Welcome to Movie Musings!

Firstly… thank you so much for visiting my blog! I really appreciate that you’ve taken the time to have a look. Whether it’s a quick read of one review, a search for your favourite films or just passing through, I really appreciate you taking the time.

And hopefully you’ll stick around to have a longer look! You could even subscribe, comment or like some pages!

What’s this blog about?

Films can entertain, inspire, amuse and inform. They can also frustrate, annoy and upset. Sometimes they can be just plain awful. But we love them – after all we spent millions of hours a year watching them. It’s an art form and an entertainment industry, and this blog celebrates the best (and the worst) of what cinema has given us, with indepth and personal reviews of over a thousand films (and counting).

Who am I?

I live in Oxford, UK and I’ve been watching movies as long as I can remember. In fact I have wasted vast reams of time watching and now writing about movies. And yet I never tire of doing so – or banging on about how much I like them. And, as plenty of people will tell you, I’m perfectly happy to do that until the cows come home.

I started writing this blog in 2017 as a way of capturing my thoughts and feelings about movies that I have watched. I’m under no illusion that this blog isn’t largely for me (or that I am not the main reader of it!), but after decades of wanting to recall exactly what I thought about films I felt why not just write it down! If other people are interested I’m very flattered and grateful!

Since then, like a stereotypical man or like the crazed kid I was with sticker books full of Premier League players, I’ve wanted to ‘collect ’em all’. Every time I toy around with “maybe enough is enough” I suddenly think “but, oh, I really want to watch and think about the complete filmography of Fellini/Eisenstein/Truffaut/Bay” or “my life wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t share with the world my thoughts on every Best Picture nominee ever…” and off we go again. Besides the joy of discovering new gems never leaves me.

I’m still really excited to discover new things, I get a buzz from finally catching a great I’ve never seen or discovering a new favourite film that I’d managed to miss for decades. I can’t imagine I’ll stop feeling like that and, as long as I do, I’ll keep letting the motion pictures flicker past my eyes. And maybe even write them up after!

I hope you feel the same about movies. Anyone I’ve ever spoken to feels like that about at least one movie. And that’s what I think is magic and powerful about this medium. It is so wide-ranging that it can encompass works of art and works of complete tat. We can sit in one front of one film and learn something about the world or about the art form we never imagined or thought about before. We can sit in front of another and just thrill at watching cars go fast and things going boom.

What I will always try and do when reviewing is to consider films against suitable criteria. What’s the point of comparing, say, the latest Marvel flick to Powell and Pressburger? If a film is aiming at entertainment judge it on those grounds. I actually find I tend to be more harsh (and critical) of the pretentious and tedious than I am the wham-bang forgettable ones.

What else do I do? When not watching films I read books but above all I act and direct in plays. I’ve played dozens of roles in pays modern and classical and directed reams of Shakespeare – perhaps still my first and most important cultural love. I also have my own theatre company here in Oxford, co-run with a friend, Ronin Theatre Productions that focuses on producing modern theatre.

Some of my favourite films

Seems two ways of approaching this right? It’s 2023 and Sight and Sound published their recent poll of “Greatest Films”. They didn’t ask me (I know can you believe it!) but if they had what might I have said. Possibly this (though God it changes every day…)

I feel bad that this feels like a very traditional list. Guess I am old-fashioned! But there is something special about these for me. And lord there are films that just missed out as well… Groundhog Day springs to mind.

Aguirre, Wrath of God (1972) – Werner Herzog – a film that had a profound impact on me from Day One

Citizen Kane (1941) – Orson Welles – because this might just be the greatest film ever and it’s always hugely entertaining as well

The Godfather (1972) – Francis Ford Coppola – you haven’t really lived until you’ve seen this

Goodfellas (1990) – Martin Scorsese – the other end of the Gangster film and Scorsese’s finest

Lawrence of Arabia (1962) – David Lean – one of the most beautiful, powerfully shot films ever and possibly my all-time fav

Les Enfants du Paradis (1945) – Marcel Carne – I love French cinema of this period, I love theatre, I love historical epics – what’s not to like?

Seven Samurai (1954) – Akira Kurosawa – because much as I am a Kurosawa sceptic, this is the finest action film ever

The Seventh Seal (1957) – Ingmar Bergman – falling out of fashion but still my favourite Bergman

Sunset Boulevard (1950) – Billy Wilder – what Dickens would have made if he was a film director

The Third Man (1949) – Carol Reed – makes a (as the poster promised) all a dither with its zither. Such a wonderful film

And the films that have had the most impact on me and love the most? I’ll add more over time.

Ronin (1998) – John Frankenheimer – I won’t hear a word against this masterpiece of car-driving, which I saw twice at the cinema with my Dad (and which we can both quote at length)

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991) – Kevin Reynolds) – I can quote it all. How sad is that?

Henry V (1989) – Kenneth Branagh – the film that turned me and many other people my age onto Shakespeare and for that I will be forever grateful to Branagh