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…

Conversations with Abbas Kiarostami: a welcome (new-ish) book of interviews.

Those of you who, like me, are admirers of the cinema of Abbas Kiarostami are probably aware that – given the high esteem in which he was held – surprisingly few books have been written about the late, very great Iranian artist’s work, be it in film or in any of the other mediums he … Continue reading Conversations with Abbas Kiarostami: a welcome (new-ish) book of interviews.

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

Brighteners for ‘Blue Monday’: a dozen sources of pleasure

Last week a friend alerted me to the imminence of ‘Blue Monday’ – the third Monday of January, believed by some to be the most depressing day of the year. With the current state of uncertainty, that’s an even more dubious superstition than it has been in the past, but since I fully accept that … Continue reading Brighteners for ‘Blue Monday’: a dozen sources of pleasure

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)

Stone and Sky: a new work by the great Víctor Erice

One of the world’s greatest living filmmakers, Víctor Erice is also, sadly, one of the least prolific. For various reasons, since first attracting attention in 1973 with The Spirit of the Beehive, he has made only two further features (1983’s The South – which he himself regards as incomplete – and 1992’s The Quince Tree … Continue reading Stone and Sky: a new work by the great Víctor Erice