In honour of that most important of retailer-created holidays, Mother’s Day, I have asked my wonderful mother, Mrs. Lamb, to knock together her Top Ten Directors Suite films. While she does not condone violence, my mum does enjoy thrillers, literary period pieces and Colin Firth, so Directors Suite has plenty to offer. Over to you, mum!
10. HANA BI
Enigmatic drama with naked Japanese men and calligraphy—I remember the ravings of certain other mothers when it was first shown at (Adelaide cinema institution) the Trak. Can’t say I shared their enthusiasm, but there’s no doubt it appealed to the idea of other mysterious cultures and concepts of beauty…and perhaps eroticism.
If it’s a version of “Dangerous Liaisons” with Colin Firth as the dangerous one, it probably has automatic audience appeal for “The Motherhood”!
8. LATCHO DROM
This one’s a bit like a travel documentary with lots of singing and dancing—a Romany musical journey through the seasons which teaches me a bit about their ancient culture.
7. THE BROWNING VERSION
First, there was the 1948 Terence Rattigan play; then this Anthony Asquith film starring Michael Redgrave; then came the modern re-make with Albert Finney as the Classics Master, “the Crock” retiring early from an unfulfilling career in a typical English boys’ boarding school. It’s gloomy, but evocative of life in such institutions.
This film makes the list because it’s Jane Campion at the beginning of her career. The familiar local setting for the story of the dysfunctional relationship between Dawn—aka Sweetie—and Kay makes it more than just another tale of a set of strange and interesting characters in suburbia.
5. A SONG FOR MARTIN
This film is a love and loss story for those of us over fifty. Interesting because real-life husband and wife, Sven Wolter and Viveka Seldahl play Martin and Barbara, the main characters whose unhappy marriages; mature age love-story; setting up a new home together; reconciling new partners with both families, and dealing with Alzheimer’s Disease are relevant issues for us (the over 50’s)!
4. MY BRILLIANT CAREER
Gillian Armstrong uses the emerging talent of a young Judy Davis to show that not even the obvious charms of a suitor like Harry Beecham (Sam Neill), can persuade Sybylla Melbyn to exchange her dream of a career as a writer for the role of wife and mother that society expects in conformist, colonial nineteenth century Australia. This film was a well-acted, attractive local costume drama at a time when we didn’t see many convincing Australian productions.
3. THE LEOPARD
I enjoyed the glimpse of history in this 1963 movie (starring Burt Lancaster as the Prince of Salina who cannot steer his aristocratic family through tumultuous times as 19th century Sicily adjusts to the new social order that comes with modernisation), but it is the DVD’s new high definition digital transfer (which enhances the sound and colour) that makes it so much more watchable.
2. TRISTRAM SHANDY: A COCK AND BULL STORY
Sterne’s novel had many odd digressions and strange characters, so that gives the script opportunities for almost anything. This is Steve Coogan’s movie about making a movie from that 18th century novel, an unreliable ramble describing Tristram Shandy’s birth into a family of eccentrics
I liked this picture of French suburban family life and the sustained suspense engendered by the surveillance camera trained on their house (with the audience feeling they too are participating in the spying) right up until after the credits, when a brief final scene gives a clue about who has been stalking the family and why they have been subjected to this ordeal.