Coup 53

Ralph Fiennes as Norman Darbyshire

It took Iranian exile Taghi Amirani more than ten years to make Coup 53, a documentary about the 1953 coup against the democratically elected prime minister of Iran, Mohammad Mosaddegh. The coup was organised and paid for by the US and UK governments. While the US long ago admitted that the CIA had a role in bringing Mosaddegh down, the ever-secretive British have never owned up. At first it looks like that’s what Amirani is up to, getting the British to come clean. But as his film winds along, it becomes clear he has grander objectives. He unpicks the story of Mosaddegh’s downfall in detail – here’s how as a foreign agent you … Read more

The Forgiven

The boy's father, David, host Richard and the police

Lush and lovely and slightly empty, The Forgiven is the clockwork toy that fails to march. And it all looks so promising to start with. The opening moments alone really get the hopes up – that saturated colour red of the scrolling credits seems to be offering a vast 1960s-style epic à la Lawrence of Arabia, the North African settings suggest maybe Bertolucci’s The Sheltering Sky and the presence of Ralph Fiennes hints at another The English Patient maybe. Fiennes and Jessica Chastain play the bickering married couple who knock down and kill a young Moroccan fossil seller one night while en route to a party out at some huge swish villa in … Read more

Salting the Battlefield

Bill Nighy as Johnny Worricker

After the exotic holiday atmosphere of the second film, Turks & Caicos, the Worricker trilogy concludes with Salting the Battlefield. Writer/director David Hare takes us back, literally, to where he began gradually, starting the action out in Europe, where former agents and lovers Johnny Worricker (Bill Nighy) and Margot Tyrell (Helena Bonham Carter) are on the run, before swinging the focus back onto England, then London and finally the claustrophobic confines of the spying community and the upper echelons of the UK government. Familiar faces return – a heavily pregnant Felicity Jones as Worricker’s permanently angry estranged daughter Juliette, Saskia Reeves as Anthea Catcheside, the deputy prime minister wondering if her hour might be … Read more

The Dig

Basil on the sofa, Mrs Pretty kneeling on the floor

The Dig re-imagines the events around a discovery so fabulous it needs no re-imagining – the excavation of the Sutton Hoo hoard. First unearthed in the 1930s, and originally thought to be Viking, the hoard turned out to be much older, Anglo Saxon, and eventually yielded up remarkable treasures made of gold, plus examples of everyday household objects that rewrote our understanding of the time, and perhaps most eye-catching of all, a 6th-century ship, buried in a mound as a funeral barque for its owner. You don’t actually learn an awful lot about the actual treasures of Sutton Hoo in The Dig, though the skeletal frame of the part-excavated ship acts as a visual … Read more

Quiz Show

John Turturro, Hank Azaria and Ralph Fiennes in Quiz Show

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 10 September The “Coughing” Major, 2001 On this day in 2001, Charles Ingram, a former major in the British army, won £1,000,000 in the UK TV gameshow Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. But before the payout could be made, accusations were already flying that he’d been tipped off as to the real answer to various questions by two plants in the audience – his wife, Diana, and a friend, Tecwen Whittock – who would cough when the right answer was read out. Ingram did not cough himself, nor was he any longer a major, but tabloid newspapers, preferring a story … Read more


Liv Tylerin Onegin

The world has grown wary of the costume drama since the heyday of Room with a View. To put bums of seats these days Stan Lee has to be involved at some level. Put a girl in a crinoline and a universal “meh” goes up. Even back in 1999 audiences weren’t flocking so readily. Which is a great pity because Onegin is an opulent delight. Directed by Martha Fiennes and featuring swathes of Fiennes siblings and in-laws in one capacity or another, it is worth a look because of its beautiful cinematography alone, and its obsessive attention to period detail. Most commendable of all, though, is its plot, based on a Pushkin poem, … Read more