This is an example of the state interfering with everyday life.
I’m a smoker. I have been for the last five years. I used to smoke socially at the start when I was a heavy clubber and drinker - what you would describe as social smoking. In recent years, though, it has grown into something of a habit. I’m now smoking in my back garden, on my walks when I’m trying to lose weight and specifically outside pubs and bars when I’m sipping my diet coke.
As we know from recent news, smoking outdoors in pubs and bars is going to become increasingly more difficult. Five councils in England including Northumberland, Durham, North Tyneside, Newcastle and City of Manchester have all banned smoking on stretches of the pavement where pubs, bars and clubs put out tables. Oxfordshire is planning to follow suite and also Gateshead.
I can certainly see the cause of the argument. Smoking is the biggest cause of lung cancer and heart disease and passive smoking increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. You certainly wouldn’t want a cute little baby to be inhaling all those fumes that come out of a cigarette butt. Not to mention it stinks like Cruella De Vill leather and cigarette butts in my back garden make an almighty mess.
When or if I have kids, I would certainly discourage them to smoke just like my dad and mum discourage me. My mum smoked at university and my dad has now switched to eco-vapes, but still smokes the odd fag with me in the back garden.
What I am wholly against is the idea of banning smoking outdoors. I know that smoking indoors was banned in 2006. That was for the better as there are babies and children inside pubs and the whole place stinks and there were risks of fires. Outdoors, yes, you get babies and kids and it still stinks in the ash trays, but wouldn’t it be better to impose a smoking corner in a pub for a smoker to light up their cigarette away from the crowds of others and the prams so they don’t passively smoke?
You see, smoking is an issue of choice. Just like it’s one thing telling people a film is morally reprehensible and bankrupt and trashing it fair n’ square. It is a mark of totalitarianist governance to actively stop people from seeing it. Why? Because people should have the choice of what they watch or don’t watch.
It’s what women having abortions have to make. I can encourage a woman to look at other options, but the choice always has to be with the woman as it is her body she’s going to have to carry that baby in. Again. Look at same-sex marriage. That’s the choice of two gay men or women choosing to marry. They should have as much of a right to that choice as straight people do when they choose to marry.
We need to look at smoking outdoors the same way. By banning it, you would removing the right and choice to smoke. It’s an example of the state infringing on personal choice and opinion. That’s the mark of a nanny state or a totalitarian government. We should be listening to the government telling us smoking kills, but we shouldn’t be adhering to their plans to intervene and remove our everyday right to smoke. That’s an example of government growing too big.
*Keir Starmer’s Life Stories (ITV1) - *
Well, wasn’t Keir Starmer’s interview with Piers Morgan such a bloody (tissue, tissue) moanathon? He spent the whole thing doing his trademark tuck-his-chin into his chest schtick and wept like a petutelent toddler about his mummy and daddy. Piers Morgan, clearly a right winger, clearly spent the whole affair with a sense of smugness that the Tories are doing so well. It’s no wonder Hartlepool went to them considering Keir is such a charisma vacuum.
This interview was supposed to humanise Labour’s robotic text speech leader who has spent the majority of his last 12 months as leader criticizing Boris without articulating a clear vision for the country. Instead it became merely a space for Keir to mouth off about his family affairs which frankly have no mainstream appeal. He should’ve been talking about the state of the NHS, the vaccine rollout and how we’re going to revitalize the economy. Not sobbing about mummy.
Jeremy Clarkson last week in his Sunday Times column branded Keir a wimp and said bottling up his own feelings never did him any harm. They’ve never done me any harm either - in fact, a kick up the backside and someone telling me “man up or I’ll kick you out” was the reason I’m no longer drinking at 6 in the morning. Nope. Keir should man up too and stop sobbing on national television. This interview with Piers didn’t humanise the charisma-free Opposition Leader, it dehumanized him - made him look like a right old wimp.
I had found it a bit of a slow-burner with too much time spent on subplots about Kate Winslet and Guy Pearce, but the opening of this finale with Kate with a gun at the waterfall was topnotch TV - maiden hour ‘Broadchurch’-level stuff. It was unfortunate that the rest of the episode was such a damp squib.
