Category: Films


This 2017 study by Russian director Andrei Zvyagintsev of an acrimoniously-divorcing middle-class Muscovite couple, and the disappearance of and search for their desperately neglected son, is brilliant and wise. Some Western critics of the film have, however, read it through the lens of the currently-dominant Russophobia, and in doing so have placed on it a political weight that it cannot bear.

Tagged with: , , , , , ,

The Death of Stalin

I was intrigued to see this succès de scandale. It had been called ‘revolting’ by the Russian Communist Party, and ‘disgraceful’ by Peter Hitchens. According to some it reflected on Putin, whilst according to David Cameron it reflected on Theresa May. It was praised as Iannucci’s deepest work, and condemned as a grosss lapse from form. It has not yet received a Russian license, and it grossed twice in its opening weekend what In the Loop did in 2009. I went fully prepared to hate it and walk out.

In the event, I stayed in my Everyman armchair to the credits’ end, so may now toss my own ha’pennyworth into the furor.

Tagged with: , , ,

Lipstick on Your Collar: My Fascination for the Nineteen-Fifties

  There are, I find, many advantages to being born relatively late for your generation. Your parents know pretty much what they are about; they grow old when you still have a strong arm with which to support them; and,

Tagged with: , , ,

Fakespeare makes good, apart from on Leveson: King Charles III

The new film adaptation of Mike Bartlett’s 2014 play King Charles III is impressively versified and acted, and wise about the heaviness of heads that wear crowns even today – but sadly it gets it wrong about Lord Leveson’s recommendations about the regulation of the press.

Tagged with: , , , , , ,

Three Girls: A Magnificent Response to the Rochdale Child Abuse Ring

The BBC has produced a magnificent three-hour dramatic response to the Rochdale child abuse scandal, which was only uncertainly brought to its end with the trial of nine men in 2012, and which was eclipsed in its horror by similar events in Oxford – where I was living at the time.

Tagged with: , , ,

Fear on Camera: Papa Doc’s Haiti

Graham Greene’s novel ‘The Comedians’ leads me to a contemporary documentary about Papa Doc’s Haiti, and to wonder why documentaries can’t convey a population’s terror the way that fiction can.

Tagged with: , , , ,

Rough Justice

Two 2015 BBC1 adaptations of mid-twentieth-century classics – ‘An Inspector Calls’, and ‘And Then There Were None’ – struck me with the similarity of these works’ themes, and the opposition of their conclusions.

Tagged with: , ,

Corfus of the Mind

The recent ITV series ‘The Durrells’ has prompted some reflections on Gerald Durrell’s Corfu trilogy, on Lawrence Durrell’s and Theodore Stephanides’ own memoirs of Corfu of the 1930s, and on the exclusions that they make in their memoirs of that happy time and place.

Tagged with: , , ,


Spectre is in many ways excellent – but as a whole it is muddled, and blunts its own political point.

Tagged with: , ,

An Englishly-sunny War and Peace

This lavish, likeable, intelligent adaptation shows more of what Virginia Woolf characterised as the English ‘instinct to enjoy’ than of the Russian, and Tolstoyan, capacity to ‘suffer and understand’. So enjoy.

Tagged with: , ,

The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies

2014 ITV television drama concerning the man accused by some of Britain’s newspapers of murdering his tenant Joanna Yeates in December 2010.
Written by Peter Morgan (of Frost-Nixon, The Queen), directed by Roger Michell (of Notting Hill). 120 minutes. Broadcast 10th and 11th November 2014 on ITV.

Tagged with:

Victoriana in London 2013-14

‘The Invisible Woman’ is a fine film, but a lot less coarsely entertaining than Dickens himself; London’s Dickens Museum does great walking tours but less illuminating candle-lit evenings; the St Pancras is worth a tour; and why does England do so many Victorian fairs and festivals, and so few Georgian ones?

Tagged with: , , , ,


Skyfall continues the moral and political revisionism of the Daniel Craig Bond era by cutting out the USA, and condemning torture.

Tagged with: ,