Monday, April 30, 2007

The British are Coming (Unfortunately)....Rants on "Saturday Night and Sunday Morning" and "The Knack...and How to Get It"

Sorry for my lack of posts in the past few days. I just finished my first year of college and took the weekend off to settle back in at home. I was also catching up on some older films I taped while I was at school and happened to catch two 60's British films: Karel Reisz's Saturday Night and Sunday Morning and Richard Lester's The Knack...and How to Get It.

Right from the get-go, I knew I wasn't going to like Saturday Night and Sunday Morning. Normally I like Albert Finney (Erin Brokovich, anyone?), but his voice got on my nerves from the moment he said his first lines. His voice was rough and coarse with an British accent more annoying than Cockney (I'm not exactly sure which one it is, but I hated it). To make matters worse, Finney hardly even acts through out the film. He growls, stumbles and broods through every scene, trying to be the next Brando, but ends up looking like an angry retard.

The rest of the film isn't much better. What passes for realism in the 60's, doesn't quite hold up 40 years later. There are so many more working-class films made before or around the same time as Saturday Night (The Crowd, The 400 Blows, etc.) that are infinitely more interesting than this film. Plus, the film tries way too hard for us to stand behind Finney's anti-hero and it's way too hard because he is such an ass to everyone that by the end, we don't really give a shit about him anymore. The only positive to this movie was the always fabulous Rachel Roberts as a married woman having an affair with Finney who winds up pregnant by him. She doesn't get bogged down by her cliched role and delivers the type of naturalistic performance the film strives for.

On the other hand, The Knack...and How to Get It aims for a style that only the movies can produce. Taken from a stage play, The Knack follows a womanizer who is teaches his roommate how to pick up chicks. In comes a new roommate who doesn't like the womanizer and a young country girl who almost falls for the womanizer. There's not much to the story and it runs on for 90 minutes without really going anywhere. The characters don't really progress much, remaining as annoying in the end as they were in the beginning. Add to that Lester's erratic direction which might have been cutting edge (slow-motion, repeating moments over and over again from different angles, the silent movie-esque door sequence) back in 1965, but his tricks are annoying and only seem to be covering up the film's pointlessness and lack of substance.

Saturday Night and Sunday Morning: ** 1/2
The Knack...and How to Get It: * 1/2

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