British Cinema Showcase: 6 Critically Acclaimed Films [2 Discs] [DVD]

This collection includes six highly acclaimed British films: Once Upon a Time in the Midlands, Still Crazy, Last Orders, Crush, Young Adam, and Driving Lessons.
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Overview

Synopsis

Crush
A woman edging into middle age finally finds the love of a lifetime; too bad she can't convince her best friends it's for real in this lively romantic comedy. Kate (Andie MacDowell), Molly (Anna Chancellor), and Janine (Imelda Staunton) are three close friends in their early forties who have been sharing a long run of bad luck in the field of romance. While all three are successful in their careers -- Kate has been named headmistress of an upscale private school, Molly is a doctor, and Janine's a police detective -- they've been striking out in the dating scene, and they get together on a regular basis to compare notes and drown their sorrows in cocktails and chocolate. One day, while attending the funeral of a colleague, Kate makes the acquaintance of Jed (Kenny Doughty), a good-looking man who remembers Kate as one of his teachers when he attended the school years ago. Despite the decade-and-a-half gap in their ages, there's a strong mutual attraction between Kate and Jed, and before the day is over the two are enjoying an affair. Molly and Janine are at once amused and appalled at Kate for dating a younger man, and while she tells them it's a short-lived fling that means little to either party, neither Kate nor Jed wants to walk away from their relationship; before long Kate and Jed decide they've fallen in love and plan to get married. The harder Molly and Janine try to convince Kate that she's making a mistake, the more Kate is determined to tie the knot with Jed, and eventually Molly and Janine decide to take drastic measures -- Molly hatches a plan to seduce Jed, while Janine captures their tryst on videotape. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

Still Crazy
Still Crazy is a film that looks back at the "rock band" era of the 1970s. Brian Gibson, who has directed musical biographies on Josephine Baker and Tina Turner, sets his narrative on a rock group, Strange Fruit, who are attempting a comeback twenty years after a bolt of lightening literally ended their career in the late 1970's. When keyboard player Tony (Stephan Rea) runs into the son of their old festival promoter, he gets the idea he could perhaps bring the aging musicians together for a revival. He goes off to search for Karen (Juliet Aubre), the band's Girl Friday and often the butt of their various ego trips. Karen, who now lives alone with her daughter, thinks it's a great idea and they set off to locate the other members. Beano (Timothy Spall), the drummer, has barricaded himself away in a trailer in his mother's garden for fear of being caught by the taxman. Ray (Bill Nighy), the lead singer, lives in a luxurious country house (beyond his means) with his second wife; he's still in the music business and has released a solo record. Les (Jimmy Nail), a great bass guitarist, is happily married, and his only regret is that his music never found the following he would have liked. As for ex-roadie Hughie (Billy Connolly), the Fruits were always his boys, and he's ready to give up his stall at Camden market and follow the dream. He would also love to see guitarist Brian again, but Brian is nowhere to be found. Karen decides to hire a much younger musician, Luke, to replace him. The re-formed band go to Holland to play a few clubs on a warm-up tour. However, the youngest member of the band is stealing the show, particularly with the members of the opposite sex. Despite efforts to stay calm and professional, the band is falling into the old routine of bickering day by day as they get close to the big reunion concert. Still Crazy was screened as part of the Panorama during the 49th International Berlin Film Festival, 1999. ~ Gönül Dönmez-Colin, Rovi

Last Orders
Australian filmmaker known for such classics as The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith and Six Degrees of Separation, Fred Schepisi tells this story about a group of lifelong chums coming to terms with their friend's death, based on a prize-winning novel by Graham Swift. When Jack Dodd (Michael Caine) passes on, his three best buddies (Tom Courtenay, Bob Hoskins, and David Hemmings) along with his son (Ray Winstone) carry out his last wish -- to have his ashes cast off the pier of the seaside town of Margate, where he and his beloved wife honeymooned and where he hoped to retire. As the group venture to the coast in a large black Mercedes, they reminisce about their younger, wilder days. Eventually, they end up in a pub where, in a haze of beer and tears, secrets are unveiled. Meanwhile, Jack's wife, Amy (Helen Mirren), visits the mentally disabled daughter that Jack refused to acknowledge. This film was screened at the 2001 Toronto Film Festival. ~ Jonathan Crow, Rovi

Young Adam
An amoral young man wends his way into the lives of a handful of damaged souls in this adaptation of British Beat Generation writer Alexander Trocchi's first novel. Written for the screen and directed by David Mackenzie, Young Adam begins with the discovery of a barely dressed woman's corpse by two barge workers, Joe (Ewan McGregor) and Leslie (Peter Mullan). A taciturn drifter, Joe hoists the body ashore with little distress, and the ensuing police investigation does little to ruffle his day-to-day existence on the barge. But his behavior becomes more and more erratic, and as he begins a torrid affair with Leslie's downtrodden wife Ella (Tilda Swinton), flashbacks reveal a similarly cruel encounter he once had with a young woman named Cathie (Emily Mortimer). Young Adam premiered at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival before securing berths at the Toronto and New York Film Festivals later that year. ~ Michael Hastings, Rovi

Driving Lessons
Two strong-willed women wield their influence on a shy teenaged boy in this coming-of-age comedy from the United Kingdom. Seventeen-year-old Ben (Rupert Grint) is the son of a soft-spoken vicar (Nicholas Farrell), but it's his mother, Laura (Laura Linney), who rules the household, and she has put Ben cheerfully under her thumb, keeping him busy with a variety of good-will errands for the church and numerous local charity causes. With summer vacation looming before him, Ben is looking forward to learning to drive, but Laura is more interested in spending time with one of the more charming members of the church staff than helping Ben learn how to operate the family automobile. Wanting to earn some pocket money, Ben starts looking for a part-time job and ends up working for Evie Walton (Julie Walters), an elderly and slightly eccentric actress who needs help keeping her garden in shape. Laura believes Evie isn't an especially good influence on her son, though Ben is happy to find someone who encourages his interest in poetry and the larger world (especially girls). One day, Evie announces that she needs to ride to Edinburgh, where she is supposed to give a reading as part of the city's massive music and arts festival. While Ben doesn't have his license, he volunteers to take the wheel, and soon he's confronted with various forms of decadence that his mother has frequently warned him to avoid. Driving Lessons received its North American premiere at the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

Once Upon a Time in the Midlands
Shane Meadows directed this film, which is the third and final chapter in his Nottingham Trilogy which also includes 1999's A Room for Romeo Brass and 1997's Twentyfourseven. Starring The Full Monty's Robert Carlyle, Once Upon a Time in the Midlands is a twist on the traditional Western film, transplanting the action to modern-day Nottingham, England. Jimmy (Carlyle) is a small-time criminal who comes back into town after seeing his old girlfriend turn down a marriage proposal on television. Rhys Ifan (Notting Hill) co-stars as Dek, the jilted proposer who looks to stop Jimmy from rekindling the relationship. Once Upon a Time in the Midlands screened as part of the Director's Fortnight at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival. ~ Matthew Tobey, Rovi

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