British Films at Doc Films, 2011-2012

During the 2011-2012 academic year the Nicholson Center for British Studies, in collaboration with Doc Films, the Nicholson Center co-sponsored a variety of events centering on British Film.


Fall Quarter 2011

The Deadly Affair

(Sidney Lumet, 1966)
Wednesday, October 19th

Winter Quarter 2012

Sundays: Always Crashing in the Same Car
The Best of British Film After the New Wave

Sunday, January 8


Lindsay Anderson, 1968 • Drawing closely from Jean Vigo’s Zéro de Conduite and earlier American counterparts like Rebel Without A Cause, Lindsay Anderson’s masterpiece stars Malcolm McDowell and Richard Warwick as horny, disaffected, emotionally suppressed boarding school students. Moving between black and white and color with little distinction between what is real and what is imagined, If... creates a bridge between Kitchen Sink dramas like Saturday Night and Sunday Morning and the post-wave British cinema of filmmakers like Nicholas Roeg with a sense of grace that places it far above anything it could be compared to. 35mm


Sunday, January 15


Ken Loach, 1969 • David Bradley plays Billy Casper, a fifteen year old bullied at school and virtually abandoned by his family with nothing but a dead end life working the Yorkshire coal mines (where, at the time, one could find the lowest paid workers in a developed country) to look forward to. Primarily occupied with petty thievery and daydreaming, he befriends a falcon named Kes, who offers the film's only element of hope and kindness. A look at one of the most miserable and terrifying points in England's history, Kes is widely regarded as one of the best British films of all time. 35mm

Sunday, January 22

Deep End

Jerzy Skolimowski, 1970 • Polish director Jerzy Skolimowski’s second English language feature after being exiled from Poland because of anti-Stalinist views associated with his 1967 masterpiece Hands Up!, this British/West German production stars Jane Asher as the read headed femme fatale who drives adolescent John Moulder Brown to the brink of insanity. Compared by Andrew Sarris to the best work of Godard and Roman Polanski, and ends up a bizarre combination of the two. Deep End is a sweet hearted film pent up in a cold hearted world, both frustrating and extremely moving. Featuring music by Can and Cat Stevens. 35mm


Sunday, January 29

Age of Consent

Michael Powell, 1969 • Hoping to recapture his lost artistic passion, an exhausted but successful New York artist returns home to northern Australia. There the artist, played by a grizzled James Mason (Lolita, Island in the Sun), retreats to a less than deserted island and meets the lovely Cora. As nymph and muse, Cora (Helen Mirren) opens the artist’s eyes to her vitality against the beautiful backdrop of the Great Barrier Reef while delicately illustrating her own journey of discovery. Shamelessly depicting the possibilities of self determined empowerment we can be reminded that our shared images of art and life can and do change. 35mm


Sunday, February 5

Bill Douglas Trilogy: My Childhood & My Ain Folk

Bill Douglas, 1972 & 1973 • Funded by the British Film Institute and based on a script Douglas wrote at London International Film School, The Bill Douglas Trilogy is the closest representation of the crippling poverty of lower class England in the late 60s and early 70s on film. The first two installments, My Childhood and My Ain’ Folk were made within a year of one another and star Stephen Archibald plagued with personal and material impoverishment. Things turn around for the better when an older friend introduces him to books and the promise of a more fulfilling future. 35mm


Sunday, February 12

Sunday Bloody Sunday

John Schlesinger, 1971 • Britain is on the verge of financial ruin, there’s famine in Africa and Southeast Asia, technology’s gone haywire, and Alex (Glenda Jackson) simply can’t be bothered. What does trouble her? Her young artist lover (Murray Head) is sleeping with a man (Peter Finch). Well, that’s not really it. See she’s known all along that she’s sharing him. What’s changed? Sharing is getting harder. Sometimes, she learns over the course of a tumultuous weekend, nothing is better than anything. This totally flawless film was nominated for four Oscars: Best Actor (Finch), Best Actrress (Jackson), Best Screenplay, and Best Director. 35mm


Sunday, February 19

Secret Ceremony

A 1968 film, produced in Britain and released by Universal Pictures. It stars Elizabeth Taylor, Mia Farrow, Robert Mitchum, Pamela Brown, and Peggy Ashcroft. Joseph Losey directed, from a script by George Tabori.  Taylor plays Leonora, a prostitute despondent over the death of her daughter. Mia Farrow is Cenci, a lonely young woman who is immediately attracted to Leonora and practically adopts her as her mother. Albert (Robert Mitchum), Cenci's stepfather, intrudes into this make-believe mother and daughter relationship, and tragedy ensues.


