Not Just the Band: Todd Haynes’ The Velvet Underground

You may think you know all you need to know about The Velvet Underground: the encounter of New York songwriter Lou Reed and Welsh classical violist John Cale, the bringing in of drummer Maureen Tucker and guitarist Sterling Morrison, the ‘sponsorship’ of the band by Andy Warhol, the temporary addition of Nico to the outfit, … Continue reading Not Just the Band: Todd Haynes’ The Velvet Underground

Of Whales and Men: Navigating The North Water

Call me curious. Some years ago – never mind how long precisely, but it must have been back in the ’70s or early ’80s – I embarked on what might have been a major odyssey: reading Moby-Dick. I didn’t get very far. But now I’m giving it another try. That’s why you can call me … Continue reading Of Whales and Men: Navigating The North Water

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?

Film as Criticism: the illustrious example of VF Perkins

When I first became a cinephile back in the autumn of 1973 – my life changed, imperceptibly but permanently, when I took a seat in the front row of the Cambridge Arts Cinema to watch Bergman’s Cries and Whispers – I set about learning about the (for me) newly discovered art form as quickly as … Continue reading Film as Criticism: the illustrious example of VF Perkins

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