Beast (2017)

UK / 107 minutes / color / Stray Bear, Agile, Film 4, BFI, Altitude Dir & Scr: Michael Pearce Pr: Ivana MacKinnon, Lauren Dark, Kristian Brodie Cine: Benjamin Kračun Cast: Jessie Buckley, Johnny Flynn, Geraldine James, Trystan Gravelle, Shannon Tarbet, Charley Palmer Rothwell, Hattie Gotobed, Olwen Fouéré, Emily Taaffe, Tim Woodward, Barry Aird, Oliver Maltman, Tyrone Lopez.

In order to discuss this movie sensibly I’m going to have to commit a few spoilers. I’m not going to give away the solution to the crime—or the series of crimes—because the movie itself doesn’t do that, instead leaving various possibilities open for us to debate heatedly in the pub on the way home from the cinema. But in order to explain that enigma I’m going to have to give away quite a lot of the information leading up to its presentation, including the movie’s finale. So, if you’re one of those people who can’t watch a production of Othello if you already know the ending, beware.

On the island of Jersey (for readers outside Europe, the island’s to the south of England’s south coast and roughly equidistant from France), Moll Humford (Buckley) lives with her parents, looking after her dementia-afflicted dad Fletcher (Woodward) some of the time and working as a bus-tour guide. At 27 she’s a bit old to still be living at home, but fourteen years ago she stuck a pair of scissors into a bullying schoolmate, Tamara (Taaffe), and since then she’s been treated as someone potentially dangerous.

Two faces of Jessie Buckley as Moll

The family as a whole is under the thumb of Moll’s über-controlling mother Hilary (James). Moll’s elder brother Harrison (Maltman) and her sister Polly (Tarbet), who’s clearly lost in admiration of her own cuteness, plus Harrison’s teenage daughter Jade (Gotobed), make up the rest of the pack. Although her siblings have clearly realized that discretion’s the better part of valor so far as their mother’s concerned, Moll keeps Continue reading

Case of the Frightened Lady, The (1940)

vt The Frightened Lady; vt The Scarf Murder Mystery

UK / 80 minutes / bw / Pennant, British Lion Dir: George King Pr: S.W. Smith Scr: Edward Dryhurst Story: The Case of the Frightened Lady (1931 play) by Edgar Wallace Cine: Hone Glendinning Cast: Marius Goring, Penelope Dudley Ward, Helen Haye, Felix Aylmer, George Merritt, Ronald Shiner, Patrick Barr, Roy Emerton, George Hayes, John Warwick, Elizabeth Scott, Torin Thatcher.

In a decaying country pile, Mark’s Priory, live the last of the ancient Lebanon lineage, the widowed Lady Lebanon (Haye), her pianist/composer son William “Willie”, Lord Lebanon (Goring), and the latter’s second cousin, Isla Crane (Dudley Ward), who works as Lady Lebanon’s secretary.

There are many peculiarities about the household. For one, the servants are barred from entering the main portion of the house after 8pm, at which time the two sinister footmen Gilder (Emerton) and Brooks (Hayes) take over. For another, the room in which the late Lord Lebanon spent his last years of illness and eventually died is kept permanently locked. A frequent visitor from London is the sinister physician Dr. Lester Charles Amersham (Aylmer), who seems to have some hold over Lady Lebanon and certainly has been extracting large sums of money from her. And someone has just put a bolt on the outside of the bedroom door of Isla Crane—who’s in consequence the (understandably) frightened lady of the title.

The frightened lady . . . with pursuing shadow . . .

Lady Lebanon is urgently intent that her son marry Isla pronto in order to continue the line. Unfortunately for her plans, Continue reading