Sunday, 22 October 2017

Sir Roger Scruton on the cancerous "shadow community of parasites" which pretends to govern us

My brain isn't functioning today - or, at least, it's functioning even more inefficiently than usual. This is the "payback" which often hits CFS/ME folk the day after the day after they've overdone it. Writing about Zulu on Friday took it out of me, because I hate the thought of not doing justice to the films or books I care about - I knew it would, but it's a price well worth paying. My mental haze worsened as I leafed through the Sunday Telegraph this morning in a vain search for anything vaguely resembling heartening news. It seems Mrs. May's government is failing on just about every front - no more money for the military, the new universal credit system about to be watered down/postponed/abandoned/whatever. The only whiff of uplift was the suggestion that the EU's negotiating stance is softening because of the groundswell of support here for a "No Deal" Brexit, which would, of course, leave Britain's fanatically dirigiste neighbours...

Friday, 20 October 2017

When Two Tribes Go to War - an appreciation of the classic 1964 film, Zulu

Here's an article I've written about my favourite Sunday afternoon movie for the next issue of The Salisbury Review. Pressure of space meant I had to leave out my only criticisms of this glorious film, namely the unconvincing nature of some of the hand-to-hand fighting (apparently you can kill a Zulu by waving a bayonet a foot away from his chest) and the lack of acting technique displayed by some of the extras. The latter defect can be explained by the fact that the vast majority of them didn't know what a film was. The producers organised a special open-air screening of an old Audie Murphy Western to bring them up to speed - but I seem to remember the acting in some of those was pretty bad, so the Zulus may have learnt the wrong lessons from the exercise. To start, here's a reminder of this true cinematic gem (and, if you spot any howlers in the article below it, please let me know):

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

News headline: Big Man Fall Over, Nothing Breaks!

No, that isn't news, I know - but it happened to me yesterday evening around 8.30. I was about to head upstairs to fetch some Piriton for someone being driven mad by itchy Greek insect bites, when one of my wide-fitting size 13s had a run-in with a dining-table chair, and I proceeded to go spectacularly arse-over-tip. I ended up sprawled on the carpet, gabbling "I'm all right, I'm all right", because I was embarrassed at doing something so old-blokeish. Despite weighing somewhere around 17st. 4lbs and hitting the ground pretty hard, all I appear to have suffered is a sprained wrist - and, luckily, it's the left wrist: hurts like hell, but I can waggle my fingers, so it's unlikely that anything's broken. I could have...

Monday, 16 October 2017

Sean Hughes's death reminds me that I used to be able to watch BBC comedy shows

I'll be honest - I wasn't a great fan of Sean Hughes. But I used to quite enjoy Never Mind the Buzzcocks when he was one of the team captains and Mark Lamarr was the presenter.  Strangely, Sean Hughes's name popped into my head two nights ago when I was looking for something to watch before heading for bed, and I found myself laughing at yet another re-run of The Fast Show, followed by a mildly amusing episode Big Train. It got me wondering (not for the first time) why I used to able to watch TV sketch and panel comedy shows, but can no longer bear to. And that led me to wonder what Mark Lamarr was up to these days (he's a near-neighbour)...and whatever happened to Sean Hughes? Had he died and I missed it? Well, I got my answer this morning - but I still have no idea what happened to him after Buzzcocks...

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Three Somerset Maugham anthology films (Quartet, Trio and Encore), plus Dead of Night

I've always been a sucker for anthology films, i.e. the cinematic equivalent of a collection of short stories. My all-time favourite "pure" anthology film remains Dead of Night (1945), which marked the end of the British war-time embargo on the production of horror movies...

The "uncensored passion" of Harvey Weinstein...

"And I (gulp)...

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Buster Keaton in "The General" and Arthur Askey in "The Ghost Train" - from the sublime to the abysmal

I was looking forward to The History of Comedy, an eight-part series starting at 9pm on the Sky Arts channel tonight. But then I Googled it and discovered that it's a CNN series, and that the first episode is all about American female comedians and their fight against sexism - i.e. it'll be an hour of ponderous left-wing finger-wagging, so sod that for a game of soldiers. I'd be far more interested in a programme explaining why the British cinema-going public spent so much of the 20th Century in thrall to spectacularly annoying monkey-men comedians. But first, The General...