Movie economics

Ageing cinema audiences want to watch films with intelligent dialogue that deal with real people, according to Imelda Staunton. Yet they are let down by a male-dominated industry that makes “terrible” blockbusters fuelled by violence and special effects.

The Oscar-nominated actress stars in a new heart-warming romantic comedy called Finding Your Feet, whose cast includes Celia Imrie, Timothy Spall, David Hayman and Joanna Lumley. The makers hope the movie will tap into the success of “grey pound” films such as 2011’s The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which made more than £100m.

Of course dahling, it’s just so terrible that those men make films that people actually want to go and see. Unlike the one I’m promoting right now…..

Why would that be then?

In the line of dire: let’s call time on Clint Eastwood’s macho movies

When peeps get all pretentious about it, when we’re talking about art rather than just a bit of dress up, we’re told that the movies should reflect and illuminate life.

Macho is a part of life – most assuredly it is, as the feminists keep telling us. So, why shouldn’t there be movies about it?

A very silly point about movies

How the western got lost: why the genre needs to innovate to survive

To a great extent the genre did innovate. What the hell is Star Wars other than a Western moved around a bit in time?

The error perhaps is in thinking that westerns are about the west when all that is is the backdrop. The tales are heroes and villains and that’s just moved on to a different scenery setting for the same old human tales.

Hasn’t the world changed?

Outgoing Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat has defended his decision to delay the introduction of a female lead by saying the show isn’t around to pander to “progressive liberals”.

The argument is over whether the last Dr Who should have been female, rather than the next one will be. But, but, shouldn’t the last one have been as well?

At which point, hasn’t the world changed? That a director has to defend his decision that a male character be played by a male actor?

Well, actually, you know?

French feminists have voiced outrage over a planned retrospective of the films of director Roman Polanski, who has been accused of several sexual assaults, calling it “an insult” to women following the Harvey Weinstein scandal.

The retrospective is being organised by the Cinémathèque Française, a major Paris-based film archive that is partly funded by the state.

Polanski, who is wanted in the United States for having unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1977, is scheduled to attend the opening on Monday.

In a petition calling for the event to be cancelled, activist Laure Salmona said it was “indecent” to honour Polanski at a time when women are beginning to open up about sexual abuse and harassment in the wake of the allegations that toppled Hollywood producer Weinstein.

“It’s an insult to all the women who mobilised around the #MeToo and #BalanceTonPorc (Expose the pig) hashtags,” she wrote.

The films are the films. The man’s an utter shit of course, but the films still are the films.

We might call this a derivative of pecunia non olet.

Arthur Koestler was equally a shit – he most certainly raped at least one woman. Darkness at Noon is still a good book. Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath didn’t, umm, work out well together. But the poetry stands as the poetry. From memory Einstein was less than nice to his first wife but the equations still work.

It’s not really an issue until Myleene speaks, is it?

Myleene Klass on Thursday night said that she, too, had been propositioned by the bullish New Yorker.

Weinstein invited her for lunch in Cannes, after she had interviewed him at the film festival for CNN. Over lunch he “asked me to sign some kind of sex contract with him.”

She said: “I just thought, ‘Mate, which planet are you from?’

“Then his PA came over with a confidentiality contract. I just thought, ‘Oh my God, your poor wife.’ I don’t want to be a marriage-wrecker.”

Klass, now 39

I’ve never really know what it is that she does other than employ a good publicist.

Entirely sensible

National Gallery bosses have admitted that none of the museum’s works are insured – with staff relied upon to protect the priceless masterpieces by ‘intercepting lunatics’.
The institution’s chairman Hannah Rothschild revealed the art in the central London building is worth so much that the premiums are unaffordable.
Instead, room attendants are responsible for keeping the works safe – with members of the public also stepping in during two recent attempts by vandals.

The pieces are never going to be sold. So what would be the value of an insurance payment if they were to be damaged or stolen? Thus, why bother?

UEA professor is against capitalism Shock, Horror!

What is astonishing is the acquiescence with which the value system I’ve just described is met with by most writers. Most will feel that it doesn’t speak to why they’re writers at all, but few will discuss this openly. Acceptance is one of the most dismaying political consequences of capitalism. It informs the literary too, and the way publishers and writers “go along” with things. The Booker now has a stranglehold on how people think of, read, and value books in Britain. It has no serious critics. Those who berate its decisions about individual awardees (James Kelman’s prize back in 1994 prompted one judge to say it was “frankly, crap”) ritually add to its allure. After all, the attractiveness of the free market has to do with its perverse system of rewards – unlike socialism, which said everyone should be moderately well off, the free market proposes that anyone can be rich.

The Booker’s randomness celebrates this; it confirms the market’s convulsive metamorphic powers, its ability to confer success unpredictably. In literature, it has redefined terms like “masterpiece” and “classic”.

