‘The Last,’ by Hanna Jameson

Novel, 2019 Post-apocalyptic story of twenty survivors of nuclear war, holed up in a Swiss hotel, and central character’s pursuit of the killer of a child discovered in the water tanks up on the roof. While this is a lively read for much of the time, the pace and actions going on can leave the inattentive reader working out the different characters as they go … Continue reading ‘The Last,’ by Hanna Jameson

‘Late Night,’ directed by Nisha Ganatra

Movie, 2019 Story of a complacent and barbed chat show host who, when threatened, begins to mend her ways, sharpen up her act and work with her writers and presentation. The casting of the very British Emma Thompson is a good choice in what, otherwise, feels very slick and American. The main story chugs along and the various relationships and situations look at the role … Continue reading ‘Late Night,’ directed by Nisha Ganatra

‘Eaten by Lions,’ directed by Jason Wingard

Movie, 2019 One part coming of age, one part social commentary, which is well done, wears its heart boldly on its sleeve, has some decent performances, but ultimately falls over itself, and just doesn’t deliver enough gags. A problem for a comedy and a shame, as the issues and challenging of norms all pay off nicely. Things feel a little flat, however, and some of … Continue reading ‘Eaten by Lions,’ directed by Jason Wingard

‘Come to Daddy,’ directed by Ant Timpson

Movie, 2019 Schlocky horror-thriller, featuring a father getting back in touch with his son, then for reasons never fully fleshed out, the son taking himself to the other end of the world to meet his long estranged father. While the film has a lively start, and the questions build a decent level of tension, there’s a subsequent slide into a more predictable patter and an … Continue reading ‘Come to Daddy,’ directed by Ant Timpson

‘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

“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