Meewella | Critic

According to P

Tag: Laurie Rose

QuickView: A Field in England (2013)

“It does not surprise me that the Devil is an Irishman, though I thought perhaps a little taller.”


A hallucinatory experience set during the English Civil War, realism waxes and wanes throughout A Field in England, its occult themes obtusely depicted through contemporaneous folklore imagery like mushroom circles whilst eschewing expository explanation. Throughout much of his directorial career, Ben Wheatley has surrounded himself with same creative cadre from film to film, including writer Amy Jump and cinematographer Laurie Rose. Shooting in black and white (which was experiencing a revival in the early 2010s) allows the audience to take in the texture of costumes and landscapes without the garish overload of colourful uniforms that would detract from the actors. It also no doubt helped a tight shooting schedule on a frugal budget of under £350,000. A Field in England is interspersed with tableaux vivants, awkwardly staged by the characters as a visual language pre-dating the dawn of cinema, a medium that would make sense to the characters if not the audience. Meanwhile disjointed depictions wrong-foot the viewer like diagetic singing around a campfire, accompanied by a lute from nowhere. The overall result is ethereal filmmaking, physically constrained to a single field yet broader in imaginative scope.


QuickView: Catherine Called Birdy (2022)

“When you try to bend the ways of the world, I will cheer for you, Birdy, but I fear for you.”

Lady Aislinn

Lena Dunham’s adaptation of Karen Cushman’s YA novel is mirthful medieval mischief, a fresh coming-of-age story that should entertain families beyond its direct target of adolescent girls. This is a feminist tale, with Birdy rebelling against attempts at marrying her off to solve the family’s financial woes. The novel was written in the form of a diary and that is the conceit for Birdy’s voiceover, essentially extracts from the book. The script is recognisably Dunham’s work, frank but generally approaching female hardship with a light touch, aided by a period setting that has no pretence at historical accuracy. The anachronistic soundtrack is also notable, creating an unusually cohesive backdrop through a series of pop covers by London singer Misty Miller. Bella Ramsey is wonderfully expressive as the impetuous Birdy, backed by Andrew Scott’s characteristic blend of comedic charm and emotional depth as Birdy’s profligate father, and an almost unrecognisable Billie Piper as her supportive but concerned mother. The 12A certificate seems appropriate primarily for an intense birthing scene — this is not House of the Dragon, but Dunham does not sanitise it either as the experience leaves an impression on Birdy, catalysing her changing view of her parents. Rebellious girls are likely to love Catherine Called Birdy; others should find it an enjoyable diversion.


QuickView: Stan & Ollie (2018)

“I’ll miss us when we’re gone.”

Oliver Hardy

Stan & Ollie is a wonderful portrayal of the friendship between the comedy duo Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. This is not a standard biopic, eschewing the pair’s rise to worldwide fame and instead focusing on a grueling UK stage tour long after their peak. The whole endeavour relies upon the performances of Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly, filled with warmth and the weight of such a long-running partnership, as well as being brilliantly observed as the actors recreate a number of the duo’s classic acts. It would be easy to overplay the emotional moments between two performers who were, by their nature, larger than life — what makes the film so moving is knowing when understated subtlety is more effective.


"A film is a petrified fountain of thought."

(CC) BY-NC 2003-2023 Priyan Meewella

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