Underrated: Rob Reiner

Chris Hallam's World View


Rob Reiner has directed some of the best loved films ever made.

He has mastered different genres to the extent that you might not have realised that some of his films were even made by the same person. Who would, after all, assume A Few Good Men was linked to This is Spinal Tap? Or that Misery had anything to do with The Princess Bride? Or even that When Harry Met Sally was directed by the same man as Stand By Me?

Reiner directed them all.

Reiner has a long background in comedy. His father Carl Reiner was a noted US comedy star (now in his nineties) and directed the Steve Martin classic The Man With Two Brains. And like Ron Howard, Rob Reiner was a familiar face to US TV audiences long before he became a director. He was a regular on the long running Seventies US comedy show…

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Book review: Speaking Out by Ed Balls


Honestly. What a missed opportunity. The comic possibilities of a potential title for former Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls were seemingly almost endless.
Here are just a few: Balls Revealed, Balls Exposed, Balls Up, Balls Out, Iron Balls, New Balls Please!, Strictly Come Balls, Golden Balls, Better Ed Than Dead.
Instead, this book published by Hutchinson has the extremely dull title, Speaking Out: Lessons in Life and Politics. One just hopes when the time comes for his wife to reflect on her political career, she is more imaginative.
May I suggest, It Shouldn’t Happen To Yvette?
Perhaps Ed didn’t want to look stupid. He was a serious contender as recently as last year after all. Labour’s defeat and the loss of his own seat were a big personal shock to him. He is probably the most capable post-ear shadow chancellor never to make it to the position of Chancellor himself, along with John Smith.
The book is not in chronological order but linked thematically. He talks frankly about his stammer, the hard years under the brilliant but volatile Gordon Brown, his eventual falling out with Ed Miliband, his support for Norwich City (yawn!) and his running. He has a sense of humour too. Let us not forget his response to George Osborne’s claim in 2012 that the Chancellor had delivered a “Robin Hood Budget”. Balls charged that on the contrary, Osborne “couldn’t give a Friar Tuck.”
A good book then, but what a shame about the title. After all, if he really doesn’t want to look stupid why is he currently appearing on Strictly Come Dancing, attracting more attention than ever before, by making himself look like a total pranny?
As Lord Heseltine once said: it’s not Brown’s. It’s Balls.

Strictly Come Dancing 2016

Blu-ray review: Carol

Chris Hallam's World View

Cate Blanchett plays Carol, a middle aged, middle class American housewife who in the middle of the twentieth century finds herself in the middle of a messy marital breakdown slap bang in the middle of the festive season. Indeed, Carol is in the throes of her Christmas shopping, when she runs into Therese (Mara) a young assistant in a department store. From the outset, it is clear the two have a strong mutual interest in each other, one which extends way beyond the specifications of the model railway set Carol is purchasing for her young daughter. Even today, with different social mores and the existence of mobile phones, such a relationship would encounter a number of obstacles along the way. It is, of course, even harder still in 1952.

Director Todd Haynes has already demonstrated his faculty for recapturing the feel of the Douglas Sirk films of the 1950s, in…

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Book review: Margaret Thatcher: The Authorized Biography. Volume Two Everything She Wants

Chris Hallam's World View

charlesmoore-margaretthatcherThis is the second volume of Charles Moore’s three volume official biography of the first British woman Prime Minister and deals with the middle years of her premiership from the aftermath of her 1982 victory in the Falklands to her third and last election win in June 1987. These were the golden years for the Iron Lady: perhaps this period should be called “the Iron Age”?

Council houses are sold, utilities are privatised and opposition from Michael Foot’s and Neil Kinnock’s Labour, the SDP and the unions is aall crushed underfoot. Thatcher also exploits her ties to US President Reagan to mostly good effect and survives the 1984 Brighton bomb.

Moore is a former Daily Telegraph editor but despite this conservative bias is not always unaware of the lady’s faults. She never knew how to deal with her wayward son Mark, was lucky to survive the Westland Affair, was stubbornly blind…

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Some kings called George

Chris Hallam's World View

This week saw St George’s Day and to celebrate, here’s a quick round up of all the British kings called George…

George I (1714-1727)

German. Born in Germany. Only spoke German. Didn’t like England and spent most of his time in Germany. Buried in Germany.

King_George_I_by_Sir_Godfrey_Kneller,_Bt_(3)George II (1727-1760)

(George I’s son). The last king to lead his men into battle. Died on the toilet, like that other king, Elvis.

George_IIGeorge III (1760-1820)

(George II’ s grandson). The longest reigning British king (sixty years) although did not reign  for as long as his granddaughter Victoria (63 years) or her own great great granddaughter Elizabeth II, although he would not have not have known that as he was a) mad and b) dead. Sometimes just called “King George” so as not to confuse Americans.

