Movie Diary 8/26/2018

This Week of Grace (Maurice Elvey, 1933). A knockabout comedy vehicle for Gracie Fields, as a factory worker who hauls her family to a castle when she is invited to take over the place for a year. It’s easy to understand the popularity of Fields, a music-hall performer who was one of Britain’s biggest stars in the 1930s; she’s broad and clownish but also operates in a smaller register, with muttered asides (sometimes within the phrasing of a song). The film has some of the loose-limbed feeling of It’s a Gift, with the zany family and quick standalone gags. The same year Elvey directed I Lived with You, an Ivor Novello vehicle, which also has a kooky syncopated energy.

The Bookshop (Isabel Coixet, 2017). Emily Mortimer opens a small bookshop in an English town in 1959, but the town bigwigs (embodied in Patricia Clarkson) have other ideas. The opening reels suggest something cozy and inspirational, but this movie is not that. Billy Nighy has a plum role. I have liked Coixet’s films before, especially My Life Without Me and Elegy, and this not her best, but it has some authentic anger in it. (full review 8/31)

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