Designing Dreams


The state of the British film industry has been a standing joke since the 1970s, despite a number of superbly realised movies spread rather thinly across the subsequent decades. We maintained a penchant for kitchen-sink dramas after John Osborne wrote ‘Look Back In Anger’ in the 1950s (at the time, a much needed astringent, now […]

Whimsy Is The New Reality


There are certain literary traits I don’t much care for; over-earnestness, sentiment, nostalgia and manufactured ‘edge’ being among the worst – TV crime dramas seem to believe that everything should be grim and shouty – Tony Hancock once said ‘You can get away with anything if you keep a straight face’ – but I’ve never […]

All On The Same Page?


Did I just miss a meeting? Did Aldous Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’ just come true while I stepped out of the room? Dismayed lately by the fact that many young urbanites now looks, sound and behave exactly the same, I spotted an odd fluff article in the press: The headlines went on about a pair […]

Los Angeles Plays Itself

Pan PAcific Auditorium

Here’s an unusual documentary worth checking out from Thom Anderson about the least photogenic yet most photographed film town of all. Los Angeles is the equivalent of Middlesex; boring, ugly, but near enough to studios to provide cheap exterior backdrops. However, it wasn’t always like this. Anderson’s film looks at the history of the city […]

Science Fiction Movies: A Great British Tradition?


Speculative film fictions are intrinsically connected to open-minded American culture, from ‘Them!’ to ‘Star Wars’, but in its buttoned-down way the UK too has always been fascinated by science fiction. We’ve produced many of the greatest SF writers in the world, and yet at first glance it seems that this tradition has not been followed […]

Where Did All The Funny Stuff Go?


Remember when this site was really good? I mean with jokes and funny things Admin saw and stuff? Before it got all serious about writing and London and politics and that? Well, it’s still around, it’s just on my Facebook page, here. So if you find this sign in my local pub funny, you’ll probably […]

Have Yourself A Sentimental Christmas


Unlike the US Superbowl ads, which have a wildly celebratory tone, here in the UK we’ve lately developed a grotesquely over-sentimental streak about Christmas, centred mainly around ads for supermarkets. And like everything else here they offer up a paradox; no longer about flogging oven chips or peas, they’re about vague concepts like loneliness and […]

Whatever Happened To Camp?


The 1960s were by all accounts a schizophrenic time – on the one hand London was blooming with creative originality and artistic talent, while the rest of the country was stuck in a postwar past that had hardly shifted since the days of Clement Atlee. While Northern comics continued to tell racist jokes, a very […]

The Panic Of ’83


The Daily Mail started it, of course – an article in 1983 called for the banning of videos which brought undesirable images into the home for the first time. Home entertainment was a new concept, and the Mail feared it would break up the nuclear family structure it was so desperate to cling onto. On […]

The Rise Of The Precinct Drama


Precinct dramas – those set in a single limited space – have grown popular in the last few years, We’ve had thrillers set in one room (‘The Disappearance of Alice Creed’, ‘Exam’, ‘Cube’, ‘Fermat’s Room’) a great many set entirely in houses or apartments (of which ‘Amour’ is probably the best) horror films set in […]