It was revealed that Ryan - the little boy son of Mare’s friend Lori - was the killer in what must be the worst reveal of a killer since they crowned Bran Stark king. Ryan was so weedy and weak and insignificant. You could hardly call him serial killer material. The episode then ended with Mare climbing into a loft...Awards for most uninspiring ending are in order.
Kate Winslet has given her all to this series and rightfully so - she’s a brilliant actress, arguably our best working. But this fell short of the best whodunnits like ‘The Killing’ and ‘The Missing’ despite some stunning Scandi-worthy scenery. Boys don’t make for good serial killers...
It’s one of the hottest days of the year and it’s the height of summer. There’s beds of plants at the community garden that go on for miles and areas that used to be just cold mud in winter are now littered with big weeds. That’s the joy of gardening- - you never know where, what or when you grow things.
This Friday we were invited to the annual community gardens BBQ. They had a small event like this back at Christmas, but we were under Tier 3 so could only have a group of about 6. With no lockdown now, there are swarms of volunteers descending on this green oasis; varying of ages from light and handsome at 23 like me to older and not necessarily wiser at 70. The big tandoor oven was out, as were the burgers and the kebabs. Along with a whole host of plant-based vegan options which I just can’t understand or sympathise with.
The topic of the conversation was decidedly unpolitical. We don’t tend to talk politics since she’s a leftie (as are most of the other guys here at the gardens - a load of wishy washy liberals who enjoy hugging trees) and I’m a rabid right winger. It’s ok, I’m not biased, they can hug as many trees as they like.
I talked about how I longed for the return of Jeremy Clarkson - much to her and another volunteer’s dislike. They branded him a “right wing nutjob”. I complain there’s not enough righties at the BBC. Even Andrew Neil has gone off to host a new right wing news channel called GB News.
‘Sex and the City’ and her misguided love for it does makes its way into the conversation. I love to torment her about how crap it is and she delights in telling me “you’re not the target audience”. That’s not an excuse for how crap it is, love.
Then there’s the talk about her global travels. Like me, she’s pretty well-travelled, having been to Laos which is in one of my favourite parts of the world. No one speaks English there, though, and it’s a pretty underdeveloped country - a kind of forgotten land lodged between Vietnam and Thailand. My mum and my sister went there to get my sister’s visa so they could stay in Thailand. They said it was a quiet place with lots of crocodiles.
The BBQ at the gardens was a great way to end the hottest day of the year. I’ll be back there volunteering tomorrow.
12A, 90 Mins
She discovers he has a secret family across the channel - a son named Solomon who is the product of her husband's affair. First thing to say about the movie is that Joanna Scanlan is superb. She really cuts to the heart of what it means to be a white Muslim woman and her relationship with Solomon is the beating heart of the film which touches on the stigma and trauma of mixed marriage.
The scenery is stunning too. I love the white cliffs of Dover and Calais which has been in the news a lot lately in regards to the refugee crisis. But it's Scanlan's performance that cuts the meatiest slice - she calls out to any individual of a minority ethnicity living in a majority world - only in this case the majority isn't white, the minority is...
'After Love' is in cinemas now.
I’ve never had hay fever. Not at least until two summers ago when we first moved into our new house. The weather was f**kin’ hot and there was a field opposing our back garden which meant the pollen count was astronomically high. Within minutes, I was sniffling, snortling and cough-sneezing like a mating fox. I could barely see because my eyes were all bloodshot and crimson red - like the zombies in that pandemic horror movie from last year - ‘Sea Fever’ (2020). I was a metaphorical panic attack!
This year we thought we’d missed it - hay fever season I mean. The sun wasn’t as scorching and it rained heavily during the month of May. That was traditionally the time when my hay fever has been at its worst. I can remember going for a walk along the Hook in Lady Bay and me crying like Kate Winslet giving awards speeches because pollen was lodged in my lungs. All that seemed to have evaporated this summer - until my placement at Rushcliffe Country Park.
