The Arts

Praise The Lord And Pass The Popcorn


  Every few years biblical movies come along – I missed the great wave of postwar religious films like ‘The Robe’ although I saw and loved ‘Ben-Hur’. Chariots! Lepers! It was so much fun I forgot Jesus was in it. Then came John Huston’s ludicrous ‘The Bible – In The Beginning’, with a painfully literal […]

Overlooked Movies – No.1


Why did a movie that should have been a sure-fire box office success bomb so badly? ‘Joe Versus The Volcano’ tanked despite its star credentials, but why? It had the production support of Steven Spielberg and the starpower of Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. It had a great writer; John Patrick Shanley, who wrote ‘Moonstruck’ and […]

Stage Fright


Subsidised theatre has always been a Conservative target. Why, the argument a seems to run, should theatre be given money to ‘improve’ the middle classes who are the only people interested in it? The flipside of that mantra is that a healthy West End is good for the entire industry, and healthy local theatre feeds […]

Re:View – ‘The East’


Co-produced by Ridley and Tony Scott, sand starring Ellen Paige, you’d think this thriller would have been released by now, but more and more, underperforming US films simply don’t open in the UK as the sure-fire hits take the big budgets (See ‘Does Rowling Destroy Writers?’) This is a smart thriller, taut and thoughtful, with […]

What’s The Most Forgotten Movie Genre?


In the hunt for imaginatively funny romantic films we must perforce turn away from Richard Curtis (ahem) and look at a category that lasted for just a decade and a half, then utterly vanished. Where did the screwball comedy go? What was it, and why was it so uniquely American? And why did no-one else […]

Re:View – ‘Urinetown’


The St James Theatre is a stunning new theatre just behind Buckingham Palace. In keeping with the classic West End theatres it has very steeply (some would say lethally) raked seats that take you very close indeed to the stage – but how close do you want to be when the set is a urinal? […]

Re:View – ‘The Witches of Zugarramurdi’


From satire to the supernatural, Alex De La Iglesias is a genre director who rarely puts a foot wrong. His one real disaster was his English language film, ‘The Oxford Murders’. Here he returns to his strengths, mixing elements of earlier hits including ‘Day of the Beast’ and ‘La Comunidad’, with several members of the […]

Re:View: ‘We Are What We Are’


Remakes of films are usually disastrous. The worst examples I can think of are Hollywood’s awful ‘The Vanishing’ and ‘Night Watch’, spun out of their Dutch and Danish originals. But occasionally someone comes along and gets it right. I thought the anglicised ‘Let Me In’, from ‘Let The Right One In’, was very good, although […]

Why Men Hate Rom-Coms


Once there was something called the battle of the sexes. On the screen this took the form of comedies featuring smart, strong, sassy women like Katherine Hepburn and Jean Harlow. The men were Cary Grant and Spencer Tracy, and what usually happened was that they fought themselves to a standstill and fell into each other’s […]

Re:View – ‘Phantom Of The Paradise’


Brian De Palma’s ‘Phantom Of The Paradise’ appeared in 1974 and melded ‘Faust’ with ‘Phantom Of The Opera’, ‘Dorian Gray’ and ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’, with wonderfully deranged performances from Gerrit Graham and William Finney, the latter playing a songwriter whose magnum opus is stolen by rock impresario Swan (Paul Williams), for Death Records […]