigger happy caps than this kiddie medieval torture shite. And are we just NOW checking our mobile service bars to concoct a clever Blackberry trick? The youngest kid Cooper is the same actor who plays the central character in This is England and he is clearly retreading dramatic territory with this scene which I'm sure the producer was thrilled to have happen.

It's always best to give up your hiding spot the moment your boyfriend yells out to you to run and the mean little kiddies all pause from their torture sesh to peer about.

Okay that is WAY too convenient for the plot to have our fleeing heroine step on a massive spike in the middle of bumfuck nowhere and cry out uncontrollably.

"Can you please just show me the way?" How about can you please just whip out your mobile and call the police?

What happens next...damn that leader kid is FUCKED.

I guess tit for tit... random screwed-overs leads to one decent break in a grotty bin. Of course Cooper gets the "oops"...sympathy scene. Am a bit annoyed at the stereotypical "battle paint" look had from the roll in the bin.

Isn't this the fence scene from Ils? (just before the heroine is "saved" by a passing car)

Wow I don't think ever before in film history has killing a kid been so restorative for the audience.

Though predictable and too clearly contrived in plot, this film is sufficiently fucked up and realistic about it to earn an extra half star.

"Most fucked up" highlight: "Is it warm?" through "I'll burn him instead", and also the ending
12
Pirate Radio (The Boat That Rocked) 2009,  R)
Pirate Radio (The Boat That Rocked)
I CANNOT believe I've forgotten/delayed this review for this long. I four star it because it is just such a fun movie. I was tempted to slice half a star off because the central character's story is uncompelling and executed to produce no emotional effect on the viewer. Instead all of the supporting characters' stories are far more intriguing and actually garner our interest for the short spots each character gets. Obviously a fantastic soundtrack, a beyond amazing cast that any lover of Brit-com will find beyond delightful, and great use of montage makes for a truly positive viewing experience. Expect many repeat views as this has enough drama worth retreading many times over for its emotional effects.

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