When a character in Paolo Sorrentino's Youth introduced herself as Paloma Faith I knew the name, but I had no idea if this really was Paloma Faith, or an actress playing the part of Paloma Faith. The former scenario baffled me because there's no particular reason for Paloma Faith to be in the film playing herself, and the latter because there's no good reason for an actress to be playing the part of Paloma Faith in a film where Paloma Faith's presence has no bearing beyond a brief name-drop that's lost on the rest of the cast. →
As usual at this time of year, I've picked 20 highlights from all the films I saw during 2015, this time from a pool of 227 candidates. The only rule I follow is that I saw the film during 2015, though this year there's only a bit of an overlap with 2014 so that probably isn't all that important. →
Generally, I try not to get into queues with people who don't mind they're in a queue. A queue is an obstacle between you and your destination, and if you don't mind queuing, you clearly don't care that much about the destination, in which case why don't you just fuck off and queue somewhere else where you're not in everybody's way? Form a circle outside somewhere and get everyone to step forward once a minute if this is what you're about. →
Ostensibly set in the same Hell's Kitchen as Daredevil but actually sharing very little in terms of tone, location or character, Jessica Jones comes with a solid noir atmosphere and is free of comic book hijinks, with its gritty tone, violence, sex, and themes of rape, abortion and survivor guilt. Despite this, the show avoids bleakness for bleakness's sake, and is one of Marvel's stronger productions thanks to a great cast and an originality that comes from focusing on women, and the experiences of women. →
A recent move to the south-west of London opened up a rich seam of easily-accessible breakfast venues in quasi-mythical places that sound like Monty Python sketch punchlines, like Twickenham, Wimbledon and Clapham: irritating to reach when you have to trek from the north of London and through the fetid middle, but more appealing to visit when it's a only a five minute train ride. →
It was recently announced that Seth Grahame-Smith, a middling screenwriter with only a smidgen of TV directing experience had been hired to direct The Flash for Warner Brothers. Melissa Silverstein for Indiewire lamented that Grahame-Smith was "a man with ZERO film directing experience and he is being offered the keys to the kingdom". While Silverstein argues that studios are taking a hiring approach that may as well be "any male director, even with no experience, is preferable to any woman director", I'm not sold on the idea that these summer tentpole releases are prestigious 'keys to the kingdom'. I don't think it's that the studio thinks any male director is better than any female director, it's that they don't really want any director at all. →
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…
The cinema at the end of the world
Welcome news this week that the Shaftesbury Avenue Cineworld, a cinema that looked and felt like it had only…
There’s something about Ryan Reynolds that’s always rubbed me up the wrong way. Maybe it’s…
Tomm Moore’s Song of the Sea
Irish animation studio Cartoon Saloon had already proved themselves with the beautiful, well-received debut…
Peyton Reed’s Ant-Man
Ant-Man is a fun, serviceable but ultimately forgettable film, forever at risk of collapsing from too much…
Ruining Mad Max: Fury Road
I walked out of Mad Max: Fury Road after barely an hour, which, judging by the uniformly-positive reaction…
Joss Whedon’s Avengers: Age of Ultron
One of the biggest fan complaints about Man of Steel was that there was something very un-Superman-like about…
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…
Breakfast at Koya Bar
The English Breakfast at Koya Bar is a trap. This is a Japanese restaurant serving Japanese breakfasts, so…
Breakfast at Ottolenghi’s
I wrote about Yotam Ottolenghi’s Nopi a while ago when I visited for lunch but I mostly went there for…
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,…
Animal Crossing and aspirational living
One of the key features in the latest Animal Crossing is the Happy Home Showcase, in which the houses…
- Youth : Slow, sleepy, funny and brilliant.
- Phoenix : An outstanding, almost minimalist post-Holocaust character-based drama. Succinct and satisfying.
- Pasolini : A biopic largely incomprehensible to me, not being a fan of that sort of arty, flatulent cinema. Nice sixties spectacles at least.
- Close Encounters of the Third Kind : Perfect, timeless.
- Time After Time : Probably the best H.G. Wells/Jack the Ripper time travel comedy romance drama I’ll see all year.
- Odd Thomas : A fun, schlocky supernatural flick, felt comfortingly like Dylan Dog and Dead Like Me.
- Far From Heaven : Avoided for years as I thought it was Cruise/Kidman film Far and Away. Turns out it wasn’t! Also turned out to be good!
- Tokyo Godfathers : A funny, moving anime concerning an abandoned baby & three hobos. Could be a good Christmas movie staple for the future.
- Spring : Tedious supernatural drama in which an immortal Italian woman is tempted to mortality by a banal American man with a crewcut. Avoid.
- Creed : Outstanding Rocky franchise revival. Stallone on fine form, Michael B. Jordan even better. Great soundtrack, exciting camerawork.
- Deep Cover : Enjoyable undercover-cop B-movie with strong cast, still a little routine. Jeff Goldblum takes cocaine, acts like Jeff Goldblum.
- Reality : Enjoyable Italian oddity about a man who loses his mind after applying to be on Big Brother. Funnier than that sounds.
- Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home : Star Trek has never been as fun as it is here.
- Star Trek III: The Search for Spock : It’s fine, but awkwardly placed between two stronger films. Could have been reduced to a prologue.
- Cutthroat Island : Despite Geena Davis pulling out all the stops, script & performances from rest of cast just aren’t here. Tolerable at best.
- Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol : My favourite Mission Impossible film not featuring the Channel Tunnel. Vertigo-inducing and not too much Simon Pegg.
- Anastasia : Solid animation that felt like something out of the ‘50s musical era. Could have done with fewer evil supernatural bats though.
- Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan : Perfect, and ages like wine. I’ll never tire of watching this one.
- Once Upon a Time in America : The four hour extended version. About two hours too long.
- Breakfast at Tiffany’s : One of the few great old classics I’d love to see a new version of, or at least an edit that cuts out Mickey Rooney.
- Plunkett & Macleane : One of those brilliant ‘90s films you watched at the time then never returned to. Holds up well: good action & comedy.
- The Death Kiss : Historical curiosity from ’32 with a murder mystery and a film within a film. Hasn’t aged well but still worth a look.
- The Thin Man : A 1930s adaptation of the Dashiell Hammett novel that retains the rapid-fire dialogue & most of the drinking. Stagey but fun.
- The Swimmer : A masterful piece of storytelling detailing the mental breakdown of a man via the medium of several swimming pools.
- Gentlemen Prefer Blondes : But I prefer Some Like It Hot.