ADVENTURES OF COCK OF THE NORTH (COCK OF THE NORTH MEETS CHICK ON THE SHOULDER)


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As Martin Scorsese, one of the film's great champions, points out: "It shows how the camera violates and the aggression of filmmaking. Happily, the passing of time has been a whole lot kinder, although it's still not a brilliant date movie. Whichever way you cut it, it's one big mantlepiece. Rewatching it now, it's easy to see why. Anthony Dod Mantle's gorgeous cinematography makes India its very own, and Jamal Patel and Latika Pinto deliver the sweetest romantic moments seen in cinemas this century — including that glorious dance sequence during the credits.

Some critics proclaimed it "feel-good" but with the persistent darkness throughout child slavery, battery-aided interrogation, drug-dealing and violence, anyone? Still, it remains a stunning, Capra-esque Hollywood melodrama that blew the world away, and reminded everyone what a fantastic director Danny Boyle can be — as if that were in doubt. Another Ken Loach slice of unflinchingly-real social examination, another masterpiece that the masses probably won't have seen. Again focusing on poverty-stricken individuals trapped in the system, My Name Is Joe follows Peter Mullan 's reformed, alcoholic nutter Joe who coaches the local football team in Glasgow's mean streets while trying to avoid the bottle and any bother.

Affable, haunted and more sympathetic than Rocky, it's a stunning tour-de-force from Scot-scene regular Mullan, completely deserving of the Best Actor award it won him at Cannes. Bleak and tragic yet somehow hopeful, many will wish for a less downbeat finale, but such is Loach's commitment to realism. And you rarely see endings that brave in blockbuster territory. This was the film that beat Saving Private Ryan to the Best Picture Oscar, probably because it's fizzier and more frivolous than Spielberg's effort, which the Academy occasionally responds to.

As biopics go, it's high on invention and low on fact, but it's also a delightfully witty literary in-joke, reimagining Shakespeare's life as, well, a Shakespearean comedy of errors. Tom Stoppard's script doctoring left the screenplay littered with in-jokes and direct lifts from the Bard's work, while a game cast of RSC stalwarts like Judi Dench so good as Elizabeth I that her cameo landed her an Oscar and American upstarts like then-ingenue Paltrow and Ben Affleck threw themselves into the caper.

Mixing tragedy and comedy, it may not - quite - be high art, but it's immense fun. The movement towards social realism in British films of the s wasn't merely confined to the present day; this Tony Richardson effort showed that it could be applied to period films too, and bawdy literary adaptations at that. Albert Finney was at his cocky, charming best as the young rapscallion of the title, raised a bastard by a kindly nobleman but denied his true love by his low birth. Instead, he embarks on a series of love affairs, dogged by a jealous rival, until everything finally comes together at the very last minute.

It's meticulously researched and constructed, but all done with such a breezy insouciance and flair, the characters even interacting with the camera and riffing on film style that silent movie opening, for instance , that it feels both thoroughly modern even now and very '60s, winning a clutch of Academy Awards for its trouble. John Schlesinger's follow-up to the Oscar-winning Midnight Cowboy is the most personal film of the filmmaker's career.

The first film to depict a non judgemental portrait of a homosexual character in a lead role, Sunday Bloody Sunday is an exquisitely explored menage a trois between Peter Finch's gay Jewish doctor, Glenda Jackson's career counselor and the sculptor Murray Head — he of One Night In Bangkok fame whom the couple both love. This isn't a film about sexuality although Finch and Head's affectionate kiss caused a stir at the time ; it's a film about the minutiae of complex relationships realised through a trio of great performances.

Also keep your eyes peeled for a year-old Daniel Day-Lewis in the minor role as a vandal. The third and still the best of the Potter films, this was the one where things got magical. He's also helped by the fact that this is maybe the best of the books, upping the stakes more significantly than any other single instalment, introducing a welcome element of ambiguity to Hogwarts' hallowed halls with the development that an escaped prisoner may be responsible for the deaths of Harry's parents or, then again, not and that the cool new teacher may hide dangerous secrets.

The films may get progressively darker, but this one had just the right mix of shadows and light. Before presided over Ealing Studios' golden age, Michael Balcon is best remembered for giving a talented East London filmmaker a leg-up in the tough-as-knuckles British film industry. That man? Alfred Hitchcock.

He turned out early potboilers for Balcon's Gainsborough Pictures in the '20s before moving across London with Balcon to Lime Grove Studios, the home of this classic romp. The 39 Steps is a compendium of classic Hitchcock trademarks, from Robert Donat's 'wrong man' to a sinister MacGuffin and a Hitch cameo upset that'd make mortal enemies of the Keep Britain Tidy campaign. Witness, too, the chemistry he sparks between his romantic leads — the feisty pairing of Donat and Carroll squabble their way across the Scottish Highlands and into each other's arms — and the ever-building paranoia as that spy ring does its nefarious work.

The identity of those spies is never specified, but if they're not carrying travel editions of Mein Kampf , you can melt our faces. We hoped and prayed that Aardman's stop-motion magicians could find a way to turn our claymation heroes into movie stars. Could they really sustain the wit and vibrancy of Wigan's delightful duo for a whole hour and a half? Wouldn't Wallace overdose on cheese along the way? We needn't have worried.


