Film

Not The Worst Film Ever Made (Update)

What Happens When The Brand Wags The Dog? When director Christopher Nolan insisted that his 007-ish headscratcher ‘Tenet’ only open in cinemas he misunderstood how audiences think. Of course he wanted to put it on the biggest possible screen – it’s dazzling to look at, often audacious and enthralling. It also makes no sense whatsoever, […]

‘Blithe Spirit’: The Coward’s Way Out

Like many other prolific 20th century writers, Noel Coward – if not entirely forgotten – has now been abbreviated to a handful of clichés; dressing gown, cigarette holder, clipped speech, epigrams. In the same way that Agatha Christie is defined by the drearily rote ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ rather than the far better ‘Endless Night’, […]

The Best Films In The Worst Year

We may well look back on 2020 as the year cinema died. The battle between exhibitors and studios reached a head in the pandemic, especially in America where the cinemas remained closed, and ended with Warners shutting theatrical windows and leading the charge to its loss-leader streaming platform. The major studios decided to bottle up […]

An Alternative Christmas Film List

I have never seen ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’. It wasn’t a Christmas perennial in our house and I only became aware of it long after I’d grown up. I still haven’t seen it but intend to this year, although I’m allergic to schmaltz. When I was growing up, in the wonderful world of two TV […]

8 Really, Really Uncomfortable Films

Unbehagen is the German word for discomfort or unease. Horror films shock but the best supernatural films are suffused with the melancholy of loss (‘The Others’, ‘The Orphanage’, ‘The Innocents’). Then there are the films that go to uncomfortable places. ‘Goodfellas’ made good on the ever-present threat in gangster films to explode into violence, and […]

Review: ‘Tenet’ – Never Odd Or Even

No Spoilers There couldn’t be because I have no clue as to what I just saw. Christopher Nolan’s blockbusting head-scratcher is meant to bail out cinemas and bring audiences flooding back. It won’t. Not because it isn’t a great night out – it is – but because it’s going to really annoy a lot of […]

Neglected Classic Films: ‘The Fallen Idol’

Director Carol Reed has a biography worth checking out on a more specialist site than this; his story is a fascinating one. In 1947 Reed started a hot run, with three hits in three years, beginning with the IRA drama ‘Odd Man Out’, then ‘The Fallen Idol’ and finally ‘The Third Man’, which even Orson […]

The BFI Film Guides: A Guide

The British Film Institute shop continues to be the best destination I know of to find serious works on cinema. Its booklist includes the BFI Screen Guides, the International Screen Industries series and the prestigious BFI Film Classics, in which an academic conducts a study of a single film over 100+ pages. The BFI site lists […]

The Baztan Follies

Incredibly, the reviews for the trilogy are terrific. If Lockdown brought one good thing for me it was the return of really awful B movies. After scrolling through Netflix’s premium listings, all seemingly aimed at children, I dredged the dross at the bottom of their EPG. As a lover of Spanish cinema how could I […]

Amuse Yourself: The Virus VS The Story

It’s easy to forget there are actual words inside them Excellent news; book sales are up thanks to Lockdown; no real surprise there. Fiction dipped slightly but general sales are good, probably driven by desperation for something to do that wasn’t watching Netflix or cleaning out the composter. But we were already doing well; British […]