Mensch Sein  Billy Wilder – The Hollywood Émigré as Outsider   A film opens with a corpse, two bullets in the back and one in the stomach, floating face down in the swimming pool of a faded movie star – and the audience is laughing. Two musicians, Joe and Jerry, escape the mob by joining […]

My text from the BOI debate 2015 (yes, the one with Milo) Essay von Maren Thom I was asked for the panel on ‘The Battle over Geek Culture’ at the Battle of Ideas to think about what is new about today’s vehement fights over all things nerdy. I am a film academic and a person […]

In honour of the release of Todd Solondz’s new film Wiener-Dog today I thought I would dig up my old piece on the man and his films. I wrote this in 2003, a young precocious undergraduate, full of admiration for Solondz. I am still in love  with his films although I hope my English and my ideas have become a […]

 Hollywood Fact: In 1990 actress Winona Ryder shot to fame when she invented Johnny Depp. At the time she said in an interview, “It happened by accident when I was working on a story with Tim Burton. I made this sort of acting dummy to improvise with, and Tim said it would be a great story for a […]

 Hollywood Fact: In the original script of Moonrise Kingdom (2012) Jason Schwartzman’s character Cousin Ben was originally played by famous goat actor Billy Joe Henderson. After relentlessly screen testing both actors for sufficient whimsicalness Henderson got the part. However, two weeks into the shoot director Wes Anderson was fed up with Henderson not learning his lines and […]

Bernie Sanders is always described as a socialist in the US media which I found a bit bewildering. But they then add the qualifier ‘American’ socialist and this makes sense because I now understand it to be like, what I call, American Sex. I came across American Sex the first time in the films of […]

  This is something of a rant but I just read the blurb of the new production of the Threepenny Opera at the National Theatre – it left me anxious. Threepenny Opera is my favourite play. Since I was little I have seen roughly 25 different productions. The last one I saw was at Christmas […]

Hollywood Fact: When shooting the film The Killers in 1946, director  Robert Siodmak, who was German, thought that Burt Lancaster’s character ‘the Swede’ was based on the vegetable. It was not until after he made Lancaster, and co-star Ava Gardner, undertake ‘character work’ on the beach that his misunderstanding was discovered.   Hollywood Fact: Before James Dean could afford to […]

Hollywood Fact: Before becoming a versatile actor in the movies Jake Gyllenhaal was a celebrated ventriloquist artist. His puppet was called Sir Archibald Suspender, impoverished gentry and a sarcastic commentator of current events. Hollywood Fact: Gregory Peck was actually a character played by dog actor Macintosh who wore a latex rubber suit for 47 years. […]

At the Battle of Ideas in October 2013 I took part in the balloon debate ‘What’s the best film ever?’, when I argued the case for People on Sunday. People on Sunday did not win – the vote went to The Third Man. I discovered that day that an English audience would not vote for […]