Ghost in the Shell, a remake of the 1995 anime of the same name, is so lacking in ambition and style I was left wondering why anybody had bothered. It lacks even the decency to be entertainingly bad, instead turning in a basic shot for shot remake that says nothing new and does nothing new, on any conceivable level, narratively or technically. →
Logan, the second Wolverine film directed by James Mangold and featuring the final performance of both Hugh Jackman as Logan and Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier, is a great film, without caveat or qualification, a grim, near-future Western that’s firmly grounded despite the metal claws and psychic mindquakes. What the film also is is a very definite finish; I don’t see where else the current form of the X-Men film series can go now; Logan isn’t simply a great film, but a series-ending one as well. →
I want to start this piece (which does contain spoilers), by stating my credentials: despite my rock-hard, toffee-glazed exterior, I like musicals. Singin’ in the Rain, An American in Paris, The Little Shop of Horrors, Moulin Rouge, Chicago, The Young Girls of Rochefort, The Nightmare Before Christmas and every goddamn Muppet film except for the one I haven’t seen because it stars Ricky Gervais. I think most TV shows would benefit at least one musical episode, like Buffy’s Once More With Feeling, or the whole of Doctor Horrible, or the musical episode of Lexx, or the karaoke bit in Sense8, or the entirety of the ruthlessly inventive My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, or Mayhem of the Music Meister! from Batman: The Brave and the Bold. I like musicals so much I sometimes regret I wasn’t born homosexual, but, we all have to play the hand we’re dealt, and my hand is, tragically, straight. →
My annual film highlights post, in which I highlight 20 films from all I saw during the previous year. Not all are without their flaws, but I'm very fond of all of them, flaws and all. →
No. 1 Duke Street is the Richmondiest place you can go for breakfast in the whole of Richmond, because while the food is excellent there’s also a tense, uptight feel to the place that no amount of complimentary cucumber water, wicker chairs and deep, soft sofas can mask. Like Richmond in general, No. 1 Duke Street is a place for people who think they’re pretty cool and liberal and trendy but would lose their shit if the coffee machine at Waitrose was out of order. →
Following Captain America: Civil War and Ant-Man, Doctor Strange is the third Marvel film in a row that’s left me feeling vaguely unsatisfied. Not nearly as weird as publicity would have us believe, the film papers over a well-worn story template and bland characters with some kaleidoscope effects and not a lot else. →
Ostensibly a police procedural set in Gotham City before the appearance of Batman, Gotham is a frustratingly difficult series to enjoy or recommend, with a scattershot approach to storytelling that makes trying to keep on top of things pointless, and drifting so far from the source it’s a wonder the showrunners didn’t just make the fully-fledged Batman series they so obviously wanted to. But, credit where credit’s due; there’s a lot here to like despite the flaws. →
Notes on a train
A recent trip to Oxfordshire let me try out the recently-refurbished ‘GWR’ trains, introduced…
Remembering David Cameron
As a history graduate, I’m interested in how we remember political figures, and how our memories of…
A misanthrope abroad
Back in 2010 I wrote about how hard I found it to go on holiday for a variety of reasons, but the last few…
On the function of dictionaries
Those asking for nature words to be reinstated in a junior dictionary are wasting their time. Dictionaries describe contemporary usage; by the time you want a word to mean something else, it’s probably too late.
January is the most miserable month of the year. It’s dark when you leave for work and it’s dark…
In defence of Fantastic Four
My appreciation of the 2005 and 2007 Fantastic Four films comes from a single scene in Silver Surfer, where…
Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters
In a year of summer films that have struggled to elicit much more of a reaction than “ok, and?” from me…
Duncan Jones’ Warcraft: The Beginning
How much you’ll get out of Warcraft: The Beginning may depend on how much you’re willing to engage…
Bryan Singer’s X-Men: Apocalypse
Throughout my whole adult life, there have always been X-Men films, so when the 20th Century Fox fanfare…
Captain America: Civil War
My feelings on Tom Holland’s Spider-Man and Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man in Captain America: Civil War…
Granger & Co. OttolenghiDaylesford
Generally, I try not to get into queues with people who don’t mind they’re in a queue. A queue is…
Breakfast at The Putney Canteen
A recent move to the south-west of London opened up a rich seam of easily-accessible breakfast venues in…
Breakfast at Berners Tavern
If you’re going to make me book a table in advance for breakfast, you ought to be offering something…
Breakfast at Damson & Co.
