Friday, 12 July 2013


Well, what can I say about this film? It is my favourite film and I must have seen it, I don't know, thirty or forty times at the cinema, several times on Television and I own the VHS Video and the DVD both of which I have watched dozens of times. It is like putting on one's favourite shirt or listening to a much loved piece of music that never disappoints and which throws up something new to enjoy each time.

I went to see it again last night in Screen NFT1 at the National Film Theatre. Each time I go I ask myself, why is it my favourite film? Is it really that good? Am I just kidding myself? And then, as it washes over me, I know that it really is that good and, no, I'm not kidding myself. 

The cinematography is superb, the dialogue is crackling with no words wasted, the performances, not only by the main characters, Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine and Fred McMurray, but also by the minor characters, are so well-rounded and full that one believes in every person one sees on screen. The music is beautiful and the direction whizzes the action on with sensitivity, assurance and brio. It is the best film made by Billy Wilder and he has made some superb films. And it is funny, if bitter sweet. 

I first saw it at an all-night Jack Lemmon fest in London in about 1971. It was then just over ten years old. It was the third film on at about 2am. As it ended, I cried and cried. And each time I see it, I cry. About 4 years ago, I bought two tickets to see it at the National Film Theatre with my niece Olivia. I really respect Olivia's views about films and so I was very nervous about taking her because I thought what if she doesn't like it? As it happened, she cried off and so I went on my own. As I approached the door to NFT1, a young guy about 20 years old, ran up to the usher on the door and asked for a ticket. The usher explained that not only had he to buy the ticket at the box office on the other side of the building but the film was just about to start. I interrupted and said that he could have my spare ticket. The guy said that he had no cash and I said that he could have it for nothing as I had already wasted the money. He was very grateful. I said that, obviously, he would have to sit next to me and he said that was fine. But then I warned him that I would be in floods of tears at the end and he just shrugged and said it wouldn't bother him. Well, we watched the film and, as I was dabbing my eyes as the lights went up, I turned to him and saw tears running down his cheeks as well.

If you haven't seen it, get the DVD and enjoy. The trouble is that the format of the film has been repeated several times since but this is the original and this is the far. But that is only my humble opinion - see for yourselves, you lucky people seeing it for the first time.

As last night's performance ended, the whole audience applauded. How often does that happen? Go on, buy it.

Friday, 28 June 2013

Let yourself go!

This was a stop motion film I had been waiting to make ever since I first set eyes on the Bandstand on Brighton Beach when we moved to Brighton in 2011. Soon after we moved in, a Community Police Officer called me in response to some enquiry we had made and, after chatting quite pleasantly with her for about 15 minutes, she asked if I had any more questions. I said "Yes, just one.  Can I photograph myself dancing naked on the Bandstand at five o'clock in the morning?" She laughed and replied "Yes, so long as you face the sea". I didn't say that that was the last thing I wanted to do but it was because the sea had to be the backdrop.

In most of my films, I do all the camera work but, in this case, I could see that the quicker it was done, the less likely I was to be arrested. Therefore, when Lisa Wormsley agreed to do a second photographic shoot, I asked her if she minded doing it very early one morning after helping me with the stop motion film on the bandstand. She was very happy to help and so, armed with nothing more than the cane from "A Country Wife" and my grandfather's  silk top hat, we filmed it.

And it worked out just as I wanted it to.

You can see another copy of the same film on my You Tube Channel "tjra1951"

Monday, 24 June 2013


Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke

If you are a human being then this film will speak volumes. It is, quite simply, 
a masterpiece. Beautifully acted, intelligently written, sensitively directed 
(by Richard Linklater) and with a wonderfully subtle musical score. 

It is about what we all are - human beings - sometimes complicated, sometimes 
straightforward but always interesting. We are all the same but we are just passing 
through and, on the journey, we live and we learn.
If you have seen and enjoyed the previous two films "Before Sunrise" and "Before 
Sunset" then you will need no further introduction or recommendation. If you 
have not see them before, please try to watch them first but, quite honestly, the films
do stand on their own.

The saga will continue and, of course, we shall all love it in our own way. I shall 
say no more except that this is cinema at its very best.

Monday, 18 February 2013


Have you ever had something like a debilitating neurological condition which causes tremor and then gone to see one of the most exciting thrillers in years at the cinema? No? Well, if you ever get such a condition (and I hope none of you reading this ever will), go to see Argo and you'll know what I am talking about! The cinema (the lovely Duke of York's in Brighton) was packed and I was sitting in the front row which in fact, is where I prefer to sit. After about 30 minutes, I was shaking and must have taken some of the other front rowers with me, certainly the poor guy sitting next to me to whom I apologised afterwards.

It is a great film, deftly directed by Ben Affleck who also gives a very good performance in the central role. Alan Arkin is wonderful of course. Not sure about some aspects of the last scene but it wasn't enough to overshadow what was a thoroughly good film based on a true story. I met some friends as I was doing my Ben Affleck impersonation walking up the aisle (he has a debilitating neurological condition in my scene) and they said they had seen Lincoln the week before but much preferred Argo. Not sure you can really compare two films like this although that is what they are going to do at the Oscars I suppose. Lincoln was wordy and worthy but Daniel Day-Lewis was superb. He must be the best actor of his generation.

It is nice to get back to Cinema going again. It helps that I am sleeping better and so am less likely to fall asleep in films although last week, having eaten a whole packet of chocolate the day before, I  had hardly any sleep and then stupidly went to see "The Master" and woke up as the credits rolled. I have never done that before.