Tag Archives: Brief Encounter

A film couples special

In honour of this commercialised cliché of a Thursday, here are five film couples we’re rooting for. 

brief encounterCouple: Laura Jesson & Alec Harvey
Film: Brief Encounter (1945)
Background: Noel Coward’s poster child for adultery, the stunning Celia Johnson, plays a married with two housewife, whose only real excitement comes from her Thursday afternoon trips to Boots and the pictures. Her kids are bratty and her husband is a dull crossword obsessive, so when she meets a hunky doctor (Trevor Howard) on a train platform, she falls for him understandably hard.
Relationship: The clue’s in the film title. The pair have a handful of meetings, and a couple of furtive kisses. Although they get a room at one point, it doesn’t quite come off. Ultimately, marital commitments, family responsibility, and the lure of earning the big doctor bucks in Johannesburg win out over larking about on the boating lake together. Since Laura does the right thing, despite it condemning her to a life of misery, it’s shame she is denied the dramatic and emotional farewell she deserves. Bloody Brits and their stiff upper lips.
After the film: It being the forties, Laura & Alec aren’t privy to the same levels of constant communication we’re used to today. (One time, he misses their scheduled rendezvous due to a hospital emergency and she has to just wait until the next week to hear from him. Imagine!) This means that, sadly, they probably never spoke to each other again. They’d never pull that off today. He’d be stalking her on Facebook within five minutes of leaving the platform. After the obligatory ‘I’m on a train’ tweet, obviously.

jerry maguireCouple: Dorothy Boyd & Jerry Maguire
Film: Jerry Maguire (1996)
Background: After sports agent Jerry (Tom Cruise) has a crisis of conscience and distributes a mission statement that gets him summarily fired, accountant Dorothy (Renée Zellweger) is inspired enough to become his only employee.  Dorothy is a single mum, and Jerry has recently broken off his engagement with another woman. Their lack of office space, long working hours and general dire financial straits inevitably bring them closer together.
Relationship: ‘I’ve got this great guy. And he loves my kid. And he sure does like me a lot.’ Ok, so he shoplifted the pootie. And their subsequent marriage is more for tax purposes than anything romantic. But Jerry does eventually realise how much Dorothy means to him and, like the true salesman that he is, wins her back with a single word. He always was good in a living room.
After the film: Cynical as I am, I’d like to think these guys were just dysfunctional enough to make it. His share of that $11.2million Cardinals contract would surely reduce some of the stress, and give Dorothy the taste of First Class she deserved. And, with Rod & Marcee Tidwell (frankly the perfect couple) as their BFFs and relationship mentors, just maybe they did. At least long enough to take Ray to the fucking zoo, anyway.

fantastic-mr-foxCouple: Mr ‘Foxy’ Fox & Mrs Felicity Fox
Film: Fantastic Mr Fox (2009)
Background: Young, in love and on a routine squab raid, Fox (George Clooney) & Felicity (Meryl Streep) get caught in a fox trap. Felicity reveals that she’s pregnant and makes him promise that, if they get out alive, he’ll find a safer line of work.
Relationship: 12 fox years later, the husband & wife are living a happy life of domesticity with their son Ash, but Fox still desires more. It isn’t long before his animal instincts drive him to risk everything in the pursuit of apple cider and poultry. It’s only when his nephew Kristofferson is captured that he realises the error of his ways. Though Felicity rolls her eyes and proclaims she never should have married him, it isn’t long before they’re dancing together over the end credits.
After the film: Their eventual underground home is safe enough to satisfy Felicity’s maternal instincts, with night time access to a supermarket to supply Foxy with the finer things in life. Plus, they’re going to have another cub. You’ve got to give them a fighting chance. Until he’s exhausted the supermarket’s extra special range, and gets a taste for foie gras again.

chasing amyCouple: Holden McNeil & Alyssa Jones
Film: Chasing Amy (1997)
Background: ‘Quickstop? My best friend fucked a dead guy in the bathroom!’ Holden (Ben Affleck) & Alyssa (Joey Lauren Adams) meet while appearing at a comic book convention in New York. Both hail from New Jersey and, as they soon discover, share a number of acquaintances. While Alyssa is gay, the pair soon become close and begin a relationship, which mainly consists of having sex, hanging out, and exchanging the usual Kevin Smith angst-ridden dialogue.
Relationship: The pair engage in lots of frantic sex, deep and challenging discussions about virginity and fisting, and some pretty killer arguments. Alyssa’s friends are distinctly unimpressed by the gender of her new beau, while Holden’s comic partner Banky goes out of his way to highlight her flaws. Holden freaks out when he learns more about Alyssa and her ‘Finger Cuffs’ history, and calls off the whole affair. One person who is rooting for them, however, is Silent Bob, who startlingly breaks his quiet in order to drop a relationship wisdom bomb and almost save the couple. Until Holden starts banging on about threesomes again.
After the film: Though the movie ends with Holden & Alyssa apart, there is definitely a glimmer of hope. Holden has learnt his lesson, lost his best friend, and written an apology comic, for crying out loud! It’d be nice to think that lovelorn Holden didn’t end up like Silent Bob – ‘A tubby bitch crying like a little girl to Barbra Streisand’s Greatest Hits’. (So says Jay. Personally I think he’s kind of hot.)

