Too Many Old Queens: Fact VS Fiction

How do you make the the great stories of history relevant for a modern audience? It’s a question vexing many a writer and filmmaker. A cycle of historical films occurred some 40 years ago, with the huge success of the TV series ‘I, Claudius’ with Derek Jacobi, ‘The Six Wives of Henry VIII’, starring Keith Michell, ‘Elizabeth R’ […]

New Political Cinema: ‘The Front Runner’

‘The Front Runner’ marks a boundary change in political reporting. In the seventies, Hollywood went into politics – at least the Left did, and there’s a fine legacy headed by the endlessly rewatchable ‘All the President’s Men’. Political tales make for fine drama although there’s a tendency to turn them into satires like ‘Wag The Dog’, […]

Best & Worst Films Of 2018

Let’s have a somewhat quirky look at the year’s films, with one cavil: Due to the odd way I watch movies, through screenings and previews, I’m never quite sure what comes out when. But here are a few that left their mark on me this year, and not always in a good way. The Favourite […]

The Good, The Bad & The Strange

At this time of the year, with dark days and long nights, I try to catch up with as many films as possible, and thought I’d pass on my personal favourites, ie. they won’t match anything Peter Bradshaw at the Guardian likes. This year there were a number of worthy, serious films about weighty issues […]

Mary Poppins Returns With A Vengeance

What is it about the woman’s name that causes Londoners to mangle their vowels and virtually decapitate themselves with their tongues? First we had Dick Van Dyke inventing a new language, and now we have Lin-Manuel Miranda strangling the life out of the OED in his role as cockney lamplighter. Only Don Cheadle ever attempted […]

Short Fantastic

Here’s a fun game; instead of trying to list your top ten films, try to make a list of half a dozen short films that were game-changers. I played this for an hour last night but only managed four until I had to look up more. Thousands of short films are written and produced every […]

Movie Hatchet: ‘Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again’

Cher looks like a nylon-haired Barbie doll with fewer moving parts There’s a really creepy website called Plugged In that seems to be run by the Very White Far Right. It’s worth going on it just to count the number of times they say ‘family’ in a paragraph. In their review of the first ‘Mamma […]

Movie Locations No.1: The Possession Of Joel Delaney

  LOCATION: New York City FILM: ‘The Possession Of Joel Delaney’ This is a new occasional column dedicated to films that bring places to life. In the CV of the actress Shirley MacLaine are a few surprises. One of them is a supernatural story that has grown in stature and power over the passing years. […]

Thinking Slightly Too Hard About A Disney Classic

  Writers don’t sit down to enjoy films in quite the same way as civilians. We get distracted by mis-en-scene, subtext, plot holes and red herrings. We watch out for foreshadowing, signalling and dialogue that’s too on-the-nose. As a result, we tend to prefer ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ over ‘The Lion King’ because the former […]

Halloween Special: Haunting Images

Hallowe’en has reached a point where Americans might celebrate their holiday by dressing as Post Malone. Clearly we’ve come a long way from bedsheet ghosts and the Legend of Sleep Hollow. Films are now our main source of disturbing images, although the ‘clown in a drain’ thing doesn’t work in the UK, which doesn’t have […]