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Book: Royal Flash

"...in my experience the course of history is as often settled by someone’s having a belly-ache, or not sleeping well, or a sailor getting drunk, or some aristocratic harlot waggling her backside."

The second in the series of The Flashman Papers, where a self-proclaimed cad and bounder recounts tales from his life. In this book Flashy gets embroiled in a plot to stand-in for a supposedly ill prince due to his astonishing resemblance to the monarch. Along the way he encounters Lola Montez & Otto Von Bismarck among others. Much like its prequel this is a novel of surprising ambition told through...

George MacDonald Fraser | Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Take 2: Being John Malkovich

"Nobody's looking for a puppeteer in today's wintry economic climate."

We’re on a bit on a Kaufman binge now and much like Eternal Sunshine, this sucks you in with an interesting premise then keeps you watching with a clever and witty script. Worth your time if only because of the bizarre love triangle of John Cusack, Cameron Diaz and Catherine Keener via way of John Malkovich. It’s hard to believe that Spike Jonze is a first-time feature director here, and...

Spike Jonze | Monday, May 01, 2017

Film: Far From The Madding Crowd

"It is difficult for a woman to define her feelings in a language chiefly made by men to express theirs."

A young woman (Carey Mulligan) inherits a farm in 19th century England and works hard to keep it running while maintaining her independence. Meanwhile she must contend with three potential love interests - a lonely neighbour (Michael Sheen), a shepherd (Matthias Schoenaerts) and a soldier (Tom Sturridge). There is no questioning the brilliance of the source material when it comes to period adaptations, and yet so many film makers are...

Thomas Vinterberg | Monday, May 01, 2017

Take 2: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

"What a loss to spend that much time with someone, only to find out that she's a stranger."

I haven’t seen this since its release but it’s every bit the beautiful, low-key daydream I remembered. Gondry’s knack for bending reality combined with Kaufman’s simple yet profound script combine to make one of the best films of recent times (although, gulp… it’s 13 years old now…). I had forgotten about the great score however, which turns into Oh My Darling, Clementine as the film progresses (Winslet’s character is called...

Michel Gondry | Sunday, Apr 30, 2017

Film: Hacksaw Ridge

"I won't touch a rifle sir."

A biopic profiling Desmond Doss, a soldier in WWII who went into the front lines as a medic in Japan without a weapon, on religious grounds. Hacksaw Ridge comprises of two excellently staged battle sequences showing the true horror of war. Comparisons to Saving Private Ryan are apt, at least in a technical sense. The rest is all preachy Hollywood fluff and padding that inspires absolutely nothing in the audience....

Mel Gibson | Friday, Apr 21, 2017

Film: Collateral Beauty

"Just make sure you notice the collateral beauty."

Let me just take you through the absolute shitshow that is Collateral Beauty. There is no simple way to describe the plot, since it is one of the most contrived, poorly thought-out ideas in cinema history. Will Smith plays the charming, inspirational head of a New York advertising firm. This lasts about five minutes until we fast forward a few years to find Smith’s character a husk of his former...

David Frankel | Friday, Apr 21, 2017

Film: A Bigger Splash

"We're all obscene. Everyone's obscene. That's the whole fucking point. We see it and we love each other anyway."

A middle-aged rock star (Tilda Swinton) is on respite in Italy with her boyfriend after losing her voice when an old friend of hers (Ralph Fiennes) turns up out of the blue. What starts out as a gentle character study quickly becomes tedious and overly ponderous. Then, almost as a two fingers to the audience, something actually happens about 90 minutes in when most of us I’m sure are asleep....

Luca Guadagnino | Wednesday, Apr 19, 2017