On movies.

“Rojo” (2018): over-rated

I have not written what follows in the hopes of steering unsuspecting people away from watching this movie. I don't think it's dangerous or really bad. Rather, it bemused me. And then looking around online for reviews of it puzzled me some more. I can't find anyone who didn't rate it. Even Mark Kermode was in line, and he often sniffs out inadequacy and spots awkward quality. It reminded me of the UK's Supreme Court in one of the Brexit cases: there was a unanimity amongst the judges and its main effect was to erode confidence in their opinion. I lightly wonder if this is the arts equivalent: maybe an omerta of wokeness. Anyway, this is written in case someone who didn't like the film does a search in the hopes of finding someone else out there who didn't respond well to Rojo. Read more...


26 October 2019

“Palais de Justice” (2017)

I very much enjoyed Carey Young's video installation at the Towner Gallery, Eastbourne. (It closes 2 June 2019 but I imagine it will be screened elsewhere.) I know that I wanted to see the thing as soon as I saw the publicity still of a fair-haired, I would say careworn, woman, a judge I presume, returning the camera's stare. I am a little foxed and therefore intrigued as to what, in the event, it achieved for me. Read more...


19 May 2019

“Styx” (2019)

I was lucky to have forgotten everything I knew about this film before I went to see it. Its 94 minutes of study of the moral, technical and emotional problems which suddenly confront Rike, a lone yachtswoman, as she cruises southwards down the Atlantic from Gibraltar toward Ascension Island, were a startling blend of the meditative and the thrilling. I was engrossed by the film throughout and only bothered to be properly sceptical about it when I got home. Read more...


19 May 2019

“The Favourite” is misogynist

It is possible that my title is one tad too strong, if nicely economical. At more and milder length I would say The Favourite is disobliging to women and in particular to the interesting women it purports to portray. Read more...


19 January 2019

“Darkest Hour” is quite bad

The latest Darkest Hour movie is enjoyable and has high production values. It is, as lots of people say, rather a good flipside to the blockbuster Dunkirk. But whilst Dunkirk had merely a few absurdities amongst its conceits, Darkest Hour is, I declare, positively unethical in important parts of its story-telling. Read more...


26 January 2018

Jack Reacher: Mythic hero on a bus

This has been been the sunny season when I lay on a lounger and read something like three-quarters of the 20-some Jack Reacher thrillers produced by the Englishman in New York, Lee Child. I think Reacher is a rare - possibly unique - type in the detective thriller, though it is quite common in Marvel comics and movies. In written form it is a story from over 3,000 years ago. It deploys the epic manner in telling stories about a mythic, and partly divine, figure. Read more...


17 September 2017

The Jungle Book (2016 movie)

This may well be a great movie: I know that I came away from it very willing to see it again soon. It had several jobs to do, and seemed to tick almost all the boxes. It is, perhaps first and foremost, a successful update of and homage to the previous Disney account, which has been loved by generations. Secondly, one supposes its makers wanted it to be a fair account of Rudyard Kipling's original book, and it is that. Thirdly, it had to be worth making: that is, it had to do something which can be done now which could not be done before, and it does. The fourth ambition was expressed by one of the team who made it: the storytellers should not get in the way of the story. Again, this movie succeeds. Read more...


24 April 2016

Mr Turner’s inaccuracies

Mike Leigh's film of Turner's later years is almost always lovely, occasionally very touching,  and often instructive. But some of its assumptions and presumptions are amazingly and even ruinously impertinent...... Read more...


17 January 2015

Interstellar (vs Gravity)

There's a lot to like in Interstellar, and much of it has been caught by professional reviewers. I think there are several dimensions (oops) one needs to reckon with. One: is the story a convincing human - personal - drama? Two: is it a good morality tale? Three: is it a good cinematic theme park ride? Four: is its science robust? If you've the patience here's my unpick of some of those, below the fold. Read more...


11 November 2014
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