Category Archives: Movies

Kenneth Branagh to play Boris Johnson in Covid-19 drama. It’s expected to be a bit-part

Branagh as Johnson: the likeness is terrifying.

When I heard that Kenneth Branagh was performing as Boris Johnson in a drama, I thought he had started a new career as a puppeteer.

It turns out I was mistaken and Branagh is himself portraying Johnson – although (one hopes) under heavy make-up.

It’s for a Sky drama, This Sceptred Isle. One images the title is ironic. It covers the early days of the Covid-19 crisis in the UK.

As Johnson was hardly visible at that time, one may safely conclude that the role is a cameo.

This may be a matter of relief to Branagh (less time in the prosthetics) and to his friends and family (less time having to look at him ‘in character’).

I did run into difficulty finding an image of the actor in the role.

Was it this?

No… This?

Maybe not. Ah! Here it is:

Note that I am not alone in believing that the role will be brief.

Some of the other comments on the social media are similarly cutting:

(Emma Thompson was Branagh’s first wife. He left her to have an affair with Helena Bonham-Carter.)

But this makes the best point:

People have lost friends and loved ones to the virus, and Johnson is directly responsible for the vast majority of those deaths.

It is indeed in extremely poor taste that a drama is being made about it – unless that film exposes Johnson and his government to the harshest possible criticism for their miserable failure to cope with the situation. It is a failure that continues to the time of writing.

But I expect it will be another arse-kissing whitewash. Let’s see Ken Loach do a version of this story instead.

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It’s November 5 – and ‘V for Vendetta Day’ has never been more relevant

Talk about life imitating art!

It is November 5, 2020 – and This Writer half expects to hear of a man in a Guy Fawkes mask setting off an explosion that destroys Parliament later this evening.

That is what happens in the movie version of V for Vendetta, Alan Moore and David Lloyd’s seminal graphic novel. And there are more similarities…

In the movie, Britain is under the control of a ruthless fascist dictatorship that offers security but not freedom. Does this seem familiar to you?

This administration has used a viral pandemic to seize power and keep the people of Britain under control. Does this remind you of a situation in the real world?

(Just to hammer the point home, the first dialogue in the first episode of the graphic novel includes these words: “The Brixton and Streatham areas are quarantine zones as of today. It is suggested that these areas be avoided for reasons of health and safety.” The locations may be different but that’s not too far from what’s happening today.)

The country is kept under curfew, enforced by a brutal police force known as “Fingermen”. As England goes into lockdown for a second time, do you remember Boris Johnson’s plan to give special enforcement powers to a select few people, to ensure that we all follow his rules?

It seems plenty of people do:

The situation in the real world – now – demonstrates the point the film – and the original graphic novel that was originally serialised from 1982 onwards – made:

This Writer was among the first people to read V for VendettaI was 12 years old at the time, and an avid consumer of Alan Moore’s stories.

The thought of living in a country like that, frankly, terrified me. But I could see its roots spreading, in the Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher and the so-called “surveillance society” she created.

So could Moore. In the introduction to the 1988 serialisation of V, he wrote: “The new riot police wear black visors, as do their horses, and their vans have rotating video cameras mounted on top… one can only speculate as to which minority will be the next legislated against.

“Goodnight England. Goodnight Home Service and V for Victory.

“Hello the Voice of Fate and V for Vendetta.”

All very grim.

But the story ends on a hopeful note, and so will this article – because the message that has resonated with the public today is this:

“People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.” I hope Boris Johnson hears those words today.

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‘Go to the cinema’ says Johnson. Fool me twice, shame on… who?

Not the cinema announcement: but the caption behind Boris Johnson (that I made for a previous story) is also appropriate to this one.

I know it’s just a coincidence, but shortly after This Site published an article criticising the Johnson government for jeopardising the arts and entertainment in the UK during the Covid crisis, BoJob himself made a pronouncement about it.

He got it all wrong, of course.

Johnson should have announced financial help for venues and businesses – for the duration of the Covid crisis, while his restrictions make it impossible for them to break even, and in addition to any schemes already in place that clearly aren’t doing enough.*

You see, I’d rather be able to go to the pictures, even if the auditorium is practically empty by order of the government, than for the cinema to be closed – possibly for ever.

