Posts Tagged ‘Swinging-sixties arthouse’

My Generation (2017) ***

Dir: David Batty | Writers: Dick Clement, Ian La Frenais | Cast: Michael Caine, Joan Collins, Lulu, Paul McCartney, Twiggy, Roger Daltrey, Marianne Faithfull, Sandie Shaw, Mary Quant, Barbara Hulanicki | UK | Doc | 85′ |

As narrator and co-producer, Michael Caine turns the camera on himself for a filmic flip through the Swinging Sixties, showing how he and his talented contempories transformed Britain.

Assembled over two years, MY GENERATION is directed by David Batty, with scripters Ian La Frenais and Dick Clement ensuring an enjoyable ride through enjoyable archive footage showcasing Caine’s contempories: photographer trio: Terry Donovan, Duffy and David Bailey; fashion models such as Twiggy, Jean Shrimpton and Joanna Lumley and musicians: Roger Daltrey, Paul McCartney and Mick Jagger.

Caine, now 84, contemplates the factors that caused the loosening up in the postwar set-up citing The Pill and the advent of Grammar schools as primary factors for change, while Marianne Faithfull suggests it was all down to an improved diet. Whatever the case, they were all determined to have a good time and break down barriers, bringing in a more colourful era and putting London on the map as a beacon of youth culture, as everyone flocked to the capital. Caine, who rose from solid working class stock as Maurice Micklewhite, uses the film to attack posh middle class acting talent, ridiculing the likes of cult classics Brief Encounter (1946) and taking a swipe at  Norman Wisdom who he claims was not generous to work with despite his humble origins. Paul McCartney comes up with the chestnut, “suddenly people realised the working class wasn’t as thick as it looked and it had talent.” Chippy Britain at its best.

Caine goes on to suggest that the advent of drugs brought an end to the Swinging Sixties although stresses he only smoked marijuana once as it made him laugh for five hours so he couldn’t remember his lines. To his credit Caine avoids mawkish sentimentality: “I don’t feel nostalgia. I never look back. I feel extraordinarily lucky, not about my talent or anything, but about the timing,” MY GENERATION is an entertaining romp showing how these legendary characters made the Sixties happen and made their vast fortunes into the bargain.MT


Deep End (1970) | Kinoteka 2016

Director: Jerzy Skolimowski

Cast: Jane Asher, John Moulder-Brown, Karl Michael Vogler, Diana Dors, Christopher Sandford

88min | Drama | UK/Germany 1970

Jerzy Skolimowski left Poland after his 1966 film Barrier to direct three German co-productions: The Departure, The Adventures of Gerard and the rather quaint Deep End which was set in London but was mostly shot in Munich, Germany.

In this prescient view of  ‘modern’ London, Skolimowski explores the burgeoning power of youth in contrast to age through a mishmash of interconnecting sexual and emotional encounters. Mike (Moulder-Brown), a naive and fresh-faced public school-leaver takes a job in the local public baths. He falls for his colleague Susan (a gamine Jane Asher), who is already involved with an obnoxious fiancé (Sanford) and her old teacher (Vogler), who seduced her when she was underage. Meanwhile, Mike is being harassed by a busty blond client (Dors) who fantasises about George Best while she molests him. When Susan loses a diamond ring given to her by her fiancé, Mike’s hormones are in overdrive as he tries to help her find it and their putative romance has a messy ending.

The Sixties are over in DEEP END and London is anything but swinging: the sleet grey streets a symbol for a down-trodden capital. Despite this, Skolimowski’s dialogue feels fresh and authentic and the detail spot on: Jane Asher rocks white lace-up boots and a yellow plastic midi mac and Moulder Brown, a sports jacket and white sneakers (he cleans the bath with ‘Vim’). Existential angst dominates these characters, each bleaker than the other but the tone is chipper rather than downbeat, often accompanied by the musical strains of The Can and Cat Stevens.

Mistreated by her teacher, Susan uses her fiancé to get even with her next love interest; she is a classic ‘victim turned abused’. Mike is very much the naïve bystander and the work environment alien to him; he is also a victim and, in the end, an abuser out of control. Susan’s teacher and her fiancé are both insecure, preying on Susan and her co-dependence. Diana Dors’ client is a throwback to an era (nearly half a century ago) where many people had no bathroom and were forced to wash in the public baths. Her obsession with football is also significant: long before the sport became a middle class hobby, football and its heroes represented a way out for the working classes, compensating for their dreary life: A visit to the match was a live chance to worship their heroes. Sex Education posters state: “What if a Man could get pregnant” underlining the emotional alienation between the sexes, despite the advent of sexual liberation and the Pill, DEEP END is still marooned in a world Of Victorian values, quite the opposite of the rosy vision of the ‘swinging sixties’, Jane Asher carries the film, a figure of feminine vulnerability fighting her corner in a sea of emotional turmoil that ends in surprising tragedy. MT



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