John Warner: The Funny Man

Reviewed by Declan Tan John Warner’s debut novel, about the rise and fall of an unnamed American comedian known only as “the funny man”, is a mulchy broth of satire, cultural commentary and La-Z-Boy philosophy that simmers away on lukewarm, only ever threatening to come to the boil, though not without ambition, before bubbling back … Continue reading John Warner: The Funny Man

Shame (Dir: Steve McQueen)

Reviewed by Declan Tan Steve McQueen’s second feature is a visually arresting, thematically dense piece of cinema, that may, and probably will, prove to be an important film in years to come. That is, if enough people get to see it. Having been cursed with a NC-17 rating in the US and a limited release … Continue reading Shame (Dir: Steve McQueen)

Jonathan Walker and Dan Hallett: Five Wounds: An Illuminated Novel

Reviewed by Declan Tan Not every book looks and feels like an artefact when you pick it up. Oftentimes it is just words printed across cheap paper, the literal form of it separated from its content, cased in a merely functional cover with some gluey binding. But with Five Wounds, an “illuminated novel”, the very … Continue reading Jonathan Walker and Dan Hallett: Five Wounds: An Illuminated Novel

Take Shelter

Reviewed by Declan Tan From Shotgun Stories writer/director comes a second feature on small town America, another portrait of troubled family which despite its flaws, reaffirms Jeff Nichols’ potential to become an independent cinema mainstay. Michael Shannon is Curtis LaForche, a family man in anytown, Ohio, father to a recently deafened girl, husband to Samantha … Continue reading Take Shelter

Dan Fante: Fante: A Family’s Legacy of Writing, Drinking and Surviving

Reviewed by Declan Tan Opening with the familiar visions of snow from the likes of Wait Until Spring, Bandini and Dago Red (‘Bricklayer in the Snow’), Dan Fante kicks off, like Svevo and Arturo of his father’s novels, buried in an image of purest white. But this is a damned and dark tale, swirling in … Continue reading Dan Fante: Fante: A Family’s Legacy of Writing, Drinking and Surviving

We Need To Talk About Kevin

Reviewed by Declan Tan Lynne Ramsay’s deranged adaptation of Lionel Shriver’s equally deranged novel (which Shriver quite garishly lauds on the film’s poster) is a decent stretch of film that concentrates more on the director’s ambition than it does on the novel’s. The result is a sometimes over-stylised but darkly entertaining genre-mix of gallows humour, … Continue reading We Need To Talk About Kevin

Tequila Tales: An Anthology of Short Fiction

Reviewed by Declan Tan The Tequila Tales anthology (edited by Millie Johanna Heur and Roy Anthony Shabla) is an eclectic mixture of genre, style and content that unites a well-published group of writers on the single and divisive subject of, yes, tequila. All of the work has in some way been licked by the liquid … Continue reading Tequila Tales: An Anthology of Short Fiction

Steve Aylett: Lint The Movie

Reviewed by Declan Tan Until recently, the promise of Steve Aylett’s £750 foray into feature-length film productions had seemingly been wandering desultorily around the Internet for quite some time, indulging in some shallow vanishing since 2009, popping up here and there on blogs, before triumphantly reappearing for its premiere in Brighton earlier this year. Followed … Continue reading Steve Aylett: Lint The Movie

Infinite Jest: An Interview with Richard Herring

For comedy aficionados, Richard Herring needs no introduction. So we’re not going to give him one. Declan Tan asks the questions What is it you strive for in your shows? Mainly to make people laugh, but along with that I suppose my main goal is doing so in an original way and hopefully also producing … Continue reading Infinite Jest: An Interview with Richard Herring

Funny Peculiar: An Interview with Dave Stordy

In the first of a double bill, Declan Tan interviews struggling comic Dave Stordy about Bobby Davro, Sedgways and the bleaker side of stand-up Dave Stordy is a comedian. So is Richard Herring, but we’ll get to him in a bit. Right now, Stordy is writing a bit revolving around our quite casual and uneventful … Continue reading Funny Peculiar: An Interview with Dave Stordy

Somewhere (Sofia Coppola)

A radical new direction for the acceptable face of art house cinema? Hardly, says Declan Tan “Let’s open with one of those long, audience-testing shots, yeah, yeah, keep him driving around. Make about ten laps then we’ll cut.” I imagine this is how Sofia Coppola speaks and I imagine this is how she sets up … Continue reading Somewhere (Sofia Coppola)

Route Irish (Ken Loach)

Often something of a cinematic conscience, Ken Loach turns the camera to the Iraq war. Declan Tan reviews Ken Loach’s take on Iraq was always going to be one to look out for. After In Our Name, Green Zone, The Hurt Locker and a slurry of others sent hot and steaming down the pipe of supposedly cantankerous cinema, … Continue reading Route Irish (Ken Loach)