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The sparkling Curse Of The Were-Rabbit positively brims with ideas and energy, dazzling movie fans with sly references to everything from Hammer horrors and The Incredible Hulk to King Kong and Top Gun , and bounds along like a hound in a hurry. The plot, the part we foolishly thought might let it down, pitches the famously taciturn Dogwarts' alumnus and his Wensleydale-chomping owner Sallis against the dastardly Victor Quartermaine Fiennes , taking mutating bunnies, prize-winning marrows and the posh-as-biscuits Lady Tottington Bonham Carter along for the ride.

In short, it's the most marvellously English animation there is. Doing for the buddy-cop actioner what they did for the zombie movie with Shaun Of The Dead , Spaced 's creative trio of Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and director Edgar Wright made it two-for-two on the big screen. It's initially a tad jarring to see Pegg as the straight man, but his natural chemistry with long-time real-life pal Frost remains endearing as ever.

When he wasn't working his devilish charm on Elizabeth Taylor, hanging out in bars with Peter O'Toole and Richard Harris or hunting sharks with his bare hands, Richard Burton was also a magnificent actor. Here's early proof. Burton is very near his best in Tony Richardson's melodrama as Jimmy Porter, a jazz man stuck down the kind of dead end that's filled with British New Wave rebels.

When he seethes "I have no public school scruples about hitting girls" at the sly Helena Claire Bloom , you know it's no empty threat. He's Steetcar 's Stanley Kowalski on three pints of bitter; the closest thing s Derby has to its own volcano. As claustrophobic and uncomfortable as the John Osborne stage play on which it's based, it was the first salvo in British cinema's class war.

Here's a Mike Leigh film even for people who don't like Mike Leigh films, the director's ultra-naturalistic style softened by the period setting and enhanced by the heightened emotions of its characters. There's not a kitchen sink in sight as Gilbert Broadbent and Sullivan Corduner collaborate to create their Japan-inspired comic opera The Mikado, surrounded by performers who each have their own neuroses and crises and who, incidentally, do their own singing to boot. Broadbent and Corduner are a wonderfully mismatched but mutually admiring pair: one a solid family man, the other a whore-loving drug addict.

The Wicker Man isn't scary in a conventional manner and, arguably, is more of a Gothic mystery than a horror movie, but you'd be hard-pushed to find a more disturbing and horrific film experience. Certainly one of the most chilling British movies ever created, there's something indefinably unsettling about Robin Hardy's strangely seductive cult chiller from the moment Edward Woodward sets foot on the remote Scottish island.

While his buttoned-up Christian copper from the mainland searches for a supposedly missing girl, this strange place hauntingly evolves from a small town of eccentric locals to a paranoid-flavoured asylum with no way out. In the lead, Woodward has never been better except perhaps in The Equaliser , while nobody does sinister menace quite like Christopher Lee and his burning eyes. If Anthony Minghella's death robbed British cinema of one of its most dazzling voices, this heartrending wartime romance stands as a fitting testament to his talent.

A Best Picture winner, it's a perfectly judged adaptation of Michael Ondaatje's novel, filled with tenderness and longing. As the North African sun beats down on Ralph Fiennes' enigmatic Count Laszlo, hideously burnt in his crashed biplane, all other considerations strip away but one: his fierce passion for the woman he loves. Part of its success is down to the stellar crew the Oscar-winning Minghella assembled.

Walter Murch's editing another Oscar winner switches from the drama from North Africa to Italy's shell-pocked byways, while John Seale's photography yup, you guessed it gives us one of the best adverts for Tuscany committed to celluloid. If you can watch this film and not want to go straight there and start defusing bombs, you've been watching a different movie. The Archers' critically-acclaimed gothic melodrama sees Deborah Kerr play Sister Clodagh, a young nun sent with four other sisters to establish a convent in an abandoned Himalayan palace.

At this point, things start to go wrong. Very wrong. Like, nun-going-crazy-with-jealousy-and-putting-on-unnunly-amounts-of-eyeliner wrong. Essentially a psychological drama, Black Narcissus 's emotional resonance in a nun-deprived modern world may be somewhat lessened, but there's no denying its influence amongst modern directors.

Scorsese, for one, cites it as one of his favourite films.

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Then there's the striking cinematography from Jack Cardiff, a true great of British cinema. The gleaming photography is especially astonishing when you consider that, despite being set in Darjeeling, the film was almost entirely shot at Pinewood Studios. It's no wonder then that Cardiff and art director Alfred Junge both won Oscars for their work. It remains one of the finest Technicolor productions of all time. We're all familiar with Sir Ben Kingsley, right? Small chap, played Gandhi , rather refined and well-spoken.

Well, not anymore. In this twist on the gangster movie, he's the psychotic gang boss Don Logan calling the happily retired Gary Dove Ray Winstone back to London from one last job. Creepily magnetic when he's still, absolutely bloody terrifying when he starts spitting out profanities and acting out, it's a performance that will convince you that this man could cow even the hulking Winstone into obedience.

Admittedly, the one-last-job hook has been done before, but the characterization is so fresh and surprising here — and the Costa del Sol setting such a nice change from the usual gloomy skies — that it feels very much like its own beast. The problem with adapting Charles Dickens novels for the screen is that he was, essentially, paid by the word. The resulting sprawling epics don't make for the sort of lean, muscular narrative that lends itself naturally to film.

