Her Master’s Voice: Nina Conti Says Goodbye

The brilliant, gifted ventriloquist Nina Conti may be better known these days for the ritual humiliation of audience members, as she gets people up onstage, slaps weird masks on them and makes them say ridiculous or filthy things, but back in the day, her act was much, much darker: a kind of psychological cleansing thatContinue reading “Her Master’s Voice: Nina Conti Says Goodbye”

What ‘While We’re Young’ Got Right… About Gen Z Narcissists

*Contains spoilers* Who are the real cultural custodians? Generational discourse masquerading as rom-.com , While We’re Young, which was written and directed by Noah Baumbach, is a really intelligent, funny and thoughtful film. Josh and Cornelia (Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts) are a middle-aged couple, both working in film, whose marriage is getting moribund. EveryoneContinue reading “What ‘While We’re Young’ Got Right… About Gen Z Narcissists”

Benny and Joon: Raisins

Benny and Joon from 1993 is a flawed but likeable film. Sure, it doesn’t really depict mental health problems in a subtle or realistic way (apart from June’s meltdown on the bus) and it’s all resolved far too easily, but it’s redeemed by beautiful performances from Mary Stuart Masterson as June and Johnny Depp asContinue reading “Benny and Joon: Raisins”

Bof !

(Sultry French voiceover): Bof says, I don’t have to try too hard. Bof says, so I don’t. I don’t try at all. Bof says, who cares? Bof says, I dream in monochrome, not black and white Bof says, your dreams, they disgust me. Bof is la nouvelle parfum. By Isabelle Adjani. Remember her? She doesn’tContinue reading “Bof !”

The Nic Cage Guide To Overacting

Some actors are defined by the subtlety and low-key naturalism they bring to a role. You can relate to a simple shoulder shrug, or see the interior monologue working as their jaw clenches a little, barely discernable. Montgomery Clift said so much with darting eyes; Judi Dench with an acidic quip. Not so for NicolasContinue reading “The Nic Cage Guide To Overacting”

Woody Allen’s Dialogue Problem

Culture war issues aside, there are many reasons to dislike Woody Allen these days. It’s frustrating, as regardless of his less than healthy attitudes to women and certain ethnic groups (what did Armenian people ever do to him? Seriously?) he made some good films from the seventies -nineties, and did great stand-up in the sixties.Continue reading “Woody Allen’s Dialogue Problem”

The Mumfordisation of Indie

I call them “Lammo bands” (with no disrespect to Steve Lamacq whatsoever, he’s a nice fella) . You know them, the wholesome side of indie. More Jonas Brothers than Joan As Police Woman, more Marcus Mumford than Mark E Smith, they are ubiquitous. They really are. They’re indie with the edges sanded off, nice folksContinue reading “The Mumfordisation of Indie”

Just Step Sideways: Conspirators of Pleasure

Jan Svankmajer had always dabbled in the perverse in his short films, but his third feature film, Conspirators of Pleasure from 1996 goes full tilt. It’s hilarious, pointed and downright unnerving, even by his own surreal standards. All of the main preoccupations are present and correct here: bizarre puppetry; food, ritual and the act ofContinue reading “Just Step Sideways: Conspirators of Pleasure”

Overlooked Classics: Stage Beauty

Richard Eyre ”s 2004 film, with a wonderful screenplay by Jeffrey Hatcher, is a gem which still never seems to get the acclaim it deserves. I’ve never been quite sure why. The 17th century has often been mined for parody (think Blackadder, Monty Python etc) but this film, while often bawdy and hilarious, is exploratoryContinue reading “Overlooked Classics: Stage Beauty”

Praise Be to Vod!

As if Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong couldn’t have created one of the best sitcom characters ever in Peep Show ‘s Super Hans, they surely outdid themselves with Violet ‘Vod’ Nordstrom. Fresh Meat, which piggybacked on that show’s deserved success, had one of the funniest, sexiest and most complex characters ever. Surly, promiscuous, stealing fromContinue reading “Praise Be to Vod!”