Film of the Week #1

Michael Prescott

24-year-old Welsh writer on all things film. Background in Philosophy. Accidentally in Sheffield for 6 years and counting. Addicted to Kevin Spacey. Tweetable: @M_S_Prescott

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As we take a post-Oscars rest from Film Club, we’ve decided instead to talk a little bit about the best films that you can catch on television with Film of the Week!

We start off with just Jay and myself, but there’ll be more contributors offering up recommendations as the weeks roll on. Here, we find the gems so that you don’t have to, so be sure to catch at least one of them over the next seven days.

We begin with two remarkably good films, so be sure to let us know your thoughts as well as your own suggestions…

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Rope (1948)
Saturday 15th March, 1.35 – 2.55pm (BBC2)

By Michael Prescott

Rope is Alfred Hitchcock’s slick and slender one-room masterpiece. Coming in at just 80 minutes, this is murder without the mystery as the audience is placed into the knowing position of the antihero central duo.

Brandon (John Dall) and Philip (Farley Granger) play the killing couple who decide to do away with a supposedly inferior classmate and friend, and then sociopathically invite the deceased’s family and friends around for dinner to see if they can work out the intricacies of their plot.

Famous for its long takes – the film comprising of supposedly just ten shots – Rope sees Philip and Brandon attempt to demonstrate the perfect murder, an idea which Hitchcock would revisit in Dial M for Murder that boasts many similarities.

What really defines Rope, though, is the triangle of human psychology at the forefront. Brandon and Philip’s real intention is to prove their worthiness to a professor played by James Stewart, a frequent Hitchcock collaborator, to whom they quite obviously owe a debt, want to impress and yet also intend to supersede.

Amongst this relationship is the idea of a homosexual connection between Brandon and Philip of which there are clear undertones throughout the drama, particularly in the actions of both men and their familiarity with one another. Brandon is in control throughout – playing the perfect host as well as dominating their personal relationship – whereas Philip is more visibly upset and fragile.

Rope, therefore, not only provides an interesting angle for an LGBT audience – particularly since Hitchcock’s films are argued to contain a certain dislike for these characters (though not an opinion I share), it’s also a brilliant example of simple filmmaking, fascinating plot and enticing themes. After all, who isn’t interested in the supposedly perfect murder?

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Blue Valentine (2010)
Monday 10th March, 11pm – 1.10am (Film4)

By Jay Gallagher

A harsh, unrelenting examination of the ups and downs of a marriage, Derek Cianfrance’s Blue Valentine is one of the most realistic portrayals of romance I’ve ever seen. Starring Ryan Gosling in his best role to date and Michelle Williams at the top of her game, Blue Valentine takes a no-holds barred approach to the collapse of a relationship, delivering each emotional gut-punch with bitter, fatalistic realism.

The true star of Blue Valentine is Cianfrance, who shapes the material in such a manner that it is impossible for the audience to sympathise with one character over the other. As Dean becomes more hateful he also becomes more human, and we begin to recognise a piece of him in ourselves. Similarly, though Cindy is the more “likable” character, as the film progresses you begin to recognise and relate to her numerous flaws.

Furthermore, Blue Valentine is a rare beast in that it combines a depressive subject matter with some truly mesmerising cinematography. One can’t help but get lost in the luscious colour palette and scenery that Andrij Parekh utilises to tell the story.

If you can endure spending a night in the foetal position, grab a bottle of wine (or two…), a box of chocolates, some tissues and a fuckton of courage and give Blue Valentine a go. I promise you won’t regret it.

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