10 reasons why Silver Linings Playbook is the best film of the year

1. The cast.   Image

Bradley Cooper is great as the teacher recently out of mental hospital and trying to get his life back on track.

Robert De Niro can really do comedy, as he demonstrated in Meet the Parents. This is his best and most comprehensive performance since Casino.

Jacki Weaver was in Russel’s last film and makes a great foil to De Niro’s intense and hyper-kinetic book keeper.

Jennifer Lawrence. I hated Hunger Games and didn’t make it to the end of Winters Bone. But Lawrence is right on the money, Her arriival in the film’s first half hour takes it up a gear. She

plays Imagea very emotional woman with a bad hair day and permenent scowl. 

 Her scenes with Cooper are a joy to watch. My favourite? The glorious dance scene where she shows him how to waltz to Bob Dylan’s The Girl from the North County.

3. The dancing 

I love any movie where actors you wouldn’t imagine dancing are made to strut their stuff. Jennifer Lawrence looks beautiful and sexy dancing alone or with Cooper. The last scene of the dance competition is my favourite moment of the movie, even if they’re aren’t the best dancers, their soul and passion are what matter.

4. References to other great films

In showing Cooper how to dance, Lawrence shows him a clip of Gene Kelly and Donald O Connor tapdancing in Singin’ In The Rain. This is incorporated in the final sequence. Any film that mentions Singin’ in The Rain earns points instantly,

5. The film’s trueness to life

I never felt like what I was watching couldn’t conceivably have happened to people somewhere, That doesn’t happen when I watch other films,

6. The characters

I liked all of them, Even the older and more successful brother, who by rights I should have hated, I didn’t. 

7, The black mental patient

I can’t remember his name but he was hilarious. He should be in more films.

8. The music

David O Russell uses music to heighten our emotional response, or in some cases, simply because he just loves the song. Whatever, the music is great, look at how he uses Arctic Monkeys and John Coltrane in the same scene.

9. The Script.

Woody Allen used to be the go-to man for witty, literate films about New Yorkers, Not anymore, If Silver Linings doesn’t win the best screenplay next year, something is very wrong with the world.

10. The overall mood of the film

There is something very warm about these characters. You want to spend time with them and therefore you keep watching the film because you care about what happens to them. This is why films which are character led rather than plot driven will always fascinate us more. Again, a few american directors have always known this, Russel is continuing the freewheeling narrative flow that began in the seventies with Hal Ashby comedies and John Cassavetes realist dramas.  

There doesn’t seem to be much else on show at the moment, My advice is to see this straight away. Continue reading 10 reasons why Silver Linings Playbook is the best film of the year

The unsmiling clown (Buster Keaton)

Buster Keaton



my 2003 edition describes Buster keaton thus:


‘one of America’s great silent clowns, the unsmiling but game little fellow who always comes out on top whatever the odds.’Image


Indeed, he never smiles in his films and they are all the funnier for that. He trained in vaudeville and made in quick succession The Shepherd, One Week, The High Sign, Convict, all in 1920. Further features followed, until in 1926 he made the film for which he shall never be forgot, The General, which still holds  its place in the canon of film comedy masterpieces. In this film, Keaton’s character has two loves, the train on which he works as an engineer and his girl. Set at the time of the Civil war, Keaton is unable to enlist because he is more valuable as engine driver than a soldier. thinking Keaton a coward, his girl deserts him, only to be captured by thieves who steal the train whilst she is aboard. He must retrieve the train and the girl, going through enemy lines and returning a hero.




Buster Keaton in The General

The film’s many sight gags such as Keaton riding on the train’s crossbar and moving a plank of wood with another are a joy to behold. its a film that can be watched endlessly, so rich are the visual details.