But what's great about this version of his rags-to-riches fable is that Lean and his fellow scriptwriters managed to find a central story — Pip's Mills love of Estella Hobson — to hang the film around, while still leaving enough space for the more memorable supporting characters Hunt's Miss Havisham, Francis L. The black-and-white photography is gorgeous, some of David Lean 's pre-colour best, and the story sufficiently engrossing that you'll be able to overlook the gigantic top hats.

If you're a Bowie fan hunting for another film starring Ziggy Stardust, this is not the movie you're looking for. Whereas Jim Henderson's puppet-filled spectacular had entertainment at its heart, Nicolas Roeg's uber-thinky masterpiece seeks only to make your brain do several thinks at once. Layers of references cover blankets of metaphor, making what might appear to be a simple "man out of time, man out of place" tale into a chin-scratching cult classic.

But that's a very good thing. Giving Bowie's acting ability one hell of a workout, Roeg takes him through periods of ecstasy, agony, and everywhere in-between before leaving him broken, alcoholic and lonely, a million miles from home. Practically the definition of the movie that demands repeat viewings, it's interesting to note that Bowie's seminal Low album contains music originally intended for the film's soundtrack, so next time you watch this, be sure to play it alongside.

Most independent movies wouldn't even attempt to match the big studio pics in terms of production value. And in most cases, they're right not to try. But British first-time director Gareth Edwards achieved something astonishing with Monsters. Not only did he direct, write, production-design and shoot the film himself on location in South and Central America , he also did the visual effects, creating towering alien creatures as convincing and impressive as those you'd find in any Hollywood blockbuster.

Not that anyone should expect the film to be a full-on creature-feature; in a bold stroke, Edwards places the aliens-on-Earth action mostly in the background, concentrating instead on the couple Whitney Able and Scoot McNairy forced to travel through the alien-infested 'Infected Zone'. A road movie love story with monsters?

Why not? Turner is the performance of his illustrious career. His physical expression of the great painter's deep emotional hinterland does bring its share of snuffles, grunts and wheezes but they only add a strange roly-poly charm to his interactions, particularly with his dad Paul Jesson , his mistress and housekeeper Dorothy Atkinson , and painting wildcard Benjamin Haydon Martin Savage. The first two he loves; the latter he tolerates benignly. Ask most film lovers what they remember most about The Italian Job and the words 'Turin traffic jam', 'robbery', 'Mini' and 'getaway' will feature prominently — and rightly so.

But a Boxing Day rewatch will remind any casual fan just what a camp comic triumph this movie is. Sure, it's also about the pride every Englishman feels when British pluck and derring-do win part of the day kind of , but with characters like Benny Hill's Professor Simon Peach, with his penchant for extra-large ladies, and Noel Coward's not-quite-royally appointed crime boss Mr. Bridger, there's no denying The Italian Job 's chuckles are firmly rooted in saucy seaside postcards and all that carry on. But it's because of that untouchable team of comic talent - Caine in particular — as well as the pacy robbery antics and the "England!

He howled onto the scene with surprise werewolf hit, Dog Soldiers , but Neil Marshall surpassed himself with this claustrophobic follow-up that sees six female potholers trapped in the dark, deep underground. Set in the US where these things more routinely seem to happen but shot at Pinewood and on location in Scotland, The Descent takes an inherently creepy location and then layers scares on top of that to an near-unbearable degree.

So while you'll be wincing just at the everyday potholing scenes, you'll soon be nostalgic for those moments as you gibber in fright when it all goes wrong. Its achievement is unrelenting terror, not letting up until the final moments in the US edit or maybe not even then.

Ultimately a simple concept, this is skillfully executed, with a well-balanced character dynamic underpinning Marshall's expert grasp of horror filmmaking. Whether we're going to technically class it as a zombie movie or call them "infected", there's no question that Danny Boyle's film juiced up British horror in particular and the horror genre in general.

Shot on a digital video that manages to look both gritty and gorgeous, combining moments of heart-stopping terror with stretches of quiet horror at the profoundly unnatural sight of an empty London, it's become the new benchmark, inspiring a wealth of imitators but few equals. Boyle's eye for talent pays off too: newcomers Cillian Murphy and Naomie Harris hold the attention even at the heart of the storm, however many of the monstrous horde pursue them, while Christopher Ecclestone's late appearance reminds us that people don't have to be infected to be seriously disturbing.

Still, it bears repeating: those infected are really fast and seriously scary. Malcolm McDowell, whose knack for putting the proverbial boot into Britain's moral sensibilities was given full voice in A Clockwork Orange , found a kindred spirit in public school old boy and Brit New Wave-er Lindsay Anderson. Three years before that Kubrick collaboration, Anderson had McDowell up on the roof of Cheltenham College equipped with a Bren gun and some serious issues with the gowned tyranny of boarding-school life. The title arguably suggests that the bullet-ridden finale — Another Country meets The Expendables — may be one giant cheese dream by McDowell's anarchic student, Mick Travis, but the film's impassioned cry of class rebellion was all in earnest.

