Film

‘Warning! Vividly Depicts Axe Murders!’

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  So bellowed the captions in the trailer for 1964’s ‘Strait-Jacket’, which also promised that it ‘may go beyond your ability to withstand suspense’. There’s a  cycle of books and films rather forgotten now which were inspired by the massive international success of ‘Psycho’. Domestic Suspense is a category of fiction that had almost disappeared […]

Has The Horror Film Gone For Good?

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The genres of most future films were firmly established when film was in its infancy. Of those, SF eventually came to the fore (albeit in a watered down version of its literary antecedents), the musical and the western both went away, crime moved to television and comedy was reduced to pubescent smut, an Apatow/Stiller format set […]

Why Don’t Voters Choose The Best?

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As a long-term member of the British Film Academy I applaud its rigorous voting system, which I think works fairly for everyone, but it doesn’t mean that I always agree with the members’ choice. I’m staggered that the distinctly average ‘Bridge of Spies’ comes out top of this year’s nominations, just as I’m shocked by […]

8 Is A Hateful Number

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No spoilers On the wall of my old office there used to be a Reservoir Dogs poster signed by Quentin Tarantino, thanking us for helping to make his first film a hit in the UK after it flopped in the US. I liked the film and loved Pulp Fiction more, but Kill Bill damaged my […]

Top Dog In 2015

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Of all the movies I saw in 2015, one stayed with me more than any other. ‘White God’ is only the second Hungarian film I can recall seeing (the other was the brilliant ‘Kontroll’). It’s by Kornell Mundruczo and is an utterly unclassifiable one-off experience. Not only can I not explain how he got so many […]

Star Wars: A Writer’s View

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No spoilers The Force can’t be resisted. ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ is the fastest-grossing film in history because it needed to be; the studio had to release high box office figures to jump-start a vast array of movie sequels and spin-offs that will power spending for years to come. Press editors around the world […]

Best & Worst Films Of 2015

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At the birth of film there were stories about great achievers, from Nelson to Washington. Last week I watched a film about a woman who invents a mop and manages to sell it on QVC. Not exactly Scott of the Antarctic.  Joy is directed by David O Russell and stars Jennifer Lawrence. The performances are nice, but […]

Neglected Films 15: The Night They Raided Minsky’s

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A few readers have asked me to revive this column, which I discontinued a couple of years ago. (You’ll find the old columns all stored here if you’re looking for unusual films). In the late 1960s audiences tired of old-fashioned pictures and made ‘Easy Rider’ a hit. The studios were caught out. What were they […]

When Brilliant Filmmakers Play Safe

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Looking back from the eighties to the present day, one trend is obvious – the great directors who emerged then have all have all got fat and rich – and dull. Robert Zemeckis, whose every film I loved right from Used Cars to Death Becomes Her and the Back To The Future trilogy has made […]

When Did You Last See A Movie?

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I asked a friend this the other day and he admitted that the last film he saw on the big screen was ‘Earthquake’ in Sensurround. Now you’ll have to admit that this is a fairly radical answer, and I wondered if that awful film put him off for life, but no, he said he simply […]