Classic of the Week: A Taste of Honey (1961)

A Taste of Honey is a 1961 British film adaptation of the 1958 play of the same name by Shelagh Delaney. The film is directed by Tony Richardson, who also directed the play on stage.

The film follows a teenage girl named Jo and her mother Hellen as they moved their few belongings across Manchester on a bus. Jo’s mum is an alcoholic who becomes engaged to a much younger and wealthier man. Jo meets an older fellow who works on ships and they eventually fall in love and and have sex, before having to set sail. He assures he’d be back soon, but never comes back. She ends up moving into a ramshackle home with a gay friend and finds out she is pregnant.

This film is so realistic, you almost feel as if you’re watching a documentary and not something fictional. The acting is great from all the main stars, but much of the movie is so slow, it’s boring. This is an extremely depressing film as well, mostly just sad scenes and a few somewhat happy ones. Although the acting is superb, the main characters are all hard to like. Helen is a heavy drinking, money spending and self centered lady, Jo complains too much and ends up with a baby as a teen, Jimmy is far too nice at first, then gets Jo pregnant and leaves, Helen’s fiancé is a jerk and hates Jo and Geoffrey (Jo’s roommate) is not too bright and far too sweet.

Even though this a a rather dull film, it is still relevant in this day in time with today’s “Teen Moms,” only without much of the trash that’s seen on TV and in movies. This movie is raw and straightforward. It shows the life of a teenage mother who is forced to decide wether to have the baby or not.

I cannot imagine this story ever being a stage production, because it was hard to sit through much of this film without yawning. Despite this, it is a powerful learning tool in the life of a teen parent and the struggles they go through. There is not one ounce of humor or glory, only short lived romance and much extremely heartbreaking scenes. This movie was controversial fr the time, being the use of single mothers, homosexuality, inter-racial kissing and underage parenting. It was banned in several countries, despite bing a critical success and award winner.

If you want a movie about underage motherhood that’s more uplifting try Juno. If yo want want a serious one on the subject, try this one, you’ll either love it or hate it. You’d think with such a strong message and raw storyline, this film would have been better to me, but I was thoroughly bored throughout. The writers and directors could have done a better job with this piece. 18 & up 3/5

Classic of the Week: Alfie (1966)

 

Alfie is a 1966 British romantic comedy drama film directed by Lewis Gilbert. It is an adaptation by Bill Naughton of his own play of the same name. It says Michael Caine. The film tells the story of a young womanizing man who lives a self centered life, for own enjoyment, until things force him to ask himself about his selfishness, loneliness and his priorities. He cheats on numerous women through the film, treats them with disrespect and calls them each “It.” He uses them purely for sex and private occasions. The Film breaks the forth wall with Alfie talking directly at the camera and arguing about his actions.

This was the first film to receive the “suggest for mature audiences” rating in the United States by the Motion Picture Association of America, which turned into PG or “Parental Guidance.”

Alfie Elkins is a good looking Cockney chauffeur that enjoys women just a little too much, but refuses commitment to all of them. He has an affair with a married woman, gets his girlfriend pregnant, but refuses to marry her and bans him from seeing their son after he is born. Alfie becomes attached to his son, but his refusal to marry his son’s mother Gilda, causes her to break up with him and marry an older man named Humphrey, a bus conductor who is willing to call Malcolm his own son.

After spending a period of time at a rehabilitation house for tubular shadows on his lugs, depressed he becomes friends with another patient, Harry and his wife Lily. He then begins an affair with her while her husband is away, after be released from the center. Drives her home and has a one night stand.

Later, Alfie stops and picks up Annie, a young hitchhiker, who wants to turn her life around in London and moves in with him. She is still in love with a man she left behind. Shen ends up doing all his chores. He gets mad and kicks her out, but the regrets it. Around the same time, Lily informs him that she is pregnant from the one night stand and she plans on having an illegal abortion.

He encounters many misfortunes like these throughout the entire film. He leaves a woman, finds another, over and over, gets two pregnant, leaves both and finds he is in love with one woman, only to find out she has been seeing a younger man. After all the women abandon Alfie, he left wonder about his life decisions.

This was a very adult film for time period and certainly for the “suggested for mature audiences” classification, although it still has a PG rating today, much like other that should be PG-13 like The Graduate and Annie Hall, but that was before the birth of PG-13. They aren’t too mature for an adult rating, but certainly for a family type rating. Lots of adult subjects throughout the film from, affairs, sex, abortion, sleeping around, drinking , smoking and mild violence. So this is certainly not a film for young children.

