Archived entries for Home

Line of Duty

Following in the footsteps of Cops and last year’s The Shadow Line, Line of Duty lived up to the promise that now accompanies the category of “an original contemporary BBC2 British police serial drama”. There were elements of both those captivating predecessors in Line of Duty – there was the realism, both mundane and gritty, that Cops reflected so well, and there was the crime thriller with corruption at its heart, both themes in The Shadow Line, which was arguably the greatest British contained drama series of all-time.

With a fantastic cast, Line of Duty wasn’t too shabby either. There are few, if any better British actors at the moment than Lennie James, and he is brilliant throughout in the lead part of Tony Gates: every word, every facial expression and every movement perfectly brings to life a clever, charismatic, confident, high-flying cop who suddenly finds the walls around him closing in fast after an error of judgement. Continue reading…

Batman: The Dark Knight Rises Again

Marta-Emilia Bona was at the Batman Premiere this week. She reviews the film for The Substantive.

As a member of the general public who normally attends screenings of Hollywood blockbusters in a small cinema in Cardiff, it’s difficult not to feel somewhat intimidated when met with thousands of screaming fans and a red carpet as you enter Leicester Square. However, it’s impossible to deny the effect of the pomp and circumstance surrounding the premiere of The Dark Knight Rises (complete with twenty foot Batman mask and flaming bat crest – of course). Not being a huge Batman fan myself – I’m actually somewhat averse to the majority of superhero films – I must admit that even I was overwhelmed by the sense that I was about to experience the end of something big: the dramatic climax to an exquisitely executed trilogy. Continue reading…

Olympics: Ring of Steel

Mark Perryman argues that as the private sector fail the Olympics, with the army cleaning up the mess made by G4S, those that fought against terror overseas will now be tasked with checking for sandwiches and ‘Free Tibet’ flags to appease the sponsors of the Games.

Munich ‘72 will always remain one of the most iconic of all Olympic Games. Not so much for Olga Korbut’s impish performance in the Gymnastics or the Gold Medal haul of Mark Spitz in the pool. It is the lethal carnage resulting from the Israeli athletes being taken hostage by the Palestinian Black September group that Munich will always be remembered for. Continue reading…

Bruce Springsteen, Hyde Park (14 July 2012)

At a time when the superficial has become the norm, men and women of substance are like rays of sunlight streaming through dark grey clouds. Governments throughout Europe are allowed to plough on largely critically unchallenged with economic policies that exacerbate a situation they say they are trying to resolve, well-paid barristers use sarcasm as a legitimate form of defence in  high-profile criminal cases, and the masses use the word ‘LOL’ like a full-stop, a disclaimer for any serious thought. Bruce Springsteen is so charismatic and talented he would stand out like a shining beacon in any age, but against the backdrop of fluff that passes for modern life, he is like a saviour that has risen from the streets, a leader and man of the people at the same time. Continue reading…

Olympics: A Games of Two Halves

With his book offering a blueprint for a better Olympics published this week, author Mark Perryman summarises his Five New Rings, as an alternate model.

Seb Coe and the London Olympics Organising Committee, Cameron and his hapless Minister of Culture, Jeremy Hunt, their predecessors, Brown, Blair and Tessa Jowell. All of them cling to a bipartisan consensus that everything to do with the Olympics is fine, nothing the International Committee and their sponsors demand needs to be questioned. It was a consensus which in London managed to unite those otherwise polar opposites, Boris and Ken, too, in solid agreement that the Olympics would be without doubt a good thing for the city.

Continue reading…

Alfred Hitchcock

Let us look

Hitchcock. The word sends chills down the spine of movie lovers around the world. What a name and what a man but where does the man stop and the movies begin? Hitchcock was his movies and so was his desire to entertain through pure cinema. So let us delve into his life the only we can, through the pictures he made. Let us look, as he allowed us to in Psycho when he put us in the place of Anthony Perkins looking at Janet Leigh during her final shower – she was getting cleaner right before an audience getting dirtier and a director who was only to pleased to accommodate in revealing those secret desires. Let us look deep into someone, not like the crowd in the tennis scene in Strangers On A Train who are looking left to right at the volleys and lobs but like Robert Walker’s Bruno who we see staring at Farley Granger’s Guy Haines, a chasm of a stare, a look that says I know what you’re capable of and I’m going to make you think terrible things. Let us look, like James Stewart in Vertigo onto Kim Novak and watch as she changes into someone else and back again; a burning look, the look of Alfred Hitchcock. Continue reading…

GB Football Team: The Chosen Few

Ten days ago football blogger Tom Bodell named the men’s squad he would take to the Olympics as part of his series for The Substantive covering the men’s football team GB for London 2012. Today he reflects on Stuart Pearce’s eighteen, and where they differed.

Stuart Pearce’s Team GB has been announced and doubtless there were a few surprises in there, in particular certain big names that didn’t make the cut. Somewhat unsurprisingly though, Psycho and I only agreed on eight of the 18 names selected. Continue reading…

Historical Fiction

In the latest in her series on Themes for The Substantive, Joanne Sheppard writes about Books on Historical Fiction, including works by Hilary Mantel, Michel Faber, Diana Norman and AS Byatt.

Hilary Mantel’s Bring Up The Bodies, a sequel to her Booker Prize-winning Wolf Hall, has recently arrived in bookshops in a flurry of hype. I haven’t read it yet, so I couldn’t say whether the excitement about its publication is justified, but frankly, if it’s even half as compelling a read as Wolf Hall, it will be worthy of any praise heaped upon it.

James Wood, a professor of literary criticism at Harvard University and also a reviewer of books for the New Yorker, recently claimed that the historical fiction is “a somewhat gimcrack genre not exactly jammed with greatness.” I don’t know anything about James Wood, and based on that statement I don’t believe I want to, but I rather wonder what his definition of “greatness” is.

In fairness, Wood did like Wolf Hall, at least – and rightly so. Wolf Hall is one of those historical novels that manages to be both intimate, minute in focus and yet also broad in scope. Continue reading…

Ally Clow’s June 2012 Film Round-up

Ally Clow looks at Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom, the French film Polisse, the start-studded Snow White & The Huntsman and a treasure from Orson Wells.

Every two years, the cinema industry (and a few others) reel in anticipated horror at 22 men kicking a ball around a patch of grass. At this point, the box office crumbles like England when faced with penalty-kicks and apart from the opening weekend of June, when Ridley Scott’s sci-fi epic Prometheus boosted the UK numbers by 25% year on year, the remainder of the month was an average of 25% down on 2011 due to a dearth of major new releases in the face of the football. Continue reading…

Euro 2012: Final

The progression of a game based on passing and moving has developed over the years, with the Hungary team of the 40s and 50s, and the push-and-run Tottenham team of the same era both achieving landmark successes. Rinus Michels and Johan Cruyff developed Total Football in Amsterdam and Catalonia, and Cruyff’s own dream team as Barcelona Manager was an embodiment of his philosophy. But these last two years, with Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona winning the 2010/11 Champions League at Wembley, followed by Spain’s record breaking Euro 2012 triumph, have signalled a new milestone, with Sunday night’s win an anti-dote to the anti-football success of Chelsea in May. Continue reading…



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