Film

Robert Zemeckis: The Stranger The Better

These are  certain left-field mid-budget movies which are slightly too clever to ever reach wider audiences. I suspect that in years to come ‘Jojo Rabbit’ will live on in this ‘Brilliant Singular Vision’ category. It’s often possible to find terrific scenes in the most wrong-headed films. I worked on the ghastly ‘Howard The Duck’, which […]

Hooray For Wakaliwood!

I’m tired of seeing worthy, earnest dramas this awards season. Sometimes you just want to see stuff blown up. After Bollywood and Nollywood (Nigerian productions) we have Wakaliwood, Ugandan productions shot on half a shoestring, which somehow capture the free spirit of the 1970s cheapies from the Hollywood independents, the kind of films they used […]

Unconscionable Crimes & Unpardonable Sins

And so to the grand climax of the year’s movies, which I left until last for viewing partly from fear of disappointment. Martin Scorsese’s controversial remarks about the Marvelification of Hollywood conveniently avoided his own lifelong obsession with Italian-Americans arguing in bad restaurants. The initial unveiling of his long-gestating version of the Jimmy Hoffa story, […]

Dickens Reinvented

A long-needed custard pie in the face. How do we deal with Armando Iannucci, the Scottish satirist? After he’d written ‘The Thick Of It’, ‘In The Loop’ and ‘The Death of Stalin’, I thought I had him pegged as a politically-motivated writer more at ease with male characters (even in ‘Veep’ most of his women […]

A Review Of A Murder Mystery By Someone Who Writes Them

I published a short review of this film a couple of months back, but now that it’s on general release I’ve revisited it with some further thoughts. NO SPOILERS There’s an in-built snobbery about the crime novel, a look of disdain from literary writers who disregard genre writing as having nothing to say. They should […]

How Popular Cinema Could Be Popular Again

Cinema was always called the populist medium. Generations of young audiences grew up with Bambi and Batman, Tarzan and Terminator, then went on to the world of Marvel superheroes, cheerfully unaware that these stories stemmed from comics dating back to the 1960s. Hollywood is going through one of its periodic growing pains. Its domestic revenue […]

The Return Of The Friday Song

It’s about time we reinstated this occasional end-of-the-week knees-up. When I think of all the truly weird films I’ve seen, Leo Carax’s ‘Holy Motors’ is one about which I remember almost nothing at all…except for the intermission. Dennis Lavant remains a truly committed actor (who probably should be committed). For me Carax’s best film remains […]

No Time For Bond?

Never go back, that’s all I can say. Despite what anyone may try to convince you, James Bond films were dad films that are now granddad films. Last week I went over the old 007 movies in the light of new books coming out on this pop-cultural phenomenon, including Thunderbook, a very funny fanboy scene-by-scene […]

Have Horror Films Turned Into A Different Genre?

Something quite extraordinary has happened to the humble horror film. After a century of vampires, werewolves, serial killers and zombies it seems to have finally grown up. Horror had always been planted with the seeds of its own destruction. It felt like a cultural dead end, any nascent intelligence trampled flat by the need to […]

Thinking About Film 1: Too Much Sugar

A maid leans out of an upstairs window, calling to the lady of the house, who is in the garden clipping roses. MAID: Oh Ma’am! I’ve swallowed a safety pin! LADY OF THE HOUSE: Oh so that’s where all my safety pins go. A Victorian cartoon illustrating very British humour. We don’t do sentiment but […]