One Hundred Years Of Evil

  ‘The absence of love is the most abject pain…’ Last night I attended a centenary screening of a masterpiece of German expressionist cinema, Murnau’s ‘Nosferatu’, with live orchestral accompaniment. There’s nothing new in this; many scores have been written for the film, one of the best being by James Bernard, Hammer’s greatest composer. It’s […]

Pages & Pictures: What I’ve Been Reading & Watching This Week

Slow Horses – Mick Herron A confession; I struggled with the first of Herron’s Slough House books, thrown by its jocular tone, and decided to wait for the televised version instead. I’m glad I did, because the series seems different to what I read. Herron’s natural joviality and quirkily dark sense of humour shone from […]

Too Much Death On The Nile

I have only my geekiness to blame. I should never have compared the three versions of Agatha Christie’s ‘Death on the Nile’. The novel was vintage Christie, combining the whodunnit with the author’s love of Egyptian antiquities to good effect. It’s also a key example of Christie misdirection, a classically constructed prestige concealed by shifting […]

The Hollywood Horror Show Reaches A Timely End

The 2022 Academy Awards mark the close of an era – not because of slappable Will Smith’s career imploding but for an entirely different reason. It’s the first time a streaming service has won Best Picture, erasing the line between TV and film for good. The passable ‘Coda’ ticked the indie/disability boxes this year while […]

Awards For Play-It-Safe Times

Journalists ran a popularity check on this year’s British Academy nominations, and found that the films least popular with the public were most popular with film critics; it was ever thus. What’s different this year is the depth of conservatism expressed by the award wins. A very Home Counties cowboy film to lead the pack. […]

Quickly Got Old

It started out as a rather good European graphic novel, Sandcastle, written by Pierre Oscar Lévy and Frederik Peeters. It’s uncomfortable and unnerving, and was taken by an American director to make as a film. Unfortunately that director was M Night Shyamalan, whose career, with the best will in the world, can be called ‘patchy’. Too […]

A Little Reality

The lineup for the Oscars and Bafta is not especially interesting, with the choices falling between the toxic masculinity of Benedict Cumberbatch in ‘The Power of the Dog’ and the polished sentiment of ‘Belfast’. One problem seems to be a crisis of identity; the Oscars ceremony seems quaintly old-fashioned on TV when its natural home […]

My Mind’s A Blank Page

So, the tingle. It doesn’t happen very often – less and less these days, if I’m honest, but occasionally I still get the tingle, a prickling of the senses that comes from reading, hearing or seeing something entirely unexpected. It happened when I read ‘Less’ by Andrew Sean Greer and again with Edward St Auban’s […]

Two Films For St Valentine’s

  How much control could AI have over us? Far from setting us free, what if the effects were an increased sense of isolation? Big questions not to be answered in a rom-com, and yet here one is. In ‘I’m Your Man’, Alma (Maren Eggert) is a cuneiform expert who agrees to get project funding […]

Reviews: ‘Benediction’ and ‘Eternals’

Terence Davies is one of arthouse-lovers’ more demanding directors, from ‘The House of Mirth’ and ‘The Deep Blue Sea’, films in which literary forms are thrillingly re-interpreted, to ‘The Long Day Closes’, with its infamous minutes-long close-up of a piece of carpet (strangely moving). His films are restrained and nuanced. These days he struggles to find […]