Nomadland, Mogul Mowgli, Akira and others – Screen Time May 2021

May 2021 will forever be remembered as the month when cinemas re-opened. So perhaps it was fitting that the first post-lockdown release I enjoyed on the big screen was Nomadland, Chloe Zhao’s much-lauded meander through the unsettled lives of the USA’s itinerant ‘community’, as seen through Frances McDormand’s complex, loveable central character. All films should be watched within the magical space of a picture house, but this is particularly true when it comes to movies such as Nomadland, which convey so much of their power through long shots lingering on gaspingly open spaces. Whether this very curious, idiosyncratic take on modern Americana will stand the test of time remains to be seen, but it was certainly a moving way in which to resume what will hopefully be a permanent return to one of my favourite places in the world.

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The Mauritanian, Promising Young Woman, Sound Of Metal and others – Screen Time April 2021

How to be good? This was the question that seemed to tie together most, if not all, of April’s film viewing. From the sun-saturated capers of Hitchcock’s To Catch A Thief (great fun, but certainly one of the master’s less memorable efforts) to the pulse-quickening horrors of Bryan Fogel’s The Dissident (an important piece of work, to be sure, but why do such documentaries have … Continue reading The Mauritanian, Promising Young Woman, Sound Of Metal and others – Screen Time April 2021

Tina, Ammonite, Midnight Cowboy and others – Screen Time March 2021

Through no conscious planning, March turned out to be a time for extraordinary women, at least as far as film-viewing was concerned. The month’s first movie – Pieces Of A Woman (dir. Kornel Mundruczo) – certainly didn’t shy away from placing the female experience at the centre of its focus, but it was a tediously unconvincing affair, with one of the most laughable childbirth sequences of recent years. The female with whom I watched it doubted whether anyone involved in the production had ever stepped inside a delivery room. 

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The Fullness Of Paradise – A Special Project With Amouage

Once again came the momentary struggle against the lack of control over my drifting body, to be replaced by a sense of surrender It is with tremendous excitement that I’m able to give you the very first glimpse of The Fullness Of Paradise, a modern fable I’ve been asked to write for the Oman-based perfume brand, Amouage. At this stage, the only part of the … Continue reading The Fullness Of Paradise – A Special Project With Amouage

News Of The World, I Care A Lot, Mank and others – Screen Time February 2021

Looking back at the list of films I managed to notch up in February, I’m struck by how many of them veered towards the bizarre. For instance, there was The Prom, Ryan Murphy’s colourful film version of the Broadway musical about celebrity types injecting an acceptance of diversity into small-town America. The shopping-mall-set rendition of the Bible-basher-bashing Love Thy Neighbour (“There’s no way to separate / Which rules you can violate / Let’s hope you don’t masturbate”) certainly scored high on the weirdness meter. But it was several notches below the outright bonkers-ness of Barb And Star Go To Vista Del Mark (Josh Greenbaum) which featured, amongst many other surprises, a talking crab, friendly sea spirits and the sight of Jamie Dornan delivering a (convincing!) Eurovision-style song-and-dance number containing the immortal lyrics, “Seagulls in the sand, can you hear my prayer?” Dornan was perhaps the best thing in this ludicrously enjoyable romp, striking just the right balance between straight and silly.

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Le Mans ’66, The White Tiger, Assassins and others – Screen Time January 2021

Seven films in one month is quite a poor achievement for me, and as I type these words, I’m trying to work out why I didn’t treat myself to more in-house cinematic outings. But the reasons aren’t forthcoming. Was it all to do with the extra-grey, Covid-enhanced January malaise by which so many of us seemed to be dragged down? Or was I just a bit too busy with writing commitments? I feel certain that, had we been in the ‘normal world’ (what does that even mean any more?) I would have managed to go to the cinema on more than seven occasions, but in the all-pervading spirit of counting our blessings, I suppose I ought to declare that seven is better than none.

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Best Films Of 2020

Surprise, surprise, my attempts to keep this blog updated with regular posts in 2020 failed. Mind you, I can’t take all the blame this time. A certain microscopic nasty caused what we might call ‘some disruption’ to all our lives last year, and although I had (and continue to have) a great deal to say about the situation, much of it was probably best kept to myself. Or, to be more precise: best relegated to the fiction-forming part of my brain, ready to emerge years from now in a short story or novel.

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In The Skin Of Uncertainty

Ever since I first came across them, I’ve been haunted by these words from Michael Ondaatje’s In The Skin Of A Lion: “the extreme looseness of the structure of things”. I can’t remember what context they were in – I can’t even remember very much about the book – but they emblazoned themselves on my soul with what has turned out to be pretty solid permanence.

To me, the phrase has always been about embracing uncertainty, about giving oneself up to not knowing, to an absence of control, to smallness, to transience, to greyness. And I suppose that’s why I’ve been dwelling on it a great deal in recent months. Because if there’s one thing the current pandemic has flagged up – and goodness knows, it’s flagged up more than a few – it’s that some people really can’t cope with uncertainty.

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Some Of The Things I Haven’t Missed During Lockdown

In no particular order… Shopping – even though I normally consider myself to enjoy mooching around shops. But I have not missed it one single bit. Driving Queuing in car parks Feigning politeness in front of people with whom I have zero desire to spend any time Inane, small-talk-laden social gatherings Feeling tired Feeling like I never have enough time Reaching the end of each … Continue reading Some Of The Things I Haven’t Missed During Lockdown

Some Of The Things I Have Missed During Lockdown

In no particular order… Travelling The cinema Spending time with certain family members Laduree London Stopping somewhere for a coffee and a ten-minute session of watching the world go by Going for a walk without feeling like I’m in a tense, Tron-style video game in which you have to avoid coming within sneezing distance of everyone else Going out for a meal Inviting friends over … Continue reading Some Of The Things I Have Missed During Lockdown