Film critic, novelist and photographer. Likes frites, beer and chocolate. Lives in Brussels.

Agora pressed my big phobia button — I love films in which men wear short skirts, hack at each other with swords or say things such as: "Did you know, my dear, that this golden web was spun from the beards of shellfish?" (That's an actual line from The Ten Commandments, by the way.)

My rhyming INTO THE WOODS review

Gwyneth Paltrow: time for the hate to stop? — It's true that her Goop "lifestyle" site is about as joyful a place as Narnia under the White Witch, that declarations such as "I'm just a normal mother with the same struggles as any mother who's trying to do everything at once and trying to be a wife and maintain a relationship" display an astonishing lack of self-awareness, and that her description of the split from her husband as a "conscious uncoupling" sent the internet into paroxysms of snark.

Drumatic: a history of drummers in film — Whiplash is about a jazz drummer who drums till his fingers bleed. His connection to the kit he pounds so obsessively is echoed by his abusive relationship with the conservatory conductor, who yells obscenities in his face like the drill sergeant from Full Metal Jacket.

The art of film: galleries in the movies — Frederick Wiseman's National Gallery is a fascinating fly-on-the-wall documentary about one of Britain's best known art institutions - its men, its women, its pictures. We listen to guides, eavesdrop on boardroom discussions, consider the ethics of restoration and, best of all, zoom in for privileged close-ups of Holbein's The Ambassadors, or Da Vinci's Virgin of the Rocks, or Vélasquez's Christ in the House of Martha and Mary.

How cats conquered cinema — The Year in Cat got off to a roaring start in 2014 with Inside Llewyn Davis . Ulysses the red tabby (played by three different cats) dominates the first two-thirds of the Coen brothers' portrait of a Greenwich Village folk singer, circa 1961, simply by being there.

The Ghost and the subtle delights of first-person cinema — After the discovery of an abandoned car on a ferry and a shot of its driver's corpse washed up on a beach, Ewan McGregor is present in every scene of The Ghost, Roman Polanski's new film. He's the film's eyes and ears, our surrogate in the story, our entry-point into this world.

Audrey Hepburn: a new kind of movie star — With her looks, she stood out from the crowd. So when Paramount was searching for their Princess Ann, the studio's London production chief remembered her in a tiny role as a cigarette girl in Laughter in Paradise; you can see that, and her screen test, below on YouTube.

Are you addicted to a fantasy world? — George Lucas might have created Star Wars, but the world that George built belongs to the fans now. Last month, predictably, there was an online stampede to get a fix of the new teaser trailer for Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens , followed by obsessive parsing of every last frame in a quest for additional information to add to the fans' already extensive knowledge of the Lucasverse.

Bad news: Universal is 'reimagining' its classic monsters — But surely, these films were already more "action-adventure" than horror - degenerating into incontinent montages of thinly-drawn characters leaping around amid wall-to-wall CGI and jitterbug editing, as though the film-makers were terrified of dialling the action down for a few seconds in case their ADD-afflicted audiences got bored.
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Jan 31, 2015

@catvincent Also, I think people think of freckles as imperfections. Plus not going in the sun - that's just not natural!

Jan 31, 2015

@katelaity a) But the sweetness is offset by the peanut butter! and b) And you don't think NUTELLA is too sweet?

Jan 31, 2015

@catvincent Ha! never thought of that. But true. Mail readers always saying Lohan & other redheads look as though they need "a good scrub".

Jan 31, 2015

@katelaity The worst is that American Goober Grape, which has peanut butter AND jelly IN THE SAME JAR.

Jan 31, 2015

@AnnieBlinkhorn 'Most "Atheists" are really God haters. They tend to be people who are low on information in both science and physics.'

Jan 31, 2015

@katelaity I had to ban Nutella from the house, alas. Like peanut butter. I always end up eating it straight out of the jar, with a spoon.

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