“The Migration,” by Helen Marshall

Novel, 2019 Apocalyptic story anticipating the end but also the beginning of days, from the point of view of a young adult, changing and transitioning, from living in Canada to moving to the UK, from passing from childhood into adulthood, and in a life whose relationships and circumstances mirror the ecological turmoil around her. This is a story told crisply and one which refers back … Continue reading “The Migration,” by Helen Marshall

“Bait,” directed by Mark Jenkin

Movie, 2019 Story of the clash between Cornish fisherman and their displacement by more wealthy urbanites. If this isn’t a particularly new story, and if the newcomers are painted brutally here and there, there are nuances in the story, and an incredibly fresh feel to the film which pours on style and a particular feel like there’s no tomorrow. The mixture of jumpy scenes, grainy … Continue reading “Bait,” directed by Mark Jenkin

“I Lost My Body”, directed by Jérémy Clapin

Movie, 2019 Animation, telling the story of a boy, Naoufel, who meets a girl. And his hand, which he loses in a work accident. The double narrative follows both the boy, before and after the accident, and the hand’s attempt to reconnect with the body, then look out for Naoufel. This is a film with real power, both in the imagination and execution of the … Continue reading “I Lost My Body”, directed by Jérémy Clapin

“The Platform,” directed by Galder Gaztelu-Ursutia

Movie, 2019 Allegorical, almost religious science-fiction about a man who essentially subjects himself to a cut-throat, authoritarian nightmare. Debauchery, gore, cannibalism and a very un-English regard for canines abound, though while they’re played for horror, scenes at the beginning of film are constrained and only introduce an element of gratuity when the full horror and madness become apparent. A hint of over-acting here and there … Continue reading “The Platform,” directed by Galder Gaztelu-Ursutia

“Journeys”, by Stefan Zweig

Non-fiction, 2019 (written 1902-40) Essays about Western European places visited and absorbed. These translations – and presumably the source text – wonderfully evoke and occasionally provide angry insight into elegaic Belgian ports or the souvenir trade around the First World War in Ypres. An air of sadness and detachment permeate, although the quality of the writing is joyous. A kind of post-war meditation, fusing travel … Continue reading “Journeys”, by Stefan Zweig

“Sword of Trust”, directed by Lynn Shelton

Movie, 2019 Part road movie, part buddy film, part quest picture. A well-paced comedy bursting with humanity and some hilarious scenes and goofy charades. There are serious undertones as well, from drug abuse to the spread of misinformation, the promotion of right wing views and street crimes. Essentially, however, these elements locates the film, which is warm and funny and mainly, entirely successfully plays for … Continue reading “Sword of Trust”, directed by Lynn Shelton

“Tokyo Ueno Station” by Yu Miri

Novel, 2019 A book which takes a while to settle down and which concerns itself with a family man turned tramp, and his tragic story and circumstances. Along the way, there’s a good deal going for this book, not least the greed and inhumanity built into a society and the circularity of history, written into the homeless shacks and Ueno’s cardboard city. A book which … Continue reading “Tokyo Ueno Station” by Yu Miri