Sunday, February 26

Bill Douglas Trilogy: My Way Home

Bill Douglas, 1978 • The last installment of the Bill Douglas Trilogy follows Stephen Archibald from welfare institution in Edinburgh to National Service in Egypt, but remains as violently unsentimental and bleak as My Childhood & My Ain’ Folk. The film was delayed five years until Archibald was the right age to play the part, and it would be the most expensive of these three films to make, totalling a minuscule $33,000. As the three films unfold they become harder and harder to step away from, moving slowly and with the most extreme attention to detail that is both harrowing and beautiful. 35mm


Sunday, March 4

The Man Who Fell To Earth

Nicolas Roeg, 1976 • In this twisted take on the American sci-fi novel, David Bowie plays an alien in exile who lands in New Mexico and becomes a millionaire by peddling inventions like Polaroid film, but is destroyed by capitalism, sex, and the US government. Beautifully photographed in Scope, The Man Who Fell to Earth balances surface textures of pop culture and lust with a yearning for something more profound - the perpetual post-war-American struggle through a European lens. Long out of circulation in its original release cut, this screening will be in a new 35mm print from Rialto. 35mm

Spring Quarter 2012

Monty Python
And Now for Something Completely Different

Wednesday, March 28

Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Terry Gilliam & Terry Jones, 1974 • King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table battle the Black Knight, encounter the dreaded Knights who say Ni, defeat the Rabbit of Caerbannog using the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, face off against The Legendary Black Beast of Aaaaarrrrrrggghhh, and attempt to enter the castle of the Franglais via Trojan Rabbit, all while on their quest for the Holy Grail. “I fart in your general direction! Your mother was a hamster, and your father smelt of elderberries!”, “...Is there someone else there we can talk to?”  35mm 

Wednesday, April 4

Monty Python’s Life of Brian

Terry Jones, 1979 • Brian Cohen of Nazareth was born on the same day as, and in the manger next door to, Jesus Christ. He spends his life being mistaken for a messiah in Roman-occupied Judea. He joins the People’s Front of Judea, a rebel group who do not do much, but do hate the Romans.  Life of Brian is frequently described as the greatest comedy film ever made: an irreverent satire of Biblical films and religious intolerance. The film was banned in dozens of communities and countries, some of which uphold its censorship today.   35mm 

Wednesday, April 11

Monty Python’s Meaning of Life

Terry Jones, 1983 • The final film featuring all six Pythons takes on the sketch format of their influential Monty Python’s Flying Circus comedy series, divided into chapters: The Crimson Permanent Assurance, Title Sequence, Part I: The Miracle of Birth, Part II: Growth and Learning, Part III: Fighting Each Other, The Middle of the Film, Part IV: Middle Age, Part V: Live Organ Transplants, Part VI: The Autumn Years, Part VII: Death, The End of the Film. Why are we here, what’s it all about? The Meaning of Life shows us what it is, where it is, and how to avoid treading in it.  35mm 

Wednesday, April 18

Time Bandits

Terry Gilliam, 1981 • Eleven-year old Kevin, a history buff, accidentally joins a band of treasure-hunting, time-travelling dwarves. The bandits have “borrowed” a map to the Universe’s time holes from the Supreme Being - and they end up in Kevin’s wardrobe, a time hole. The crew adventures through Napoleonic times, the Middle Ages, and the 1900s. Each dwarf is said to represent a Python member: Fidgit as Palin (the nice one), Randall as Cleese (the self-appointed leader), Strutter as Eric Idle (the acerbic one), Og as Chapman (the quiet one), Wally as Terry Jones (the rebel), and Vermin (the nasty one) as Gilliam himself.  35mm 