slumdog-millionaireCouple: Jamal & Latika
Film: Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
Background: Jamal (Dev Patel) and Latika (Freida Pinto) meet as children in the aftermath of the Bombay Riots. Taken by a gangster and trained as beggars, the two are separated by his meddling brother when they try to escape. The film tells the tale of Jamal’s life as he never stops looking for her, even while appearing on Indian quiz television.
Relationship: Jamal eventually tracks down and rescues Latika, only to have her stolen away by his older brother once more. Years later he finds her again, but she has to send him away to keep them both alive. It’s admittedly not the smoothest of couplings but, having experienced such a shitty start to life, you can understand his determination to make this work. After risking everything, and taking quite a few beatings, to save Latika, it’s his knowledge of cricket which eventually gets him the girl. And a the big stinking pile of cash.
After the film: D. It is written. Duh, of course they end up together! And I bet they have loads of cute kids. And all dance around to Jai Ho every single day.

Happy Valentine’s Day, love from Failed Critics x

Best Films on TV. Week commencing 11th February 2013.

Our #bestfilmsontv list for this week is chosen by our esteemed leader James Diamond. Again. He’s a bit of a control freak. Follow @failedcritics for daily reminders. 

300 This is SpartaMonday 10th February – Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Film 4 at 11.10pm)

I know it’s a little risky (slash unprofessional) picking a film that I haven’t seen, but this methodical Turkish crime thriller comes very highly recommended, and was included in the Sight & Sound Top Ten of 2012. So it must be pretty decent.

Tuesday 11th February – Die Hard (Film 4 at 9pm)

Luckily I’ve no such problems of reaching around in the dark for today’s choice. I’m currently writing this blog while stewing over the news that Die Hard 5 (can we all stop with the ridiculous A Good Day to Die Hard nonsense please?) has been cut by the studio to get a 12a certificate in the UK; despite the fact that our American cousins get the full R-rated shebang. They also get Obama as their president, and breakfast buffet bars in strip-clubs. It’s so unfair! Anyway, watch this and remember when people used to make adult films and didn’t try to market them to 12-year-olds

Wednesday 13th February – The Book of Eli (5* at 9pm)

I have trawled every free-to-air channel for a film to recommend on Wednesday, and for the second time this week I’ve had to resort to a film I’ve still not seen (it’s in a pile of blu-rays I heartlessly snatched for a pittance in a closing down Blockbusters). In a post-apocalyptic future, Denzel Washington travels across a scorched earth protecting a book from falling into the hands of a psychotic Gary Oldman (presumably in Leon-esque overdrive).

Thursday 14th February – Brief Encounter (Film 4 at 3.25pm)

There’s no other choice for Valentine’s Day than David Lean’s wonderful film (from a Noel Coward screenplay) about love, duty, and old-fashioned values. In the same way that It’s a Wonderful Life is the definitive Christmas film despite it’s very dark moments; Brief Encounter is a classic romantic story, without much in the way of sex, kissing, or even holding hands. It’s the story of a doomed and rather mundane not-quite-affair, and it’s really rather heart-breaking.

Friday 15th February – The Last Boy Scout (ITV1 at 10.35pm)

Speaking of It’s a Wonderful Life, you can catch it today at 2.50pm on Film 4 if you’re the type of weirdo who watches Christmas films in February. Otherwise, why not save your pocket money this week and forego the latest sham of a Die Hard film, and watch Bruce Willis as God truly intended. The Last Boy Scout is Tony Scott at his best, and features possibly the only Willis movie cop better than John McClane. Add a script penned by Shane Black and you have genuine (say it like an American, GEN-YOU-WINE) popcorn-eating, eyes-glued-to-the-screen classic.

Saturday 16th February – 300 (TCM at 9pm)

As long as Zak Snyder lives, he will never make a film as unashamedly spectacular, homoerotic, and brilliant as 300. Based on Frank Miller’s graphic novel about the Spartans’ heroic stand against Xerxes fortress, it is the film that launched countless memes and resulted in me shouting “Tonight we dine in hell!” at my daughter on more than one occasion. Gerard Butler should just play King Leonidis in every paint-by-numbers rom-com he does in future.

Sunday 17th February – True Lies (Channel 4 at 10.55pm)

The last decent film that James Cameron made was nearly 20 years ago, but what a film. Arnie plays the mild-mannered computer salesman (in as close a performance as Arnold gets to acting), who has to juggle tracking down terrorists who’ve stolen nuclear weapons, while trying to frighten his wife into not having an affair. Explosions and hilarity ensue. True Lies is, and I say this without a hint of sarcasm, as close as James Cameron gets to Alfred Hitchcock.