Category: Television

SUBURRA directed by Stefano Solima (Italy, 2015)

If, this year, you had been inclined to follow the age-old advice to do in Rome as the Romans do you might have attended a Mafia funeral, joined those protesting against travel disruption or become embroiled in one of the numerous corruption scandals.

2015 has been a veritable ‘annus horribilis’ for the Eternal City.

In this context, the movie Suburra looks less like a work of fiction and more like an depressingly realistic depiction of current events.

The title takes us back to ancient times, referring to the notorious red-light district of the city. The 21st century equivalent is an equally squalid world where prostitution, institutionalised crime, violence and general levels debauchery are routine. Continue reading

INTIMACY directed by Patrice Chéreau (UK, 2001)

intimacy-POSTERSex in movies or music videos is mostly more concerned with titillation than realism while in porn its primary function is stimulation.

The makers of Intimacy, based on a short story by Hanif Kureishi, adopt a less glossy and therefore more adult perspective.

In the movie, scenes of coupling are explicit, including un-simulated fellatio. Little is left to the imagination but, equally, nothing is particularly arousing.

On the contrary, the sex act is reduced to the level of a basic human need (like eating and sleeping but more energetic).

This is fucking not lovemaking and seems more akin to an act of penance than passion. Once the desire is satiated, words are unnecessary and the two go their separate ways arranging only to meet again the same day (Wednesday) the next week. Continue reading

TWIN PEAKS : FIRE WALK WITH ME directed by David Lynch (USA, 1992)

If Dune is David Lynch’s prize turkey, Fire Walk With Me, follows as a close second. It is significant that neither are included in the ‘select filmography’ in ‘Catching The Big Fish’, Lynch’s collection of anecdotal reflections on meditation, consciousness and creativity published in 2006.

After two seasons of Twin Peaks on TV, the plug was unceremoniously pulled by the network in 1991 to leave a sense of unfinished business. But much as I loved the show, the recent announcement that a new Showtime miniseries with Lynch at the helm is in the pipeline fills me with more trepidation than excitement. 25 years on, it will be tough to replicate the subtlety and surreal humour that made the small screen version so compelling

Further cause for concern stems from the dire movie spin-off of Fire Walk With Me. The wayward plot focuses on the events leading up to the murder of Laura Palmer leaving a trail of loose ends in its wake.

The movie substitutes cheap horror and seedy sex for anything more considered. Overall, you are left with the distinct impression that it is little more than an elaborate cut and paste job of half-conceived ideas. A bizarre cameo by David Bowie is one of many sequences that serve little purpose. Continue reading


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Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell

We are still only in January, but the BBC adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall is already sure to be one of the year’s TV highlights.

Costume dramas have long been the Beeb’s stock in trade and on the strength of episode one (broadcast on BBC Two on 21st January) this looks to one of their best for a long while.

It almost goes without saying that the acting is superb and I was particularly impressed by Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell.

What makes his performance so riveting is that, although he not physically imposing, he quietly manages to fill the screen and make you understand how such a man could have risen from humble beginnings , as the son of a blacksmith, to be one of the most influential figures in Britain.

The drama has a contemporary resonance in that you can well see how Cromwell’s instinctive Machiavellian skills also have a modern-day application. Continue reading


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