The only question: how on Earth did Anderson persuade his alma mater to let him film there? If there's a worse advertisement for boarding school - corporal punishment, fagging, VD clinic and all - we definitely haven't seen it. Awards and box office haul aside, the fact remains: it's bloody hilarious. Coady's unfortunate death by heart attack and, of course, the steamroller to end all steamrollers, but it's the unified, bizarre, crazy whole that makes it a must-own for any British comedy fan.

What's more, it made possible Richard Curtis's later Brit-com oeuvre by establishing that British eccentricism can sell, revived the world's interest in Ealing comedies, and allowed a character with Cary Grant's real name — Cleese's bumbling lawyer Archie Leach — to live again on the big screen. Not bad for one film, eh? Recent slanders in Hilary Martell's Wolf Hall notwithstanding, the Thomas More presented here by director Fred Zinneman, playwright and screenwriter Robert Bolt and actor Paul Scofield is the sort of bloke we can all get behind.

More is on top of the world, a friend and confidant to King Henry VIII, poised for power and riches - but he can't compromise his own conscience in pursuit of self-interest, so when the King pursues a divorce and breaks from the Church, More puts himself in harm's way. The structure, building so inevitably from the personalities involved and their intransigences, is the stuff of classic tragedy, and it's beautifully — and wittily — brought to life here.

Even after the heavily CG-assisted likes of or The Two Towers , Zulu remains the ultimate outnumbered, under-siege battle story. Following the real-life incident where odd Welsh infantrymen defended their isolated outpost against plus warriors during the Anglo-Zulu conflict, its impact depends directly on the scale of your viewing experience — so nothing less than a Juggernaut-sized flatscreen will do.

For sure, the first hour or so requires patience, but when the swarming Zulus start attacking in endless waves, it's stirring stuff, despite the fact that director Cy Endfield is evidently more comfortable handling the character drama inbetween attacks. Though deceptively known more as the breakthrough for a young Michael Caine who plays against type and goes — gasp! In September , the BBC's now legendary six-episode adaptation of Pride And Prejudice began, firmly tattooing the image of a near-shirtless and utterly drenched Mr. Darcy Colin Firth on the underside of every British woman's eyelids.

Moviegoers were helpless in the face of this glitzkreig of Jane Austen mania, queuing up in their droves to experience the one-two punch Hugh Grant and Alan Rickman donning breeches and heading a-wooing. Much of the praise should be sent in Thompson's direction, with her Oscar-winning script and gently perfect performance carrying the film wonderfully, but Lee's outsider's eye brought Austen to life with a verve and understanding that most English filmmakers could only marvel at.

Austen would be proud. As well as one of Britain's greatest directors, Nic Roeg has a Simon Cowell-like gift for spotting acting ability in rock stars. This was no small feat in Jagger's case: his Ned Kelly was more wooden than a koala's living room, but the Rolling Stone stepped up a gear in Roeg's debut feature.

Okay, he's playing a rock star — there's that — but his gaunt, rubber-lipped cool lends a seriously subversive quality to Roeg's lysergic gangster flick. His sex scenes with Anita Pallenberg, the femme fatale holed up in Turner's London bolt hole, didn't go down brilliantly with his band mate, her then-boyfriend Keith Richards, but their on and off- screen chemistry brought electricity to an alt-gangster flick that's not exactly short of it to begin with.

James Fox's fraying hood, meanwhile, is a walking case-study of sexual repression and pent-up violence, while Roeg's visual flourishes lures us into a seedy late '60s world of hipsters and heroin that feels like an X-rated episode of Through The Keyhole. The film that raised the bar for little old ladies everywhere, The Ladykillers is one of the blackest comedies in Ealing's repertoire of delights keep reading.

It's not hard to see why, for all their version's flaws, the Coen brothers tried to hand at remaking it. How could they not be tickled by a comedy with a higher body count than Psycho? In retrospect, Tom Hanks, J. Simmons et al could never hope to match the gleeful hamming of Sellers, Guinness, Lom and their gang, an identity parade of vaudeville villainy with enough spot-on comic timing to reset the atomic clock.

Chuck in Katie Johnson's old dear — and at one point they try to do exactly that — and you've got a hilariously cynical skew on human nature. Still Ken Loach's best film, this beautifully etches the relationship between 15 year-old Barnsley school boy Billy Casper David Bradley , bullied and beaten at home, ignored at school and the baby kestrel he nurtures and loves. It's a fantastic mixture of the poetic — cinematographer Chris Menges beautifully lenses sequences of Billy with his bird on the moors — and the everyday — the boredom and rhythms of school life have rarely been captured.

Everyone remembers Brian Glover as the sadistic sports teacher who runs away with a farcical football match, but this is a film full of great performances, especially Bradley as a vulnerable, believable hero. After all, what major studio would produce a film about a racist, sexist, perverted pseudo-Kazakhstan journalist who runs around the US looking for his new wife — Pamela Anderson, of course — all the while embarrassing nearby Americans and generally being an arsehole?

The mankini alone would be reason enough to shun him, never mind the anti-Semitism and naked wrestling our eyes! Our eyes! Take that Ali G, you big corporate sell-out, you. Most films on this list are here primarily because of the person behind the camera. In this case, and with no disrespect to Shane Meadows' assured direction, it's the stunning turn by its star and co-writer, Paddy Considine, that's won it a place. He's the spine of the film, an ex-soldier who returns to his hometown and brings down a world of pain on the men who bullied his younger brother. The result is a sort of Sympathy For Mr Derbyshire, a brutal but strangely compassionate look at a ruthless and violent figure, a sort of slasher movie in reverse.