Michael Caine is outstanding as Allie Elkins, far better than Jude Law in the 2004 remake (although that version is far more adult). His cockney accent and and how he portrays all the main female actresses are great to, all unique but all lead on by Alfie.

This is certainly not a date movie, because the lead character doesn’t find true. He sleeps around because he can’t commit to one woman. Unlike in The Graduate, where even though Benjamin Braddock has an affair with a much older married woman, he gets forgiven and gets love in the end. This one doesn’t start or end happily. Both films have excellent soundtracks, this one being jazz musician Sonny Rollins and the theme sung by Cher in the US version and Millicent Martin in the UK release. Cilla Black and Dionne Warwick also recorded the song right after Cher did.

Sure a film about a womanizing young man may not sound like a good motion picture, but Lewis Gilbert directed this story so well, making it both pleasant and unpleasant, with sexy jazz music and sad theme song and beautiful London. It’s not laugh out loud funny, but more sassy and tongue in cheek humor, some that only people that watch a lot of British stuff or just Brits may get, since Caine talks in a cockney accent. This not just one of the best British films, but best ever. Clever and fantastic. I say watch this one first before you watch the remake. 13 & up 4.5/5

Classic of the Week: A Hard Day’s Night (1964)

A Hard Day’s Night is a 1964 comedy film directed by Richard Lester, starring British Invasion band The Beatles – John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr- during the height of Beatlemania. The film follows the band after they are swarmed by fans while boarding a train to London. The band get into mischief running from crowds of screaming fans, they meet schoolgirls on the train and many other good and bad people.

This is fun and humorous filled film, that any fan of musicals, The Beatles, or both will enjoy. It is filled familiar songs to sing along to, a song well as an easy to follow plot that’s never boring. This is a highly entertaining film that anyone will enjoy. You’ll love the laugh out loud humor, the music, the scenery, fashion, accents, everything. It takes you on a train ride with the most famous band of all time.

The band perform live in one scene. They weren’t the best actors, because of course they were (Ringo and Paul still are) mainly musicians. They had acting teaching prior to the filming of this movie. They were only told how they should act in scenes. They weren’t horrible at acting, but that’s not that’s not really their fault.

This is such an iconic film, not just for Beatlemania, the British Invasion, but for music in general. All four members were alike in way, but different too. They had a unique style in their music, fashion sense, hairstyles and Liverpool accents. They are still loved to this day from all ages.

This movie captures the Beatles outstandingly. You see the funny, silly and clever sides of The Fab Four. There is smoking, occasional drinking, flirting and a tad bit of sexual innuendos. Overall this is a fantastic film that everyone should watch at least once in their lives. 7+ 5/5

 

 

1917 (2019)

1917 is a 2019 epic war film directed by Sam Mendes. The film stars George MacKay, Dean-Charles Chapman, Mark Strong, Richard Madden, Colin Firth, Andrew Scott and Benedict Cumberbatch. The film is based in part on a story told to Mendes by his grandfather, Alfred Mendes.

The film tells the story of two young British soldiers during World War I who are given a mission to call off an attack doomed to fail soon after the German head to the Hindenburg Line during Operation Alberich in 1917.

This film’s effects, the cinematography, scenery, costumes and music is outstanding. This movie is hard-hitting, like a punch in the stomach. It starts out rather slow, then gradually picks up, but the majority of this film is action packed. It captures British troops during World War I, with such raw and shocking emotion. Everything about this motion picture is extraordinary. You feel the characters’ emotions. You get scared, nervous, angry and sad.

George MacKay is fantastic as Lance Corporal William Schofield. Dean Charles Chapman is great as Lance Corporal Tom Blake, though his character is short lived. Mark Strong does a fine job as Captain Smith, Andrew Scott is good as Lieutenant Leslie and Richard Madden is also good as Lieutenant Joseph Blake, though his part is brief.

Whether this film is really based on a true story or not, it is still magnificent. Even if the film is only partly factual or not true at all, it is still a realistic look at British soldiers during the First World War. It shows the extreme violence, the killing, the shooting and bombing, the deaths, the life of the troops. You gain knowledge of how it was during that time in history. This film portrays the horrors of the war perfectly.

True or not and at exactly two hours long, this is a very important war film, next to others like Schindler’s List and All Quiet on the Western Front. It is one that should be watched on the big screen, to get the full effect and take in every emotion. This gripping movie is not one to be missed. It isn’t the happiest film, but it isn’t the saddest either, it has its depressing moments and happier ones too. The ending could have been different in my opinion, instead of just Schofield looking at picture, the end, but that is really all I’d change, everything else is perfect. Powerful and moving. 18+ 4.5/5