Category: Movies


MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS directed by Josie Rourke (UK/USA, 2018)
THE FAVOURITE directed by Yorgos Lanthimos (UK/USA, 2018)

fight the powerfavourites

Personally, I blame Harvey Weinstein.

Were it not for him (and similar monsters) the gender politics that drive these two royal dramas would have been quite different.

Both are contemporary, feminist-orientated dramas which play fast and loose with notions of historical accuracy. The tone and thrust of each is to resolutely present women centre stage and very much in charge of their own destinies. Men are there to service their ambitions or else conveniently sidelined. Continue reading

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514oymgsnpl._sx323_bo1204203200_The seemingly unstoppable momentum that culminated in what many regard as the greatest movie of all time was the basis for ‘The Road To Xanadu’, the compelling first volume of Simon Callow’s four-part biography of Orson Welles.

Prior to Citizen Kane, Welles brought his radical vision and insatiable creative energy to bear on innovative radio broadcasts and ground-breaking theatre productions.

Having achieved so much at such a young age, the remainder of his career was, by common consensus, anti-climatic. Welles himself joked of his movies that he started at the top and had been working his way down ever since.

Volume 2 of his story is therefore an attempt to explain what went wrong when this larger than life actor, writer and director seemed to have the world at his feet. Continue reading

What are film critics for?

THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE MULTIPLEX. WHAT’S WRONG WITH MODERN MOVIES by Mark Kermode (Random House Books, 2011)

10304270Spare a thought for lonely film critics in the age of streaming. They are an increasingly marginalized and, some would say, dying breed.

It’s not as if we really need them anymore. Often they just ruin our entertainment by over detailed reviews of popular movies. Either that or they wind up smugly enthusing about some obscure art house ‘classic’ that only they and a few of their buddies have seen.

Mark Kermode is one of the smartest and self-aware of this endangered species so is well placed to argue for their preservation. Continue reading

goodreads 2018.jpgSince 2014, I have set and maintained a relatively modest reading target on ‘Goodreads‘ of 50 titles a year. I find this website invaluable at the end of year when it comes to reviewing the books I’ve read.

Being gifted, and being thoroughly absorbed by, Kazuo Ishiguro’s ‘The Buried Giant’ led me to a reappraisal of the Nobel Prize Winner. Up until then, I’d read only ‘Remains Of The Day’ and hadn’t been particularly drawn to his other novels. The slow, deliberate pace and absence of colloquial language put me off but now this actually drew me in. Perhaps it’s an age thing. Ishiguro skillfully takes the reader deep into the mind and, above all, the memories of his characters. The only novel of his I haven’t read is ‘The Unconsoled’. Aside from the uncharacteristically messy ‘When We Were Orphans’, I rated all of his works very highly.

Getting fixated on this male author sabotaged my resolve to read more female writers this year. By the end of the year only 20 of the 50 were by women. Of these, my two favorite novels, one old and one new, were Sarah Waters’ quietly subversive ‘Fingersmith’ and Gail Honeyman’s funny/sad study of loneliness : ‘Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine’. Continue reading

WIDOWS directed by Steve McQueen (UK,USA 2018)

widows_282018_movie_poster29There are many reasons why the best TV series are more rewarding and creative than most current movies and Steve McQueen’s latest feature film illustrates why.

There’s something deeply unsatisfying and frustrating about seeing a complex, multi-layered plot condensed into just over two hours. A story divided into one hour episodes can take its time building nuanced characters and the twists, when they come, they don’t feel forced or rushed.

‘Widows’ is based on Lynda La Plante’s ITV series broadcast in the UK in the early 1980s. La Plante had previously written the peerless ‘Prime Suspect’ starring Helen Mirren which proved that ball-breaking women make compelling protagonists. Continue reading

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