Check out “The True Little Tramp” on the Norwich Film Fest

Greetings HH followers – I know I’ve slightly neglected you all recently, but I have been busy working on my new film on 100 years of Charlie Chaplin’s Little Tramp. Get excited. I have also written a not-insubstantial article on the subject for the Norwich Film Festival, which you can view by clicking the taster-text below, if it takes your fancy. It not only features an actual illustration by me (Jack of all trades etc), but also outlines what you’ll see in the film – so check it out.

From culturally illiterate education minister Michael Gove’s humourless panning of comedy classic Blackadder Goes Forth, to the banal, Buzzfeed-esque ten point summary of the war by BBC historian Dan Snow (great-great-grandson of war-time Prime Minister Lloyd George) – there has been a concerted effort to reinvent the horrors of WW1’s mechanised conflict as not only necessary, but actually a bit of a lark.

Caught recently in the crossfire of this ideological conflict, having characteristically stumbled into a tricky situation not of his making, is Charlie Chaplin’s Little Tramp – who reached his own historical landmark last month. The beloved character, who first appeared on screens in February 1914, is no stranger to this historical process himself of course. The Tramp, once revered by the poor and reviled by the rich as a figure of rebellion, has become so shrouded in historical mystification that he can be warmly remembered by the very people he was once a statement against. Even the Daily Mail, who backed the Nazis around the time of Chaplin’s anti-fascist classic The Great Dictator (1940) now fondly remember the Tramp’s antics, in an ideological shift akin to Royalists 100 years from now warmly recalling that rascal Frankie Boyle’s jokes about the Queen’s haunted vagina!

Yet even now there is something troublesome about the man in the bowler hat, big shoes and baggy trousers – something that remains unreconciled with dominant accounts of history, which disturbs the rich and powerful. This is where Chaplin’s legacy enters the war debate...

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Check out the Women’s Film and Television History blog

My review of The Song of the Shirt (1970) and many other interesting reads await on the Women’s Film and Television History blog, which you can visit here (or by clicking the sample text to my review below). It’s a site well worth a look for a more academic exploration of cinema and gender.

The Song of the Shirt poster

At first glance, The Song of the Shirt (Clayton and Curling, 1979) is hard to enjoy. The opening consists of migraine-inducing overlapping texts; squawking free-form clarinets, and jumbled quick-fire quotes. It seems initially that this attempt to deconstruct the grand narratives of liberal history, and reform the component parts into a radical critique, lacks any kind of structural coherence. However, it soon emerges that this is actually a brilliant foreshadowing of the structure of the film. Eventually, out of the chaos comes a brilliantly orchestrated profundity...”

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Check out “Selling The North” on the Norwich Film Festival!

My new feature article for the Norwich Film Festival has gone live. It regards the exploitation of the myth of the Southerner in the light of two of this year’s Oscar contenders. It’s got slander, abuse, and KFC in it, so why not go check it out by clicking the sample text below, ya’ll?

Or else there will be Cage-based consequences…

Over the course of the 150 years since the American Civil War, Southern Americans have been the go-to group when it comes to a caricature everyone can get behind giving a good kicking. In the fallout of the war, the hillbilly character originated from Northern news writers, as a kind of primitive parallel to the ‘civilising’ process of industrialisation sweeping the country in the second half of the 1800s. The South had been left in ruin after the war, economically crippled and hit by bad harvests – and the ordinary folk there were subsequently painted as a primitive embarrassment. At the time America’s leaders were becoming obsessed with carving out a new image in the eyes of the world, and the poor, ‘ignorant’, ‘lazy’ South didn’t fit with their ambitions to expand the market empires they thrived from. One example to sum up this frustration, featured in Rich Hall’s brilliant BBC film The Dirty South (2010), comes from The Baltimore Sun in 1912, who suggested the only two remedies to such folk were “education and extermination.” Yikes – with an attitude like that if he’d been born a century later the writer could’ve landed a career in the ATOS PR department!

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Love and Chaos: A Belated Review of Monsters

As February 14th’s sickeningly saccharine celebration of ‘wuv’ approaches with all the grim anticipation of a trip to the gallows, it’s a depressing time to be film enthusiast. With Hollywood’s unobtainable, absurd and often psychotic assertion of what “true love” means, even if you aren’t adrift in a sea of solitude, cinematic relationships might as well be alien pornography. Perhaps then it’s no surprise that one of the most beautifully honest depictions of a human relationship this decade comes from a garage film about extra-terrestrial mating rituals.