King_George_III_by_Sir_William_BeecheyGeorge IV (1820-1830)

(George III’s son). Regent first. Fat, lazy and lecherous rather like Henry VIII, Edward VII or…

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Book review: May We Be Forgiven by AM Homes

Chris Hallam's World View


Tender hearted readers be warned: AM Homes‘s latest book opens with a series of dramatic events unveiled at such a breathless pace that you might feel you cannot keep up.

Henry is the narrator and the brother of George, a successful TV executive who Henry is well aware has a violent streak. Henry thus knows he is taking a risk kissing George’s wife. He takes even more of a risk when he subsequently beds her while George is away, George having killed two people in his car and been sectioned. Unfortunately, George escapes and on finding the two in bed together bashes his wife’s head in with a lamp. Henry escapes unharmed (at least physically). All of this occurs within the first fifteen pages of this 500 page novel.

Mercifully, the pace slows down after that and indeed as with Homes’s earlier This Book Will Save Your Life, relatively…

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DVD review: The Honourable Woman

Chris Hallam's World View

Hon Woman

DVD review: The Honourable Woman
BBC Worldwide
When not laying into any of our other more successful institutions such as the National Health Service or our history of successful gun control, the dimmer elements of the British right wing often like to attack the BBC. Why can’t be as impartial and balanced as something like The Sun or The Daily Mail they ask? Sometimes they attack it for declining standards.
And guess what? Just as they are generally wrong about everything from the brilliance of Michael Gove to their dislike of the working classes, they are wrong about this too. Just when you think they might be right (perhaps during the preamble to an episode of Strictly Come Dancing), something like The Honourable Woman comes along and reminds everyone how great TV can be on the BBC.
Make no mistake: The Honourable Woman is serious high quality stuff. A gripping…

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Crabb Hopes To “Cure” Remain Voters

Chris Hallam's World View

Defeated Tory leadership hopeful Stephen Crabb has expressed his belief that he can “cure” Remain voters of their pro-EU tendencies.

“Many Pro-Remain voters have been deeply unhappy since the Brexit result,” says the former Work and Pensions Secretary. “First, they swallowed all that Project Fear nonsense about the pound plummeting and there being political and social turmoil should the electorate vote to Leave. Now they just whinge constantly and post endless links about holding a second referendum on Facebook.”

Mr. Crabb who ran for the party leadership under the slogan, “Crouching tiger, hidden Crabb” also expressed his controversial view that far from being genetically predetermined, voting Remain was a clear lifestyle choice like reading The Observer or ordering a veggie box. He hopes that a cure treatment can be offered to Remainers: “The irony is that far from the stereotypical view of pro-Europeans being happy or gay people, many actually…

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Book review: American Maelstrom

Chris Hallam's World View

1968:  Senator Robert Kennedy speaking at an election rally.  (Photo by Harry Benson/Express/Getty Images) 1968: Senator Robert Kennedy speaking at an election rally. (Photo by Harry Benson/Express/Getty Images)

1968 was a US presidential election year like no other, more violent, traumatic and divisive than any before or since.
The previous election in 1964 had seen President Lyndon B Johnson defeat his rather alarming opponent Senator Barry Goldwater by a record margin. But this already seemed like a distant memory by the start of 1968 as the United States was reeling from an increased breakdown in law and order and mounting division over the increasingly bloody quagmire in Vietnam. LBJ seemed exhausted, his ambitious and admirable Great Society programme sidelined forever by the escalating war,
Despite this, the president (who was eligible for one more term, having served the fourteen remaining months of John F Kennedy’s remaining term, plus one of his own) was still generally expected to win.
But shock followed shock in 1968…

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British Public Take BFJ To Their Hearts

Chris Hallam's World View


People all over the land have been thrilling to the antics of the huge lumbering giant BFJ otherwise known as Boris Fucking Johnson.

“I love how he uses funny long words which nobody really understands, like rambunctious and flibbertigibbet,” says Colin, 66, from Kent. “I also like how he travels to lots of different countries all around the world really fast.”

Miranda, 44, from Chelsea, also enjoys Boris Fucking Johnson’s adventures. “He’s always saying the wrong thing!” she laughs. “He blows dreams into people’s ears. Mainly dreams about the UK benefiting economically from the European Union.”

Boris Fucking Johnson has definitely not been seen enticing young women out of their windows as some had claimed.

Less popular recent characters from the same stable include George Osborne’s Marvellous Economic Medicine and The Fantastic Dr. Liam Fox.

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