Instead, BoJob passed the buck to us – as usual.

“Go to the cinema,” he told us – just as he told us to go to the pub and the restaurant back in the summer.

And what happened?

There was a huge spike in Covid-19 infections and Johnson blamed us.

Fool us once, BoJob, shame on you. Fool us twice – shame on us.

What will you do if we go and there’s another increase in Covid infections? Blame us for your mistake again?

What will you do if we don’t, and lots of cinemas go out of business? Blame us again?

I think it’s best if we just ignore Johnson as an incompetent nincompoop and make a rule that any unhappy consequence is his concern, not ours.

Oh, and this will make it easier: the film he wants us to go and see? It’s the new James Bond, No Time To Die.

And its release has just been delayed until April next year.

And also: Cineworld is closing its 120 UK cinemas anyway.

So we can happily stay away for the time being, and still say we were following Johnson’s instructions.

And in the meantime, we can demand to know what he’s going to do about the economic crisis he caused.

Here are comments from just a few people who feel as I do:

*It seems this is unlikely to happen because Johnson and his government haven’t actually started any of these schemes. Here’s @RussInCheshire with The Week In Tory:

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Tory threat to our cinemas as their failure to cope with Covid hits entertainment industry

“Delayed AGAIN???” Daniel Craig wonders whether the new James Bond film, No Time To Die, will ever see cinema release.

I don’t want to have any “it’s not their fault” mewling over this.

Cineworld is not the only venue for the creative industries that is suffering as a result of the Johnson government’s failure to get a grip on Covid-19.

But while BoJob and his buddies funnel money hand over fist to their chums in fake firms, set up in a pretence at treating/preventing the disease, they’re letting our artists and entertainers go to the wall.

They’ll say it’s because they haven’t got a legal means of helping but I think they just want to end fun in our lifetime.

Cineworld is set to temporarily close its UK cinemas in the coming weeks.

The firm is writing to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden to say the industry is now “unviable”.

The firm says it has been hit by delays in the release of big-budget films, putting 5,500 jobs at risk.

The premiere of James Bond film No Time To Die has been postponed twice and is now due for release in April 2021.

Philippa Childs of entertainment and broadcasting union Bectu said: “The delay in the release of the Bond film along with the other delayed releases has plunged cinema into crisis.”

In a socially-distanced country, cinemas simply aren’t viable. Current guidelines mean operators should “organise seating to ensure two-metre distancing can be maintained; where two metres is not viable, one metre with risk mitigation is acceptable. Mitigations should be considered and those introduced set out in the risk assessment”. In Scotland, the two-metre rule must be maintained strictly.

That means only a handful of people can attend any auditorium at any time and it becomes unviable to employ the staff needed to run a venue.

It’s not often that I agree with this tweeter any more, but I’ll make an exception in this case:

Cineworld expects to make 5,500 staff unemployed while the 120-venue chain is closed – throwing them on the scant mercy of the Johnson government.

The hope is that they will be able to re-employ those members of their former staff who survive a winter of Covid-19 and the Tories’ harsh benefit conditions.

If that happens, I hope the company doesn’t take the easy – and very Tory – option of using this as an opportunity to cut staff pay and conditions. That would be a step too far.

Source: Cineworld to shut down UK screens after Bond film delay – BBC News

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Gollum Javid: chancellor’s unfortunate resemblance to another fantasy villain

Full disclosure time: This Writer has often compared current Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sajid Javid, with a fantasy character from Doctor Who called The Collector. The resemblance is astonishing.

Now it seems he has deliberately likened himself to another such character, in his publicity photoshoot for the new commemorative Brexit 50p piece.

Here’s Mr Javid:

And now here’s the fantasy character he has made himself resemble:

Oh dear.

Perhaps Mr Javid should go back to his day job in the finance industry…

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Mother forced to rely on food banks because of DWP rule that denies reality

Have you ever heard of the minimum income floor calculation?

If you aren’t on Universal Credit – and considered to be self-employed by the Department for Work and Pensions – then it’s most likely that you haven’t.

