Now Playing! Mostly British Film Festival Covers the Waterfront

Cynthia Nixon and Jennifer Ehle in Terence Davies's 'A Quiet Passion.'

Cynthia Nixon and Jennifer Ehle in Terence Davies's 'A Quiet Passion.' (Photo: Double Dutch Intl.)

Returning this year for its ninth well-mannered sojourn at the Vogue Theatre, the Mostly British Film Festival offers a mix of stiff-upper-lip historical dramas and harder-hitting contemporary stories. That describes the fest’s core offering of new and recent movies from the Isles, Ireland and Australia; its annual spotlight of vintage classics is a good deal quirkier. There’s Neil Jordan’s beautifully directed crime/love story Mona Lisa (featuring Bob Hoskins’ unforgettable turn), a couple silent treasures (Anthony Asquith’s engrossing love triangle Underground and the breathtaking documentary Epic of Everest) and a Beatles reunion (the Fab Three of A Hard Day’s Night, Backbeat and Nowhere Boy).

Mostly British (running Feb. 16–23; full details here) is most valuable, however, as the local venue for a favorite actress or director’s latest work, especially if the film lacks the commercial elements (stars, guns, happy ending) that generally lead to a U.S. theatrical release. Terence Davies, a uniquely sensitive director with a talent for stunning compositions that convey his characters’ unexpressed emotions, directs Cynthia Nixon as Emily Dickinson in A Quiet Passion (Wednesday, Feb. 22). The wonderful Rachel Griffiths plays a grieving mother who befriends a homeless lad in the Irish drama Mammal (Sunday, Feb. 19), while the sublime Timothy Spall portrays a depressed widower who bonds with runaway Juno Temple in Away (Tuesday, Feb. 21).

For a more unsettling buddy picture, check out up-and-comer Michael Lennox’s noirish feature debut A Patch of Fog (Friday, Feb. 17). The best part, possibly? The marvelous British crime novelist Tony Broadbent (The Smoke) is slated to introduce the film.

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Author

Michael Fox

Michael Fox has written about film for a variety of publications since 1987. He is the curator and host of the long-running Friday night CinemaLit film series at the Mechanics' Institute,  an instructor in the OLLI programs at U.C. Berkeley and S.F. State, and a member of the San Francisco Film Critics Circle.

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