Subtle Cinema and the Dardennes Brothers

by Charlie Graham-Dixon

I’ve never liked being told what to do, or how to think. Usually, my default response is to want to think or do the opposite, while quietly hating the person who ordered me around. You could argue that this shows I have issues with figures of authority, but I maintain that it feels better to receive information or ideas, from a teacher, director, artist, or indeed any person, who tells their stories with skill and passion and without condescension or cynical manipulation.

Midnight Subversion: A Eulogy for Late Night TV

You’ve been gone so long now that the time we spent together almost feels like a lie. Although, on certain days, I swear you’re still here, a nightlight to ease my febrile brain. And, as an echo of your memory floods my mind, once again you illuminate the darkness with a warning and a promise… “DO NOT SLEEP” But it’s just a dream.

Disowned Films: Michael Mann and The Keep

To the casual observer, Michael Mann appears to make stylish but conventional genre films. A closer look reveals a filmmaker who occupies a strange position in American cinema. One who works within the Hollywood machine yet also outside of it.

Bump in the Night: The Cult Hit Cartoon that Made Monsters Beautiful

Drowsy and cow-licked, slovenly munching cereal in front of Saturday morning’s cartoon slate. Right before Tales from the Cryptkeeper. Right after ReBoot.

Birdman, Haneke, Lynch and Disconcerting Cinema

Birdman ended and the credits began. I watched the names of the cast and crew for a few seconds, before slowly getting up and exiting the auditorium. As I walked down the stairs, through the foyer and towards the door, things retained their sense of the ordinary, their levelness.

Confusion

EXT. PARK – EARLY EVENING A London park in autumn. Ducks float in fountains. Leaves blow in the breeze. A vast white tent is visible through the trees. Inside that tent is an art fair. INT. ART FAIR – EARLY EVENING An evenly lit, and exactly white-walled gallery stand. CONCEPTUAL ARTIST (young man, worried expression) is having a conversation with HOLLYWOOD ACTOR (drug-addled, sex symbol).

Something in the Air

Like Celine Dion and Michael Jackson, she had a gift that could never be bought – the gift of absolute pitch. If you threw Clara a song, she could play you back the notes by ear. She could do this on the piano at the age of two, because she was a v-i-r-t-u-o-s-o. And when she was four, she stood up on a table and breathed rapid hellfire from behind the chin rest of the devil’s instrument.

Hubba

I’m house-sitting for a friend. I’m doing it very gladly as this house is considerably nicer than mine. It has AC, my house doesn’t. And it’s high up in the hills offering spectacular views of the low, sprawling mass/mess of Los Angeles. Certain landmarks are easy to make out.

The Disembodied Head of Neil Sean Just Wants to Be Loved

The rumours are true. I am but a disembodied head – the virtual made flesh. I, Neil Sean of the Metro newspaper’s The Green Room, Sky and Fox News and Travelodge’s former writer in residence, sprang forth from the lager-addled mind of an overworked subeditor with a hacking cough that could wake the comatose.

Mary J Blige and Mid-Wifing the Christmas Perrenial

I, too, have suffered through Mary J Blige’s A Mary Christmas. She looks like Tito the Chihuahua from Oliver and Company on the album’s cover, pensive and forlorn, and super-imposed onto a department store’s “Meet Santa” photo set.