The premise is that, if a person is self-employed, they earn a specific amount of money per week, and Universal Credit is provided to them on that basis.

In the case of Roxy Theobald, of Long Stratton, Norfolk, this meant that she was assumed to be earning £822 per month, working 25 hours per week as a courier, from the time she started claiming UC in October 2018.

In fact, being able to work only the hours she was given, Ms Theobald earned much less.

This was of no interest to anybody at the DWP.

As a result, she had to visit food banks and rely on friends and neighbours giving her leftover food in order to keep herself and her daughter Bella alive.

She appealed against the DWP’s decision that it could use the minimum income floor to dock money from her claim, and a judge has ruled in her favour, saying he was not satisfied that she was in gainful self-employment.

Ms Theobald, now a full-time carer, has said she hopes her case will set a precedent, leading to a change of DWP policy.

That would be welcome, as there are undoubtedly many, many people – not just couriers, who are adversely affected by this rule.

It’s also possible that the arrival in cinemas of Ken Loach’s new film Sorry We Missed You, which explores the plight of couriers, may also focus the minds of the powerful on this matter.

Don’t hold your breath waiting, though.

Source: Norfolk mother left relying on food banks while working as courier wins Universal Credit tribunal | Latest Norfolk and Suffolk News | Eastern Daily Press

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Activists fighting climate change have won cast-iron support – from the Terminator himself

Star support: Arnold Schwarzenegger with Greta Thunberg.

Even the Terminator can see that Greta Thunberg and the activism against climate change that she promotes deserve support – or at least the actor and former politician playing him can.

Arnold Schwartzenegger, former Republican governor of California, has spoken out in support of Ms Thunberg’s environmental activism.

It’s good to see the movement getting such high-profile support.

Arnold Schwarzenegger has expressed his support for environmental activist Greta Thunberg, after he offered to lend her an electric car so she could get around the US.

The actor is currently doing the press rounds for the latest Terminator film, Dark Fate, alongside co-star Linda Hamilton, who reprises her role as Sarah Connor.

Speaking to Sky News, Schwarzenegger said that politics “gets in the way of good policy”, which he cited as the reason he now tends to steer clear of political commentary,

However, he made it clear he was a fan of Thunberg, calling her “fantastic” and adding: “She’s a child and here’s children saying ‘when you screw this up with the environment, it’s our generation that’s going to suffer’, and I think that’s a very compelling message and I think politicians are listening.”

Source: Arnold Schwarzenegger praises climate activist Greta Thunberg: ‘I think politicians are listening’ | The Independent

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BoJob is NOT like the Hulk – he’s more like one of Hulk’s worst enemies

The Abomination: If Boris Johnson wants to compare himself – or his Brexit – with any Marvel character, it should be this one.

Boris Johnson compared himself with the Incredible Hulk when he spoke about his approach to Brexit – but he chose the wrong character.

His claim that Britain will break out of the European Union’s “manacles” like The Incredible Hulk if a Brexit deal cannot be struck by the end of next month is baloney.

Such an event would be just the start of a long process that would cause huge harm to the country.

And Mr Johnson’s suggestion that he would still take the UK through a “no deal” Brexit, after Parliament ruled it illegal to do so, shows that he would break the law to get what he wants.

So, while it is reasonable to compare such a situation to the story of the Hulk, which is basically the result of an experiment that went badly wrong – Marvel has another character whose profile fits Mr Johnson much better…

The Abomination.

Source: Boris Johnson: We’ll break out of EU’s manacles like the Hulk – ITV News

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Did Walker movie bomb threat arise from bitchiness by The Sun over Momentum ban?

Jackie Walker: She has a right to have her story heard. Who is trying to deny her that right? And why?

Remember Jackie Walker, the former vice-chair of Momentum who was ousted from her position and suspended from the Labour Party on the basis of spurious claims of anti-Semitism concocted by the Jewish Labour Movement, Israel Advocacy Movement and complicit “news”papers?

It seems Ms Walker turned her experience of being smeared as an anti-Semite into a stage play, The Lynching – and now film-maker Jon Pullman has created a full-length movie about it, entitled The Political Lynching of Jackie Walker.