 Sherlock Junior 1924

Sherlock Jr, was made in 1924, finds him playing a projectionist who goes through the film attempting to solve a crime. The film opens with a proverb stating that when a man tries to do two jobs neither will be completed satisfactorily. After being found guilty of a crime he didn’t commit, Keaton’s character falls asleep at his projector. then in a sequence uncannily similar to the Purple Rose of Cairo, his character splits in two, and he floats out of his seat into the the cinema screen. He joins the actors in the screen, and his alter ego is now Sherlock Jr, ‘crusher of criminality’; a master sleuth. the film within a film sequence takes up half of the running time and is a delight, Keaton doing some really daring stunts; riding a car into a lake, riding on the front of a motorbike, even after the driver has fallen off. that sequence is the epitome of his talent, a sequence that builds splendidly, using crosscutting to heighten the tension, at one stage he appears to narrowly avoid a speeding train, and goes through a tug of war at a stag party.


A less frenzied film, The Navigator takes place aboard a ship.  Keaton’s character is a member of the idle rich, Rollo Treadway, who could have just stepped out of an F Scott Fitzgerad novel. Unable to marry the girl he loves, he deides to go on a cruise. Ending up on the navigator, a giant battleship, he meets another girl. They find themeselves bewildered by the most simple tasks, making coffee with unfiltered seawater, unable to open a can of corned beef. a few weeks later they have made contraptions which allow them to live reasonably well. all goes swimmingly until they reach land and are spotted by cannibals, who come at them with spears. These scenes may seem uncomfortable in today’s more sensitive times, however they are what the public would have expected when the film was made. 



The Cameraman


Keaton’s last great film is The Cameraman (1927). Keaton plays a street photographer trying to woo a film star, he becomes a newsreel cameraman and photographs a street riot. The film was remade as Watch the Birdie for Red Skelton with Keaton providing the gags but not getting any credit.


Life of Actor who played Superman not so super

There are many instances of fuck-ups and cover-ups in the days of old Hollywood, many careers derailed or never allowed to take off due to unpreventable lifestyle choices such as, take your pick: alcoholism (William Holden), homosexulaity (rock Hudson) or politics (Jane Fonda).,

a good example of one whose luck ran out is provided by one George Reeve. He played in the TV series of Superman. here is a photo: Image

George Reeves in Superman pose

Guy looks great doesn’t he? Looks like nothing could go wrong for the man. Until, the day when the show loses popularirty, So what next for our guy after he puts back the Superman costume? Well not much really, You’d think that after all those years at the top the guy would have saved up some cash, or at least bought everything he needed, well if you think that then you really haven’t been paying attention.

Here is what happened: Reeves goes looking for more exciting roles. He becomes a wrestler.The public hate him. He starts an affair with Tori Mannix, wife of MGM studio exec E.J Mannix. he goes to a party and tells guests he is going upstairs for a while. At 1:45 his naked body is found. He died of a gunshot wound to the head. Though his death has been questioned, its likely that Reeves did commit suicide, and it was largely due to unhappiness regarding his failing career and the end of his affair with annix.

If this story is of interest you may want to see Hollywoodland, a biopic of Reeves featuring Ben Affleck and Diane Lane.


Too much too soon, John Barrymore (1882-1942)

 A mini biography

A celebrated , self-destructive American actor, the brother of Ethel and Lionel Barrymore, and son of leading stage actors Maurice Barrymore and Georgiana Drew Barrymore, 

He studied first at the Slade school of Art and worked first as a cartoonist and illustrator before following the family occupation in 1900. An undisciplined actor, he quickly became bored with repeating his performances night after night.

Dorothy Dandridge- a life unfulfilled

The first black woman to be nominated for an oscar, Dandridge is the perfect example of someone whose career was held back due to race, and the unfortunate social climate she lived in. as she said herslelf, ‘If I had been white I could take over the world.”


