Howard Hawks: Hollywood hack or supreme cimematic artist?

Howard Hawks has been one of my favourite filmmakers ever since I first discovered what a director did. How could he not be when he made –  to cite my personal top-ten of his films (for today, anyway, and listed in the order they were made) – Scarface, Only Angels Have Wings, His Girl Friday, … Continue reading Howard Hawks: Hollywood hack or supreme cimematic artist?

The Man Who Lived Movies: a Tribute to Bertrand Tavernier

If I’m a little late to the wake with this tribute to Bertrand Tavernier (1941-2021), that has nothing to do with my feelings about the man or his films, and everything to do with other obligations. I’ve been pleased (and not a little surprised) to see his passing marked so widely with obituaries and remembrances, … Continue reading The Man Who Lived Movies: a Tribute to Bertrand Tavernier

Women’s Pictures: 75 great films you may not have seen…

Since it’s International Women’s Day, I thought I’d put together a list of some of my favourite films directed by women. It was going to be 50 fiction features, but even by restricting each director to just one title, that meant leaving out rather too many movies I really wanted to mention, so I tried … Continue reading Women’s Pictures: 75 great films you may not have seen…

Still timely after all these years: Robert Altman on the rewriting of American history

Of all the directors who came to the fore when the Hollywood studio system was breaking down in the 60s and 70s – they included, among others, the likes of John Cassavetes, Shirley Clarke, Francis Coppola, Clint Eastwood, Terrence Malick, Arthur Penn, Bob Rafelson, Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg – my favourite has always been … Continue reading Still timely after all these years: Robert Altman on the rewriting of American history

Best of a bad year: movies, music and other highlights of 2020

In the few years I’ve been posting best-of blogs in the face of worsening political circumstances, I’ve often expressed a rather forlorn hope that things might improve the following year. Well, it turns out, obviously, that the hope I expressed last year could not have been more forlorn. How terrible 2020 has been… not only … Continue reading Best of a bad year: movies, music and other highlights of 2020

Music and movies for Christmas and beyond: a few recommendations

Sitting at home the other evening, contemplating the dismal antics of our wretched government, I found myself taking consolation from the melancholy beauty of Lawrence Power’s viola in his performance of James Macmillan’s marvellous concerto for that instrument. And, generous fellow that I am – not to mention someone who often dithers endless over what … Continue reading Music and movies for Christmas and beyond: a few recommendations

Michel Piccoli: one of the greatest

Because he hadn’t appeared in a film for around half a decade, the death of Michel Piccoli (1925-2020) at the age of 94 came as no surprise; I had actually been wondering about his health only last week while chatting with a friend. But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t deeply saddened by the news of his … Continue reading Michel Piccoli: one of the greatest

Re-considering Kazan (or how I was wrong about Elia K’s movies)

When my colleagues in the programming team at BFI Southbank decided to take up my suggestion that we should mount a retrospective of the films of Elia Kazan – the last one had been way back in the early 1970s – I thought it would be interesting to curate it myself and even, perhaps, to … Continue reading Re-considering Kazan (or how I was wrong about Elia K’s movies)

My best movies, music and other moments from 2019

This time last year, in introducing the lists of my favourite films, music, etc, etc of 2018, I expressed the admittedly somewhat forlorn hope that 2019 would give us less reason to have to seek solace in such things, and that peace, tolerance and reason would prevail. Well, it didn’t quite work out that way, … Continue reading My best movies, music and other moments from 2019