A showcase for a deserving actor, and a perfect example of the indie sector's ability to tackle storylines that studios would shy away from, this is one of the finest British films in years. A wave of hype bore this thriller, threatening to swamp it under proclamations that the British were coming, that Scotland was sexy, that this Ewan McGregor fella might do well for himself.

Well, that's all true except for Scotland being sexy, anyway , but there's more to Shallow Grave than a shot in the arm for British cinema. Danny Boyle's immensely stylish tale of dead mains, a suitcase full of money and rampant paranoia is an inspired blend of pitch-black comedy and bloody violence, held together by career-making performances and scathing wit. Three central characters this flawed and nasty are a rare sight in American cinema — even in the independent sector — and they're surrounded by a heck of a supporting cast.

The lot benefit from Boyle's nascent directorial flair and winning partnership with writer John Hodge and producer Andrew MacDonald. The all-round alchemy, combined with the intelligence and sheer panache on show here, make it a must-see. Winston Churchill didn't like Colonel Blimp. Perhaps it was because his advisors dismissed it as unpatriotic, or maybe it was because he saw something of himself in the character of Clive Candy.

Whatever the reason, everyone's favourite stogie-chomping prime minister did his damndest to halt production before The Ministry of Information and War Office apparatchiks allowed it to go ahead anyway. It's just as well: Powell and Pressburger, founders of Britain's great production house, Archers Film Productions, consider it their greatest work. It's certainly the film of which they were most proud.

Dealing with the nature of patriotism, the essence of Britishness, the notion of honour and the horror of war through the career of one man, it's a grand, glorious film that's an object lesson in crafting the perfect - albeit fictional — biopic. What's more, Winston needn't have bothered with the whole censorship farrago: this is probably the most patriotic film on any movie afficiando's DVD collection — and we're including The Italian Job here.

After enduring three Transformers movies, Battle Los Angeles and Green Lantern , you'd have been forgiven for thinking that sci-fi had been left for braindead. But then came Duncan Jones' Moon , a smart, stripped down brainteaser that builds suspense and handles complex philosophical and ethical issues with a few sets and a single central performance by Sam Rockwell.

The best British films | Movies | Empire

The set-up is a little High Noon High Moon? The film's crisp, clean look is pure'70s sci-fi, but there are clever inversions. And the big 'twist' is actually revealed relatively early. It's not so much about flooring the audience with the mind-blowing revelation, more about watching how the character — or rather, characters — react.

Technically, this was Alfred Hitchcock's first American film — but since it's set in England and stars a largely English line-up, we're allowing it despite the studio backing. It is, after all, a soaring example of Hitch's ability with old-fashioned filmmaking long before he became known for suspense and shock tactics. Which is not to say there's no suspense here: as the second Mrs de Winter, meek Joan Fontaine tangles with a malevolent housekeeper who forever compares the newcomer — unfavourably — to her predecessor, Rebecca.

Her distant husband doesn't help much, and before you can say costume party there are suicide attempts, infidelities and murder charges to be dealt with. Gorgeously shot and beautifully performed, this is a worthy farewell to the early stage of Hitchcock's career.

One of the key films of the '60s realist movement, this is the one with Albert Finney as the cocky factory worker "Don't let the bastards grind you down. That's one thing you learn. It's difficult now to assess its rawness, but this is still superbly enacted and filled with a tangible yearning for better lives. Cast your mind back to Hugh Grant is still "the bloke from that weird Roman Polanski film"; Richard Curtis is best known as the man behind Blackadder's withering put-downs, people still greeted rain with a four-letter word rather than an opportunity to mock Andie MacDowell, and only the most literate could tell W.

Auden from WHSmith. Can't remember it? Us neither. Much of its longevity is down to Curtis's playful dialogue which gives Grant's bumbling romantic and Andie MacDowell's coy outsider, beguiled and baffled in equal measure, enough gold to charm even the most granite hearted. It's a veritable Petri dish of British idiosyncrasies and humour "Are you telling me I don't know my own brother! If a space alien ever asks you to explain how the English middle classes see themselves, show them this. Then go for help. If you think about it, this is a very odd mix of topics.

A World War II pilot is shot down over the Channel on a foggy night — but in the mist his soul isn't collected at once, leading him to wash ashore and fall in love with the radio operator who had been his last contact, pre-crash. He's then, essentially, put on trial for his life, with heaven on one hand concerned that he was destined to die, but on the other forced to consider the new element that he has fallen in love.

So we've got romance, metaphysics, bureaucratic mix-ups and war, along with a dash of ping-pong for good measure — hardly your typical blockbuster. Still, thanks to the writer-directors sure touch and David Niven's none-more-English, never-more sympathetic chap's chap persona, this is a memorably different wartime weepie.

It's dated, sure, but there are a host of memorable sequences including the infamous meat-hook interrogation , an impossibly-catchy sax score and the saltiest, geezer dialogue this side of Michael Caine "A sleepin' partner's one thing - but you're in a fuckin' coma! As the East End kingpin whose empire is rapidly crumbling, Bob Hoskins delivers a towering performance check out his wordless final scene , while a young Helen Mirren sparkles as the sexy femme fatale and the support is littered with familiar faces including Pierce Brosnan, a few Ritchie regulars and Charlie from Casualty.

