'British Cinema Showcase - 6 Movie Set'
(Ewan McGregor, Robert Carlyle, Rhys Ifans, Julie Walters, Andie MacDowell, et al / 2-DVD / NR / 2014 / Mill Creek Entertainment)
Overview: Keep Calm and Watch British Cinema! Included in this 6 movie set are: 'Once Upon a Time in the Midlands,' 'Still Crazy,' 'Crush,' 'Last Orders' and both 'Young Adam' and 'Driving Lessons.'
DVD Verdict: In truth, I'm a HUGE "British film" fan so I didn't need my wife with me on the sofa for her input on these - but she snuggled up regardless. And enjoyed waaaay more of them, regardless of not picking up on everything they said each time!
Just to give you a rundown of a handful that stood out, starring Helena Bergstrom, Juliet Aubrey, Timothy Spall, Bill Nighy and so many more, 'Still Crazy' is the all-time stand-out film here of the six! It follows the familiar theme of getting a second chance. The former members of the rock band "The Strange Fruits" decide to join together for a reunion tour after breaking up 20 years prior, rekindling old relationships. The writing, acting, and music are all excellent. Each of the Fruits characters is unique and memorable; my favorite is the roadie, Hughie (Billy Connolly), who I think resembles a John Cleese (Monty Python, Fish Called Wanda) with long hair. But it's Nighy who makes the best impression. He conveys a kind of fear when he knows he can't trust himself to do the right thing. Without him, this film would not register, at all, another film of a failed rock band, but he brings this film and the characters to life.
In 'Last orders,' starring a slew of incredible British talent such as Michael Caine, Tom Courtenay, David Hemmings, Bob Hoskins, Helen Mirren, and Ray Winstone, Jack Dodds (Michael Caine), previously a soldier and now a butcher dies leaving "last Orders" for his friends to take his ashes to the sea. On the way they all remember their interactions with Jack and then some. This sort of film has been done before. Yet if you like this formula then it is a fairly well produced movie. It is mostly a series of flashbacks requiring two different sets of actors to cover the span of years. Much of the film is from a mock Mercedes with a rear projection screen. So, of course, we do see some popular locations as backdrops to the story. In truth, and based on a Graham Swift novel "Last Orders", this would have made a better play than a movie.
And in the hilarious 'Driving Lessons,' starring Julie Walters, Rupert Grint, and Laura Linney, the story begins with Ben (played by Rupert Gint), a teenage boy raised by a repressive mother (Laura Linney) and passive father, acquiring a job with an older actress. The film then follows the two leads who play with the "old couple" dynamic; yet underneath, the story is about the actress, "Dame" Evie Walton, releasing the suppressed character of Ben. Throughout the film Ben blossoms as a writer and poet, discovering the good in life while faced with it's brevity. These are all Full Screen Presentations (1.33:1) and enhanced for 16x9 TVs.