Paul Haine's website since 2000
236,475 words and counting

  1. Tommy Lee Jones' The Homesman is a film never sure what it wants to be, a tonally-mismatched piece that never commits to the horror of its initial situation, mixing scenes of rape and violence with ill-judged 'odd couple' moments of comedy and light slapstick.

  2. One of the many problems of renting a home in London is that all expenses are generally spared, so although you'll get the basics — a fridge, a washing machine, maybe a flushing toilet — you'll often find a small note reading "fuck you lol" in place of, say, light shades, or door handles. Curtains, in my experience, come very low down the landlord's impossibly-long list of "things I will only by from Poundland, and even then only during a sale"; you'll get a fitted sheet slung over a wobbling curtain rail, and you'll like it.

  3. If you're going to make me book a table in advance for breakfast, you ought to be offering something special. The views of the Shard, the unique menu of Duck & Waffle, or the reassuring bustle of The Wolseley. Berners Tavern seems to always require booking, but I'm not sure that it offers anything that justifies it.

  4. Though no part of Soho can really be considered 'off the beaten path', stumbling upon Damson & Co. felt like a little reward for going down the vaguely-less-trafficked Brewer Street, a short walk away from the 100 other breakfast spots of Soho and with approximately 10% fewer people. It's a small place that's easy to overlook with a couple of tables and booths inside, and a bar for the losers who turn up too late and have to sit there like Depression-era dustbowl miners, all lined up on stools with their elbows touching.

  5. The news that several authors and naturalists, including Margaret Atwood and Andrew Motion, wrote a distressed open letter to plead that a collection of nature words removed from the Oxford Junior Dictionary — catkin, acorn, pansy, etc. — be reinstated has naturally made me think of McDonalds.

  6. The conceit behind Patema Inverted, a 2013 anime by Yasuhiro Yoshiura, is that at some point in the past, scientists inadvertently reversed the direction of Earth's gravity, causing mass destruction and many deaths, with the survivors splintering into two societies, one above ground and one below, each subjected to an opposing gravitational force: those above appear to be pulled down into the planet, and those underground appear to be pulled upwards, toward the sky.

From the archives

Short reviews

  1. Leviathan Long, dreary, miserablist. God, what was the point of it all?
  2. Tokyo Drifter A cool, fun ‘60s Japanese gangster film. More of a spoof than anything else. Worth watching.
  3. Coherence Great little sci-fi film in the same vein as Primer, Triangle, Timecrimes etc. Tense and chewy.
  4. Effie Gray A bland and timid film, but at least the portrayal of Ruskin is better than the lisping goon from Mike Leigh’s Mr Turner.
  5. Turtles Can Fly I recommend this drama set in a Kurdish refugee camp in 2003. Played by real-life child refugees, it’s pretty heart-rending.
  6. Maps to the Stars Not one of Cronenberg’s best but still worth watching. Good performances & some brutal & surprising moments of violence.
  7. Bunny Lake is Missing Fantastic ‘60s psychological thriller, kept me guessing up to the end. Also taught me about a dessert called ‘junket’.
  8. L’Atalante One of those ancient “greatest films of all time” pieces that I watch bemused, going away unsure what the reasoning was.
  9. Giovanni’s Island Charming post-WW2 anime concerning a Russian girl and a Japanese boy, bonding on an occupied Pacific island. Nice.
  10. Before I Go To Sleep Soporific amnesia drama in which Nicole Kidman has a fixed expression of wide-eyed astonishment for a full 90 minutes.