Monty Python's first narrative ish film may not have the bite of Brian, but it's such an inspired piece of silliness that it would make a stone laugh. Taking inspiration from Arthurian legend but ladling in social commentary or at least comedy , anachronistic touches and surreal interludes, this is perhaps the most quotable and quoted film on the entire list, and also deserves our thanks for saving the group after they had almost burnt out following three TV series and the underperforming And Now For Something Completely Different.

From shrubberies to parents who smell of elderberries to flesh wounds and women who weigh more than ducks, all human life is here - as long as it is, like the Pythons themselves, simultaneously both extremely silly and very, very clever. Elvis ordered a print of this comedy classic and watched it five times. If it's good enough for the King, it's good enough for you. What made this coming-of-age drama feel so fresh was not just the refreshingly unobvious mix of topics, but the deftness with which they were brought together. The devastating Miners' Strike of is the backdrop, but in the foreground is an 11 year-old boy who wants to learn ballet.

The problems he faces are immense: money, class even if that's just a little overegged in the audition scene and his town's complete lack of experience with boys who like ballet.

Teacher Mrs Wilkinson Julie Walters finds herself almost having to translate between the ballet and miners' worlds. In the end, though, the mutual bafflement between Billy and his gruff father, and the real love that is revealed underneath, are the key to making this soar even higher than those final jets. For many of us, Goldfinger is still the quintessential James Bond experience.

Occupying the perfect middle-ground between the more realistic first two instalments and the increasingly-fantastical later Connerys, the third nailed the perfect balance of the Bondian formula. Taking what audiences already loved Sean, girls, spying, exotic locations and infusing new ingredients popstar theme tune, unrelated pre-credits sequence, Q grumping on , the template here became the benchmark and bulges with iconic elements.

Connery at his virile peak, the Aston Martin with ejector seat, Shirley Eaton covered in gold paint, the brilliant tuxedo-under-the-wetsuit opening gambit, the often-quoted laserbeam exchange "Do you expect me to talk? Do we expect you to like it? No, we expect you to love it.

Impossible to describe with using the word 'epic', David Lean 's rightly-acclaimed bridge-building World War II drama is grand, spectacle-filled and, well, epic. Despite featuring hardly any actual warfare and boasting a running time that will numb your bottom like a camel trek through Lean's widescreen version of Arabia, this award-magnet is a stone-cold or, should that be sweltering hot?

There's lush cinematography and a top-notch cast, but it's the underlying psychological character journey of Alec Guinness's stubbornly-defiant and indefatigable Colonel Nicholson that stays with you. Determined to find a way to keep his men together and morale up, he leaps upon the bridge building labour they're assigned as a means to his end - rather forgetting, at least temporarily, the aid it gives the enemy. His eventual realisation of his mistake is unforgettable. That, and the infectious, now-infamous 'Colonel Bogey March' whistle the one often used for "Hitler, has only got one British noir at its best, Carol Reed's classic is adored for many things.

There's Robert Krasker's much-lauded cinematography, a chiaroscuro masterclass full of angles and shadows practically begging to be filled with villains; the unmistakable twang of Anton Karas' zither; and the rubble-strewn netherworld war veteran Reed translates so brilliantly from Graham Greene's thriller. Then there's that much-quoted diss of the Swiss, cuckoo clocks and all. Looming over it all though, is Harry Lime Orson Welles , a villain for the ages and the dark heart of Reed's film. Where the war-ravaged Viennese see sorrow, Lime glimpses opportunity: he's basically the prototype for any number of hedge-fund managers.

As much as he's the most odious villain this side of Brighton Rock's Pinkie, British cinema would be a much poorer place without him. He needs to gen up on his horology though: it was the Germans who invented the cuckoo clock. Ripped from his own childhood growing in '40's and '50s Liverpool, Terence Davies' brutal but poetic feature is less a movie and more a filmed remembrance. The first, tougher part, Distant Voices, depicts life during wartime and the reign of terror Davies' father - brilliantly realised by Pete Postlethwaite - inflicted on the family whereas the second Still Lives charts the happier life of his stoic mother Freda Dowie and sister Eileen Angela Walsh whose marriage represents a breath of fresh air in the Davies household.

This may sound like soap opera but Davies charts the highs wedding celebrations, pub sing songs and lows domestic abuse, crushed hopes of everyday life in beautiful tracking shots and inspired choices of music that couldn't be further away from the kitchen sink. It's a tough watch - especially if you've been weaned on conventional storytelling -but there isn't a more personal, more visually stunning, more moving film on this list.

And so it proved, even if the BBFC's draconian 18 certificate meant that the people it was aimed at couldn't actually see it. Set in the Nottinghamshire boondocks, This Is England is a slice of Brit realism with an energy all of its own, a film with serious fire in its belly. The source of its zeal, Meadows, tiptoes between brutality and tenderness with the poise of a dancer - albeit a dancer who looks a bit like a prop forward.

