Films With Surprise Endings

It’s not enough for the twists in mystery novels to be unguessable – after all, there’s a frisson that accompanies the feeling that you may be able to name the murderer – the solutions to mysteries need to feel natural and unforced. Left-field answers are fun, but organically arrived-at solutions are more satisfying. This rules […]

The Baftas And Diversity

‘Where the Baftas go the Oscars follow’ parroted the journalists this week, but it’s not strictly true. For many years the Baftas could not be mentioned in the same breath as the Oscars. It was an underpowered industry closed shop. The ceremony was linked to a lengthy dinner, as in any other industry, so by […]

The Year’s Most Interestingly Strange Films

However you slice it, this was the year that movies hit a fork in the road; Big budget (tentpole or fan-service or whatever you want to call them) films no longer worked, franchises and sequels lost their grip on audiences and genuinely original one-offs started popping up, often facilitated by Netflix funding. Some made money, […]

My Best Picture Prediction

In a way all awards ceremonies are the same from the Annual Meat Supplier of the Year to the British and American Academy Awards (although the latter always had a certain arrogance – for years the media wasn’t allowed to refer to them as ‘The Oscars’). They’re not about rewarding excellence but being seen to […]

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 […]