Odd Films From Mainstream Directors

John Mills in the film adaptation of Oh, What a Lovely War!

Graham Greene used to divide his novels into ‘entertainments’ and serious books, and the entertainments were better. Sir Arthur Sullivan spent his life worrying about being more serious, and when he finally wrote ‘Ivanhoe’, his serious opera, it was a horrible flop, and he remained best-known for his work with Gilbert. When creators aim for […]

Going Back To Castle Dracula


Bram Stoker supposedly had the idea for ‘Dracula’ after seeing a Victoria family enjoying a picnic inside a crypt in Highgate Cemetery. And so the most exotic fantasy was born of a very English obsession, the taking of high tea with relatives, albeit ones that were dead. I had that thought in mind as I […]

After The Dark


I watch a hell of a lot of strange movies. (‘Yellowbrickroad’ anyone? Don’t play it on headphones, it’ll blow your ears out!) Once in a while you stumble across a movie so strange that you think it can’t possibly sustain its running time. Welcome to ‘After The Dark’, a film with such an unusual subject […]

The Chaos Of Collecting Movies


This is a bit of a geeky post unless you’re interested in home entertainment’s future. I try to keep up with what would once have been called ‘B’ movies in the horror/suspense/black comedy/no-budget genres. There are often enjoyable surprises which make the genre worth checking out. I never pirate because I used to belong to […]

Movies Set In Theme Parks


As summer films are analogous to theme park rides, it’s curious that there’s an entire sub-genre here – after all, the one thing a film can’t do is provide you with the same level of visceral thrills – or can it? The nearest I got to Disneyland as a child was ’40 Pounds of Trouble’ […]

Christopher Lee: No More Back From The Dead


They may have to bang a stake into this one to keep him down. As you age you get to watch your band of heroes dwindle. Lee was never a hero as such – he adopted rather too much of a (baritone) one-note in his performances – but he was certainly a powerful part of […]

Just How Far Can Hollywood Fall?


Once Hollywood had something no other creative technology had; it could marry intellectual ideas with their visual realisation. As a result, it was hailed as the major art-form of the 20th century. It reached something of a peak in the 1960s and 1970s, tackling everything from cosmic significance (‘2001′) and revisionist history (‘The Charge Of […]

What’s Your Point?


There’s a scene in ‘Trains, Planes & Automobiles’ when Steve Martin rounds on John Candy and says, ‘Here’s a good idea; when you tell a story, try to have a point.’ It’s pretty good advice. Watching ‘Wild Tales’ the other night that simple idea was driven home to me six times in a row. Having […]

Cities Shaped By Hollywood

Bond London

If history is really just all the things you can remember (cf. ‘1066 And All That’), then our cities reflect an idealised Hollywood version in which the past is merged with fiction. In the 1950s London was still a direct reflection of its books and films (from Dickens to Ealing comedies), but was also shaped […]

A Great Eye & A Tin Ear


This is going to be a column about two Terry Gilliam movies; ‘Brazil’ VS ‘The Zero Theorem’. But don’t let the geekiness put you off – I’m trying to make a point about how we experience things. In my old job I saw a lot of films accompanied by artists. After, we’d compare notes. I’d […]