‘The Unforgivable,’ directed by Nora Fingscheidt

Movie, 2021 Story of a convicted cop-killer released from prison and trying to track down her sister, who she’s not seem for twenty years. For much of the film, the mood is gritty and grim, though there are moments and scenes which lift the mood. The set piece at the film’s climax is especially well done, so that the viewer isn’t piled with too much … Continue reading ‘The Unforgivable,’ directed by Nora Fingscheidt

‘Mr Bowling Buys a Newspaper,’ by Donald Henderson

Novel, 1943 Part charming, part disarming and quite chilling character study of a serial killer, whose modus operandi seems to be brute strength and the desire to be caught and brought to justice. The charm of the book is largely driven through the domestic feel and a London in the throes of the Second World War, and while the boarding houses and social clubs should … Continue reading ‘Mr Bowling Buys a Newspaper,’ by Donald Henderson

‘In The Miso Soup,’ by Ryu Murakami

Novel, 1997 Intense, brutal and disarming novel about an American tourist and Tokyo’s seedier nightlife. On the one hand, the tension builds and there’s a momentum which gives this book a thrilling, almost voyeuristic page-turning quality; on the other, both the chances of Kenji and particularly Frank, and the situations they operate in, feel lonely and hostile and so lend the book an almost meditative … Continue reading ‘In The Miso Soup,’ by Ryu Murakami

‘Sexy Beast,’ directed by Johnathan Glazer

Movie, 2000 Over-the-top ‘one last job’ gangster film, in which thoroughly horrible characters swear, threaten and sweat their way through a gloriously sweltering Spain, and a more dreary looking London. In terms of entertainment, the film has a good deal going for it, and has a nice balance of humour and a level of menace and threat which come over despite the lack of excessive … Continue reading ‘Sexy Beast,’ directed by Johnathan Glazer

‘The Goalkeeper’s Fear of the Penalty,’ directed by Wim Wenders

Movie, 1972 Film following the wanderings of a professional footballer, as he drifts from one place to another and one woman to another, murdering a cinema cashier on the way, and keep tabs on the news and police investigations while he’s at it. I suspect this is a film which can carry and support a number of interpretations, with some of the actions pretty brutal … Continue reading ‘The Goalkeeper’s Fear of the Penalty,’ directed by Wim Wenders

“Lift to the Scaffold,” directed by Louis Malle

Movie, 1958 Hugely atmospheric thriller, in which a murder goes wrong and things spiral out of control for two couples as a result. The dreamy sequences, Miles Davis’ improvised soundtrack and some wonderful performances all give the film a detached, dreamy feeling. The escapades of the younger couple – a flower girl and juvenile delinquent – are set in opposition to the main action, set … Continue reading “Lift to the Scaffold,” directed by Louis Malle

‘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

“Red Harvest”, by Dashiell Hammett

Novel, 1929 A novel which racks up incidents, gangster teams, weapons, fights, narcotics and shoot-ups steadily at first, before building, by the end of the book, a frenetic pace. This is a novel where characters are sketched then slaughtered in short order, as the plot and almost everything else about the book is chewed up in an extraordinary tide of corruption and destruction. Everything is … Continue reading “Red Harvest”, by Dashiell Hammett

“BlacKkKlansman”, directed by Spike Lee

Movie, 2018 A darkly and predominantly comic account if the infiltration of the Ku Klux Klan through the efforts of an afro-touting, colour-barrier breaking policeman. While there are a few moments of heightened time at the beginning of the film, during a dramatised portrayal of a Kwame Ture speech which raises and almost deifies the profiles and faces of audience members, it’s the combination of … Continue reading “BlacKkKlansman”, directed by Spike Lee

“Night Moves”, directed by Arthur Penn

Movie, 1975 A blend looking back and referencing Chandler and Hammett, and placing an everyman character on a hunt for truth and justice spiraling out from a missing daughter case given to him by a fading Hollywood actress. A really great down at heel atmosphere, which seems to grind into rather than comment on and reflect any romantic associations of Marlowe. The styles, excesses and … Continue reading “Night Moves”, directed by Arthur Penn