Wednesday, April 25

Terry Gilliam, 1985 • Sam Lowry is a low-level government employee who has frequent daydreams of saving a beautiful maiden. He lives in an unidentified country: a dystopian world that relies on poorly maintained/whimsical machines. A mistaken arrest of one Archibald “Harry” Tuttle (Robert De Niro) leads to Sam being blamed for a series of terrorist bombings. Reminiscent of works by Kurt Vonnegut, George Orwell, and Aldous Huxley, Brazil is Gilliam’s satirical attack on bureaucratic, dysfunctional industrial society. Featuring Jonathan Pryce, Robert De Niro, and co-written by Gilliam and frequent Python contributor Charles McKeown.  35mm

Wednesday, May 2

A Fish Called Wanda

Charles Crichton & John Cleese, 1988 • London gangster George Thomasan, his righthand man Ken Pile, American con artist Wanda Gershwitz, and “weapons man” Otto West plot a $20 million jewel heist. The robbery goes off as planned, but as you might guess, all four of the crooks try to doublecross each other to have the loot for themselves. Wanda and Otto turn George over to the police, not knowing that he’s stashed the diamonds. Wanda may be the most highlyregarded comedy film of the Python team following the originals: its brilliant, Cleesewritten script helps the film hold down a 96% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.  35mm

Wednesday, May 9

The Adventures of Baron Munchausen

Joseph Losey, 1970 • Winner of the Grand Prix at the 1971 Cannes Film Festival, The Go-Between is an adaptation of the novel of the same name. With a screenplay written by renowned dramatist and screenwriter Harold Pinter, the film concerns and ageing man named Leo, who reminisces about his youth. At the turn of the 20th century, when Leo was thirteen, he spent a summer at the country estate of a school friend. He becomes enamored of his friend’s engaged older sister (Julie Christie), and she begins to use the innocent Leo as a go-between, carrying messages between her and her lover, a tenant farmer. 35mm

Wednesday, May 16
Erik the Viking

Terry Jones, 1989 • Freya informs Erik the Viking that Fenrir the wolf has swallowed the sun, plunging the world into the grip of Ragnarök. Erik (Tim Robbins) and his men travel across the sea to find Valhalla, to ask the gods to end Ragnarök. The seasalt voyagers rape, loot, and pillage up the coast, except for Erik, who does not have much taste for rape and pillage. Featuring John Cleese as Halfdan the Black and Terry Jones himself as King Arnulf. Additional characters include Ivar the Boneless, Thorfinn Skullsplitter, Leif the Lucky, and Mord Fiddle. Be there, or beheaded. 35mm 

Wednesday, May 23

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Terry Gilliam, 1998 • Gilliam’s legendary adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson’s 1971 novel stars Johnny Depp as Raoul Duke and Benicio Del Toro as Dr. Gonzo: an oddball journalist and his psychopathic lawyer, speeding through the Nevada desert in a Cadillac El Dorado convertible, in a psychoactive-drug-induced haze. They set out in the Red Shark for Las Vegas, in pursuit of a demented “American Dream”. Along the way, the duo consume mescaline, “Sunshine Acid,” diethyl ether, LSD, cocaine, adrenochrome, and maybe some other stuff. You better not stop to pick up a hitchhiker in Bat Country.  35mm

Wednesday, May 30

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

Terry Gilliam, 2009 • Gilliam’s latest fantasy flick follows the tale of ancient Doctor Parnassus’ travelling theater troupe. A thousand years ago, Dr. Parnassus (Christopher Plummer) made a bet with the Devil (Tom Waits), trading his youth for immortality. His theater troupe guides its audience through a magical mirror to the “Imaginarium,” where they choose between light and joy or darkness and gloom. Heath Ledger, in his final performance, died during production, and was portrayed by Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell, and Jude Law as physically transformed versions of him within the Imaginarium.  35mm


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