More Film 4 Goodies: Angel (1982) + A Month in the Country (1987)

September 26, 2015 | By

Nope, not Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, but Neil Jordan’s Angel, which the Germans describe as a tale of “music, death, life, and madness.” Whatever.

Just posted is another set of Twilight Time Blu-ray reviews, this time focusing on a pair of Film 4 productions, the film unit of Britain’s Channel 4 that fostered the careers of numerous filmmakers, such as Paul Greengrass (Resurrected) and Alan Clarke (Rita, Sue and Bob Too).

This time the showcased directors are Neil Jordan and his first feature film, the fairly bleak crime film Angel (1982), and Pat O’Connor’s charming period drama A Month in the Country (1987), which starred Colin Firth, and Kenneth Branagh in his formal film debut.

The Film 4 productions are very much similar to the Free Cinema wave of the late 50s / early 60s where young documentarians, writers, and cinematographers used short films to focus on local working class lives, and when opportunity arose, expanded their stories to feature films in what was subsequently branded kitchen sink dramas.

Often shot in B&W, these grim tales were nevertheless startling, frank containers of hard lives and hard choices, and marked a sharp contrast to the colourful, fanciful, quota films and cliched genre efforts which motivated the Free Cinema directors to vent their ire using cinema as a kind of dirt encrusted bathroom mirror. Chief Free Cinema members include Tony Richardson, John Schlesinger, and Karel Reisz.

The Film 4 directors were similarly driven to tell native stories and deal with topics either taboo, political, non-commercial by studio standards, or too grim, and yet there are many beautiful characters and snapshots of working class lives. They’re also time capsules of rural areas – some overly enhanced for the film with specific art direction, or left alone to evoke a cinema verite aesthetic – if not the music and styles of the 80s and 90s.

Coming next: Jack Hill’s Pit Stop (1969) from Arrow Video, and a podcast with Roar (1984) composer Terence P. Minogue + related soundtrack reviews.




Mark R. Hasan, Editor

Tags: , , , , , ,


Comments are closed.