Film

When Movies Reflect Politics

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Are American films really any worse now than they used to be? Is the idea of ‘Transformers 7’ being nominated for an Oscar any crazier than ‘Dr Dolittle’ making the Best Picture list four decades earlier? It’s tempting to name a year and suggest that before such-and-such a point movies were better. There have been […]

Withnail’s 30th Birthday

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Whenever a low-budget British film screened at our office, we virtually had to hold a lottery to find anyone who’d sit through it. Most of them were so astoundingly bad that we gave them to the junior staffers to handle. Anyone remember ‘Car Trouble’, in which  air traffic controller Ian Charleson is so annoyed with […]

‘Get Out’ Goes For The Throat

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It was one of the odder double-bills of the year. On a baking Saturday afternoon (London hotter than Ibiza shock! in April!) I saw ‘Beauty and the Beast’ (another Disney live-actionification that’s gaudily unbearable for anyone over nine, but I was there in a research capacity) and ‘Get Out’, about which I knew little other than […]

Unusual Cinema Books

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After being involved in the UK film industry for so long I can’t quite break the habit of buying cinema books, but there are surprisingly few interesting ones appearing now, as film publicity is micro-controlled by studios – so we get Disney coffee table books that whitewash the real stories, plus the odd exposé in […]

The Elle Word

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No Spoilers In a week where a judge who asked a woman in a rape trial why she couldn’t just keep her knees together has resigned from the Federal Court of Canada, and in a time when America has a president who routinely degrades women for fun, it seems that ‘Elle’ could not be more […]

Why The Year’s Most Awarded Movie Will Be A One-Off

No Spoilers I liked ‘La La Land’ but I can understand why there’s a back(whip)lash going on in this most hated and moribund of genres. It looks as if the film is set to sweep Baftas and Oscars this year (with ‘Moonlight’, I hope), which in the last couple of months has meant a green […]

Is The Arthouse Film Dead?

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London has opened more arthouse film venues in the last two years than it has for decades. There’s the excellent Piccadilly Picturehouse, the Curzon chain, the Everyman chain, the Electric, the wonderful Regent Street Cinema and many others are now screening live theatre events – so why would arthouse be in any danger? Because we’ve […]

Cinema Museum Picks 1

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  It came as a shock to be flicking through a copy of BFI Monthly (now called Sight & Sound) to discover that the first British colour feature film was made just 16 years before I was born. For me, ‘British film’ was a tautology, the punchline to a national joke on a par with […]

My Best & Worst 2016 Films

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2016 was the year that movie scripts full of self-referential crudity finally reached Peak Ironic and burned themselves out, thank goodness. Now perhaps we can go back to good stories, well told. Let’s have no more business success stories or B-team superheroes. I also hope we’ve seen the last of a very tired trope, the […]

The Founder

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There’s a good reason why Arthur Miller’s ‘Death of a Salesman’ remains such a touchstone in the American psyche. The national ambition is to sell big (Britain, let’s remember, was accused of being ‘a nation of shopkeepers). In ‘The Founder’ Michael Keaton plays Ray Krok, the desperate salesman who goes from flogging milkshake machines to […]