The King’s Speech (Tom Hooper)

Is there anything left to say about The King’s Speech? Declan Tan thinks so Welcome to the throwback film of the century. You already know the story thanks to the BAFTA-soaked hype parade (and the ubiquitous trailers), and you’re vaguely familiar with the history, World War II and all that (though you won’t be too … Continue reading The King’s Speech (Tom Hooper)

Never Let Me Go (Mark Romanek)

Eight years after One Hour Photo, music video director Romanek steps back in the ring with an adaptation of Ishiguro’s much-touted novel. Declan Tan reviews In 1952, the breakthrough came. All disease and illness were cured, all disability wiped out. By the 1960s, age expectancy reached over 100 years. This is the opener for Never … Continue reading Never Let Me Go (Mark Romanek)

Miral (Julian Schnabel)

Julian Schnabel’s switch from painter to filmmaker was one of the more surprising reinventions in contemporary culture. For Declan Tan, however, his most recent effort is a serious anticlimax Julian Schnabel has more than impressed, actually he has excelled in his past features, all biopics of wildly varied personalities and very different nationalities. First there … Continue reading Miral (Julian Schnabel)

The Fighter (David O. Russell)

Is there more to the Christian Bale Method than weight loss and accents? Declan Tan views his ‘return to acting’ As unimaginative and uninvolving as it is, The Fighter still manages to (insert boxing pun) throw a few punches before (here’s another one) the final bell, though admittedly it’s identical to every other underdog boxing … Continue reading The Fighter (David O. Russell)

Gerald Locklin: An Interview

Gerald Locklin has, in his lengthy career, alternately been called a “people’s writer”, a “stand-up poet” (co-credited for coining the term) and, by his friend and contemporary, Charles Bukowski: “one of the great undiscovered talents of our time”. In a fascinating interview, Declan Tan hears about the influence of comic books, the giants of modernism … Continue reading Gerald Locklin: An Interview

Exit Through The Gift Shop (Banksy)

Declan Tan revisits Banksy’s documentary on street art and the transformation of Terry Guetta into  ‘Mr. Brainwash’ Pretension is a subject seemingly dear to Banksy. It’s all over his work, from his mordant stencils which inspired a boisterous surge in ‘street art’ popularity, to his grand socio-political satires plastered across the most daring of locations, … Continue reading Exit Through The Gift Shop (Banksy)

All Experience Devolves To Gratitude: Dan Fante

Carrying the torch passed on by Bukowski and Hubert Selby Jr, for many Dan Fante is America’s most vital writer. Interview by Declan Tan Dan Fante is one of the last surviving writers of his generation that could be called a “maverick”. Having spent years in his own personal wilderness, and never touching a typewriter, … Continue reading All Experience Devolves To Gratitude: Dan Fante

Conviction (Tony Goldwyn)

Reviewed by Declan Tan Conviction is a sickly and cynical bit of force-fed fluff, masquerading as serious drama as it squeezes all life out of its once-dignified story, dragging it through the shit heap of Hollywood to exploit its working-class subjects with predictable execution. Not the first, and not the last time this will happen. … Continue reading Conviction (Tony Goldwyn)

West Is West (Andy DeEmmony)

A decade after its hugely successful predecessor, Declan Tan encounters an entertaining but lightweight imitation second time around As the long-awaited sequel to the 1999 breakout hit that was East is East, comes scribe Ayub Khan-Din’s West is West, a continuation of the Salford-set story of Sajid (Aqib Khan), jumping us forward five years to … Continue reading West Is West (Andy DeEmmony)

Blue Valentine (Derek Cianfrance)

Derek Cianfrance’s labour of love reviewed by Declan Tan If you’ve happened upon any of the interviews with director and co-writer Derek Cianfrance talking about his 12-year project, Blue Valentine, you’ll notice there’s a through-line to all of them. As wearied as his two main characters become of each other, Cianfrance, in his routine exchanges … Continue reading Blue Valentine (Derek Cianfrance)

Charlie Hill: The Space Between Things

Reviewed by Declan Tan Charlie Hill’s debut novel seems already to have been pigeonholed as a love-story, a certainly tragic one, between its narrator, Arch (a character who has already made appearances on the independent literary scene) and Vee, the counterpoint to Arch’s solipsistic, inward-looking existence. Set in the early 1990s, the novel begins at … Continue reading Charlie Hill: The Space Between Things

Black Swan (Darren Aronofsky)

Declan Tan takes a second look at Aronofsky’s tightly-wound psych-out Recommending this film is not the easiest thing to do. You have those who already know and appreciate the prospect of a new Darren Aronofsky film, granted some of those fans fell off at The Fountain, his most personal and ambitious work, before being pulled … Continue reading Black Swan (Darren Aronofsky)