The placement has been generally terrific. I love all the new skills in gardening, hammering and cleaning out s**t bags. It’s given me a passion for the Great British Outdoors. That was all before this past week which has been as much of a rabid nightmare as when Johnny Depp was swallowed by a bed in ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ (1984).
Monday started as normal. I rolled up to the visitor centre in my bright red t-shirt and work trousers. The weather was bloody glorious - ice cream weather - and there were lots of pretty birds out and about. The first task of the day was the usual - topping up the bird feed bags with new bird seed. This is an indoor job that doesn’t require raking, hoeing and cleaning s**t bags. It’s pretty mundane, but then again isn’t so much of everyday life?
My hay fever had heightened over the weekend which was 25 degrees. I came prepared therefore with a very unmanly flowery mask not to protect myself from covid, but from the pollen problem. I wore it indoors as I hoisted up the bin bags with bird feed for the kids to take and feed the birds. Very glamorous stockings I know, but an essential item.
From there, it was all downhill. Despite the mask, the sniffling started. It was the nose that got me first - streaming like green fungus. Then the eyes with their conundrum of watery monsters. And then the coughs and sneezes... The bloody coughs and sneezes. I was a walking handkerchief.
In the evening, I had an appointment with a social worker. She’s a very nice woman who does everything she can to support me. Sadly I couldn’t concentrate on a word she was saying cos all I could hear was me going ATCHOO! ATCHOO! ATCHOO! It might as well have been on a remix!
12A, 113 Mins
'Dream Horse' is the true story of the Welsh race horse Dream Alliance who went on to win the Welsh Grand National. Toni Colette is the co-op worker who bred him from a foal and Damian Lewis is the gambling junkie who bet all his savings on this wonderful horse.
The movie is set in Wales and is full of predicatably Welsh optimism such as when they sit in a disused club and sip pints and play cards and bet on what they should call the new equine. I enjoyed it for that.
Toni Colette is reliably good in the lead and Damian Lewis a little bit bettter - I love his ginger hair and his piercing blye eyes and my mum does too! But the main star is Dream the horse. I cried when he broke his leg and cheered when won the Grand National. The racing scenes are typically edge-of-your-seat too - fast and nail-biting. This is exactly how a horse movie should be - a dose of feelgood equine therapy.
'Dream Horse' is in cinemas now.
12A, 96 Mins
We've seen dementia crop up in a lot of films recently. In 'Relic'. In 'The Roads Not Taken'. In 'Falling'. In the upcoming 'Supernova'. But rarely with this much realism and passion. Anthony Hopkins lives, breathes and s**ts like a man with Alzheimer's - in the hallucinations, in the fits of abusive behaviour and the forgetting of his own daughter.
Let's be honest, it's a bit safe and Oscar-bait, but Hopkins socks it home. It the best performance of his career and better than Chadwick's I'm sorry to say.
'The Father' is in cinemas June 11th.
‘A Quiet Place: Part II’ was the final straw. I had to get it shaved. So down I headed to the local Turkish barber’s where a good-looking bloke from Kurdistan was trimming another handsome bloke’s moustache. There were about 5 boys in the queue ahead of me and I was just sitting there like a wild old hermit shuffling through his free-free zone.
The queue was too big and so I ditched my plans for this barber. I headed to another Turkish barber’s and thankfully it wasn’t rammed. Another good-looking bloke in a tight shirt took me under his wing. He was quite surprised that I wanted shaving with a clipper and not a cut-throat razor. I guess it’s the wimp’s way out - not the hard, macho way of shaving your beard and monobrow.
He complied, however, and shaved it all off in a matter of minutes. He told me to cup my lips like a penguin so he could trim around my big, fat gob. All that for just £5 and no additional haircut charge.
I know some women like a man with a bit of facial hair - it makes them look rugged and macho. But some men just aren’t born to beard. Look at Johnny Depp who's spent most of his middle-aged career trying to cover up his movie star tan with Guy Fawkes goatees.
I was glad to see the back of the beard. It was itchy, it was scratchy and, boy, did it look bad...
