Now I’m no fan of the ‘Diamond Geezer’ genre of British heist movies, far from it. The Who’s McVicar apart, from Hoskins, the Spandau twins & Phil Collins through to Guy Ritchie I’ve never been one for Brit-gangster films. It was with some trepidation that I thus approached The Bank Job starring that archetypal cockney wide boy, Jason Statham. I have to confess the actual job itself – an admittedly ingenious heist on Lloyd’s bank which occurred in September 1971 – held less i
For a brief moment – 1991 to be precise - everything the KLF touched turned to, well, gold. Frontman and Ex-Echo & The Bunnymen and Teardrop Explodes manager Bill Drummond already had legendary status up in Merseyside prior to the start of the 1990s. Who could ever forget the Timelords’ sample of the Dr Who theme tune which launched Drummond’s novelty act into pop orbit in the late 1980s? Irony of ironies, while serious rock Gods such as Ian McCulloch and Julian Cope flirted
If ever a man has suffered quite as much as Leonardo di Caprio does in his latest film The Revenant, I’d like to see him. This is man v nature on a grand scale. Bear Grylls eat your heart out. On the one hand The Revenant is a fairly standard revenge thriller in the mould of Sergio Leone, but set in the equally awe inspiring Alaskan (or is that Canadian?) wilderness. Wherever this is set, there’s lots of bears – grizzly ones. On the other hand it’s a kind of parable in the mo
I first came across Jeffrey Bernard in the late 70s when he was writing a column for a Sunday redtop. Even as a pre-teenager I was fascinated by this flamboyant character and his vivid Dickensian descriptions of Soho with its cast of gypsies, tramps and thieves.
After devouring the football pages, it would be to Bernard's column that this 10-year old would turn next. The Coach and Horses felt like it was located in my own street in the north west of England rather than Soho.
Deep End is a rather adept title for Jerzy Skolimowski’s tale of obsession set in the world of the post-swinging sixties bath-house. As 15 year-old Mike (John Moulder Brown) discovers, getting out of one’s depth can have serious, even fatal consequences. As always with a Skolimowski film there’s a lot more to this film than meets the eye. When the ever-angelic Moulder Brown takes up a job as an attendant in an archaic bath house, the viewer is immersed into a dark and dinghy
I have to confess until I stumbled upon it in what I now appreciate was an act of supreme serendipity, I had never heard of this, one of J G Ballard's least known books - but boy I'm so glad I did. My local library just so happened to have a copy of this little book sitting unprepossessingly on its shelves, hiding away as t'were from the world, a prize awaiting only the most diligent explorers. "What do we have here?" said I upon spying said book, an Indiana Jones on the verg
There’s more than a touch of Don’t Look Now in David Keating’s 2011 horror flick Wake Wood. From pint sized mackintosh-wearing assassins to a sex scene that is pure Christie and Sutherland this is the type of film that has a definite feel of déjà vu about it. It all starts promisingly enough. Veterinary surgeon Patrick (Aiden Gillen) and pharmacist wife Louise (Eva Birthistle) are newly arrived in the quaint Irish village of Wake Wood. It’s a fresh start for the couple. For,
Two unsolved murders which happened in 1970s Iceland are the subject for Simon Cox's diligently researched book, The Reykjavik Confessions. This is the kind of book it is all too easy to become immersed in, and is therefore a must read for any armchair detective. On a freezing cold January night in 1974 a young man disappears. Suspicions fall upon a certain Saevar, his girlfriend Erla and a circle of ne'er-do-well petty criminals whom gravitate around the couple. A couple of
When the opening titles role on Alan Bennett’s The Lady in the Van, up pops a rather intriguing disclaimer: “Based on mostly true events.” That the famously dour playwright hosted an eccentric old woman and her VW camper van is, of course, well known. What might be less well known is that the lady in question, the irascible Miss Shepherd, had, once upon a time, been involved in a road traffic accident that had claimed the life of a young motorcyclist. Although innocent of any
The disappearance of Claudia Lawrence in 2009 generated an avalanche of media headlines, the majority of which were predictably salacious: according to the fourth estate the pretty 35-year-old was a maneater who got her kicks targeting married men. Neil Root’s book about the disappearance manages to dispel those lurid myths if nothing else. When I say ‘if nothing else’ it’s not a throwaway phrase. Because beyond providing a ceaseless commentary of the thoughts of Mr Lawrence,
Reading Ian McEwan’s Solar is at times a hard task. While you don’t necessarily need to understand the precise meaning of words such as photovalic it certainly helps. A rudimentary understanding of Einstein’s particle and matter theories wouldn’t go amiss either. At other times, when the novel is focusing on the love life of central character - physics boffin Professor Michael Beard - it’s plain sailing. McEwan certainly knows how to capture middle-aged male angst. Soon enoug
To Walk Invisible, Sally Wainwright’s film about the Bronte family starts off like Harry Potter, all sorcery and goblets of fire, but thereafter goes downhill faster than the slippery slope upon which the Haworth parsonage sits. Featuring a cast of actresses who never truly convince as a trio of sisterly creative geniuses and a foul-mouthed brother (three 'fucks' and one 'twat') fighting a losing battle to come to grips with a west Yorkshire accent, casting is definitely not
“One day, eating cheeseburgers will be viewed the same way as smoking is today. A disgusting habit,” declared Morrissey in a recent interview. If you thought time would have mellowed Manchester’s greatest enigma, think again. He’s still championing the underdog. Still a serious artist in an ever expanding ocean of charlatans, lightweights and Cowell clones. Morrissey’s first album in five years, the much anticipated World Peace is None of Your Business, goes on general releas
Reading or indeed listening to the late Christopher Hitchens is always a challenging as well as illuminating experience. Let’s just say you don’t exactly need an advanced degree in linguistics or dialectics but it certainly helps. Hitch 22 is a dazzling display of the man’s celebrated erudition, but as such can lead to occasional bouts of frustration as the reader is compelled to follow Hitchens through an interminable thought labyrinth, one that gets ever deeper, ever more e
Janis et John is a film I had been meaning to watch for a while. It has cult status in France and beyond and is supposed to be pretty cool, or so I had heard. But oh such disappointment! Watching this tripe just goes to show you really shouldn't believe the hype.
It all starts off fairly promisingly - a series of fast zoom introductions to the main characters of the film to a back track of The Who's 'I Won't Get Fooled Again.' Alas, this snappy sequence proves to be the film
John Mortimer is probably best-known these days for Rumpole, the irascible TV barrister married to the indomitable she-who-must-be-obeyed, a thinly-disguised portrait of the author’s QC father who, fair to say, left an indelible mark upon his only son. Wildly successful as his stage and dramatic works were, there was however another side to Mortimer: the somewhat dilettante novelist. I say dilettante because Mortimer’s novel writing career was abandoned early on then taken up
It might not be the most captivating title ever coined for a film, but Figures in a Landscape captures the simplicity of this 1970 Robert Shaw-inspired flick rather neatly. A post-If pre-Clockwork Orange Malcolm McDowell is one of the two figures alluded to, the other being Shaw himself. Figures is just the right word to describe what are surely two of cinema’s most enigmatic ever characters. For McDowell and Shaw are always impressionistic, elusive. Figures sums them up rath