This British movie invasion is just the worst
By Bob Strauss
I declare Brexit.
I’m breaking up with British heritage movies, I mean. Our patriot forebears didn’t fight King George for future American generations to be cinematically occupied by all these emphatic eccentrics and benign monarchs trying to recolonize us with their overdecorated country homes.
Despite occasional steel-spined masterpieces such as “The Queen” and Merchant-Ivory (neither of whom were English, btw) literary adaptations like “Howards End,” “The Remains of the Day” and borderline whimsical “A Room with a View,” the historical genre has overwhelmingly been a dicey one, prone to misplaced nostalgia, revisionism and critical cases of the cutes.
There was some hope earlier in the year – with such diverse works as Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk,” William Oldroyd’s “Lady Macbeth” and even (Danish) Lone Scherfig’s sincere-but-salty “Their Finest” – that English productions were rediscovering the creative daring and outrageous attitudes that films by Ken Russell, Nicolas Roeg, Derek Jarman, Sally Potter and many others used to surprise and stimulate us with.
After sitting through this fall’s British invasion, though, I have no hope left of being appeased. Gently reluctant to disturb audiences in any interesting way, twisted further by Oscar-seeking notions that they must gently appeal to the old folks in the American movie academy’s easily upset, conservative tastes, it’s been a royal pageant of passionately phoney acting, equally unconvincing stiff upper liplift and upper class twits.
Here, more specifically, is what irked me about the latest tepid tea offerings. Unless they stir things up more excitingly across the pond soon, as their great poet Johnny Rotten sang, there is no future in England’s dreaming.
Judi Dench (right) and Ali Fazal in the title roles of Victoria & Abdul. Photo courtesy Focus Features.
Victoria & Abdul: Beside directing “The Queen” and some nicely gnarly American movies (“The Grifters,” “High Fidelity”), Stephen Frears made his reputation with some of […]