“Chinese Roulette,” directed by Rainer Werner Fassbender

Movie, 1976 Perverse, enthralling film about the psychotic relationships within and involving a married couple and their disabled child. Most of the action, which is built around infidelity and a set of cracked, often spooky characters, takes place at the family’s country lodging. This setting, the crisis ensuing after the husband and wife’s affairs are unmasked, and the various quips, asides and actions build a … Continue reading “Chinese Roulette,” directed by Rainer Werner Fassbender

‘Run,’ directed by Aneesh Chaganty

Movie, 2020 Pretty solid, fairly standard psychological thriller, featuring a dysfunctional mother/daughter relationship. While there’s a degree of knowing what’s coming next, and genre tropes are dutifully ticked off, this is nonetheless well done and watchable. A new moments, perhaps, of unintended humour here and there, but a good watch for genre fans. The two main actresses are excellent throughout and rinse as much tension … Continue reading ‘Run,’ directed by Aneesh Chaganty

“Walkabout,” directed by Nicolas Roeg

Movie, 1971 Arthouse cinema tackling all manner of coming of age experiences, whose main feature seems to be the breath-taking scenery and particularly the fauna of the Australian outback. The main, lavish part of the film is bookended by a couple of scenes showing a sterile, inhuman western mode of living, but the removal from this environment for the two English children is difficult. The … Continue reading “Walkabout,” directed by Nicolas Roeg

“Arrival,” directed by Denis Villeneuve

Movie, 2016 A Close Encounter-tinged movie, in which a Language Professor is tasked by a gruff and not-too patient military, to translate alien messages. This basic framework, in a film which is darkly lit and mumbled, uses many sci-fi tropes and devices to inject significance and tension. A film, really, which tries too hard and doesn’t quite deliver, with everything about if feeling old-fashioned and … Continue reading “Arrival,” directed by Denis Villeneuve

“Heartburn,” by Nora Ephron

Novel, 1983 Account of a marriage and relationship in crisis, told at a frenetic pace by Rachel, the pregnant narrator. Rachel’s story is interspersed with recipes here and there, which rather than get in the way, provide a respite from the fast paced, often hilarious pitch and attack, mainly on her husband, the hapless and not very likeable Mark. A really fresh, funny read, full … Continue reading “Heartburn,” by Nora Ephron

“The Bicycle Thieves,” directed by Vittorio de Sica

Movie, 1948 Simple story containing a load of social reflections and morality, particularly as reflected through the film’s central focus; the father-son relationship between Antonio and Bruno. The plot, essentially, is of how a man has his bicycle stolen and follows the steps he takes to try and recover it. As the action develops, senses of justice, pain and an unfolding unease as Antonio becomes … Continue reading “The Bicycle Thieves,” directed by Vittorio de Sica

‘Gone Girl,’ by Gillian Flynn

Novel, 2012 Thriller, written from the viewpoints of the two main protagonists, in which a husband falls under suspicion of murder following the disappearance of his wife. A page turning read, with a number of twists and turns along the way. The interesting aspect of this book is the dual narration and the way that develops and gives nods, here and there, to straightforward mysteries, … Continue reading ‘Gone Girl,’ by Gillian Flynn

“My Name is Lucy Barton,” by Elizabeth Strout

Novel, 2016 Powerful, effective account of an estranged mother and daughter, catching up and trying to understand and reconcile their lives and their relationship when the mother sits and looks after her child in hospital. The focus on the relationship excludes other family ties and characters, with the shadows cast by husbands and children filled, to some extent, with nurses and idealised doctors, but this … Continue reading “My Name is Lucy Barton,” by Elizabeth Strout

“Prince Avalanche”, directed by David Gordon Green

Movie, 2013 Buddy movie set in Texas, in which a couple of road repairers help each other through a few trials and tribulations of their interconnected lives. A film with echoes of Beckett and Magnus Mills, which drifts along but holds the viewers’ attention. One of those independent productions when everything that happens does so off camera, and the very most is made of the … Continue reading “Prince Avalanche”, directed by David Gordon Green

“The Pumpkin Eater”, by Penelope Mortimer

Novel, 1962 Tale of a mother of a number of children and a procession of husbands and partners, the latest of whom, Jake, is keen to concentrate on his film career. From fairly early on, it seems quite evident that all is not well with the nameless narrator. The first chapter is set in a psychiatrist or counsellor’s office, and while domestic scenes are punctuated … Continue reading “The Pumpkin Eater”, by Penelope Mortimer