A recap of events in the landmark Gwyneth Paltrow trial

 It's been a wild few days or perhaps even weeks, who's to say, in the landmark trial opposing Gwyneth Paltrow to a man or woman alleging that something happened to do with skiing. The court case could have huge implications for [??]. A quick recap of the crazy events we simply can't get enough of is in order.  First off, the contention itself. Accounts differ as to what actually went down on that fateful morning or afternoon in Aspen, the Alps or possibly even Japan, why not. The Emma actor - during a skiing holiday with her children, at least one of whom is called Apple - was skiing, or on a chairlift maybe, when some guy alleges that, I want to say, they collided? Causing him to have pain? Paltrow, for her part, denies this version of events, counter-alleging that, I mean, what the fuck can you counter-allege to that, I dunno, that they didn't in fact bump into each other or something. At stake is, probably, the guy's hospital bill.  The actor said many funny an

On Close, or Paradise Lost

I’ve become annoyed lately with people asserting that such and such a film, or book, or television show “broke” them. Hyperbole is the internet’s shared language, of course, and we all fall victim to it: films “destroyed” or “ruined” us; we were “in pieces” at the end. Such phrases are so common as to have become practically meaningless - besides which, the fact that someone cried at a film tells me almost nothing about that film if I do not know the person well; perhaps they cry easy, who’s to say? Crying is an honest reaction, but it is not a critical one: it’s easier to point to your tears than articulate an intellectual position. It feels almost like there is indulgence there; we say that a film devastated us, because in a cultural landscape where so much washes over us, we are at pains to show that our emotions are still intact; we are relieved to find ourselves still vulnerable, and readily tell others about our weeping.  But Close, the new film by Lukas Dhont, broke me. It’s the

Learning to count

Last week in a cafe, as I was having lunch with a friend, a couple sat at the table beside us with their baby, whereupon the infant began to stare and stare at me, looking away and then looking back over and smiling, and gurgling, and laughing - and I, naturally, being a person of immense dignity, responded by courting the baby's full attention to the max, grinning and making faces and playing peekaboo behind my hands. Babies and children tend to like me, and I like them back: if I'm at a wedding I'll spend a good long time cuddling any attendant babies rather than making conversation with besuited elders; and if your small child should challenge me to a race in the park, of a fine summer's day, you can bet your last penny I'll lead from the front and then stage a pratfall on the final lap. My dad has five younger siblings, most of whom had children as I was growing up, and so throughout the 80s and 90s there was always a succession of tiny cousins to hold and make

Thoughts on The French Dispatch

 I saw an infuriating tweet last week that I can't find anymore, which said (and I'm obviously paraphrasing, since I can no longer find this tweet): "Hating on Wes Anderson is completely over. If you hate Wes Anderson, good news: you won. Every American film now looks exactly the same." It's a worthy sentiment in defence of a fine cinema stylist - but bogus, since it wasn't Anderson-haters who won the battle for cinema, but Anderson-ignorers; everybody else lost. That we now find ourselves in a landscape where many films are visually monotonous is attributable mostly to the Disney monopoly and in part to the rise of Netflix, which has contributed to squeezing out a good few auteurs, and creating a recognisable 'film-as-content' aesthetic, where photography, decoration, blocking, design don't detract from an easily managed storyline that you can half-watch while texting.  But this perception of Anderson as representing the last stand of a certain ty

An Anniversary

This week I have decided to mark an anniversary that means a great deal to me, and practically nothing to anyone else: 25 years ago this week, when I was 15 (I will save you the maths: I am now exactly 30 years old), a film came out in which I held the title role. It was a little, eccentric film - an adaptation, in French, of Henry James's short story 'The Pupil' - and it emerged to somewhat polite reviews, performed middlingly at the French box office for a few weeks, then disappeared from screens entirely. As far as I'm aware it never had an international release of any sort, meaning that its viewership is still mostly confined to a small bubble of people who caught it on screens in 1996 or on one of its spells on television in the two or three years that followed. (There are also, it seems, a small number of paedos or paedo-adjacent people who still watch it and share it online) For a while though - well, throughout the whole of 1996, as we shot the movie in February

How wild swimming helped me come to terms with my past

In November of 2019 I got caught in a current that swept me out to sea, in the icy waters of the channel at Cayeux-sur-Mer in Picardy. To begin with I fought back, even taking a certain pleasure in pitting my body against the sea's relentless churn, but eventually realised I was no match for the great swell that surrounded me, and let my body drift along, looking back towards the beach's pearlescent grey shingle in the distance, and the cheerful row of beach huts beyond the boardwalk. I checked myself for signs of fear: no palpitations, no shiver; my mind was a peaceful void and I felt, as did the poet Giuseppe Ungaretti before me in his poem 'Rivers', at one with water and the world. In that instant, finally, I was able to forget the agonised screams of the customers I had air-rifled to death in my local post office the year before.   Perhaps I should skip back a little. How did I get here? Was I always destined to become an adept of wild swimming?  My chief memory of

Text of my letter resigning my Labour membership

 I wish to leave Labour, in protest at what I see as the lack of direction in the party, the lack of communication, of cut-through to the electorate, and more importantly the apparent lack of any leftwing political convictions with which to oppose Tory misrule. How can we be trailing so badly in the polls afters years of austerity, over 120,000 dead of Covid, Brexit, Grenfell, the Windrush scandal, stealth privatisation of the NHS, increased child poverty - and what now seems to be the next Tory scandal, the cronyism & corruption of government. Why is Labour out of step with public opinion on corporate tax? Why are we concentrating wholesale on a wretched campaign to renew patriotism, when this will increase already rampant nationalism? I also believe that the party's authoritarian streak, its big talk on cannabis and policing, errs towards dogwhistle racism which is wrong and which will do us no favours.  Finally, our leader, Keir Starmer, appears to lack the moral compass we