‘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

“A Dog’s Ransom” by Patricia Highsmith

Novel, 1972 Story of an Ivy League graduate who’s somewhat compromised over his life on the beat, and who makes a few choices which are both strange, and which lead him into situations he’s hopeless at trying to deal with. A book where the tension is skillfully ratcheted up with the reader taken on a journey focused on a main character who slips away from … Continue reading “A Dog’s Ransom” by Patricia Highsmith

“Baby Driver”, directed by Edgar Wright

Movie, 2017 What starts off as a an orgy of car chases and music doesn’t really develop into much more. But still, Baby Driver is a treat. If the first section and immediate submersion into action is a little tiring, and the love story and set pieces short of originality, there’s an undeniable force and energy in the film which lifts it a little way … Continue reading “Baby Driver”, directed by Edgar Wright

“Squeeze Play,” by Paul Benjamin

Novel, 1984 That Paul Auster used a pseudonym for this perfectly good book is quite revealing. Squeeze Play is conventional and well told, but doesn’t swoop at and play with form and genre. It’s a charming story, albeit a bloody and twisted one, which Auster may have knocked out in readiness and preparation for his more literary output. But still, if you overlook a slightly … Continue reading “Squeeze Play,” by Paul Benjamin

“Queenie’s Castle,” by Lena Kennedy

Novel, 1994 East End crime novel set around a pub, with a familiar-feeling cast of gang members, coppers and jailbirds and those involved with or affected by them. While this all feels a little old-fashioned, and there are a few issues, maybe, with the technical execution of some of the writing, for the most part, the story chugs along nicely and keeps the pages turning. … Continue reading “Queenie’s Castle,” by Lena Kennedy