Monthly Archives: October 2013

Re:View – ‘Captain Phillips’

I suspect mine will be one of the few dissenting viewpoints here, but ‘Captain Phillips’ disappointed me. It certainly didn’t help that I had just seen the Danish take on the subject, ‘A Hijacking’, a few days earlier. Paul Greengrass’s film is exemplary in many respects, an exciting fictionalised version of a true-life hijacking that […]

Re:View – ‘The Last Days’

Another day, another stonking Spanish-made genre movie – this time from the Pastor brothers, who gave us the equally apocalyptic ‘Carriers’. More concerned with psychological effects than gore and spectacle, the film nevertheless looks fantastic. It’s set in two time-frames, the present (after the unspecified event that destroyed the world) and just before it happened. […]

The Way I Read Now

Books! They turned up like charity biros or wire coat hangers. I was forever fishing them out of jeans pockets, jackets, satchels, shopping bags, finding them under sofas and behind cupboards, or put somewhere hidden because I didn’t want to throw them out but wasn’t quite ready to read them. With the large-formatting of paperbacks, […]

Whatever Happened To Media Studies?

‘I want to do something creative’ is a phrase that still sends shivers down my spine. It’s often spoken by a teenager who has been given little accurate information about what ‘being creative’ actually involves, and at the present time, it’s the last thing any employer wants to hear. In the late nineties and early […]

How To Creep Someone Out

Can we still believe in ghost stories? That was the question uppermost on my mind as I finished the final draft of my supernatural thriller ‘Nyctophobia, out next year from Solaris Books. I wasn’t sure if it worked; I thought it did, but needed feedback. Usually publishers and agents are polite and practical, but this […]

Book Lovers, Look Away Now

Here’s something to make you feel old; Amazon is already celebrating its fifteenth anniversary. To mark the occasion, the site revealed its best-selling music, film & TV series, video games and books since they started in 1998. The products, says Amazon, paint a picture of the UK’s cultural consumption over the past fifteen years, and shows […]

5 Unusual London Objects No.4

1. The Emerald Salamander It’s part of the largest hoard of Tudor and Jacobean jewellery ever found – almost 500 pieces of extraordinary rarity and beauty, unearthed in 1912 by workmen demolishing an old jeweller’s premises on Cheapside. The Emerald Salamader is one of the items now on display at the Museum of London. The story of […]

Neglected Films No.14: ‘Character’

‘If you want to understand the Dutch you have to see this film,’ said Tizia, an old friend of mine from Amsterdam. This 1997 film won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film, but never opened in the UK. Based on a 1938 novel, it’s Dickensian in its sweep, and presents the Dutch as dry, money-obsessed […]

Re:View – ‘Chimerica’

Travelling up the escalator at Piccadilly Circus last night I was confronted by those annoying moving ads in which a girl in face paint mimes being an antelope, and marvelled that ‘The Lion King’ was still running, but it got worse when I had to pass ‘Stomp’, ‘Rock Of Ages’ and ‘The Mousetrap’ in quick […]

5 ‘Lost London’ Books

Pictured above: The King’s Cross Aerodrome, an eight-runway nightmare developed by British Airways to balance on the tops of central London buildings and deliver plane passengers by lifts to the stations. There are a great many books about the London buildings that no longer physically exist, or never came to be. What we become aware […]