britpics 2: the best of new british cinema fromFriday (July 20) to July 26, Bloor Cinema, 506 Bloor West. Admission: Britpics pass $60, six-ticket pack $30, single ticket $8, stu/srs and Bloor, Festival Cinemas and Cinematheque Ontario members $6. For schedule, see Rep Cinemas, page 73. 416-604-4702. ww w.torontobritpics.com. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
A few British films cross the Atlantic each year and score big with North American audiences. Snatch, Billy Elliot and Bridget Jones's Diary are the latest success stories. But for every big-budget Brit flick starring name Hollywood actors, there are scads of films that are never screen outside the UK.
British critics have harped on the fact that the quality of British films is deteriorating and Hollywood sensibilities are creeping into the national cinema. Yet Britpics 2, the festival of new British cinema, proves that there are some quality movies coming out of the UK not starring Hugh Grant.
Here's a look at the gems of this 16-film showcase.
In Radiohead: Meeting People Is Easy (Friday, July 20, 9:30 pm), director Grant Gee follows the band through their 1997 world tour just after the release of their groundbreaking, critically acclaimed album OK Computer.
It's less a concert film than a study of the band's reluctant compliance with the frenzied media machine that propelled them to unimaginable popularity. Gee's camera captures the band onstage, but more importantly, he strings together press interviews that show them becoming increasingly despondent at having to answer the same silly questions over and over.
It's amazing that they remain so polite, and it's only moody lead singer Thom Yorke who shows the strain and fear. Rating: NNNN
The quirky, neo-gothic comedy Hotel Splendide (Monday, July 23, 7 pm) is the British equivalent of a Coen Brothers film.
On a remote island sits the once grand Hotel Splendide, a family-run establishment inhabited by a few aged patients who eat bland fish stews and receive enemas.
Enter the hotel cook's (Daniel Craig) lost love (Toni Collette), who spices up the food and uncovers the hotel's dark secrets.
Wonderful art design (think the hotel from Barton Fink meets The Addams Family mansion) and strong performances, including Katrin Cartlidge and Stephen Tompkinson's, make this an offbeat treat. Rating: NNN
The more I think about The Jolly Boys' Last Stand (Tuesday, July 24, 9:30 pm), the more I like it.
An ultra-low-budget effort, this comedy focuses on a group of pint-swilling lads -- the Jolly Boys -- who are falling apart because their 20-something members are all getting married. When Spider (Andy Serkis), the club's president, announces his engagement, the horrified Des (Milo Twomey) records a pre-wedding video hoping to convince Spider he isn't ready for matrimony.
These child-men are realistically pathetic and only reluctantly slide into maturity. Des's transformation is a little hard to swallow, but the scenes of the guys pissing away their time together are fascinatingly funny. Rating: NNN
Also check out the emotionally devastating Scottish drama One Life Stand (Tuesday, July 24, 7 pm), about a single mother trying to guide her teenage son away from the sex trade, and the powerful 1950s Irish drama A Love Divided (Sunday, July 22, 9:30 pm), about the strife that results when a Protestant wife and mother (Orla Brady) refuses to send her daughters to a Catholic school in her small, primarily Catholic village. Both: NNN