TV Eye: 30 Rock and Jonathan Meades on France

Jacob Knowles-Smith on homophobia in elitist liberal comedy and nationalism in polymath documentaries After the inconvenience of creator Tina Fey’s pregnancy, the new season of 30 Rock (NBC) has finally aired. If there was one impact of her pregnancy on the show it was Fey’s slightly fuller face – which, I should say, was only […]

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 […]

TV Eye: The Story of Musicals and Timeshift: The Smoking Years

Jacob Knowles-Smith tries to make sense of this season’s viewing With the Christmas schedule now safely out of the way, viewers can settle into shows designed to ward off the effects ‘the lull’ and winter blues that come without an enforced sense of Christmas cheer. This year Charles Dickens, the codifier of our Christmas traditions, […]

TV Eye: BBC Fours’s All American season

Jacob Knowles-Smith sits down for a TV dinner with Tom Wolfe Thankfully BBC Four hasn’t been demolished just yet. If it had been, we wouldn’t have had chance to enjoy its recent ‘All American’ season. They say that BBC 2 would absorb the channel’s role, but doubtless this would come with – if not dumbing-down […]

TV Eye: Bored to Death and Desperate Housewives

Gender agenda: Jacob Knowles-Smith on men without women, dysfunctional families, and killer whales After many years of not watching Friends on any of the Channel 4 family of stations, since they flogged it to Comedy Central, I’ve suddenly been spending entire Saturday afternoons watching episode after episode. Now that the show is no longer the […]

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 […]

The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn

Steven Spielberg’s big missed opportunity. Reviewed by Robert O’Connor. WARNING: may contain spoilers! Two goats are sitting on a back lot in Hollywood, chewing on cans of film. One remarks “This is terrible!” and the other one says, “The book is better.” A few weeks before his death in 1983, Hergé signed the movie rights […]

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 […]

TV Eye: True Stories: Kissinger and House

You wait all season for a misanthropic, sociopathic doctor, then two come along at once. Jacob Knowles-Smith reviews Around the turn of the last century, events both natural and unnatural conspired to shed the giants of the 19th century, such as Queen Victoria and William McKinley. In our new century, however, assassinations being less frequent […]

TV Eye: Boardwalk Empire

This week, Jacob Knowles-Smith ponders whether its us or them to blame for the muted response to HBO’s lavish series Wikipedia is a killer. A plot killer, that is. Before its advent, the history of a period drama like HBO’s Boardwalk Empire would be known only by those with an interest in prohibition-era American history. […]

Dream Team: The Brothers Quay

In 1995, Thyrza Nichols Goodeve interviewed twin brothers Timothy and Stephen Quay about their beautiful full-length debut Institute Benjamenta, or This Dream People Call Human Life. Many thanks to the author for permission to reprint in full. The animated-puppet worlds of the Brothers Quay have entranced art cinephiles since 1979. Seemingly made by miniature shadow-fairies […]

TV Eye: Downton Abbey and The Story of Film: An Odyssey

This week, Jacob Knowles-Smith takes on the 20th century as seen through the cinema lens and the eyes of Julian Fellowes It is curious that since the first series of Downton Abbey (ITV 1) the BBC has also made an effort to create period dramas set in the 20th, rather than 18th or 19th, century. […]

TV Eye: Bill Hicks, The Field of Blood and Page Eight

Jacob Knowles-Smith settles down for an original American comic and some not so original British drama It might be a cliché for fans of Bill Hicks to reminisce about the man and wonder what he might have to say about the present day, but it isn’t much of a stretch of the imagination: he wouldn’t […]

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 […]

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, […]

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 […]

Keeping Up with the Jones: Regarding Indiana

Whilst the Star Wars trilogy has embedded itself deep within our cultural mythology, Robert O’Connor wonders about George Lucas’ other classic serial, the Indiana Jones films George Lucas made the first Star Wars movies as a throwback to the classic adventure serials like Flash Gordon. A few years later he did it again with the […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

TV Eye: HBO’s Entourage

In the first instalment of a new column on TV programmes, Jacob Knowles-Smith reviews Entourage As anyone who has ever read Casanova’s memoirs knows, even the Great Seducer was knocked back once or twice. But it took seven seasons of Entourage and a drug problem for Vincent Chase, arguably a modern-day equivalent, to get himself […]

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 […]