It's a celebration of friendship, a love letter to its director's teenage years Thomas Turgoose's Shaun surrogates for the young Meadows and a big old 'V' sign to the National Front. It also spawned terrific telly in the shape of Channel 4's This Is England spin-off series. Pretty good for a self-professed 'cult' movie. Malcolm McDowell always claimed that while making A Clockwork Orange he was under the impression that it was a comedy. As Hans Gruber might say: "Ho On its release in , amid a hurricane of controversy that would eventually lead Stanley Kubrick to pull his film from cinemas, a comment like that would have had Daily Mail readers spluttering into their morning tea.

Now, however, it seems somehow apt: the 20 minute rampage by the droogs, Alex's "rehabilitation" and his friends' recruitment into the police force and so on, are in their own dark and twisted way, extremely funny. But, more importantly, they're also shoulder-shakingly prescient. To this day, its impact on the first-time viewer cannot be denied. Here, movie-lovers, is a crash course in humanism featuring massive dildos, orgies and brainwashing only Kubrick could deliver.

Starring : Richard E. Another entry from Brit mini-production house Handmade, this is one of those masterpieces that almost didn't happen. Yet somehow all of them persevered like an alcoholic actor determinedly seeking his next snifter, and it all worked out. The film is possibly one of the finest on-the-page screenplays ever written, brought to life with offbeat performances and an understated style that the mainstream simply wouldn't dream of attempting. Sadly much of its popularity has been within the student community, who fixate on the heavy drinking focus and still believe that endlessly quoting the lines often incorrectly will make them as funny as the title characters, but don't let that sour the genius.

We all know what happens when Big Business tries to muscle in on a small town, right? They are met with universal hostility and chucked out on their ear — or, in this case, not quite. She surveyed my bags of supermarket food and asked if they were really for sharing. I assured her they were. A few empty green shopping bags rotated in the breeze. I admitted I was. Entrails of a green sea turtle will be cooked and eaten during a feast in the Bawaka homeland.

The turtle is a protected spe- cies, but Aboriginals are permitted to hunt it as a traditional staple food. The turtle figures prominently in Songlines—the routes of creatures during Dream-time, the era in Aboriginal belief when totemic beings created the Earth. First dig a very large fire pit. Collect firewood.

Save the head; turtle cheek is delicious. Pull out the long white fire hose of intestines. These will be cleaned and boiled and eaten as well. With a partner, heave the turtle onto the fire, upside down, and cover with coals. A turtle comes prepacked in its own cooking container, like Jiffy Pop popcorn. Heat just ten minutes, then remove. With the turtle still on its back, use your knife to carve open the flat bottom shell. Slice out large chunks of ivory-colored meat and ribbons of bright green fat.

Collect the blood in a container. Distribute to everyone in the village; dogs get the flippers. Sunset in Matamata is the time of the sand flies. Percussive slaps, palms on skin, sound from every front porch. There are five houses in Matamata, all in a rough line perpendicular to the shore, fronting the dirt runway. The modular homes, provided by the government, have corrugated-steel exteriors to thwart termites and are divided into three simple rooms.

Cooking is done outside over an open fire, though each house does have a sink with running water as well as a refrigerator.

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In Matamata even the refrigerators are painted; one is festooned with a spray of red and yellow palm prints and kiss marks. Between the homes are small groves of mango and banana and cashew trees. Getting a snack requires little more than reaching into the branches. She loves Elvis. Representing supernatural beings, boys daubed in white clay prepare to take part in the opening ceremonies of the Garma Festival, a Yolngu cultural event in Gulkula. In Aboriginal culture white body paint also signifies mourning. The smothering heat of daytime is passed languidly, doing domestic chores—whittling spears, washing clothes—or if the tide is right, going spearfishing.

Batumbil was born in in a community run by Methodist missionaries on Elcho Island, just off the northern coast of Arnhem Land. Her father had eight wives. Soon after birth, she was promised to a man, in traditional Yolngu fashion, and at age 15 was married. Her husband was more than 20 years older. He died in Similar legislation repatriated tracts of territory elsewhere in Australia, though few as untrammeled as Arnhem Land.

Some Aboriginal communities by this time were devastated by alcoholism and other ills. They still are. This makes complete sense in the bush, where leftover food swiftly spoils. Most of the world had 10, years to gradually adapt to the cadence of a sedentary, agricultural society, one in which patience, planning, and preserving are key to survival.

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Aboriginals were expected, impossibly, to convert virtually overnight. Untempered consumption plus unlimited supply of a product like alcohol equals disaster. Same with processed sugars; obesity and diabetes are prevalent among Aboriginals. Also tobacco. In the town of a few hundred residents where Batumbil and her husband lived on Elcho Island—he was a painter, she worked as a seamstress—it could be difficult to escape the lure of alcohol and its attendant violence.

This was no place to start a family. Batumbil and her husband became convinced that the only happy life was one lived in quiet isolation, dependent on the bounty of the land. So they moved into the bush. Her decision, according to local health workers I met, was wise. Possibly lifesaving. Compared with Aboriginals who reside in cities and towns, those in remote homelands eat healthier food, live longer, and are exposed to a fraction of the violence. The largest city in the Northern Territory is Darwin. His body was delivered to Matamata.

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A sister-in-law, a drinker, undergoes daily dialysis treatments in Darwin. Her daughter gave birth to three sons, then died of a heart ailment. The three boys, now in their teens and early 20s, all live in Matamata. Formal education in the village is intermittent. Batumbil is the teacher; she received education training at a college in Darwin. During my stay, though, no classes were conducted, and I never spotted a single book. At the Garma Festival in Gulkula, Yolngu women massage a visitor with oils and herbs. The annual event attracts tourists eager to experiment with Aboriginal rituals.

