HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Godzilla Singular Point
Ace of Aces
Innocents, The
Beast and the Magic Sword, The
Last Hard Men, The
Found Footage Phenomenon, The
Night Trap
Skinny Tiger, Fatty Dragon
Benediction
Nezha Reborn
Evil Toons
Worst Person in the World, The
Whirlpool
Hunter Will Get You
Superman/Batman: Apocalypse
Revolver
Men, The
Parallel Mothers
Sadness, The
Bloody New Year
Faye
Body Count
Spider-Man: No Way Home
'Round Midnight
Wild Men
Barry & Joan
Wake Up Punk
Twin, The
Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy
One of These Days
Lift to the Scaffold
Savage Dawn
Rest in Pieces
Innocents in Paris
We're All Going to the World's Fair
Beyond the Door 3
Jules et Jim
Love Jones
Saint-Narcisse
Souvenir Part II, The
   
 
Newest Articles
Little Cat Feat: Stephen King's Cat's Eye on 4K UHD
La Violence: Dobermann at 25
Serious Comedy: The Wrong Arm of the Law on Blu-ray
DC Showcase: Constantine - The House of Mystery and More on Blu-ray
Monster Fun: Three Monster Tales of Sci-Fi Terror on Blu-ray
State of the 70s: Play for Today Volume 3 on Blu-ray
The Movie Damned: Cursed Films II on Shudder
The Dead of Night: In Cold Blood on Blu-ray
Suave and Sophisticated: The Persuaders! Take 50 on Blu-ray
Your Rules are Really Beginning to Annoy Me: Escape from L.A. on 4K UHD
A Woman's Viewfinder: The Camera is Ours on DVD
Chaplin's Silent Pursuit: Modern Times on Blu-ray
The Ecstasy of Cosmic Boredom: Dark Star on Arrow
A Frosty Reception: South and The Great White Silence on Blu-ray
You'll Never Guess Which is Sammo: Skinny Tiger and Fatty Dragon on Blu-ray
Two Christopher Miles Shorts: The Six-Sided Triangle/Rhythm 'n' Greens on Blu-ray
Not So Permissive: The Lovers! on Blu-ray
Uncomfortable Truths: Three Shorts by Andrea Arnold on MUBI
The Call of Nostalgia: Ghostbusters Afterlife on Blu-ray
Moon Night - Space 1999: Super Space Theater on Blu-ray
Super Sammo: Warriors Two and The Prodigal Son on Blu-ray
Sex vs Violence: In the Realm of the Senses on Blu-ray
What's So Funny About Brit Horror? Vampira and Bloodbath at the House of Death on Arrow
Keeping the Beatles Alive: Get Back
The Punk Rock Movie: Out of the Blue on Blu-ray
   
 
  In the Bleak Midwinter Why Must The Show Go On?
Year: 1995
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Stars: Richard Briers, Hetta Charnley, Joan Collins, Nicholas Farrell, Mark Hadfield, Gerard Horan, Celia Imrie, Michael Maloney, Jennifer Saunders, Julia Sawalha, John Sessions, Ann Davies, James D. White, Robert Hines
Genre: ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: It has been a tough year. For actor Joe Harper (Michael Maloney), unemployment has been a slow death, and his agent (Joan Collins) is dangling the chance to be in an expensive science fiction trilogy in Hollywood before him, which is the only thing keeping him going. Well, not all, for as December arrives he has a bright idea: there's an unused church in the small English village of Hope that he could really do something with, put on a play and take the role of the Dane as he and every other stage actor would love to do. It's the opportunity of a lifetime, and he may be manufacturing it himself, but who cares? The small profits they make will keep him going...

That and the boost to the artistic soul, naturally, and if nothing else writer and director Kenneth Branagh was aiming to nourish creativity, not to mention rewarding it, even if it was only for himself and his associates making this project. Compared to his larger productions it was a tiny effort, shot in black and white and more or less confined to the single location of the church, but for some fans who appreciated but might not have loved his full-length Hamlet, it was one of the gems in his filmography, a sincere yet twinkly tribute to his profession and all the variety of talents who enter into it, no matter what their foibles, eccentricities or to be honest their levels of ability.

The ensemble cast did not include Branagh himself, perhaps he felt it might strike a tad too close to home had he placed himself in the Maloney role, but it did feature a number of familiar faces, though some may be of the "Oh, it's that guy, whotsisname?" degree of fame. Nevertheless, snaring Joan Collins, probably the best known performer here, to play a light comedy role and prove she didn't need to aim for the camp and glitzy to be effective was something to be welcomed, though she was offscreen for the bulk of the middle section where the players are rehearsing. Not that anyone here let the side down, they obviously every one had a great affection for their characters.

It was plain to see why, as they were essentially paying tribute to themselves throughout, and as we know from countless chat shows there's nothing a thespian likes more than a well delivered showbiz anecdote. In the Bleak Midwinter (also known more mildly as A Winter's Tale) was more or less one long set of showbiz anecdotes, which you had to assume had been inspired by something Branagh had heard about or even experienced, and the portrayal of actors as a collection of egos so enormous they can barely take their own weight, rendering them fragile in the face of any knocks they may suffer despite their bluff and bluster, rang very true. You could imagine there was a lot of channelling going on from the stars, placing what they knew about the profession and those who inhabit it front and centre.

Once Joe has assembled his cast and his set and costume designer (Celia Imrie) who goes by the "only in the movies" name of Fadge, he sets about whipping them into shape, including as they do his Claudius (Richard Briers), a waspish old relic clinging on to the theatre because he can't think of anything else to do, a Gertrude (John Sessions) determined to essay the role as a pantomime dame, or Shakespearean equivalent, a short-sighted Ophelia (Julia Sawalha) who seems like possible romantic interest in real life until she mentions a husband, and so forth, with others playing multiple roles in support. They helped paper over the cracks in what was frankly a contrived script, more the result of a screenwriting course than something truly inspired by the spark of ingenuity, but as everyone was so warm and likeable, you didn't care, it was a pleasure to spend time in their company with their barely admitted mental instabilities just about the only thing keeping them going aside from their hard won camaraderie. It may have been a trifle, but trifles are always sweet. Music by Jimmy Yuill.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 1312 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Mary Sibley
  Desbris M
  Sheila Reeves
Darren Jones
Paul Smith
Enoch Sneed
   

 

Last Updated: