Movie Diary 9/22/2021

Funeral in Berlin (Guy Hamilton, 1966). Michael Caine’s second film as Harry Palmer, flippant British spy. The film opens with a lively, colorful montage of life in West Berlin, followed by a series of bleak, depopulated shots of the East. So that’s how we got all those images in our heads. Evan Jones, who wrote a bunch of things for Joseph Losey (and also that disturbing Australian semi-classic Wake in Fright) adapted Len Deighton’s novel, with an uncertain tone but a satisfyingly twisty plot. Some interesting character actors in the mix, and Oscar Homolka hams it up as a potential defector.

Black Power: A Story of British Resistance (George Amponsah, 2021) and Subnormal: A British Scandal (Lyttanya Shannon, 2021). Two documentaries that overlap with Steve McQueen’s Small Axe series, as though providing the evidence for those narrative films. The first is a rapid-fire account of the various civil-rights groups in Britain (including the case that became the film Mangrove), narrated by Daniel Kaluuya; the second is about the insidious 1960s program that blithely shunted immigrant kids into schools for the “subnormal,” the background for McQueen’s Education. McQueen is also the producer of these documentaries.

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