  Continue reading

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Walking backwards: Mainstream cinema and Mandela’s legacy

Back in July, I wrote excitedly for Hollywood Hegemony in anticipation of the upcoming screen-adaptation of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. The trailer seemed to suggest not only a loyalty to Nelson Mandela’s philosophy, but during a summer of reactionary assault across the globe, an understanding of the broader importance of his legacy. Half a year later, having actually seen it, I can only summarise by saying they ruined a brilliant trailer with a third rate biopic.

Fittingly for a man who has essentially been hollowed out and used as a neo-liberal sock-puppet, Mandela appears quite dead behind the eyes here.

Continue reading

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Check out “Still In Chains” on the Norwich Film Fest Blog

I’ve written a 1500 word feature on the amazing “12 Years a Slave”, and the Hollywood white-washing on slavery that dominates the rest of the industry. I’ve been working on material regarding this subject for over a year now, hopefully it does such an important issue justice. You can see the whole article on the Norwich Film Festival blog by clicking the linked sample-text below.

There are few crimes in human history that are as sickening, depraved and loathsome as slavery. Countless millions lived, worked and died in bondage, generation after generation. Over 150 years after its abolition in the United States, its poisonous legacy can still be felt – even with a black President impotently pontificating from the Whitehouse, like so many white men before him. Why then, is a subject that has affected so many lives, so difficult for American film-makers to address adequately?

There is, it seems, something about the subject that simply doesn’t fit with the grand ideological narrative modern Hollywood is accustomed to. The contradiction in terms of the land of individual liberty being built on the bloodied, scarred backs of millions in bondage seems to flummox even the most well-heeled auteur.  For decades US cinema has wrestled unsuccessfully with the issue, and has usually fallen back on two staple responses. The choice is traditionally between a complete air-brushing (best exemplified by the Western genre); or a mawkish faux-history that milks liberal guilt during award season – which I shall here name ‘The Spielberg technique’.

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And a Happy New Year

A whole year old already – Hollywood Hegemony wishes all of it’s readers the happiest of new years! And as a special present to help celebrate, here’s a film we actually made ourselves – analysing video games in the same way as Hollywood. The only problem is, with something this good kick-starting 2014, it can only be downhill from here…

Now as seen on the Counterfire website.

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Why Now? The Importance of Carrie 2013

From the slut-walk movement to anti-rape protests in India, to the cover up of an alleged rape by a UK socialist party, the subjugation of women clearly remains one of the deepest rifts in society. In the wake of scandals, protests and movements, film needed a hero to reflect the fight against oppression and sexism. In 2013 one emerged from an unexpected place. Enter the revived figure of “villain” Carrie White in Kimberley Pierce’s thought-provoking remake.

Shot for shot, but something has changed…

Continue reading

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Check Out “The Song of the Shirt” via Auteuse Theory

I first wrote for Auteuse Theory (a blog about female film-makers) a few months ago about a DVD that cost £200 a pop. For my second article, I went all the way to London to bring back word of a forgotten gem, Sue Clayton’s The Song of the Shirt (1979). Ain’t I just the most committed film-nut ever? You can read the full article (and all the other great stuff on there) by clicking the linked extract below:

At first glance, The Song of the Shirt is hard to enjoy. The opening consists of migraine-inducing overlapping texts; squawking free-form clarinets, and jumbled quick-fire quotes. It seems initially that this attempt to deconstruct the grand narratives of liberal history, and reform the component parts into a radical critique, lacks any kind of structural coherence. However, it soon emerges that this actually a brilliant foreshadowing of the structure of the film. Eventually, out of the chaos comes a beautifully orchestrated profundity.

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Check out “A Pervert’s Guide to Slavoj Žižek”

I have written another repulsive, gushing love letter to Slavoj Žižek to review his new film, which you can now read on the Norwich Film Festival blog. Check it out in full by clicking here… or on the linking sample paragraph below. 


Speaking frankly, as is his custom, Slavoj Žižek said in a 2011 Guardian interview, “most of the left hates me even though I am supposed to be one of the world’s leading communist intellectuals.” Two years on, with the DVD release of The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology, the shape of the British left might be changing (the SWP who fiercely criticised him for his words on an old Russian proverb regarding the horrors of rape, have effectively collapsed because of their actions regarding rape accusations in their own party) but the collective disdain remains. And whilst of course, we should always be willing to have conversations with even the loftiest of figures when they take problematic lines on any subject, there is something opportunistic about the way the orthodox left have approached this in writing off Žižek and his methods entirely.

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