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Film

Macon Blair in Blue Ruin

Blue Ruin is unwatchable, bloody – but, from what I saw, rather good

3 May 2014
Blue Ruin Key Cities
Looking for Light: Jane Bown Key Cities

Blue Ruin is a low-budget yet highly accomplished revenge thriller although whether you have the stomach for it is another matter. I do not have a strong stomach, as we… Read more

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Simon Callow’s notebook: What it’s like to lose at an awards ceremony

8 March 2014

It was one of those weeks. On Monday, I was in four countries: I woke up at crack of dawn in Austria, took my first plane in Germany, my second… Read more

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Harry Shearer on bringing out Richard Nixon’s feminine side

18 January 2014

Hollywood tends to treat Richard Nixon as an oafish B-movie villain, so it is ambitious and original of Harry Shearer to try to convince a British audience of the very… Read more

They also serve: the Kennedy family enter the White House

The Butler, about a black domestic in the White House, is too painfully obvious

16 November 2013
The Butler 12A, Nationwide

The Butler tells the story of an African–American butler at the White House who served eight American presidents over three decades and it plays as a ‘greatest hits’ of the… Read more

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'You can't handle the truth!' — the greatest courtroom dramas of all time

9 November 2013

Our legal system is pure theatre and always has been. Many barristers stand accused of being failed actors and vice versa. Judges love the dressing-up box and a chance to… Read more

Give us the money: James Toback and Alec Baldwin

Ryan Gosling couldn’t play Taki better than Taki

9 November 2013
Seduced and Abandoned 15, Key Cities

Seduced and Abandoned is both a satire on film-making and a love letter to film-making and a joy. A documentary made by the director and writer James Toback, in cahoots… Read more

Scary monsters: the demon from Jacques Tourneur’s 1957 film

How I learned to start screaming and love the horror movie

2 November 2013

Buddy, you can keep your Christmases and your Easters, your Hanukkahs and your Eids. For someone like me, the annual celebration that really matters is the one that falls on… Read more

Searching for her lost son: Judi Dench and Steve Coogan

Philomena is Dame Judi’s film

2 November 2013
Philomena 12A, Nationwide

Philomena is based on the true story of an Irish woman searching for the son stolen from her by the Catholic Church 50 years earlier, and although, as a cinematic… Read more

Forced to work together: Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy

Sandra Bullock must be blindfolded when she picks her movies

3 August 2013
The Heat 15, Nationwide

Sandra Bullock is a highly watchable actress and she seems like she’d be fun to hang out with — I have no idea why I think that; I just do… Read more

Out of its time: Mick Jagger in Nicolas Roeg’s debut film, Performance (1970)

The World is Ever Changing, by Nicolas Roeg - a review

20 July 2013
The World is Ever Changing Nicolas Roeg

Faber and Faber, pp.256, £25, ISBN: 9780571310838

‘Value and worth in any of the arts has always been about timing,’ writes British director Nicolas Roeg at the age of 84. Few directors understand this better — this… Read more

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Nicolas Roeg interview: ‘I hate the term “sex scene”’

13 July 2013

‘Oh, some of my films have been attacked with absolute vitriol!’ said Nicolas Roeg, 85, and still one of the darkest and most innovative of post-war British directors. We were… Read more

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Daniel Radcliffe: why are the leaders of our political parties so uninspiring?

22 June 2013

Daniel Radcliffe is wearing the standard rehearsal outfit of T-shirt, black jeans and trainers. ‘Ah, this is for The Spectator. I probably shouldn’t have worn my fake Che Guevara T-shirt.’… Read more

A troubled conscience: Saoirse Ronan as Eleanor

Gemma Arterton's new vampire flick, Byzantium, is melancholia at its most trying

1 June 2013
Byzantium 15

Neil Jordan’s Byzantium may well be stylish and moody — so moody, in fact, I wanted to send it to its bedroom with the instruction it could only come down… Read more

'Seduced And Abandoned' star Alec Baldwin poses with wife Hilaria at this years Cannes Film Festival Photo: Getty

Taki: What's Cannes all about? Seducing someone important

25 May 2013

Cannes It’s raining, the stars are hiding, the hacks and paparazzi are waterlogged and frustrated, and the shimmering images of the beautiful people walking up the red carpet are just… Read more

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The end of the affair?

10 March 2012
Secrets and Lies Christine Keeler with Douglas Thompson

John Blake, pp.290, 17.99

Of those caught up in the 1963 Profumo affair, the only winner seems to have been that blithe spirit Mandy Rice-Davies. Everyone else lost. Profumo’s family bore the brunt, of… Read more

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Loves, hates and unfulfilled desires

18 February 2012
Zona Geoff Dyer

Canongate, pp.229, 16.99

Montaigne, who more or less invented the discursive essay, had a method which was highly unmethodical: ‘All arguments are alike fertile to me. I take them upon any trifle .… Read more

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Stronger than fiction

21 January 2012
Warrior: The Amazing Story of a Real Warhorse General Sir Jack Seely, illustrated by Alfred Munnings

Racing Post Press, pp.176, 14.99

I think it was a Frenchman — it usually is — who observed that the English love their animals more than their children. At first glance, General Jack Seely’s Warrior:… Read more

Who’s the real monster?

31 December 2011
Shock Value: How a Few Eccentric Outsiders Gave us Nightmares, Conquered Hollywood and Invented Modern Horror Jason Zinoman

Duckworth, pp.274, 18.99

‘The first monster that an audience has to be scared of is the film-maker. They have to feel in the presence of someone not confined by the normal rules of… Read more

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Scenes from the Mad Hatter’s tea party

2 July 2011
And God Created Burton Tom Rubython

The Myrtle Press, pp.812, 20

I only ever heard my mother admit twice to fancying other men. One, remarkably, was Saddam Hussein, the other was Richard Burton, and of each she said, ‘He’s a good-looking… Read more

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The Midas touch

23 April 2011
Bill Gold: Poster Works introduction by Christopher Frayling, edited by Tony Nourmand, foreword by Clint Eastwood

Reel Art Press, pp.447, 400

Now that we can read on Kindle and some people fear that paper-and-ink books will become extinct, one’s first impulse might be to say hurrah for this mighty production. Now… Read more

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Still life

12 February 2011

I didn’t go and see the Coen brothers’ remake of True Grit this week because I couldn’t get excited about it and don’t like westerns anyhow. I didn’t go and… Read more

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Steps to destruction

22 January 2011

I have always suspected that, if you look for the black swan within yourself, it will end in tears, and now Darren Aronofsky has proved me right. It will end… Read more

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Neither here nor there

15 January 2011

Conviction is yet another film based on ‘an inspirational true story’ because, I’m assuming, Hollywood has now run out of made-up stories. Conviction is yet another film based on ‘an… Read more

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Film: Farewell to arm

8 January 2011

Unless you’ve been living under a rock — in which case, keep it to yourself; I’m done with rocks — you’ll have already heard about 127 Hours. Unless you’ve been… Read more

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The wow factor

18 December 2010
Franco Zeffirelli: Complete Works edited by Caterina Napoleone

Thames & Hudson, pp.512, 95

‘Nothing succeeds like excess,’ quipped Oscar Wilde, and Franco Zeffirelli’s production of Aida at La Scala, Milan in 2006 bears him out: for sheer jaw-dropping, applause- garnering theatrical bling, I… Read more