Tag Archive: Ray Winstone


Despite the triumphant eight hour version of Bleak House in 2005, there was talk of the BBC cutting back on costume dramas and putting Charles Dickens adaptations on hold.

Thankfully, there seems to have been a rethink at Broadcasting House and so we were treated to a marvellous three part version of Great Expectations over Christmas and can look forward to The Mystery of Edwin Drood soon.

The BBC is to Dickens what Fox television is to reactionary journalism and the festive period is the ideal time of year to watch these dramas. Continue reading

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Continuing my list of the Fifty Greatest British Cult Movies, here is my selection from  40 -31:

40. SCUM Alan Clarke (1979)

Alan Clarke was known for his direct, no frills approach to film. He cut his teeth on TV, notably with Play For Today. This exposé of the brutality in the borstal system was originally made for that slot but was considered too violent for home consumption. Scum is another hard man role for Ray Winstone. Not for wimps.

39.  THE COMPANY OF WOLVES  Neil Jordan (1984)

“The worst wolves are hairy on the inside”. Angel Carter’s short story is a feminist retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. The visually striking movie is not an entirely successful adaptation but manages to keep the ideas alive. Continue reading

Any best of list is personal and subjective so there is nothing fundamentally wrong with the fact that Nerve.Com’s list of the ‘Fifty Greatest Cult Movies of all time’ is so heavily slanted towards American films. The list does, however, ignore the world of cinema and misses the opportunity to celebrate cult directors like Alejandro Jodorowsky, Andrei Tarkovsky, Werner Herzog and Akiro Kurosawa. The lack of British entries is also unfortunate.

In order to prove that movies don’t begin and end in Hollywood or on the U.S. Indie circuit I have made a rival list of Fifty Greatest British Cult Movies.

As with the Nerve list, I have limited each director to one film.  With regard to what is, or is not, a ‘cult’ , this is another relative question but generally implies some manner of what a Rough Guide to Cult Fiction calls a “lengthy and irrational devotion”. My rule of thumb guide is that the movie must have either generated such obsessive adoration and/or has otherwise achieved some measure of healthy notoriety.

The list also contains films that have won mainstream acclaim as well as others which have been unjustly ignored by the public at large and so have a small but devoted audience.

Here is my selection from  50 -41:

50.  CARRY ON CLEO –  Gerald Thomas  (1964)

Bawdy, unsubtle and stuffed to the brim with cheap innuendos, the Carry On series are, for better or worse, a British institution. This is the tenth of 29 made between 1958 and 1978 with one ill-advised attempt at a revival (Carry On Columbus) in 1992  Cleo was marketed as the funniest film since 54bc. For me the choice of which Carry On to pick was between this and Carry On Screaming. What swung it was the memorable one-liner delivered by Kenneth Williams as Julius Caesar; all together now  : “Infamy! Infamy! They’ve all got it in for me!”

49. FOUR LIONS Chris Morris (2010)

4 LIONS

Cultdom and controversy often go hand in hand. Making a black comedy about Muslim terrorists operating from a London-based cell risks more than a few bad reviews. Comedian, Chris Morris is never one to be shy away from ruffling a few feathers and, while his debut film is not laugh out loud funny it merits inclusion here for its courage and obvious integrity.

48. MURDER, SHE SAID George Pollock (1961)

Forget the insipid TV series (Murder, She Wrote) this features an amateur sleuth of far greater substance. It brings to the screen the perfect personification of Miss Marple in the form of the peerless Margaret Rutherford. This is probably the best in a series based on Agatha Christie’s improbable heroine with a strong supporting cast . Utterly charming. Continue reading

NIL BY MOUTH

Gary Oldman’s debut as director is a brutal and harrowing movie based on his own upbringing in South London. His father was an alcoholic, a condition that he inherited and subsequently overcame. Oldman’s breaking of the cycle of hurt and self-abuse is at odds with his fictional characters who show little  capacity for such change.

At the heart of the story is Raymond (Ray Winstone) who is a split personality – sometimes physically violent and verbally abusive and at other times just  verbally abusive.

As a portrayal of worst aspects of male behaviour it is unforgettable and at times hard to watch. His existence  consists of heavy drinking, chain smoking,  petty crime, drug taking and wife beating and is so relentlessly dire that it’s nigh on to impossible to find any glimmer of  hope. The ending adds a very thin sugar coating but only because by that point  Oldham probably thought the audience had endured enough.

The title refers to the instructions to nurses of Raymond’s sick father and is used as a reference to the inability of the characters to articulate their true feelings or express any emotional warmth. The expletive count puts ‘fuck’  well past the 400 mark while some sad soul has counted 41 uses of ‘cunt’.  You’re unlikely to see it before the BBC watershed!

The hand held camerawork gives the movie a documentary feel so it’s as claustrophobic on the small screen as it would be if viewed in the cinema. Winstone is scarily convincing and Kathy Burke as his long suffering wife  and Charlie Creed-Miles as the young addict Billy are also superb.

It’s a warts and all movie that is both uncompromising and depressingly realistic.

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