A Q&A with Sam Mendes

Notes from a Q&A with Sam Mendes held on 14th February, 2013 at the Corpus Room in Cambridge, UK

There is no real logic to these notes but they are rather just my attempt to capture what I could. It goes without saying, nothing here should be used as direct quote from Mendes.

- I was a student at Peterhouse, Cambridge, not living in college, and in 1987 a friend of mine mentioned that he wanted to direct a play he had seen called ‘Gotcha!’. I told him that he was too shy to direct. and that I should do it instead, so I did. That was the first of 3 plays that I directed in quick succession and it was after that experience that I was left with a burning desire for more. But there was no Damascus moment. Continue reading

Music Review: First Aid Kit – ‘The Lion’s Roar’

First Aid Kit, a Swedish folk duo, have recently released their second album, ‘The Lion’s Roar’. Johanna and Klara are sisters whose influences include Fleet Foxes, Joni Mitchell and Bon Ivor. Their first album, ‘The Big Black and the Blue’, was wonderful and, like the other two bands I mentioned previously, their music captures the wanderings of a solitary traveler crunching their way through the cool moss and autumnal leaves. They are in a word, ‘woodsy’. Their second album has been produced by Mike Mogis of Bright Eyes, another of my favourite bands, and so you can imagine my anticipation. Luckily, last Thursday I was also able to see them play live at Scala in London. This is a review of both the album and their performance.

Continue reading

Mormons at the Movies

Brad returns with thoughts on Mormons and Movies.

With Mitt Romney becoming a likely candidate for this year’s presidential election, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is in the public psyche now more than ever. One can expect that the more publicity the Republican candidate receives, the more LDS beliefs or Mormonism will become themes explored in popular entertainment. Shows such as Big Love have already made waves exploring splinter groups, and Mormon characters have appeared in programmes such as House M.D. – But what of cinema?

The LDS church, like many religions, has a growing market of niche cinema made by Mormons for Mormons. And these films are, generally speaking, awful. What is really intriguing is how popular opinion of Mormonism has crept into major Hollywood productions over the years. Below is a list of 10 Hollywood feature films which received nationwide and often international release. I look at the LDS characters within these films, and how their membership to the Mormon Church affects their portrayal onscreen. Are they seen as the blood thirsty devil worshipers which were made popular in early 20th Century literature, or are they painted as genuinely righteous and kind hearted folk? Let’s have a look…

Review: The Woman in Black

Spoiler Alert

This is not so much a review which encourages you to avoid or to see this film; it is predictably tense, Daniel Radcliffe is predictably average and all the supporting cast are predictably more engaging than he.  It is an average film.

Yet there is one strange and ( at least for me) unpredictable feature of the film that made it quite interesting. It is simply this Continue reading

Oscar Snubs

Brad Williams returns with another guest post

With doodies like Moneyball and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close managing to bag a few Oscar nominations, it seems appalling that so many other great films missed out on any real award recognition for the Oscars 2012. What follows are some films which I feel lost out in some way this Oscar season, with suggestions where they could have got a nomination or two. Continue reading

Guest: Shoe Box Classics #1: Gone Baby Gone

Another review from Brad Williams; an inveterate film buff who also writes for WhatCulture.com

These will be films which I loved, and still do, but which seem to be forgotten by most people – the type of films that sit in the DVD wall of a minority, sparingly loaned out and shared with close friends. But films none the less, which deserve true recognition. Some are reasonably current, others slightly older, but each and every one, in my view, a modern classic.

Gone Baby Gone opens like a documentary, on the sweeping yet claustrophobic streets of a Boston neighbourhood known as Dorchester. Throwing us into calm and surprisingly visceral realisms, sophomore director Ben Affleck leaves no misconceptions about his intention to ground the film in an urbanised pragmatism one comes to expect from low budget independent affairs. The two hours that follow, are not only a consummately empathetic depiction of dark human drama, but also the blossoming of a true talent in Ben Affleck. Continue reading

Guest Review: The Descendants

Brad Williams is an inveterate film buff who also writes for WhatCulture.com


Matt King (George Clooney) is a man with a lot on his plate. Sole custodian of the proverbial family gold mine, all eyes are on Matt as the deadline approaches to sell off a massive plot of Hawaiian land. To make matters worse, one month ago his wife was in a boating accident, leaving her in a coma ever since. Life before the accident was rocky and unfulfilling, but now Matt has to become the father he never knew how to be, the husband he always should have been, and the man his father always intended. Continue reading

The Artist

A caveat: I am francophile.  I acknowledge this conflict of interests here because I want to put it to one side in order to gush unashamedly about ‘The Artist’.

Perhaps the least surprising thing about Christmas this year is the success of ‘The Artist’.  It has already won the ‘New York Film Critics Circle Award’ for Best Film and is a good bet for a nod at this years Oscars.  In fact, after seeing it the other night, I will be surprised if it is not nominated in categories across the board.  It is, without doubt, wonderful. Continue reading