Blonde

Blonde has been described in some quarters as a horror story. It’s not, not remotely. It is, though, the saddest film ever laid before an audience, a sadness that is so wide and deep and endless it’s possible to drown in it.

The Netflix film belongs wholly to Ana de Armas who blazes with such intense light in every scene, almost every shot, with an intensity that makes it impossible to look away.

Her performance as the receptacle of that sadness captures heart-breaking layers and I would think an Oscar nomination has already been inked in.

But here’s the thing: despite what the publicity material says, it’s not a film about Marilyn Monroe. It’s a story about a symbol that just happens to resemble Norma Jean and her life. It’s there in the personality free title, in writer/director Andrew Dominik’s stylistic tics and flourishes which distance the work from real life and announce that we are not watching human beings here. And it’s in de Armas’ performance, where she plays the symbol that people have come to recognise when they hear the name Marilyn.

The script makes no attempt to capture the essence of the real-life Norma Jean, the humour, the sharp intellect, the kindness. Because The Blonde has a bigger story to tell, a mythological one.

Like every streaming film, I expect Blonde to have disappeared off the radar in a matter of months, never to be discussed again. But for now, if you can bear the emotional weight of sadness and suffering, it’s an interesting oddity and for de Armas it will undoubtedly be career-changing.

Everything Everywhere All At Once

My favourite film of the year. My favourite film of many years.

Completely original, constantly surprising, endlessly inventive with a massive heart. It’s so rare these days to see a film that has no antecedents, but this one manages to be cut free from past film reality. The writer and director have produced an instant classic.

I’m not saying anything about the plot – the less you know, the better it is. But every time you think you’ve got a handle on it, you really haven’t.

Michelle Yeoh is fantastic, so is Stephanie Hsu.

A film that is embedded in culture yet is also universal.

The Sword Of Albion – Review

Another perceptive review of the first book in the Swords of Albion series:

“Faeries. British Folklore. Alternate Elizabethan History. Magic. Spies. Political Intrigue. Christopher Marlowe. If these fantastic components weren’t enough to get me excited about reading The Silver Skull, the first novel in the new Swords of Albion trilogy, the fact that Mark Chadbourn is the author sealed the deal.”

The Silver Skull is out now in the US. The UK version – re-titled The Sword of Albion – is out in May.

Swords Of Albion Review

The Silver Skull
The Silver Skull

The first Swords of Albion review is in, from US magazine RT Book Reviews. Classed as four-and-a-half stars (dammit, how did I lose that last star?), it says:

”The new Swords of Albion series, set in an alternate Elizabethan England, gets off to a smashing start. The historical detail sets a believable backdrop, and the main character, a spy, could pass for a fantastical James Bond. Chadbourn sets a fast pace, pitting his characters against supernatural threats with a bit of horror thrown in. FANTASTIC – keeper.”

Which gaves a flavour of what’s in there. I should soon be able to showcase the UK cover art, but if you want to put in an advance order, you can do so here:

UK
Amazon.co.uk
Waterstones

US
Amazon
Barnes & Noble

I’ll do more links when other bookstores put them on online, and I’ll include any indie bookstores if you get in touch.