Stoker & The Best Offer

August 31, 2013

There was a moment in the 1980s when Australian directors such as Bruce Beresford, Peter Weir and Gillian Armstrong heard the siren call of Hollywood and went to make films in the United States. It seems this alluring melody is now drifting towards South Korea, with directors such as Park Chan-wook (Oldboy), Bong Joon-ho (The … More

The Bling Ring & Beyond the Hills

August 10, 2013

Sofia Coppola says she didn’t grow up in Hollywood and has never been a part of the subculture she anatomises in The Bling Ring. Yet Coppola, who has been in the film industry since birth, may be the perfect director to explore a notorious crime spree in which celebrities’ homes were burglarised by a group … More

Man of Steel & Everybody Has a Plan

July 6, 2013

When comic book heroes are turned into sensitive brooding souls, there is something twisted in our culture. We’ve seen a tortured Batman and now an angst-ridden Superman filled with anxiety about his true identity and how people might react to his superpowers. To complete the psychological profile the new Superman has a difficult childhood. He … More

Farewell My Queen & Fast and Furious 6

June 8, 2013

Everyone knows the story of doomed, frivolous Marie Antoinette whose life of pampered luxury was ended by the guillotine. The Queen’s personality was established in filmmakers’ minds by Stefan Zweig’s best-selling biography of 1932, subtitled The Portrait of an Average Woman, and she has never been allowed to deviate too far from that model. Among … More

The Reluctant Fundamentalist & Sinister

May 25, 2013

Mohsin Hamid says the structure of his novel of 2007, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, was partly based on Fred Zinnemann’s classic western, High Noon. Instead of Gary Cooper waiting for the baddies to arrive, we have a group of militant students in Lahore awaiting the police and a group of American agents. It sounds good in … More

The Place Beyond the Pines & Tabu

May 11, 2013

Although I’m not much interested in the celebrity circuit, it was surprising to read, late last year, that Bradley Cooper had been named The Sexiest Man Alive by People magazine. By all accounts the most outraged constituency were fans of Ryan Gosling, the other Hollywood pin-up boy of our era. If it achieves nothing else, … More

Trance & Rust and Bone

April 6, 2013

In a recent poll sponsored by HMV, Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting (1996) was voted the best British film of the past 60 years. Although such surveys have an unhappy resemblance to those ‘Greatest Hits of All Time’ polls run by commercial radio stations, Trainspotting deserves the kudos. It was a brilliantly original movie which sealed Boyle’s … More

Gangster Squad & You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger

January 19, 2013

Rarely has a film ‘based on a true story’ seemed more like a fairy tale than Gangster Squad. If you go looking for the book behind the movie, as I did last week, then head for the True Crime section. Veteran journalist Paul Lieberman has penned a racy account of the real Gangster Squad – … More

Seven Psychopaths & Robot and Frank

November 17, 2012

Psychopaths are so commonplace nowadays they almost qualify as normal. Not only does the media serve up one mad gunman after another, glaring at us from page one, we also read about the ‘corporate psychopaths’ who make their way to the top of huge businesses, bring them down in flames, then move on to another … More


August 18, 2012

Like me, you may be wondering how many more ‘new Stieg Larssons’ are going to be thrown up by the vogue for Scandinavian crime fiction before the spotlight of fashion turns elsewhere. Perhaps South America is preparing a wave of depressed, alcoholic detectives. Maybe Kazakhstan has a new age crime fighter ready to go? For … More