Category: Cinema

  • The BBC TV Shakespeare (1978 – 1985)

    The BBC TV Shakespeare (1978 – 1985)

    The BBC’s failed attempt to create the definitive set of the complete works of Shakespeare adapted for TV demonstrates just how hard to pin down the bugger can be. From his rediscovery at the end of the eighteenth century through to the middle of the 20th the received wisdom was that the Bard was the […]

  • 1984 – John Hurt (1984)

    1984 – John Hurt (1984)

    My favourite John Hurt film has to be Michael Radford’s 1984, released in the same year, with Hurt as Winston Smith, Richard Burton as O’Brien and Suzanna Hamilton as Julia. Finally reaching the year inevitably prompted endless discussions about whether reality matched Orwell’s original vision. Not surprisingly the Labour party pointed out how Thatcher’s Britain […]

  • Abel Gance’s Napoleon – 1927

    Abel Gance’s Napoleon – 1927

    Looking at the practicalities of even showing Abel Gance’s Napoleon makes you wonder how on earth it ever got made. Not only is the full version five and a half hours long but at the very end the film goes tryptych – with three images projected simultaneously side by side to give a stunning split […]

  • Ring (1998) – Sadako the Angry Ghost

    Ring (1998) – Sadako the Angry Ghost

    When Hideo Nakata’s Ring came out in 1998, followed by Ring 2 in 1999 – they looked like groundbreaking Japanese horror movies. The Japanese film industry is, on the whole, very conservative and tight-fisted, relying on endless low-budget formula comedies and soaps. Yet once in a while a director will come along and produced interesting […]

  • The Final Programme (1973)

    The Final Programme (1973)

    Here’s another film that seems pretty apt for the current state of the UK post-Brexit – Robert Fuest’s end of the world-lite version of Michael Moorcock’s classic novel The Final Progamme (released in the US as The Last Days of Man on Earth). It starred Jon Finch as Jerry Cornelius and Jenny Runacre as Miss […]

  • High Rise and Brexit

    High Rise and Brexit

    I’ve been scrabbling around for an appropriate metaphor for the colossally surreal act of self-harm the UK inflicted on itself 48 hours ago, and early this morning, on the borders between waking and sleeping, the sentence the final collapse will unfold itself amid the cold algebra of a parking lot popped into my head. I […]

  • Caligula – 1979

    Caligula – 1979

    One of the oddest worst movies ever made has to be the Penthouse ‘erotic epic’ Caligula, released in 1979. It’s an extreme example of a massive gap between proclaimed artistic worthiness at the start and a finished result that can only be described as two and a half hours of incoherent drivel. The trajectory of […]

  • Interview with Richard Mansfield of Mansfield Dark

    Interview with Richard Mansfield of Mansfield Dark

    As a companion post to my review of Mansfield Dark’s Count Magnus and The Story of A Disappearance and an Appearance, Richard Mansfield very kindly agreed to answer some questions about the movies: Why make M. R. James ghost stories as shadow puppet films? I think the medium lends itself perfectly for ghost stories. I’ve […]

  • Zardoz (1974)

    Zardoz (1974)

    What better way to recover from New Year’s Eve than a leisurely afternoon watching John Boorman’s cult classic Zardoz. Putting aside the seriously disturbing sight of a post-Bond ever so slightly flabby Sean Connery dressed in Vampirella’s swimming costume and thigh length leather boots while sporting a porn moustache it’s difficult to know where to […]

  • Jodorowsky’s Dune – Documentary (2013)

    Jodorowsky’s Dune – Documentary (2013)

    In 1977 the film-maker Alejandro Jodorowsky wrote an introduction to Dragon Dream’s monograph on the paintings of Chris Foss, 21st Century Foss (1977). The essay describes the artist as ‘a being who carried his drawings with the same ultra-maternal care as the Kaitanese Kangarooboos carry the children born of their self-insemination.’ Apparently Foss would ‘go […]

  • The sexual politics of Imperator Furiosa’s left arm

    The sexual politics of Imperator Furiosa’s left arm

    Mad Max Fury Road was just as brilliant the second time round I saw it. For what is essentially a colossal car chase in one direction, followed by a 180 degree turn and a colossal car chase all the way back, the intelligence buried in all the detail in and around the constant explosions and […]

  • Ex Machina (2015)

    Ex Machina (2015)

    In many ways Alex Garland’s film Ex Machina treads the same ground as A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001), I, Robot (2004) and The Machine (2013) in its portrayal of a robot trying to break out of its pre-programmed existence to become human. Geeky programmer Caleb (Domhall Gleeson – one of the Weasley brothers for Harry Potter fans) wins a competition […]

  • Interstellar (2014)

    Interstellar (2014)

    **WARNING – Major Spoiler Alerts** I’ve been face down writing AntiHelix for the last month so I’ve neglected this blog a little, but having seen Interstellar on its opening night yesterday I thought I’d jot down my thoughts. It’s a curate’s egg – some parts are very good, other parts are disappointing and I came […]

  • The Company of Wolves (1984)

    The Company of Wolves (1984)

    Wandering through Kate Bush’s imagination a couple of weeks ago made me think of a peculiarly English brand of dark fantasy that started in the late Victorian era with writers like George MacDonald and Lucy Clifford. These and others managed to write children’s stories possessed of such toe-curling nightmarish terror that they continue to haunt […]

  • Sin City 2: A Dame to Kill For

    Sin City 2: A Dame to Kill For

    Last night I went to a Sin City double feature where I watched the original followed by the sequel in 3D. Very entertaining and well made, the 3d enhances the unique visual style of the original and yet, and yet… My biggest feeling after seeing the movies, and 300 as well (I haven’t seen 300: […]

  • Samurai Jack

    Samurai Jack

    I came back from Japan with a five year old and a three year old with heads full of Sailor Moon, Anpanman and Miyazaki Hayao, so inevitably when we signed up for cable back in the UK we turned to Cartoon Network. When I was a kid TV cartoons were pretty dire. I grew up […]

  • Paperhouse (1988)

    Paperhouse (1988)

    Movies and dreams have always been closely linked. Cinema history is full of movies of dreams, from the films of Georges Méliès and the 1911 cartoon of Little Nemo in Slumberland to the world of Freddy Kreuger and Nightmare on Elm Street. There are two basic approaches – adding dreams inside films as part of […]

  • Europa Report (2013)

    Europa Report (2013)

    Spoiler Alert News from Space last week confirmed the existence of an ocean underneath the icy surface of Enceladus. Furthermore it seems that this immense body of water is in contact with the moon’s rocky core, allowing minerals to leach into the sea. Chemicals, water and tidal heating caused by Saturn’s gravity point to the […]

  • Schalcken the Painter (1979)

    Schalcken the Painter (1979)

    The history of British TV is littered with brilliant one-off series and TV programmes that appeared once or twice and then vanished, seemingly forever. John Hurt as Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment (1979), Nigel Kneale’s horror series Beasts (1976) and the Bavarian film of Carmina Burana that appeared on screens over here in 1975 are three examples. Luckily […]

  • Revisiting Battle Royale

    Revisiting Battle Royale

    In last week’s post Jane Dougherty raised the interesting question as to whether modern Young Adult fantasy sanitises the world for its readers, serving them the illusory comfort of simplistic ideas of good and evil over which teens can triumph, as opposed to the more complex banal institutional horrors that characterise the 20th and 21st […]