Though no part of Soho can really be considered ‘off the beaten path’, stumbling upon Damson…
Breakfast at Kopapa
I had every intention of writing about breakfast at the Tapa Room, a Marylebone restaurant with an unusual…
No Man’s Sky, a game of forward motion
I was always going to appreciate No Man’s Sky. The look of the game is pure ‘70s sci-fi trash, all orange…
What kind of a game is L.A. Noire?
I wrote recently about how infrequently I replay videogames, and how small the selection of games that get…
Blinded by the light
One of the many problems of renting a home in London is that all expenses are generally spared, so although…
Final Fantasy VII and replaying games
I re-watch films frequently, I re-read books occasionally, and I re-play games almost never unless it’s a…
The secret 3DS player
The StreetPass feature on the Nintendo 3DS encourages you to take your handheld out and about with you,…
- How to Marry a Millionaire: The frothiest, slightest of slight, frothy films from this era, but I begrudgingly had fun watching, so, ok.
- Blink: One of those classy ‘90s neo-noirs from when Madeleine Stowe ruled the cinema and Aidan Quinn was a leading man. No complaints.
- Robinson Crusoe on Mars: Basically The Martian but with Adam West, aliens, dubious racial stereotyping, and a chimp in a spacesuit.
- Sirens: Unremarkable once you get past the nudity. Hugh Grant’s straight-laced fop schtick hasn’t aged well; Sam Neill et al are fun at least.
- Logan: Simply exceptional.
- Raising Cain: Deeply enjoyable Brian De Palma thriller with John Lithgow chewing up the scenery throughout. Ludicrous in the best ways.
- Hellraiser: Inferno: Quite obviously a mediocre supernatural thriller hastily repurposed to include Pinhead. Very poor.
- Little Sister: A perfectly formed little family drama. Just the right balance of sweet and cringe.
- Daylight: A serviceable disaster film, but does nothing you haven’t seen done better elsewhere.
- Seconds: A Twilight Zone-esque story stretched a little too thinly over nearly two hours. Pretty good regardless.
- Loving: Solidly made and solidly performed, but kind of lacking in tension or drama. Charming in its own way, but a bit too sedate.
- Flatliners: Lurid and ridiculous and full of neon and dry ice and 90s rounded spectacles. I love it.
- The Lost Weekend: Billy Wilder’s study of alcoholism can feel a bit preachy by today’s standards, but other than that, this is excellent.
- Kubo & The Two Strings: A beautiful animation but kind of a dull story, boringly told. Felt vaguely educational.
- Hell or High Water: Absolutely exceptional.
- Hulk: As superhero films grow increasingly homogenous and dark, Hulk stands out all the more. Bright and bold and perfectly bizarre.
- Croupier: Dry, dull, and Clive Owen wears the most ridiculous hat, at one point even when he’s in his pyjamas.
- Lost in Translation: If you can get past the creepy age difference and the leads sneering at everyone who isn’t them, this isn’t a bad film.
- The Double Life of Veronique: A haunting and beautiful Kieślowski drama with a moving score and a mesmerising story. One of my favourites.
- The Illusionist (2010): The best Jacques Tati film that doesn’t star Jacques Tati. A beautiful animation, funny and bittersweet.
- Hellraiser: Bloodline: There’s a decent film somewhere in this PINHEAD! IN! SPAAAACE! triptych, but cuts and re-writes drag it to mediocrity.
- The Girl With All The Gifts: A great adaptation of a great book. Tense throughout, strongly performed, and enjoyably bleak.
- The Guyver: Some sterling rubber monster work and Mark Hamill’s moustache. Other than that, like watching a crappy Power Rangers knock-off.
- The Train: Burt Lancaster is the most American-sounding Frenchman ever, but it doesn’t distract from a complex and thrilling WW2 drama.
- Christine (2016): Rebecca Hall is incredible here with a painfully believable portrayal of depression. A grim, intense, necessary piece.