Stephen Arnell

Stephen Arnell’s first novel, The Great One, is out now.

‘Your Honours, never again’: political trials in the movies

With former President of the United States Donald Trump now indicted on four counts relating to attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, here’s a look at motion pictures where leaders are put on trial. To Kill a King (2003) – full movie available on YouTube I confess to possessing little sympathy with the plight of

Anyone for tennis – on film?

With Wimbledon fortnight upon us, what better time to explore tennis on the silver screen? Even more fortuitous is that Aidan Turner’s raunchy Amazon Prime series Fifteen Love will debut this summer, in which the Poldark star plays a tennis coach with a chequered past. Turner also features as moustachioed TV presenter Declan O’Hara (shades

Midsummer movies: what to watch on the longest day

The summer solstice (which falls today) has been a time of celebration and religious rituals since the dawn of mankind. Some associate the event with neo-druidic gatherings at Stonehenge and the like, others with ghastly human sacrifices to placate the Old Gods – while many see the solstice as simply a time to celebrate the

Glenda Jackson: a life in ten films

The actress and politician Glenda Jackson died last week at the age of 87. Her acting career moved effortlessly between stage, TV, and motion pictures, where Jackson proved a commanding presence in each. In 1992 she took a lengthy break from the acting world to become a Labour MP, exchanging the likes of co-stars George

The art of the insult in movies

As Rishi Sunak and Boris Johnson trade insults, here’s a look at some of the best – and most wounding – barbs in film. Full Metal Jacket (1987) Amazon Rent/Buy Gunnery Sergeant Hartman, the master of full-on, spittle-flecked abuse, eventually gets his comeuppance for belittling conscripted recruits in Stanley Kubrick’s Vietnam war classic. A prime

‘I’m sorry, Dave’: AI in the movies

Artificial intelligence (AI) has rarely been out of the headlines over recent months, creating foreboding that computers will soon be an existential threat to humanity. Movies have long anticipated this, beginning almost a century ago with Fritz Lang’s dystopian classic Metropolis (1927). Seven years earlier, Czech writer Karel Čapek’s stage play R.U.R. – Rossumovi Univerzální

Ten movies to watch as the Mirror Group phone hacking trial continues

With its inbuilt suspense, twists and turns – not to mention its many opportunities for scenery-chewing – the courtroom drama has long been a staple of cinema. Although plots tend to concentrate on capital cases, there are a fair few where reputational damage, corporate malfeasance, freedom of speech, education, religion, sexuality, race, military justice, politics

Schofield, Willoughby and the question of blame

Holly Willoughby returned to the This Morning sofa yesterday with a brief scripted statement on the fall of her long-time co-presenter Phillip Schofield:   I imagine that you might have been feeling a lot like I have – shaken, troubled, let down, worried for the wellbeing of people on all sides of what’s been going on, and full

Movies to get you in the Eurovision mood

We might never have taken the Eurovision Song Contest terribly seriously in the UK – but with British Ted Neeley lookalike Sam Ryder winning second place last year and the staging of this year’s event in Liverpool, some are singing to a different tune. This year’s UK entry comes from Mae Muller – ‘I Wrote

Cannes 2023: 10 films to watch out for

This year’s Cannes Film Festival promises to be interesting viewing, with a record number of female directors in contention (a stark contrast to the 2023 Academy Awards) and a greater than usual representation of old-guard auteurs (including Martin Scorsese, Wim Wenders, Ken Loach and Finnish maverick Aki Kaurismäki). Fans will no doubt be enthused by

What happens when coronations go awry

Despite weeks of preparation and rehearsal, coronations don’t always go according to plan. Indeed, a botched coronation or one plagued by misfortune can be taken by the superstitious as a poor augury for coming reigns – sometimes justifiably. Case in point: the celebrations of Tsar Nicholas II and Alexandra Feodorovna in Moscow’s Dormition Cathedral on 14 May 1896.

Crowning moments: coronations in the movies

Before Westminster Abbey opens its doors on Saturday, what better way to get in the spirit than to explore the storied history of coronations in the movies? The sheer spectacle of a monarch’s formal coronation has an inherently cinematic aspect – and it’s one that motion pictures have long exploited. Here are ten films to

Plot twist: the 10 most surprising Best Picture Oscar winners

The received wisdom that the Oscar for Best Picture always goes to mainstream, generally inoffensive ‘quality’ pictures is only partially true. There have been multiple exceptions to this – and increasingly so over recent years, with an influx of younger Academy voters and a desire to be seen as more progressive than in the past.

10 romcoms that are actually worth watching

The romcom genre has a decidedly mixed record, often becoming a lazy way for stars to cash in on their popularity – with less than loveable results. Witness the career of Matthew McConaughey, which could have been described as ‘Death by romcom’ (Failure to Launch, The Wedding Planner, Fool’s Gold etc) until his 2011 comeback

10 films about brothers at war

Sibling rivalry is nothing new, as the Old Testament’s story of Cain and Abel attests. Back in 1966, director John Huston cast hellraiser Richard Harris as fratricidal bad boy Cain in The Bible: In the Beginning. Years later, Ray Winstone played Cain’s even naughtier descendent Tubal-Cain in Darren Aronofsky’s decidedly odd Noah (2014). 2009 also

Films to watch out for in 2023

It would be fair to say 2022 was not a vintage year in cinema, reflected in UK box office receipts which remain around a third below the pre-pandemic year of 2019. That’s not to say there weren’t some enjoyable releases (such as The Banshees of Inisherin, Triangle of Sadness and The Northman) – but the

Peace on Earth? 10 films about Christmas on the front line

Christmas may ostensibly be a time of goodwill to all men, but war rarely takes a break for the festive season – as events in Ukraine sadly demonstrate. Here are ten films set during Yuletide where the front line is front and centre: Castle Keep (1968) – Amazon Rent/Buy Sydney Pollack’s (Three Days of the Condor)

The best Oscar Wilde films

It is 122 years this week since Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde died – in exile, poverty and disgrace – at Paris’s shabby St Germain Hôtel d’Alsace. His last words were said to be: ‘My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or the other of us must go.’ Despite Wilde’s precipitous fall from

Time to check out: hotel horrors on screen

From Fawlty Towers to Psycho, hotel horrors have long provided a rich seam of material for big screen and small. HBO’s The White Lotus, which returns to Sky Atlantic tonight for its second series, swept the board at last month’s Emmys, with ten wins in the limited series category for its sharp social satire set at an upmarket

Trump and the art of compromising material

When the FBI raided Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, they found a file titled ‘Info re: President of France’. Many have speculated (with no little encouragement from Trump himself) that it contains illicit details of Emmanuel Macron’s sex life.  Whatever the truth about this particular cache, political kompromat has long been a source of great drama