“Those Without Shadows,” by Fran├žoise Sagan

Novel, 1957 Slim novel covering the lives of various bored Parisians drifting in and out of relationships with each other. The number of characters and the various lapses and involvements makes this a slightly tricky book to really pin down and get a proper feel for. As a result, it as if we, the readers, are all part of some vague, voyeuristic and removed world, … Continue reading “Those Without Shadows,” by Fran├žoise Sagan

‘I Wake Up Screaming,’ directed by H Bruce Humberstone

Movie, 1941 Stylistic, noir-ish thriller, where there’s a fair amount going on, though not all of it, at times, enough to keep things ticking as consistently as they might. While most of the acting is ok, some of the signalling and use of light and shadow throw overly-dubious hints about who to trust and who not to, while the over-use of dramatic music, particularly Somewhere … Continue reading ‘I Wake Up Screaming,’ directed by H Bruce Humberstone

‘The Belly of Paris,’ by Emile Zola

Novel, 1873 A heavy critique the Second Empire which was established in mid-nineteenth century France, through the fictionalised struggle and treatment of an aspiring ‘thin man’ revolutionary. Florent is pitched against the vast and stultifying displays of greed and wealth of Les Halles and the food around it, with particularly effective scenes and displays established in and around Florent’s brother’s charcuterie. The gluttony of those … Continue reading ‘The Belly of Paris,’ by Emile Zola

‘Metal Lords,’ directed by Peter Sollett

Movie, 2022 Fairly fresh, contemporary take on the outsiders-making-good, coming of age film, with all the tropes dressed up, the unlikely jumps smoothed over and the whole thing given a heavy metal theme. While this might all sound hugely unpromising, this is a hard film to totally dismiss or dislike – while there’s no mistaking the baddies as baddies, the goodies have a little nuance … Continue reading ‘Metal Lords,’ directed by Peter Sollett

‘The Blindside,’ directed by John Lee Hancock

Movie, 2009 Movie based on a true story of a campaigning mother who adopts a down and out kid. Kid grows up, mentally and physically, and becomes a professional American footballer. With the rags to riches element, the big budget and the root in true life, the schmaltz gets turned up to a ferocious degree. There are moments where the film tries to do a … Continue reading ‘The Blindside,’ directed by John Lee Hancock

‘Destroyer,’ directed by Karyn Kusama

Movie, 2018 A pretty effective crime film, with a cop with a past, hellbent on one last redemptive mission. There are some interesting ideas and characters in the mix, and a pretty good pace to the movie as a whole. The brave portrayal of the main character does, however, dominate, and Nicole Kidman’s style takes a little getting used to. One of the mumbling set, … Continue reading ‘Destroyer,’ directed by Karyn Kusama

‘Catacombs,’ directed by Gordon Hessler

Movie, 1965 Reasonably effective ghostly psychological thriller, in which some great ideas and scenes are set up, though the pay off isn’t always on the mark. A case, I guess, of a film nearly hitting heights, but not quite delivering. While the marriage at the centre of the story and the individual characters of husband and wife are wonderfully hammed up, the quickly developing relationship … Continue reading ‘Catacombs,’ directed by Gordon Hessler

‘Green Book,’ directed by Peter Farrelly

Movie, 2018 Engaging and emotional film exploring the relationship and social historical situation in the American deep south in early 1930s America. The main characters, both whom are wonderfully acted, are an American night club bouncer and a renowned Indian-American pianist. The relationship between the two men forms the main thrust of the film, though there’s plenty of other themes and currents bubbling under and … Continue reading ‘Green Book,’ directed by Peter Farrelly

‘Recoil,’ directed by John Gilling

Movie, 1953 A bit of a plodding, un-mysterious mystery, in which tension is suggested, then not really delivered. There are a few glimpses of period London and some nice atmospheric touches, but save for a spirited performance by the female lead, the acting and characterisations all seem a little flat. The plot doesn’t help – it’s fine, but it’s rather slim and a little predictable. … Continue reading ‘Recoil,’ directed by John Gilling

‘Property,’ by Valerie Martin

Novel, 2003 A compelling, well-written book, taking an interesting view of the slave trade and its effects on individuals. This is a book about the experiences of a sugar plantation’s mistress, trapped in a loveless marriage, and the relationship she has with the slaves, and particularly with Sarah, with whom her husband has an illegitimate child. This book is bold in taking this perspective, particularly … Continue reading ‘Property,’ by Valerie Martin