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


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


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


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


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


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


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

Mastering the k-word

11 December 2010
The King's Speech Mark Logue and Peter Conradi

Quercus, pp.242

The film The King’s Speech, which is due to appear in the UK in January, tells the story of George VI’s struggle to overcome his stammer. The film The King’s… Read more


All the lonely people

11 December 2010

Whereas Sofia Coppola’s directorial breakthrough, Lost in Translation, featured two lonely souls rattling about in a Tokyo hotel, her latest film, Somewhere, features one lonely soul holed up in a… Read more


Catching up with Clooney

27 November 2010

There are quite a few reasons to like The American. It is an action film with almost no action, making it a non-action action film which, I now know, is… Read more


BOOKENDS: Flesh and blood

13 November 2010
The Art of Hammer Marcus Hearn

Titan, 24.99

Flesh. Lots of flesh. That was the simple promise of a Hammer horror film. In this collection of classic Hammer posters (The Art of Hammer by Marcus Hearn, Titan, £24.99)… Read more


Interview – Tomas Alfredson: outside the frame

Without warning, Tomas Alfredson jumps up and starts wading about the room like a water bird treading over lily pads. ‘There’s a famous sketch by a Swedish comedian,’ he explains… Read more


A certain look

7 April 2010
A Hundred or More Hidden Things Mark Griffin

Da Capo Press, pp.330, 9.99

Just as there are people who are their own worst enemies, so there are books that are their own worst reviews. Mark Griffin’s A Hundred or More Hidden Things, a… Read more


Cast a long shadow

24 February 2010
The Moment of Psycho David Thomson

Basic Books, pp.183, 13.99

Many years ago I invited a young student of mine to see Psycho, a film of which she had never heard, made by a director (Hitchcock) with whose name she… Read more


A dramatic streak

10 February 2010
John Armstrong: The Paintings Andrew Lambirth

Philip Wilson Publishers, pp.240, 35

Late in the 19th century, archaeologists digging in the Roman Forum discovered a lime kiln. It had been built to incinerate marble into an aggregate for the mortar for the… Read more

The face of a muffin

30 December 2009
Margaret Rutherford: Dreadnought with Good Manners Andy Merriman

Aurum, pp.296, 18.99

What was it about post-war British cinema? Our films were lit up by a collection of wonderfully idiosyncratic performers. Think Alistair Sim, Terry-Thomas and Robert Morley. Perhaps the most idiosyncratic… Read more

Moving swiftly on

20 May 2009
Chaplin’s Girl Miranda Seymour

Simon & Schuster, pp.369, 15.99

Love Child Allegra Huston

Bloomsbury, pp.289, 17.99

Chaplin’s Girl, by Miranda Seymour Love Child, by Allegra Huston Virginia Cherrill was an exceptionally pretty young woman when she turned up in Los Angeles in the late 1920s, looking… Read more

Perfectly unreliable

28 January 2009
Ticks and Crosses: Personal Terms 4 Frederic Raphael

Carcanet, pp.221, 18.95

Memoirs? No one writes them any more. If you wish to distinguish yourself from the sweaty masses, you are far better off publishing a diary, or notebook, call it what… Read more

The Millers’ tale

29 December 2008
Arthur Miller, 1915-1962 Christopher Bigsby

Weidenfeld, pp.739, 30

Arthur Miller, 1915-1962, by Christopher Bigsby Arthur Miller was born in 1915 in Jewish Harlem, the son of immigrants from the shtetl, enjoying comfortable family wealth until his father’s business… Read more

Living the legend

3 December 2008
My Judy Garland Life Susie Boyt

Virago, pp.309, 15.99

My Judy Garland Life, by Susie Boyt The story of Judy Garland is a magnificent example of the truth that life imitates art. Things would surely have been different had… Read more

Gruff Justice

26 November 2008
James Robertson Justice: What’s the Bleeding Time? James Hogg, with Robert Sellers and Howard Watson

Tomahawk Press, pp.208, 12.99

James Robertson Justice: What’s the Bleeding Time? by James Hogg, with Robert Sellers and Howard Watson ‘You — what’s the bleeding time?’ Sir Lancelot Spratt, consultant surgeon at St Swithin’s,… Read more