“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

“Moxie,” directed by Amy Poehler

Movie, 2021 Enjoyable film about the political awakening of a gawky student, under the influence of her mother Saud student secretly sets up a Riot Girl inspired feminist movement at her high school. If some of the set-ups and character interactions feel just a little obvious and contrived, there is nonetheless a warmth in this film, which is looking at one cultural issue, also brings … Continue reading “Moxie,” directed by Amy Poehler

“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

‘Hampstead,’ directed by Joel Hopkins

Movie, 2017 A film whose premise doesn’t promise much, but which in a charming, uncomplicated way, delivers. Yes, this is a film about class and mannered societal behaviour, whose nuances are hard to find and which could be accused of being a little patronising. The film also has a backs to the wall, stick up for the underdog and – very politely – stick it … Continue reading ‘Hampstead,’ directed by Joel Hopkins

‘I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore,’ directed by Macon Blair

Movie, 2017 Quirky independent American film, following the adventures of a nurse, who engages the help of a heavy metal fan to investigate the robbery of her home. The quick descent and peril endured by the heroes at the hands of unrelenting and grim aggressors and an over stretched police department is both funny and fast paced – the sense of essentially decent, flawed and … Continue reading ‘I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore,’ directed by Macon Blair

“Whisky Galore!” directed by Gillies MacKinnon

Movie, 2016 Curiously lifeless remake of the old Ealing comedy, set on a Scottish island where a whisky draught in wartime is solved by a shipwreck and skill of the islanders in keeping their stash away from the authorities. A film without all the effects and trappings of a blockbuster is always welcome, though despite some reasonably decent performances, the film as a whole is … Continue reading “Whisky Galore!” directed by Gillies MacKinnon

“The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie,” directed by Luis Buñuel

Movie, 1972 Surreal satire addressing many societal aspects, most notably inequality and class. The various scattered elements – terrorism, martial law, diplomacy, etc – are played out against the backdrop of three couples trying to get together and share a meal. A film which feels of its time and still, somehow, fresh – the army manoeuvres and theatre scenes recall Monty Python, though the latter, … Continue reading “The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie,” directed by Luis Buñuel

“Stan and Ollie,” directed by Jon S Baird

Movie, 2018 Biopic focussing on Laurel and Hardy’s final tour, which (in this film version) took place in the UK, before a few final shows in Ireland. A straightforward, no tricks account, showing the pair’s charm, love for each other, but also the problems which had been building within their relationship. Heart-warming stuff which may appeal to non-fans and fans alike, with some great period … Continue reading “Stan and Ollie,” directed by Jon S Baird