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The chill voice of Russia

My love-affair with Soviet cinema was cemented at film school when, literally frame by frame, we dissected Sergei Eisenstein’s 1925 propaganda masterpiece Battleship Potemkin. Back in the late sixties and early seventies as British cinemas fell into decline one or two flee-pits survived in some small towns, included mine, Reigate. It was there I first saw Andrei Tarkovsky, starting with his 1966 classic, Andrei Rublev, showing to an empty theatre. At film school I spent seven hours watching – and dozing – through Sergey Bondarchuk’s epic War and Peace and of course, plenty of Tarkovsky.

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Is cinema saying something this year?

Maybe it’s a dumb question. Cinema always has something to say whether or not it is worth saying. Yet, over the last few months I have been becoming ever more reassured that there are a remarkable number of new films that really have something to say about the time we live in.

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Bums on seats. A moving story.

Ever the optimist, for me there is no substitute to the cinematic experience, I think news of the end of cinema is premature. The latest merger of two giant chains should be seen as sign of optimism that maybe the cinema experience will continue to get better and we will continue to spend more time in a darkened room amongst strangers.

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Today's British cinema and history

The rest of the world may love our costume dramas and imagine that England still thinks it rules the waves – about that delusion I think they are right – yet I am filled with gloom that cinema continues to churn out this stuff.

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The power of independence

Her genius is that she sucks you into the narrative. It’s an over-indulgence of cinematic culture that I cannot have too much of. Following The Party, there is a royal flush of quality independent cinema to look forward to in the next week or two.

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The good, the bad and the unspeakably awful

The debate about public opinion trumping critical analysis and what that means for popular culture will continue so long as there are films to watch and audiences to see them. But I say three cheers to all those who laugh at the emperor’s new clothing, leaving bad films to perform badly, losing their investors lots of money for letting self-indulgent, so-called talent loose on a film set.

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What is it about lists?

I have to admit that I cannot find fault with the top ten comedies of all time as selected by all those critics. I’d probably put most if not all of them into my most loved comedies. Would you?

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Sizzling summer blockbusters – A Hollywood fantasy

What is it about the Hollywood movie marketing machine? Headlines are everywhere about the latest box-office busting summer hit. This time it’s Wonder Woman, as I type the largest ever grossing film by a female director. Actually one of the most successful movies by a director of any sex.

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Do your romantic scenes stop at the bedroom door? Part 1

Do you cringe at the thought of going any further? Nearly all of us are built to the same body plan, and those bodies react in very similar ways. Maybe you’re worried that your family will be appalled at what you write. Ever heard of a pseudonym? I have to admit that it was my agent who suggested I have a go, as she’d been approached about providing stories for an erotic anthology – now long out of print.

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It's all in the soundtrack

There is one thing that exercises my ire when watching films more than anything else and that is the pointless over use of music and sound effects. Television is the main culprit, but cinema is also in the frame. I have railed against the ghastly wash of muzak as background fill with broadcaster and fellow producers and dared them to simply live without it.

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