The BFI Screen Guides

8mm spine

Never trust a man who puts ‘Pretty Woman’ in his top ten movies; it tells you too much about him. Making a list of your favourite films always risks exposing your personality. While they create a satisfying sense of order, they also reveal your age, class, intellect, sexual orientation and whether you have any symptoms […]

The Return Of London Books


Having just had the in-laws to stay, one of the questions that always comes up is where to send them in London. Having narrowly missed packing them off to Borough on the night of the latest attack, one has to think about this carefully. Many friends have children who only want to go to M&M […]

Why Can’t We Make Films Like This?

The Tunnel

I stopped reviewing for a while because I was seeing too many movies with date embargoes, but I’ve decided to occasionally mention items I think may be of interest. Here’s one you may not have heard of… It’s hard to make a mainstream comedy with a bit of depth. Hollywood and the UK rarely make […]

The State Of My Nation


I’m at a crossroads in writing. I’ve delivered books for 2018 and have a clean slate for 2019. Usually I have three or four slowly gestating ideas in different stages of development. Everything I write reflects something of the times. I make sure there’s themes, parallels, touches of zeitgeist. But after the last couple of […]

Don’t Envy Inner City Dwellers


Apologies in advance for today’s downbeat post – we’ve woken to a hung parliament, an un-negotiable Brexit and appalling economic figures that place our growth at Europe’s lowest level (the highest is that of Romania). ‘You’re so lucky living in the centre of town,’ say friends. ‘Well, I was born there and never moved further […]

First Words: Starting Your Story


I recently discovered a short book called ‘Plotting & Writing Suspense Fiction’ by Patricia Highsmith. I’ve always enjoyed her lean, mean fiction, and feel she was (as she says) lucky to be working in a time when you could attract a director like Alfred Hitchcock to film a tale. Her book is a simply written […]

Black Humour: The Comedy Tool That’s Too Hot To Use


US comic Kathy Griffin got herself into hot water after holding up the severed head of Trump in a video post.  CNN fired her and she broke down in tears. The Daily Mail, that fine source of good taste, squealed like a stuck pig about her ‘offensiveness’, and Griffin promptly apologised for her appalling lack […]

Five Hidden London Spaces


Southwood Garden There’s a secret garden right behind Piccadilly Circus. For over 200 years, this plot to the West of St James’s Church was used as a burial ground for the parish. After the war of 1939–45 Viscount Southwood provided money for the ‘green’ churchyard to be made into a garden of remembrance ‘to commemorate the […]

How Should Writers Respond To Terror Attacks?


At an early point in their careers, writers have to respond to a series of unspoken questions. What is our best format for communication? (performance, TV, literature – the disciplines are very different). What style suits us best? (fiction, non-fiction, genre, mainstream, small press) and if we choose fiction, do we reflect the present state […]

Update: Another Night, Another Horror

You start to think that each day when nothing bad happens is a good day. Last night I was talking to my partner and friends who had been out for meals, and it had been a lovely early summer evening, partly because nothing bad had happened. That was before 10pm, when three men rampaged through […]