‘The Goalkeeper’s Fear of the Penalty,’ directed by Wim Wenders

Movie, 1972 Film following the wanderings of a professional footballer, as he drifts from one place to another and one woman to another, murdering a cinema cashier on the way, and keep tabs on the news and police investigations while he’s at it. I suspect this is a film which can carry and support a number of interpretations, with some of the actions pretty brutal … Continue reading ‘The Goalkeeper’s Fear of the Penalty,’ directed by Wim Wenders

‘Us,’ directed by Jordan Peele

Movie, 2019 Horror film with what feels like a social conscience, in which a family is attacked by a downtrodden, subterranean doppelganger family. The mixture of horror, psychology and social comment feels heavy-handed and confused in places, and the tension not necessarily as ramped up as it could have been. Otherwise, there are nods, here and there, or apparent nods to a load of different … Continue reading ‘Us,’ directed by Jordan Peele

‘Coroner’s Pidgin,’ by Margery Allingham

Novel, 1945 Crime mystery, set in the last knockings of World War Two, involving a tricky plot of art theft, kidnapping and a cast of fairly diverse and dastardly characters. London has a downbeat, authentic feel to it, with characters raising pigs and living in bombsites, so giving an example of how things are somewhat grim, but treated with a matter-of-fact humour. Albert Campion is … Continue reading ‘Coroner’s Pidgin,’ by Margery Allingham

‘Our Man in Havana,’ directed by Carol Reed

Movie, 1959 A curious film, which is neither thriller, satire nor comedy but has a potshot at each of them along the way. The result feels a little downbeat, though reasonably enjoyable, with an odd, jarring ‘Third Man’ dramatic photo composition here and there and the odd moment of real discomfort along the way. More, you feel, could have been made if the film went more … Continue reading ‘Our Man in Havana,’ directed by Carol Reed

“The Hearing Trumpet,” by Leonora Carrington

Novel, 1974 A blast of a novel, which promises a little more than it delivers, perhaps, although there are flashes of crazy playfulness and sinister goings on along the way. It’s hard to follow what should be a pretty easy thread of a narrative; of an old woman being committed to an old persons’ home-cum-asylum, but there are a number of asides which hang heavily, … Continue reading “The Hearing Trumpet,” by Leonora Carrington

“The Night My Number Came Up,” directed by Leslie Norman

Movie, 1955 Solid, well-told story of a premonition of a plane crash and the gloomy unfolding of all the circumstances which rather suggest a lead up to tragedy. While this all feels very stiff upper-lip, there are some interesting characters and enough British actors to spot and to keep most people happy. The ending, it’s true, feels rushed and entirely underdone, but this is an … Continue reading “The Night My Number Came Up,” directed by Leslie Norman

“Gertrude,” by Herman Hesse

Novel, 1910 A book about a young man and his pursuit of music and love. The universal themes, multi-faceted and gloomy characters, and the determination of the first-person narrator counteract the old-fashioned feel of this book. It’s a compelling read, too, really taking the reader in and building attachment to the story’s twists and turns. A strong example of traditional, engaging writing with much to … Continue reading “Gertrude,” by Herman Hesse

“Sixty Six,” directed by Paul Weiland

Movie, 2006 Story of a young man in 1966, looking forward to and particularly planning his bar mitzvah, against the backdrop of a dysfunctional family, and the unexpected success of England’s football team in the World Cup. While most modern films about the plucky underdog facing an uphill struggle tend to feel cloying and grotesque Sixty-Six  wins through; possibly through looking at a minority community, … Continue reading “Sixty Six,” directed by Paul Weiland

“A People’s History of London,” by John Rees and Lindsey German

Non-fiction, 2012 Very decent book looking, essentially, at protest movements based or operating in London. Some of the events are more well-known than others, although the streets upwards viewpoint, rather than a view looking down from the point of view of the power structure, will be unfamiliar to most. Occasionally, an edit or two may have helped things appear more objective, and inevitably, the more … Continue reading “A People’s History of London,” by John Rees and Lindsey German

“Unnatural Death,” by Dorothy Sayers

Novel, 1927 Murder mystery which hinges round a change in the inheritance laws, and the efforts of Lord Peter Wimsey to solve it, and to keep his senses of wonder and vanity in check. This is a very decent read, with some jagged and hugely outdated attitudes towards gender and particularly towards race, which give almost as much historical context as anything else written and … Continue reading “Unnatural Death,” by Dorothy Sayers