The Lobster

I tried hard to dislike this film for being pretentious and a pale imitation of my hero Luis Bunuel but… the twisted sad logic continues to echo.

Unimaginative but if I failed the film’s central premise of finding love, I’d ask to be transformed into a black cat. Move over Alfie! 


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Irrational Man

Perhaps Woody should leave the ideas scribbled on yellow notepads locked in the drawer. This isn’t even A Level philosophy. It’s a blunt mind in search of a sharpener. Still, like the sucker I  am for anything with his name attached, I’ll go full of the same old hope and anticipation to Allen’s next when it emerges as inevitably as a migrating swallow. It’s starring Bruce Willis amongst others, so that’s got to be worth the price of a ticket.

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The lie that is five stars 

My regular go-to critics are Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian and Nigel Andrews in the FT. But I’m losing faith. The following quite disparate films are all given five stars or thereabouts: MISTRESS AMERICA, THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL, HARD TO BE A GOD and 45 YEARS. The first three are interesting but  by no means perfect (HARD TO BE A GOD is 177 minutes which in my book drops a star for a start!) I’m not being a philistine: I’m concerned that unless a film is an absolute classic for the ages, it cannot be granted such perfect status.

45 YEARS is actually a horrible movie, poorly acted, shot and directed with a denouement that would scrape by in a short.

It really should be harder than this to be a God!

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Low Expectations 

Where have all our expectations gone? 

MR HOLMES, yet another spin on a rehash on a tired story is merely adequate. The film that took the biggest box office ever in its opening weekend, JURASSIC WORLD is also another spin on a rehash on a… I need to lie down. 

The first film detracts from cinema by resorting to the safety of chocolate box storytelling and commensurate images. The latter detracts by submerging itself under such a welter of CGI that it looks like you’re watching a B movie on a bad telly in a ropey American motel room in the 1960s. IMAX only highlighted the problem.

Film deserves more.

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Clouds of Sils Maria

An overcooked Europudding where Juliette Binoche constantly and extravagantly emotes

clouds by John Constable have more depth and meaning

 even when she’s pretending to be quiet, and everyone else in the movie tries to keep up with her. 

This film has been described as a female BIRDMAN. Another noisy yet ultimately unrevealing film.

I counted at least fifteen unnecessary picture postcard views of the Alps, all in sunlight, all dull, all saying nothing. Oh yes, and there were some clouds. 


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Far from the Madding Crowd

The sword display with Terence Stamp and Julie Christie was sexier… the whole film was. I was disappointed by Vinterberg’s new go at it. Nowhere to be found is the austerity needed to underpin the tragic moments acting as a truthful counterpoint to the beauty, which is surely a key opportunity when rendering Hardy to film. Especially, I’d’ve thunk, from the director of THE HUNT. It’s all a bit dutiful and ‘A’ Level. Carey Mulligan constantly walks out of a Vivienne Westwood catwalk and the photography by Charlotte Bruus Christensen – a rare female cinematographer – is chocolate box where it should be bleak. Rich golden tones pervade: there always seems to be a lamp casting flattering sunlight somewhere in the forest or on the hillside. Shot on Kodak for all the wrong reasons. The cutting’s a bit bloody annoying too at times: how many angles do you actually need when a bunch of peasants are having a singsong? Somewhere amid the optimism in Hardy’s novel lurks frustration and tragedy. This film doesn’t nail it.

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While We’re Young


 OK so Ben Stiller is me: bitter that the film he’s been obsessing over for ten years and driving his wife nuts, hasn’t seen the light of day. Except mine did and Gaby only gave me heroic encouragement all the way. So does it ring true? Well it’s very funny in parts, too long as usual these days, especially the intercutting between Stiller’s showdown speech with his nemesis and his father-in-law’s valediction speech, and is really a meditation on the crisis in the marriage of a modern childless couple and the callowness of youth: so overall I’ll go with a thumbs up. But if you really want to be gripped on a similar theme, go and see ALL ABOUT EVE, (thanks to encouraging wife Gaby for pointing this out).

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I sneak out at lunchtime in time honoured fashion to the smartly refurbished Curzon Bloomsbury (nee Renoir) to see Norwegian obscurity, BLIND. Inventive and an absorbing journey into a blind woman’s head…. troubled, suspicious even paranoid about her slightly gormless identikit Scandi husband. I liked it. Disarmingly visual inner discourse cinematically rendered. The close up track on her fingers feeling their way to making a cup of tea is memorable. Hands so rarely get such sensitive attention on film.


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Return with thoughts on STILL ALICE

imageOnce again, on reflection, my opinion of a movie does a volte face.

Perhaps STILL ALICE is in fact a quiet masterpiece of just being there (another great movie). No three act structure no journey the screenwritingclassteacher’s bête noir. Anathema – the ultimate sin of “and then…. and then…. and then”. No why, just because. Husband (overweight thick necked academic bull full of love and incomprehension couched in intellect superb Alec Baldwin) ups and leaves at the end. He abandons his wife to her own lost abandon. This movie is a space that is that ends abruptly in white space.

Julianne Moore. Best Best Leading Actress Oscar in years.

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To Fiona 6 a.m. Arabia

Each grain of sand contains within it

the entire knowledge of the universe,

each breath of wind

all of time.


You have flown

while I watched the scimitar sliver

of a pale mooncrescent

rise over the prussian blue heat.


I would have liked

to know you more

to continue and deepen our friendship


the spaces appeared

illness claimed you

pain and suffering chose to work on you but


am here

at this Abu Dhabi hotel writingdesk

and the Chevrolet garage across the road

is already open.




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