Dandridge refused to play roles which called for her to play a slave or housekeeper. Those were the characters which most mainstream gave to black actors. see Gone With The Wind for a perfect example. In the 1950s there were no films in which a black actress could be seen to have a relationship with a white actor, a taboo that still stands to this day, even in recent films the possibility of any erotic attraction between Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington is strictly downplayed. Or look at Hitch, in which Eva Mendes stands in for the white woman in a mixed race relationship. 

Dorothy Dandridge was gloriosly, magnificently beautiful, her cafe au lait skin tone and knock-out figure put her on the front of Time magazine.

She was an actress as a child but she got her first big role in Carmen jones, the musical that transposed the opera Carmen from 19th century Spain to present day America in the black slums of Harlem, the normally regal looking actress got the opportunity to wear tight fitting tops and trousers, see the fabulous image below.

Otto Preminger, a man noted for his bullish tendencies and general air of somebody you did not want to fuck with, directed the film. He had previously violated the Hays code by including such profanities virgin and mistress in the Moon Is Blue. Preminger sued the film censorship board and the state of kansas when they attempted to effectively prevent cinemas from exhibiting the film. 

Carmen Jones was fabulous and  Dandridge was great too, the film won her a nomination for best actress, a category that included Grace Kelly (Country Girl) and Audrey Hepburn (Sabrina). She had two more films in her contract for Fox but the studio did not know how to cast her. She was in the controversial Islands in the Sun as an Indian woman (1957). Her last big role was Porgy and Bess (1959). The filmm hardly gave a positive depiction of black characters, even if she wasn’t playing servants oor slaves, Porgy was a drug addict and Bess a woman with a disreputable past, but at least it was written by George Gershwin. The film was not a success. To this day it is unavailable on DVD. Dorothy Dandridge a few more films, Tamango and Moment of Danger are two of little consequence. Her lovers icluded such luminaries as the already mentioned Otto Premingrer, Curt Jurgens and Peter Lawford, the first of her two husbands was Harold Nicholas of the Nicholas brothers. She died in poverty, having only $2.14 to her name, committing suicide from a drug overdose.

She was played by Halle Berry in TV biopic The Dorothy Dandridge (1999). 

Lupe Velez (María Guadalupe Villalobos Vélez) – 1908 -1944

Lupe Velez has been quoted as having said: ‘the first time you buy a house you think how pretty it is and sign the cheque. Then you look in the basement and see if the house has termites, Its the same with men.’


Her instincts generally served her well. She marries the star of Tarzan movies Johnny Weissmuller in 1933 until 1938. Then things go wrong, She has a relationship with Harold Maresch, and is pregnant. Unable to face the shame of having a child out of wedlock. The cause of death is an overdose of seconal. Her suicide note reads:

To Harald: May God forgive you and forgive me, too; but I prefer to take my life away and our baby’s, before I bring him with shame, or killin’ him.

The question that remains unanswered is why she should have been so concerned about violating notions of decency. She was known for signs of mania and bipolar disorder. It is unlikely that she would have been unable to reconcile her disregard for convention by raising the child out of wedlock.

Lupe Velez has a star on Hollywood and Vine for her contribuitions to the American film industry.

Selected filmography:

The Gaucho, 1927. Wolf Song, 29. East is West 30, The Squaw Man 31,. Kongo 32, Hot Pepper. Paloooka 34, The Morals of Marcus (GB) 37. The Girl from Mexico, The Mexican Spitfire 39.

the ritual suicide of Yukio Mishima



Yukio Mishima before his failed coup

Yukio Mishima was as Japanese playwright, novelist, actor and film-maker whose life was the subject of the Paul Schrader film Mishima: A Life In four Parts,1985.

His novella The Sailor Who Fell From Grace with the Sea was filmed by Lewis John Carlino in 1976.

Mishima’s childhood was dominated by his grandmother, a woman whose occasional violent outbursts are thought to be the reason for his obsession with death.

At 12 he enrolled in the exclusive Peers school. He was made head of poetry after six years. His works were soon published.

He faked some of the effects of tubercolosis to avoid fighting in world war ii.