“Tyrannosaur,” directed by Paddy Considine

Movie, 2011 A film about an angry, dissolute widower, raging against the world and his relationship with a God-fearing Christian woman whose attempts to help him are undermined by her own domestic horrors. A savage start hints at the direction the film goes in, and while it’s unflinching and well made, it can hardly be described as being in any way ‘entertaining.’ Which probably wasn’t … Continue reading “Tyrannosaur,” directed by Paddy Considine

“Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead,” by Barbara Comyns

Novel, 1954 A rather curious, totally compelling and wonderfully atmospheric novel about the spread of madness in an English village. The setting and tone, after an extraordinary opening flood scene, feel very genial, though the presence of death is at turns outrageous and quite shocking. Some strong, weak and driven characters sort themselves out in the first part of the book, and while the story’s … Continue reading “Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead,” by Barbara Comyns

“Mr Blandings Builds His Dream House,” directed by H.C. Potter

Movie, 1948 Cary Grant comedy, whose plot is pretty much summarised in the title. Grant plays an advertising executive looking to move his family from New York and into the country. Things start going wrong and expenses pile up from the off, as plans fall apart, relationships strain and things get complicated. Not a shining example of any genre, but an amusing film all the … Continue reading “Mr Blandings Builds His Dream House,” directed by H.C. Potter

“Tales of Muffled Oars,” by Magnus Mills

Novel, 2020 Familiar Mills territory, with groups of men meeting in pubs. In this book, they’re following history, with seemingly and mysteriously time travelling Macauley, Hogarth and Swift delivering talks in which England at peace is discussed, to the exclusion of any conflict or murder. This simple idea is backed with clear, simple writing, all of which covers and discusses some hefty questions about the … Continue reading “Tales of Muffled Oars,” by Magnus Mills

The Hypnotist, directed by Montgomery Tully

Movie, 1957 Fairly effective, though fairly forgettable story about an experimental jet pilot, suffering psychologically, after a test flight goes badly wrong and he’s forced to bail out. His referral to a hypnotist has dramatic and unintended consequences, as characters and situations are pulled in and conspire to frame a story of murder and mayhem. Thrills and spills are scattered along the way, and show … Continue reading The Hypnotist, directed by Montgomery Tully

“The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox,” by Maggie O’Farrell

Novel, 2006 Story of two sisters, and principally, the titular Esme, whose life is grabbed away from her when she’s committed to a mental asylum in the 1930s. In a book whose narrative slips between the two sister’s and Esme’s niece’s points of view, the overlap and interplay of very different views of the same story can be a little confusing, especially early on, although … Continue reading “The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox,” by Maggie O’Farrell

‘Love of the Game,’ by Ricky Hill

Non-fiction, 2021 Account of professional footballer and coach Ricky Hill, and how his success at battling racism as a black player taking his first steps in the professional game in the mid 1970s hasn’t translated into appointments in the British managerial and coaching side of the game. While Hill is eloquent and the issues he raises have more than a feeling of truth about them, … Continue reading ‘Love of the Game,’ by Ricky Hill

“Chinese Roulette,” directed by Rainer Werner Fassbender

Movie, 1976 Perverse, enthralling film about the psychotic relationships within and involving a married couple and their disabled child. Most of the action, which is built around infidelity and a set of cracked, often spooky characters, takes place at the family’s country lodging. This setting, the crisis ensuing after the husband and wife’s affairs are unmasked, and the various quips, asides and actions build a … Continue reading “Chinese Roulette,” directed by Rainer Werner Fassbender

“Went The Day Well,” directed by Alberto Cavalcanti

Movie, 1942 Ealing film about the effects on and efforts of a plucky set of English villagers in their attempts to repel a German occupation in the Second World War. The usual nose thumbing and triumphant underdog which works so well in the studio’s comedies just about translates, but it’s a strain which – without a few decent performances – could have been in real … Continue reading “Went The Day Well,” directed by Alberto Cavalcanti

‘The Cry of the Owl,’ by Patricia Highsmith

Novel, 1962 Terrific psychological thriller, in which a deranged cast of characters get involved and wound up with each other’s affairs. Every one of them ends up in a much worse place than when they started. A terrific piece of storytelling, in which tragic and almost comedically escalating situations involving stalking, ex-wives and vengeful lovers are played out against a backdrop of respectable small town … Continue reading ‘The Cry of the Owl,’ by Patricia Highsmith