Another Film That Didn’t Make My Top Ten List


It should have made the top ten. ‘The Producers’ is a touchstone film for me. I saw it when it came out at the cinema in a double bill with ‘Where’s Poppa?’ (or possibly ‘Kentucky Fried Movie’). The plot; terminally nervous accountant Gene Wilder attempts to do the books of sleazy theatrical agent Zero Mostel, […]

‘Victoria’ Puts Right What Hollywood Gets So Wrong


If there was ever a film that revealed the growing gap between an increasingly isolated, risk-averse and irrelevant Hollywood and the rest of the world, it’s ‘Victoria’. Sebastian Schipper’s real-time movie is a total triumph, but you wouldn’t think so to read some of the reviews. The plot is simplicity itself. A young Spanish girl […]

Films That Didn’t Make My Top 10 List


Choosing ten desert island films for my upcoming event at London’s wonderful Cinema Museum on May 14th (a few tickets still available) has been a nightmare, mainly because I change my mind every ten seconds. (Is it only guys who love making lists?) I finally decided to limit my choice to ten films that directly […]

A Few Of My Favourite (Deadly) Things


‘So, I guess you think a lot about killing people,’ said the customs officer as he went through my bag yesterday. I’d told him I was a writer because I was trying to explain why I had four copies of the same book in my bag. And I suppose I do think about murder rather […]

Toward A Ballardian Future


The problem with J G Ballard, from a filmmaker’s perspective, is that he does not tell stories. He suggests futures and new psychologies. His characters are ciphers, his plots are liminal and his prose is exquisite, none of which makes him easy to adapt. Spielberg made a fine job of ‘Empire Of The Sun’, although […]

Finally, A Fairytale With Teeth


Last year I planned to write a  book of strange fairytale variations, having been commissioned to write such a tale for a new collection, which I enjoyed immensely. After suffering through Kenneth Branagh’s ghastly ‘Cinderella’ for research purposes my intention was to return to the roots of tales and darken them, keeping the strange logic […]

What On Earth Is Wrong With Austrians?


First they gave us ‘Funny Games’, the original shocker that analysed our predilection for vicarious violence in cinema, then they remade it ten years later in a film so hated by the Roger Ebert column that it only earned half a star, but was described by the Guardian in a top-rated review as ‘an icy […]

‘Warning! Vividly Depicts Axe Murders!’


  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?


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?


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 […]