15, 100 Mins
The plot picks up where the first film left off. Emily Blunt now has a new baby and a mute daughter - perfect for muffling out sound when there are monsters that "If they hear you, they hunt you". Cillian Muphy is another survivor and friend of John Krasinski's now deceased dad. The family have to now brave the outdoors having survived the events at the house where Emily gave birth in silence.
From here, it's another superb hour of psychological and silent tension - not cheap tricks like jump scares or bogeymen in closets. This movie has an understanding of the mechanics of silent cinema where actions speak louder than words quite literally and the actors have to tell their story through their bodily contortions rather than through their mouths. It makes for superb cinema.
You won't want to be eating popcorn, farting or making noises with your reclining seats during this movie. It requires audiences to behave themselves so much so that one audience member at the screening I was at had to politely tell someone "can you stop talking please?". Very good choice of words. I'd have been much more forceful with my effing and blinding.
And the creatures look fantastic. All rubbery and gloopy and grotesque with clocks chiming in their heads. They look as if the Xenomorph from 'Alien' (1979) and the Fly from David Cronenberg's film of the same name had a baby.
The movie ends with a teaser, like the first, for 'A Quiet Place: Part III'. On the strength of this sequel, I can't wait. It's even better than the first.
'A Quiet Place: Part II' is in cinemas this Friday.
Cinema is back, Margot's got bangs and I met Shane Meadows!
Broadway and Cineworld reopened on May 19th. Broadway has had the best refurbishment - a new cafe bar and box office. I went there to see ‘Rare Beasts’ and couldn’t work out why Billie Piper cast her blonde, big-mouthed self as an eccentric outsider. That’s like casting Lily James as an archaeologist, Meg Ryan as a helicopter pilot and Olivia Wilde as a university lecturer.
Wasn’t this year’s Oscars such a waste of space ? The nominations are good and there were some impressive titles in there - ‘Sound of Metal’, ‘Judas and the Black Messiah’ and ‘Minari’. But any of those should’ve won over the boring and fatuous ‘Nomadland’.
There was no nomination for Rosamund Pike and ‘I Care A Lot’ - the best female performance of the year. And Anthony Hopkins beat Chadwick Boseman - an insult to the dead?
This new haircut looks so cool and sexy and powerful. I wonder whether this is symbolic of a Harley Quinn-shaped rebellious phase of Margot’s career. Badass Margot, anyone? PWHHOOR!
Vivien Leigh’s letters
Lisa Stead, a film studies lecturer who wrote the book, conducted the first analysis of Leigh’s letters to Joyce Attwood (a close friend of Vivien’s). While most stars of that era engaged in elements of correspondence with supporters, these letters “go beyond polite and turn into a confessional space”.
Stead said “my impression from a lot of these letters is what Vivien enjoyed in talking to relative nobodies was the chance to be desperately personal without risk”. “There was no risk that that would ever find its way into public discourse” and that Leigh’s other letters to fans in the UK, Europe and America were not nearly as personal.
I would certainly have loved a letter from Vivien Leigh. I think my heart would’ve skipped a beat and I’d be swooning like a schoolgirl about to faint…
Meeting Shane Meadows
I got two quotes from one of the managers and one of the team members. It’s a terrific cinema - I love the 80s decor and the reclining seats, perfect for leaning back and going to sleep during a really bad film. I got free coke and popcorn too.
But the big highlight of the night was meeting Nottingham-based filmmaker Shane Meadows - director of ‘This is England’ (2006) and ‘Dead Man’s Shoes’ (2004). He was there to officially open the cinema and they screened his 2012 film ‘Somerstown’ as the opening film.
I got a quote from him too. He said “both my kids watched my film for the first time”. He was there with his two boys. I even got a picture with him and it’s now my profile pic. Yipee!
Meet Roshan Chandy
Freelance film critic, journalist and writer based in Nottingham, UK. Specialises in cinema.
Roshan's Top 5 Films of the Week
2. Cruella (in cinemas)
3. After Love (in cinemas)
4. Dream Horse (in cinemas)
5. Frankie (in cinemas)
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