Few writers, though, display any prickliness. Instead, we end up with the acceptance characteristic of capitalism – which, lately in politics, has led to deep alienation and monstrous alternatives like Donald Trump.

The Booker prize created Trump it appears.

Well, you know, it’s their money

He directed Merchant-Ivory classics such as The Remains of the Day, Howards End and A Room with a View, but American director James Ivory is struggling to interest investors in his latest project. The problem, it seems, lies with his writer: William Shakespeare. For more than five years, Ivory has tried in vain to raise money for a cinema adaptation of Richard II.

Despite 50 years of critical acclaim and Oscar recognition, plus British actors Tom Hiddleston and Damian Lewis lined up to star in his production, financiers are refusing to part with their money. “They look at you like you’re crazy,” he said. “There is an assumption that there is no money to be made from such an investment.”

It’s even possible that they’re right:

Producer Stephen Evans was not surprised to hear of Ivory’s struggle to finance his film. He encountered “much scepticism” from potential investors in making Henry V with Branagh. It was only through friends in the City that he could fully finance the movie. Despite Oscar nominations for Branagh as best director and actor, and great reviews, the film did not do well at the box office.

Perhaps the fault is in ourselves, the film goers, not the stars nor investors?


Kal Penn has highlighted racial stereotypes prevalent in Hollywood by sharing “awful” audition scripts he was given in the early years of his career.

Simple visual art form uses stereotypes. Film at 11

Biting the hand that feeds

Ken Loach has launched an uncompromising attack on the UK government at the 70th British Academy Film Awards.

Speaking as he picked up his award for outstanding British film for I, Daniel Blake, which is conceived as a critique of the current state of the benefits system, Loach touched on accusations by some that his film failed to reflect reality.

Hasn’t it been said state which has financed his entire career? Including that very dandy indeed house in Widcombe?

Wouldn’t have thought so really

Did the Mona Lisa have syphilis?
Jonathan Jones

Others will know better than I but I’d doubt it.

Is this why Del Giocondo needed snail water? If so, it is possible she wanted it for someone other than herself. In any case, her recorded purchase was more than a decade after she posed for Leonardo. But suppose she already had a sexually transmitted disease in 1503. What would that say about Leonardo’s most famous painting?

In those first couple of decades of the arrival (perhaps irruption) of syphilis in Europe it was horribly, hugely, virulent. Noses fell off within months of infection. Death was swift.

It’s only later that it became a chronic disease that might take decades to kill.

I could believe someone in 1703 living a decade with syphilis, could believe, possibly, 1603, but 1503 seems most, most, unlikely.

Bit odd really

We need to be more frank about the afflictions faced by the elderly, according to actress Miriam Margolyes.
The 75-year-old Cambridge-educated comedienne believes the physical challenges of getting older are rarely discussed.
In fact, she said there was a conspiracy of silence about the elderly.

‘Nobody tells you that old age is going to be sh***y,’ she said in an interview. ‘It’s a kind of conspiracy.’

Literature is just absolutely packed with the miseries of age. Given that Margolyes has done some Shakespeare I assume she’s familiar with Lear?

These people are fucking nuts

So, black bird plays Russian countess in something snipped out of Tolstoy:

Back when you were first cast in Natasha, you tweeted that you were so excited to do the show and that a black woman could be cast as a Russian countess. What’s important to you about helping to open those doors of diversity?

Denée Benton

It’s powerful to take down the boundaries that separate us and remind everybody that we’re all human and we all have the ability to tell the human story.

I’m fine with that.

But imagine the outrage if a white actor were to black up to portray a black. Or a cis het male were to portray some trans… fact, didn’t we just have that protest, that trans actors should be playing trans characters?


Ken Loach’s latest film is a hit!

It won the Palme d’Or in Cannes, comes from a beloved British auteur and has garnered critical acclaim, but would Ken Loach’s I, Daniel Blake prove too tough a sell for cinema audiences? If UK distributor eOne had any qualms, they have surely evaporated now that I, Daniel Blake has opened with an impressive £404,000 from 94 cinemas, and £445,000 including previews. Stripping out the previews, site average is a very robust £4,298.

Does that mean we don’t have to give him taxpayers’ money for the next one?

Ever so slightly elitist isn’t it?

The National Gallery has only got until 22 October to buy Jacopo Pontormo’s Portrait of a Man in a Red Cap (1530), a masterpiece of Florentine mannerism that is currently subject to a government export ban. It has already been sold to a US collector and tax has been paid on it, so the gallery has to match the £30m price – and the deadline is rapidly approaching. With a £19m government grant already awarded.

Why does it matter? Why is it so important to keep this particular painting in Britain? Perhaps because it is not just a beautiful portrait but a moving document of politics and history. For this is a picture of a young idealist: a relic of revolution.

We’ve already taxed the dustmen and the nurses for the pleasure of the Guardian’s art critic. Now he wants even more of other peoples’ cash to feed his desires?