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Christopher Fowler
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A Giallo is a story that starts with a lurid murder that tracks the killer to a plausible solution. At least, in theory. It might have elements of sexuality, suspense, thrills, gore, perversity, even (bad) comedy. It is above all sensual. Every sense is heightened, but the senses are not to be trusted. The protagonist is led astray by their own errant feelings. Often they misread signals and miss…
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Christopher Fowler
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Following on from the last column about cerebral scares, here's something new in the folk horror genre to catch. Ben Wheatley is incapable of making a dull film but he comes dangerously close to self-parody with 'In The Earth', which will either kill off the fashionable folk-horror cycle for a while or encourage a further try. Luckily, there are still many good reasons to see it. During the…
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Christopher Fowler
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Considering I've written some 300 short stories in the genre of the fantastic, I feel that stories in which one's inner doubts and fears are made irrefutably solid is the bravest choice to make aesthetically. Psychological stories achieve a unique level of catharsis but shocking images must be yoked within the service of powerful ideas. The stripping back of artifice and the abandonment of…
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Christopher Fowler
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Recently there's been much talk in the creative community about IPs. The intellectual property rights of characters are being sought out as never before because in uncertain times they come with built-in buyers. The most well-known characters are the most valuable, and they're usually the simplest and easiest to grasp. That's what keeps Sherlock Holmes at the top of the table. His adventures, spin…
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Christopher Fowler
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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, but you can get away with that sort of thing if it's big and…
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Christopher Fowler
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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', Coward's most famous piece is probably 'Blithe Spirit'…
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Christopher Fowler
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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 their wares and leave them on the shelf rather than accept…
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Christopher Fowler
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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 channels, it was a choice of 'tom thumb' or 'The Wizard of Oz'. We tend to forget that despite the dominance of…
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Christopher Fowler
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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 even a musical proved it could be uncomfortable…
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Christopher Fowler
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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 people. This is the first geek film in a long time, the kind of film girls on hot dates will be wise to…
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