Dune: Part Two

Close-up of Paul

Let’s get straight to the verdict. Dune: Part Two is visually spectacular but dramatically inert, the good stuff attributable to its remarkable director Denis Villeneuve, the bad stuff down to the writer of the original novel/doorstop, Frank Herbert. This is not going to be how everyone sees it, of course, what sort of a world would that be? But if you’re one of the people who picked up Herbert’s original Dune at some point only eventually to put/fling it down again after tiring of the relentless one-thing-after-anotherness of it (see also Tolkien) the movie won’t offer much that the book didn’t, its retina-cleansing visuals to one side. It picks up right where Part … Read more


Noodle and Wonka out walking

Wonka the origin story, with Timothée Chalamet the chocolatier of every child’s fantasy, in a movie aimed straight at those with a sweet tooth and a love of whimsy. Lacking edge, stakes, call them what you will, it’s one for lovers of the soft centre. So, right, yes, story – Wonka arrives in somewhereland (England?) in ye olden times on a boat, with a pocketful of sovereigns and A Hatful of Dreams (first of the Neil Hannon songs), loses all his money to various urchins and mountebanks, and winds up in the clutches of a Mrs Scrubitt (Olivia Colman) and right-hand man Bleacher (Tom Davis), trapped by a contract he too readily signs, … Read more

The French Dispatch

Bill Murray as the editor of the Dispatch

A middle finger to the haters, The French Dispatch finds an unrepentant Wes Anderson doubling down on the whimsy and pastiche of films like The Grand Budapest Hotel or The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. There’s more. An artist’s statement, done early on in Owen Wilson’s laconic voiceover, vouchsafes that “All grand beauties withhold their deepest secrets.” Secrets? Deepest? Anderson is all surface, surely? Anyhow, on to the Dispatch, which is an American magazine/supplement of New Yorker stripe run in the old way – a liberal institution headed by a steely eccentric (played by Bill Murray), never short of money and with enough space to contain at least one writer who doesn’t write, … Read more


Paul Atreides with his mother, Lady Jessica

“Dreams are messages from the deep,” it says right up at the front of Denis Villeneuve’s 2021 adaptation of Dune, possibly a nod to David Lynch, whose hazy 1984 version crashed and burned in spectacular, almost sci-fi fashion. Other nods – the design of the stillsuits and the sandworms for instance – also hark back to Lynch, a magnanimous gesture on the part of Villeneuve who, after Arrival and Bladerunner 2049, has nothing to prove in the realm of sci-fi. Lynch was being pulled in two directions when he was making his version of Frank Herbert’s novel. He wanted to make a David Lynch film, all dreamy and out there. But there was … Read more