But the bush schooling is impeccable. Gaypalwani and his wife have twin nine-year-old boys, curly haired and exuberant. They race around with kid-size spears and sometimes accompany their father in his boat, observing him hunt. Every day they practice the intricate Yolngu dance steps while their parents clap along.

Marriage promises and multiple wives, Batumbil says, are no longer common. Finding a partner now, she explains, is more modern. Then you make a big hill. No alcohol is permitted in Matamata. It is also the law. The controversial and racially charged initiative added more police officers to Aboriginal areas and imposed strict regulations on alcohol, among other measures. Some Aboriginals I spoke with reluctantly admitted that it has alleviated aspects of the crisis, though many Australians vehemently oppose it, saying the new rules infringe too greatly on personal freedoms.

Batumbil, however, along with many of the adults, smokes like a chimney. Two items from the outside world dictate the quality of life in Matamata: tobacco and gasoline. I witnessed one intense shortage during which Batumbil smashed her favorite pipe, scraped out the resin caked inside, and smoked it in a new pipe. Money to purchase tobacco and gas and other staples—tea, flour, sugar, and a favorite in Matamata, tins of Tom Piper Homestyle Irish Stew—comes from several sources.

The Yolngu are occasionally employed to perform manual jobs in various communities; during my visit a group of men helped raise a water tank onto a tower. Other Aboriginal communities receive large royalty payments from mining companies. Bauxite, a chief source of aluminum, is bountiful in Arnhem Land.

Batumbil has steadfastly refused to allow a shovelful of her land to be touched by a mining company, despite lucrative entreaties.

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The last of the gas is usually saved for a shopping trip. Matamata has two general seasons—the wet, usually from December to March, and the dry, the rest of the year. The roads turn to soup during the wet, but you can always take a boat around the coastline, half a day to town.

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A plane also lands at least once a week to bring in a health worker, and when it flies off to other Aboriginal communities, a couple of people will often take the empty seats, for a modest fee, and spend time visiting friends and relatives. The Yolngu like to be in motion; the population of Matamata is never the same from day to day. Fire is a tool, a gift, and a possible danger, which Anangu children learn at an early age in Watarru, one of many Aboriginal homelands where tradi- tion still lights the way.

Batumbil does not like sand flies—nobody does—and she has no qualms about killing them. She calls them her grannies. Sand flies might torment her, but they are part of her land and therefore imbued with a meaning and a spirit and an essential purpose. The purpose that day, she suggested, was to prevent her from napping, to help her understand that life is not easy. Then ancestral beings emerged from beneath the surface or from the sky, assumed the form of an animal or plant or human, and journeyed across the land, performing great deeds of creation, shaping the mud into rivers, hills, islands, caves.

This took place in an age known as the Dreamtime. And the path each of these beings took, the countryside they molded before burrowing back into the ground, is called a Songline. The ancestral beings also gave birth to all living things, including humans. They bestowed language, knowledge, ritual, and faith. Every Aboriginal has a Dreaming—the ancestor that gave rise to him or her, be it snake or turtle or yam.

Flames painted on arms and chests, Bronwyn Jimmy left and Tinpulya Mervin of Watarru perform a fire dance in the Great Victoria Desert, a rite for women only. Aboriginals set fires to clear the land of underbrush. This all-encompassing spirituality is not expressed overtly. In daily life, in fact, there seems to be no obvious ritual at all, though there are superstitions. Even when someone in Matamata goes to the bathroom—there are outhouses—it is standard to take a partner along.

The men smear their faces and bodies with white clay and move onto the sand in a large group, carrying ceremonial spears. They stand before a specially constructed cloth-walled tent in which the body lies. Older men provide the music—a rhythmic crack of clapsticks, a trilling chant, the thrumming drone of the didgeridoo. Then the dancers, like the ancestral beings of the Dreamtime, seem to shift shape before my eyes, contorting their bodies, elongating their necks, stomping their feet and thrusting spears, all moving together, a many-legged creature, sand flying, sweat streaming.

Each dance, mimicking an animal or a natural event, is short and intense. Some are performed only by women. The dances last all day, and another, and another—the funeral carries on for ten days—as people stream in from communities across the bush to pay respect, to dance some more, to set the soul on its journey with the grandest possible send-off.

I ask a couple of people for a description of the afterlife, and their answers are similar. Men in Maningrida decorate a log coffin they will use to bury the skull of an ancestor. The skull, housed until recently in a museum in Darwin, had just been returned to the community. The Yolngu, says Batumbil, are people of fire. Not long ago they started fires by spinning a stick between their palms. Now they use disposable cigarette lighters. As they walk about their territory, they set frequent bushfires.

Children, even toddlers, are permitted to start their own. This practice keeps the land clear of downed trees and tall grasses, allowing easier movement through the bush and renewing plant life. Touch a flame to the tip of a palm leaf. Walk back to Matamata, and in the morning scope the horizon. Since the remains of more than 1, Aboriginals have been repatriated to Australia.

Hunting with boomerangs, used by some tribes for 10, years—though never by the Yolngu—hardly exists.

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