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April 13th, 2018

11. Lady Bird (2017), dir. Greta Gerwig

I saw this a couple of weeks ago with [personal profile] lady_lugosi1313 at the Hyde Park Picture House. I don't think it needs a detailed review from me, as anyone who wants to see it has already done so and knows what they think of it, and there's loads of detailed comment and analysis all over the web which I don't feel I have anything particularly unique to add to.

So, just a note really to say that I really enjoyed it. The main character reminded me quite a lot of my sister, who is almost exactly the same age as her, had similar hair and wore the same pentacle on a black cord around her neck, had very similar friends and dramas around them at the same age, and had a strained but ultimately loving relationship with our mother. I particularly enjoyed [personal profile] lady_lugosi1313's hearty chuckles during the scenes in which Lady Bird rebelled against Catholic authority - e.g. lying on her back with her friend Julie eating communion wafers while talking about masturbating in the bath. And I thought the most powerful scene in it was when Lady Bird's mother delivered her to the airport to fly to college in New York, used parking charges as an excuse not to stay and say a proper goodbye, and then the camera stayed on her face as she drove away in the car, gradually changing from steely aloofness to powerful emotion, and making the decision to loop round and go back, only to find by the time she had done so that it was too late and Lady Bird had gone.

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And this one I watched last night as much-needed distraction / relaxation, having taped it off the telly-box some time ago. It is the third of Hammer's mummy movies, and the story itself is pretty standard by-the-numbers mummy fare - archaeologists open up a long-lost tomb, ignoring warnings of a curse; a sacred shroud found within bears a text which animates the mummy of a slave who long ago swore to guard its royal occupant; that mummy, commanded by a fanatical present-day Egyptian, picks off the members of the excavation party until it is stopped; the whole is unapologetically British-colonialist in outlook. Probably the only thing that's slightly interesting or unusual is the fact that it is stopped by the female member of the excavation party (of whom there is only one, of course) reciting a counter-incantation in ancient Egyptian which stops its murderous rampage and causes it to crumble into dust - but even that only really follows in the footsteps of The Mummy (1931; LJ / DW), which also did a whole lot more of interest besides.

But, it is a Hammer film, so a lot of the fun for me lay in spotting and appreciating their regular stars and characteristics motifs. André Morell is always reliable, while I thought Michael Ripper (in a typical servant-type role) did a particularly fantastic job of conveying his character's longing for his English homeland, disappointment when he realises he isn't going to get there, and confusion and fear when attacked by the mummy. Also very enjoyable was Catherine Lacey, dear to me from The Sorcerors (1967; LJ / DW), which she must have made only just after this, and which draws on something of the same malicious old hag with a magical capacity to view and control events going on elsewhere. And Roger Delgado, four years before he became the Master in Doctor Who, playing a somewhat similar role involving malign intentions and magical control. It's a great pity, though, that he is blacked up to play the part of an Egyptian character, as are most of the actors in such roles.

Special mention should also be made of the set of fire-buckets which were actually just part of the somewhat out-dated fittings at Bray Studios, but often had cameo roles in period Hammer films. I know they occur in The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) and Dracula (1958), and here they are again on the wall in the hotel where the main characters stay after the excavation. That hotel itself is splendidly fitted out in coloured marble and ornate pilasters thanks to the ever-wonderful work of Bernard Robinson, although in my view the external street sets are even better in this film. They remind me of the ones which Paul and Maria run through together a year later in Dracula Has Risen from the Grave (1968), and I think represent Bernard and the wider Hammer team really getting on top of what they could do with a small space and a smaller budget.

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