Mental Movie Moments 1: Snake Shake


I thought that from time to time we’d have a peculiar bit of celluloid here, preferably something not too well-known or recently seen. To start the ball rolling I stumbled across Debra Paget seducing a very realistic cobra with her, um, charms in this extraordinary clip from Fritz Lang’s ‘The Indian Tomb’.  

Mixing Art And Pleasure


The Fun Part ‘In every job that must be done there is an element of fun…’ Thus spake Mary Poppins, and it can apply even in the most serious and thought-provoking stories. By ‘fun’, I mean that the reader/viewer/listener must be rewarded a little for the effort of paying attention. Every work of art is […]

Mine’s A Double: Films About Doppelgangers


I’ve always written characters in pairs – it’s an unintentional recurring theme throughout my books. My mother was a twin whose brother died at 4 years of age from diphtheria (a now virtually forgotten illness), I have a brother to whom I’m very close, and I tend to form strong attachments with opposites for very […]

Another Childhood Hero Leaves


When I was a kid I wanted to be Rod Taylor. He had a square jaw, a chin-dimple, twinkling eyes, wide shoulders, an Australian accent and a sense of fun about him, and he was therefore far more interesting than Hollywood heroes, most of whom I had no way of relating to. I score a […]

Re:View – ‘Kajaki’


There’s a famous Edwardian quote about Afghanistan, that the more you leave the country alone the better things are for everyone. This has been borne out by a number of war films in the last three or four years, and while many were good (I couldn’t say ‘enjoyable’) they still teetered on the gung-ho militaristic […]

Best & Worst Films Of The Year


It’s a safe bet that no-one will look back on 2014 and regard it as a classic year for Hollywood, which, as always, went where the money was – this time looking to the East, as films inserted locations and stars from China, Japan and India in an effort to increase revenue in those growing […]

The Rich Are Another Country


There are times when not being American helps you take an outsider’s viewpoint on a true story; I came to ‘Foxcatcher’ knowing nothing about the peculiar life of John ‘Golden Eagle’ du Pont (played here by an unrecognisable Steve Carrell), from one of the richest families in the US, but I imagine a lot of […]

Tim Burton’s Monument To Mediocrity


Tim Burton’s directorial style has never been very sophisticated or subtle. That’s fine; neither was Ken Russell’s, but he combined sound and imagery brilliantly. Burton started out with the childlike colour explosions of ‘Pee Wee’s Big Adventure’ and ‘Edward Scissorhands’, and only fell down when he reined in his sense of the absurd. ‘Sweeney Todd’ […]

It’s Going To Be A Box-Set Christmas


It’s been a strange year for film, with mainly weak blockbusters, no decent Hollywood comedies and no strong horror movies. A further retreat into sequels and reboots has set the pattern for the future, and only Universal is doing something fresh, ditching the 30 year-old idea of the tentpole release to concentrate on a smaller, […]

It’s Worth Getting Into The Shadows


You would think there’s no more fun to be wrung from the vampire genre. Then along comes this New Zealand comedy, an absolute gem of a movie from the ‘Flight of the Conchords’ gang (itself one of the best comedies in recent memory), nailing the horrific/comic possibilities of four vampires sharing a house together. The […]