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

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. As a history graduate, I'm interested in how we remember political figures, and how our memories of those figures frequently differ from how those figures intended to be remembered. An important detail to understand about historians is that if circumstance gives us an easy-to-swallow narrative, we'll take it and head to the pub for the rest of the day. It's why we tend to remember our Prime Ministers only for one thing: Chamberlain for appeasement, Churchill for easily-tweetable witticisms, Attlee for the NHS, Eden for Suez and Thatcher for having seven heads and ten horns, and upon her horns ten crowns. Equally, if a Prime Minister never manages anything particularly juicy, good or bad, we don't much remember them at all; nobody's going to write their dissertation on John Major.

  4. There's something about Ryan Reynolds that's always rubbed me up the wrong way. Maybe it's his high profile that's so out of proportion to his middling career, maybe it's his weak smile and perpetually blank face, all unfinished smoothness like some 2001-era CGI, or maybe it's just that I'm jealous that Scarlett Johansson chose him over me back in 2008. Whatever it is, he bugs me, even more so than other actors of his ilk — the Bradley Coopers and Sam Worthingtons, these lumpen sausage-meat actors continually foisted upon us as The Next Big Thing because Hollywood can't imagine a world in which a thirtysomething white man with beady eyes set into a face like raw cookie dough can't lead a movie to a huge profit. All that said, Ryan Reynolds playing an unhinged serial killer is something I can apparently get on board with.

  5. Back in 2010 I wrote about how hard I found it to go on holiday for a variety of reasons, but the last few years has seen me get steadily more adventurous, though not so adventurous that I don't retain my inherent hostility towards people the entire time I'm away. People don't get suddenly more tolerable just because I'm carrying Euros instead of Pounds, so my holidays tend to be structured to avoid other people as much as possible while still staying within the walls of civilisation, with its soothing flow of coffee and reassuring presence of flushing toilets.

  6. Irish animation studio Cartoon Saloon had already proved themselves with the beautiful, well-received debut The Secret of Kells, a film I fell soundly in love with back in 2010. In 2014 I listed Moon Man in my annual roundup of film highlights. Song of the Sea, a story of a boy and his sister questing their way home through Irish mythology, continues their winning streak.

From the archives

Short reviews

  1. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night Visually stunning, but completely forgettable. There’s no substance here at all.
  2. Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life A dreadful, laugh-free slog, where punchlines are delivered then hammered home for another 20 minutes.
  3. The Guest Excellent stuff, a bit like if John Carpenter directed Drive.
  4. Clouds of Sils Maria Just superb. Great performances from Kristen Stewart and Juliette Binoche and a deep, lightly surreal story.
  5. Castle in the Sky I love these earlier Ghibli films, though whenever I watch this one I’m left wishing it was a TV series instead.
  6. The Man Who Knew Too Much A soporific Hitchcock thriller with James Stewart acting like he was doing a parody of James Stewart.
  7. Event Horizon A typical study in mediocrity from Paul W.S. Anderson. So predictably boring I may as well have not watched it at all.
  8. The Voices Darkly-comic piece in which Ryan Reynolds is at his most tolerable.
  9. Lost Soul Great documentary on Richard Stanley’s doomed Dr. Moreau adaptation. Makes me hope for one on Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four one day
  10. Tremors Greatest pole-vaulting scene in film history?