David Cronenberg’s Map to the Stars: threesomes, incest, a dead dog and whiny farts

1 October 2014 16:41

In a scene that sticks from Map to the Stars, David Cronenberg’s Grand Guignol of a Hollywood satire, Julianne Moore, playing an ageing Hollywood never-has-been, sits on the loo in… Continue reading


The Disappearance of Michel Houellebecq: French chin-stroking at its very best

23 September 2014 14:59

Just when you thought Bernard-Henri Lévy had taken a chin-stroking national stereotype as far as it could possibly go, you open Le Monde‘s business pages and see this. Bernard Maris,… Continue reading

Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images

In praise of Den-zel

18 September 2014 13:21

His Christian name is only two syllables, with the stress (following the African-American pronunciation) on the second. Two syllables that are a byword for urbane cool. A mellifluous shibboleth – the… Continue reading

Image: Getty

Citizen Brand

27 August 2014 12:58

So it turns out the revolution will be televised after all. ‘Brand’, a full length documentary about the comedian turned political activist Russell Brand, is heading our way next year.… Continue reading

Richard Attenborough on a location shoot on Brighton beach. Photo: John Williams/Getty Images

Working with Dickie Attenborough

25 August 2014 14:19

During my short and probably best forgotten acting career, I found myself on the pointy end of Dickie Attenborough’s camera on two memorable occasions. The first was a cough and… Continue reading

Richard Attenborough as Pinky in 'Brighton Rock' (1947). Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Remember Richard Attenborough for his acting – not his directing

25 August 2014 12:44

Jurassic Park has a lot to answer for. When I was growing up, I was convinced Richard Attenborough was a real dinosaur scientist. I was also convinced that Richard was David. When… Continue reading

Robin Williams outside the Comedy Store in 1978. Photo: Wynn Miller/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Image

Robin Williams in London

14 August 2014 14:46

In 2001 I wrote a book called The Comedy Store (still available in some good bookshops – and quite a lot of bad ones) about the London comedy club that… Continue reading

6th Annual Stand Up For Heroes - Show

What’s your favourite Robin Williams one-liner?

12 August 2014 10:49

Mr S was saddened to hear of the death of Robin Williams — a man who contributed to the gaiety of nations. People wax lyrical about Williams’s ability to inhabit… Continue reading

Bonnie Langford for Rebekah Brooks? Picture: Getty Images

Hacking Trial: the movie

5 July 2014 12:38

We may have had the verdicts and the sentences in the hacking trial, but the biggest question remains unanswered: who’s going to play everyone in the movie? There’s one clear… Continue reading

Aidan Gillen in a still from Ken Loach's Jimmy's Hall

Dick-swinging filmmakers like Ken Loach constantly write real women and our struggles out of history

2 June 2014 14:04

I hadn’t seen a Ken Loach film in years because I got sick of his schmaltzy sexism but yesterday decided to give him another try and popped along to see… Continue reading


Locke: a great excuse to gawp at Tom Hardy’s lovely neck

30 April 2014 10:51

The ancients thought that the seat of female hysteria was the womb. My theory (just as credible) is that male charisma resides in the neck. The most magnetic films stars… Continue reading

Divine Lady

I Am Divine reminds me why I’ve always hated drag

25 April 2014 12:21

It was early evening and I had not yet eaten, so I took a glass of wine and a packet of Haribos into the private screening of I Am Divine:… Continue reading


Half of a Yellow Sun: only Freddie Forsyth and the Bodenesque tribalwear rescue this snoozefest

14 April 2014 15:52

I’m not one of those who automatically think the book’s better than the film. Efficiency is a good thing and if a film can successfully cram 500 pages into two… Continue reading

Former defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Photo: Wally Santana/AP/Press Association Images

The Unknown Known: Errol Morris tries to trip up Donald Rumsfeld – and fails

20 March 2014 15:14

Before getting onto the film I should make a few disclaimers. There is a popular view that Donald Rumsfeld was a catastrophic US secretary of defence. I do not share… Continue reading

Scarlett Johansson in Jonathan Glazer's 'Under the Skin' (2013). Photo: Film4/Filmnation Entertainment/Jw Films / The Kobal Collection

Under the Skin: one second of tits to every three minutes of glen

17 March 2014 10:22

‘I thought it was supposed to go on for another half hour!’ said a man in the foyer on the way out. ‘When the alien got burnt to death I thought thank… Continue reading


It was all going so well till the fishnet tights. A Classicist reviews 300: Rise of an Empire…

13 March 2014 11:25

It is 490 BC and it is raining. Themistocles, the Athenian general, is at Marathon, preparing to shoot an arrow at the great Persian King Darius I. Xerxes, Darius’ son,… Continue reading

Derek Jarman's film 'Blue'

Derek Jarman: no characterisation, no narrative, no poetry – no good

10 March 2014 10:33

A week or two ago, author Philip Hoare wrote an article for the Independent, describing Derek Jarman as ‘a modern-day John Dee, the Elizabethan alchemist’, ‘an Edwardian Andy Warhol, a… Continue reading

Steve McQueen and the cast and crew of 12 Years a Slave accept the best picture award at the 2014 Oscars. Photo: John Shearer/Invision/PA Images

Politics trumps artistry at the Oscars — full list of winners

3 March 2014 7:37

There were two possibilities for the 86th Academy Awards, joked host Ellen DeGeneres, either ‘12 Years a Slave wins the best picture Oscar … [or] you’re all racists.’ Luckily for… Continue reading

Film-maker Alain Resnais. Photo: Jean-Regis Rouston/Roger Viollet/Getty Images

Film-maker who divided critics dies aged 91

2 March 2014 15:02

One of the greats of French cinema, Alain Resnais (1922 – 2014), has died. His early films, Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959) and Last Year in Marienbad (1961), which experimented boldly… Continue reading

American director Spike Lee. Photo: Andy Kropa/AP/Press Association Images

Spike Lee’s love letter to Ukip

28 February 2014 7:30

Tell me: does this passage from American director Spike Lee’s recent rant against the gentrification of Brooklyn not sound like a press release from UKIP? ‘I’m for democracy and letting… Continue reading

BAFTA Film Awards 2014 - Press Room - London

Give Steve McQueen a Nobel prize not an Oscar

20 February 2014 7:30

Film critic Armond White has been booted out of the New York Film Critics Circle. Officially it was for heckling Twelve Years A Slave director Steve McQueen at a press… Continue reading

spec play

Spectator Play: The highs and the lows of what’s going on in arts this week

27 September 2013 17:51

When you hear the words ‘English art’, there are very few people who would immediately think of embroidery. As Dan Jones said when he was asked if he would like… Continue reading

spectator play

Spectator Play: The highs and the lows of what’s going on in arts this week

23 August 2013 4:30

For many people, stories and story-telling formed the basis of their childhood. But there are others whose childhood is devoid of books, and it’s these children that Oxford’s new Story… Continue reading

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Spectator Play: The highs and the lows of what’s going on in arts this week

3 August 2013 13:36

‘Shakespeare’s Globe’, as the theatre has been called since it was founded in 1997, is unusual for a theatre in that it makes a large annual profit, without receiving public… Continue reading

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange speaks from the Ecuadorian Embassy on December 20, 2012. Image: Getty

Bradley Manning awaits sentence. Would the real Julian Assange please stand up?

31 July 2013 17:51

Bradley Manning’s relationship with Wikileaks has, inevitably, brought Julian Assange back into the papers. Viewed on the frontpage, Assange is egimatic. We know what he’s done; but we know little of… Continue reading