Category Archives: Books and Movies

Comics to Screen: X-Men Days of Future Past

Once again, Matthew Turner takes a detailed look at the work put in to translating comic books into comic book movies. Today’s subject is X-Men: Days of Future Past. Warning: This post contains spoilers for X-Men: Days of Future Past and is intended to be read after you have seen the film.

Uh... spoilers, I guess?
Uh… spoilers, I guess?

Continue reading Comics to Screen: X-Men Days of Future Past

Bly spirits: revisiting Jack Clayton’s The Innocents

The Innocents, Jack Clayton’s haunting take on The Turn of the Screw, is back in cinemas. Viv Wilby plucks up the courage to get spooked all over again.

INN2 Continue reading Bly spirits: revisiting Jack Clayton’s The Innocents

Oh Randy, if they knew, I think they’d take me away

In the second part of Extremists Week, Niall Anderson looks at a curious biopic of the American right-wing’s favourite philosopher

Not pictured: an equivalent image of China with the words 'No, fuck off' on it
Not pictured: an equivalent image of China with the words ‘No, fuck off’ on it

In August 2010, 22-year-old Nick Newcomen took a vacation, a car, a GPS device and ten days to ‘write’ the words READ AYN RAND across a Google Earth representation of the USA. In the process, he apparently logged 12,328 miles and thirty States. Speaking to Wired two days after completing his odyssey, Newcomen said: ‘In my opinion if more people would read [Rand’s] books and take her ideas seriously, the country and world would be a better place – freer, more prosperous and we would have a more optimistic view of the future.’

If Newcomen’s project sounds insane, it might be because Ayn Rand – libertarian philosopher and didactic novelist – tends to send her devotees insane. If it sounds like complete and utter bullshit (Nick Newcomen is weirdly untraceable for a man with such a pronounced interest in GPS), well, let’s just say that Rand and bullshit were close kin, if not inseparable.

But Rand’s own story is even odder than that. She is more popular and talked-about these days than at any time since her period as a Rightist anti-draft, anti-Nam firebrand in the sixties. Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead – her major novels, in heft at least – sell close to a million copies each every year in the US. In 1999, her face appeared on a 33-cent US stamp: an oddly equivocal gesture towards someone who was both a rabid stamp collector and opposed to any federal intervention in municipal life, up to and including the existence of the US Postal Service. Her fans include Brad Pitt, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, Republican VP candidate Paul Ryan, and 30-year Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan (once a personal friend). Having died in 1982, Ayn Rand is news in a way she never quite was in life.

Which is how I came to watch The Passion of Ayn Rand, a 1999 made-for-TV biopic in which England’s Own Helen Mirren dons an assymetric wig and a wigged-out Russic accent in order to impersonate the Great Lady of Voodoo Economics. We join Rand in the 1950s, in a moment of crisis. The high priestess of rational self-interest has fallen in love – with a married man, twenty-five years her junior. Continue reading Oh Randy, if they knew, I think they’d take me away

“Count to five and tell the truth”

Laura Morgan watches the 50th-anniversary reissue of John Schlesinger’s Billy Liar

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‘Genius – Or Madman?’ Billy Fisher as Hero of Ambrosia

There are lots of good things about going to the cinema alone. You can go and see anything you like without justifying your choice to someone else, and you don’t have to tell anyone what you thought of the film afterwards. You don’t have to share your snacks, or miss parts of a trailer – or, worse, the movie itself – because someone wants to have a conversation with you. Going to the cinema alone is a selfish and glorious way to spend a couple of hours. The only downside to it is that when a film makes you laugh until you weep – not the silent shoulder-shaking kind of laughter that you could just about get away with, but the hooting, spluttering kind that marks you out as a genuine lunatic – when that happens, being by yourself only makes matters worse. Fortunately for me I have only done this once: the first time I saw Billy Liar. Continue reading “Count to five and tell the truth”

The Music of James Bond

by Victor Field

There are very few screen productions to have had entire books written about their music; Peter Jackson’s The Lord Of The Rings,Tim Burton’s BatmanStar Trek (but not Star Wars or Doctor Who, ha ha). The Music Of James Bond sees the world’s most famous spy added to that short list.

The appropriately initialled Jon Burlingame (no stranger to writing about spy music following his liner notes for FSM’s excellent The Man From U.N.C.L.E. albums) covers Commander Bond’s musical history from the late ‘50s US TV version of Casino Royale* to almost the present day – press deadlines mean Thomas Newman and Adull (er, Adele) don’t get a look-in with Skyfall – with a minimum of musicological textwork and a maximum of revealing information. Just as Burlingame’s TV’s Greatest Hits is an essential for anyone interested in small screen music, this is a must for those who have every Bond soundtrack from LP to download.

Continue reading The Music of James Bond

Partners in Crime

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by Susan Patterson

Partners in Crime (Associés Contre le Crime... ) (2012) is Pascal Thomas’ third adaptation featuring Agatha Christie’s detective duo Tommy, renamed Bélisaire for a French audience, and Tuppence, going by her full name of Prudence.  Christie’s introduced the couple in 1922 in the Secret Adversary.  They were a frothy, cheerful couple, who reappeared in Partners in Crime in 1929, a collection of  short stories, and a further three novels, the couple ageing with the time passed between the books.

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Grimm Times

TheTramp finds that fairy tales are back – and they’re grimy.

All the magic in the world couldn’t protect the cast of Once Upon a Time from the curse of Photoshop.

Once upon a time, fairy tales were Disney’s domain. They took the old Grimm boys’ stories and lightened them up a little with a combination of beautiful art work, princess dresses to die for, Technicolor and happy ever afters. Publishers followed suit, updating the fairy tales we all know and love – like Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Snow White, Beauty and the Beast – and creating pretty illustrated books that children could read with their parents and enjoy the pictures to help aid sweet dreams.

Readers of the Grimm tales will know they’re not designed to aid sweet dreams. They are social lessons and morality tales. They make it quite clear that the world is full of nastiness and only the smart, the cunning and the manipulative will survive. There may be dashing princes, but don’t rely on them ladies – what if you find yourself with a wolf and there’s no prince in sight?

Continue reading Grimm Times