Directed by Alan Clarke and broadcast on February 10th 1981 for the BBC, in England, as part of the Play For Today series.
Another of Alan Clarke’s work for television. This one was produced at the beginning of the 1980s during the period where Clarke began to be recognised internationally for his work.
The teleplay itself tells the story of a corporation who decide to outsource one of their contracts to the U.S.S.R. during the Cold War. As they work with politicians on both sides of the table to keep the story out of the press, they also try to keep the contract amid the negotiations.
It plays out through a barrage of gruelling meetings between the two companies on both sides of the table, and unfortunately it becomes a bit tiresome to get through after a while.
The story that’s being told is being done so quite well by both Clarke through his direction and the list of actors who all play their parts quite well. And while the story is quite interesting I didn’t really feel engaged as I have with much of Clarke’s other works. I think this was in part due to the rigidity of the meetings which make up the entirety of the film.
Having said that, it is a very interesting tale about how greedy capitalist chairpersons of corporations do their best to keep politicians in line in order to secure contracts which will make them lots of money. Doing so even at the expense of a) their workers, and b) the people of countries which their actions ultimately end up effecting. These themes of nuclear obliteration and the capitalist/socialist divide are quite strong throughout the film. Many of the characters profess their capitalist ideas while those on the Russian side try to keep their socialist ideologies intact throughout the negotiations. There’s even a reference to Albert Einstein near the end, quoting that there may be a winner of a third ‘World War’, but there most certainly will not be a fourth.
As the credits suggest the film is based on a book by Canadian author Charles Levinson entitled Vodka-Cola. After a bit of digging, it turns out that Levinson was a trade unionist and spent much of his life fighting against multi-national corporations. Other books he wrote include works on inflation, the pharmaceutical industry, the relation between plastics and cancer, as well as chemical warfare. Fascinating stuff and it doesn’t leave much room to wonder why Clarke chose to work with this particular piece for one of his films.
Directed by Alan Clarke and aired in its home country of the UK on television on June 13th 1967.
A short half hour piece by Alan Clarke done for British television which tells the story of a visit by a man from the social (the welfare office, the dole, etc.) to a man with learning difficulties. The man who lives at home with his brother, has just quit his job the week prior. The film descends into chaos when the older of the two decides to give the man from the social a bit of a scare.
It gets even crazier which is something I most certainly wasn’t expecting but welcomed wholeheartedly especially as it allows the viewer to really look into how Clarke directed the three actors in the piece. All three actors give wonderful performances but the the way in which Clarke’s camera gets up close and personal with the characters and really lets us into the action is something I’m sure was looked at with great regard by Clarke’s peers at that time.
The highlight of the short half hour piece in my opinion is when the older brother heads out to buy a pack of cigarettes (presumably to mock the man from the social, i.e. the man spending the money he gets from the social on a pack of cigarettes – this would be frowned upon by anyone from the upper classes) leaving the younger and mentally-handicapped brother alone with the man from the social. The lack of music, which I’m beginning to think is a trademark for Clarke, really builds up the tension between the two characters and provides a welcomed break from the dialogue-heavy action.
Being one of Clarke’s earlier films, of which I haven’t yet seen that many, it’s interesting to see how his knack for directing still managed to shine through even so early on his career. Many of his other works are indeed much better and more thawed out than this one, but for any fan of Clarke’s it’s definitely a must see.
Directed by Mike Leigh and broadcast on UK television in 1976.
These ’70s British TV dramas are wonderful. Be they comedic or melodramatic, they always portray more realism than any other from the country (and many other countries for that matter). One would think that the titular party would be the main focus of this, but the audience does not in fact even see it. Characters go back and forth from it and we hear its music but we never delve outside of Berverly’s flat (played brilliantly by Alison Steadman).
The teleplay, mostly improvised by Leigh and his actors, is wonderfully written and despite it not ending quite the way I’d have liked (though a typical one for a play of this calibre) the performances are all splendid and match up perfectly to their characters and the things that make each of them tick.
Directed by Ingmar Bergman and released in it’s home country of Sweden for Television in 1984.
After The Rehearsal is the closest I’ll ever get to seeing an Ingmar Bergman play. Much like a play (and I’m sure Bergman or someone else has already made this into a play) the film takes place in one setting, a rehearsal studio. Despite the limited setting Bergman manages to span decades and helping that along are, as per usual, three splendid performances from Bergman regulars Erland Josephson, Lena Olin and Ingrid Thulin. Josephson and Thulin spend a good portion of the film arguing in a flashback while Olin sits, unconsciously aware of the argument (the film flashes back and forth between a younger version of her character and an older version).
While it’s weird to see a Bergman film that doesn’t at least in part touch on religious themes, he does explore many other familiar themes present in most of his films – including family and marriage. The exceptional screenplay is just another in the long line of incredible screenplays from a man who is, undeniably, the greatest writer in the history of cinema.
Directed by Alan Clarke, and broadcast on the BBC in 1987 as part of it’s “Screenplay” series.
Alan Clarke is one of celluloid’s greatest assets. It’s funny because he made a dire amount of theatrical feature films and just over 60 films for television – mainly the BBC and his television work far surpasses his theatrical work even though Scum, The Firm and Made In Britain are all fascinating works that showcase his exquisite talent and masterful directing abilities. You don’t get much better than Road though.
Broadcast on TV in 1987, Road is an adaptation of the famous first play of Jim Cartwright and it shines through unequivocally throughout the 67 minute run time. The characters walk through the streets addressing the camera as if they are on stage but they’re not. In cinema it’s sparsely done but imagine sitting down to watch a serious drama on TV and the characters start talking to you – also good bear in mind this was in 1987, a time in England where the streets were still rife with racism and political opposition among other things.
The musical number that closes this is quite frankly among my favourite musical numbers in the history of celluloid – I say celluloid because it’s hard to say film when it was made for and broadcast first on television.
Regardless, Road is a masterclass of acting and the ever so powerful direction of Clarke. I’m desperate to see everything I can get my hands on by the man now because he’s easily one of my favourite filmmakers of all time.
Directed by Takashi Miike, Imprint was scheduled to debut on television as part of the “Masters Of Horror” series in January of 2006 but due to it’s graphic and disturbing content it was shelved by the TV station it was supposed to air on (“Showtime”) and was finally released on DVD in September of the same year.
Takashi Miike is easily the bravest horror filmmaker working today. He tackles extremely taboo subjects without hesitation, and Imprint is really no different.
It’s typical for Miike’s work but unlike the poor Gozu, he does it right this time. Imprint really is fucked up beyond belief – typical for Miike. Abortion and incest are the two main topics here and Miike delves into both subjects unequivocally and without hesitation as he usually does.
It’s always a pleasure to watch Miike’s stories unfold and this is no different, some of the decisions in the writing are poor but they are worked out in the long haul albeit not the direction I’d have gone with it. Still, another entertaining gorefest from the master of horror.