London Film Festival 2020: AMMONITE

★ ★ ★

If one were to be slightly facetious, an alternate title for Ammonite might be Portrait of a (Cornish) Lady on Fire.

What rubbish! Mary Anning was from Dorset, I might hear you cry, and you would be correct. Francis Lee’s follow up feature to the low budget but hugely well-received God’s Own Country plays, however, in much the same wheelhouse as Celine Sciamma’s feminine potboiler which has taken the film world by storm over the last year (I need to give it a second watch as it left me powerfully indifferent). Comparisons between both films will be evident, as Lee’s semi-historical narrative dials into the lovely story between Kate Winslet’s brittle palaeontologist Anning and Saorise Ronan’s depressed city wife Charlotte Murchison – a scientist herself in real life but portrayed more for dramatic effect here as the spouse of a paleontology ‘tourist’ and wealthy boor.

Historical accuracy isn’t first and foremost the point of Ammonite.

Continue reading “London Film Festival 2020: AMMONITE”

New Affiliated Podcast: MOTION PICTURES – ‘Cineworld and the ‘Death’ of Cinema’ (The State of the Cinematic Nation III)

Brand new podcast appearance.

In the latest episode of Motion Pictures, myself and my co-host Carl Sweeney respond to the recent seismic changes in the global cinema industry, chiefly the closure of over 500 Cineworld/Regal cinemas across the UK & the US.

We discuss how the delay of 007 film No Time to Die precipitated a change which some are decrying as ‘the death of cinema’, the knock on effect this will or might have going forward, and what the industry might look like on the other side of Covid-19…

Continue reading “New Affiliated Podcast: MOTION PICTURES – ‘Cineworld and the ‘Death’ of Cinema’ (The State of the Cinematic Nation III)”

THE GREAT BRITISH BAKE OFF is exactly what we need right now

Precipitously timed as we head into deeper, restrictive Covid-19 measures in the U.K., The Great British Bake Off is a breath of fresh air.

Yes, I’m a fan of this show, particularly in recent years. I didn’t get on with Mel & Sue generally but once they left, and the charming mixture of Noel Fielding and Sandi Toksvig filled the breach when the show transitioned from BBC1 to Channel Four, it rapidly became a show I enjoyed with my wife as opposed to doing other things while she had it on. As with any ‘reality’ show, the combination of presenters and on-screen talent are the key ingredients to engagement. These kind of shows are, as a result, entirely subjective – I may have found Mel & Sue irritating, but many would have turned away from the show with Noel & Sandi taking their place, or the posh, grandmotherly Mary Berry being replaced by the equally posh, schoolmistress-y Prue Leith.

For me, the combination worked, and it allowed the fantasy of Bake Off to engulf me whole. And it is a fantasy. Bake Off exists in a hermetically sealed, English-rose depiction of Britain, one where the sun always shines on canvas tents surrounded by bunting in the gardens of manor houses and stately homes. It’s as if the 19th century gentry allowed the peasants to have a bit of fun on their grounds, yet at the same time it never strives to be elitist. Bake Off feels inclusive, warm and good natured, even if ultimately it’s not really about baking. It’s about personal empowerment, building self-esteem, and proving worth in a fantastical, alternate-universe England where we all live in harmony.

In 2020, more than ever, Bake Off is a pleasant fiction.

Continue reading “THE GREAT BRITISH BAKE OFF is exactly what we need right now”