Shot in the UK and Europe, with commentary from friends and foes, the movie follows Ms Walker’s activities for more than a year, filming her at work, in performance, and across the kitchen table to interrogate the issues that lay behind the headlines, and the woman behind the activist. The film was due to have its premiere screening at the Labour Party Conference on the evening of September 25.

But the screening had to be cancelled – and the auditorium evacuated – after organisers received a bomb threat.

Obviously, at the time of writing it is far too early to make any suggestions about who may be responsible – but we may definitely suggest that whoever it was disapproves of free speech, especially if it presents a coherent, logical and possibly persuasive narrative that is different from their own personal bias.

And what encouraged them to commit this prank (I would be very surprised if there really was a bomb at the Liverpool auditorium in which the film was due to be screened)? Well…

May I draw your attention to this article, which I regret to inform you was published by a periodical known as The Sun which describes itself as a newspaper (although opinion on this is divided).

Headlined Fury as far-left activist who said Jews were behind the slave trade tells Labour members she’s been ‘lynched’, the piece states: “A far-left activist who was kicked out of Labour for making anti-Semitic slurs is putting events at the party conference – in which she claims she was “lynched”.

“Jackie Walker has sparked fury by hosting a film and a play at the annual get-together aimed at clearing her name.

“Ms Walker was formerly vice-chair of Momentum but was fired after she claimed Jews were responsible for the slave trade.

“Labour MP Louise Ellman blasted the attempts to promote her worldview, saying it was “disgraceful” for banned activists to be tolerated by other party members.”

This smear piece was accompanied by an image of a flier advertising the film screening, which clearly showed its date and location: Blackburne House, Georgian Quarter, Falkner Street, Liverpool at 7pm on September 25.

I call it a smear piece because it presents a lie as truth – that Ms Walker “claimed Jews were responsible for the slave trade”.

This is based on a fragment of a conversation between Ms Walker and a friend on Facebook’s private Messenger service, that was hacked by members of the Israel Advocacy Movement and given to the Jewish Chronicle as proof of anti-Semitism.

But Ms Walker, speaking afterwards, explained that she was referring to the Caribbean slave trade, of which her own ancestors had unique experience. This is from an article written nearly two years ago: “Yes, I wrote “many Jews (my ancestors too) were the chief financiers of the sugar and slave trade”. These words, taken out of context in the way the media did, of course do not reflect my position. I was writing to someone who knew the context of my comments. Had he felt the need to pick me up on what I had written I would have rephrased – perhaps to “Jews (my ancestors too) were among those who financed the sugar and slave trade and at the particular time/in the particular area I’m talking about they played an important part.”

For the record, my claim, as opposed to those made for me by the Jewish Chronicle, has never been that Jews played a disproportionate role in the Atlantic Slave Trade, merely that, as historians such as Arnold Wiznitzer noted, at a certain economic point, in specific regions where my ancestors lived, Jews played a dominant role “as financiers of the sugar industry, as brokers and exporters of sugar, and as suppliers of Negro slaves on credit, accepting payment of capital and interest in sugar.””

It’s a bit different when you see the full picture rather than just a fragment, isn’t it?

Hugo Gye, who wrote the Sun piece, would have had no excuse for ignorance of the facts of the matter – including the fact that Ms Walker has not been found guilty of any anti-Semitism at all by the Labour Party’s own disciplinary mechanism, so what motivated him – and the newspaper – to promote the lie?

Was it mischief?

Remember, Ms Walker is a former vice-chair of Momentum, and Momentum has banned The Sun from its fringe events at this year’s Labour conference.

By publishing its story about Ms Walker, along with details of the film screening, this publication might as well have been giving instructions to anyone with an agenda to push the false accusations of anti-Semitism and suppress the facts.

The bomb threat could easily have been triggered by this bitchy story.

We may never know for sure.

But, like so many of the accusers’ recent efforts, it seems likely that this attempt at repression will backfire.

People are going to ask why.

Why seek to silence an accused person who was only trying to put forward her side of this case?

What does this film show, that the accusers have to fear?

The threat – to kill by explosion people attending the premiere – is so extreme that people will want to know the answers to these questions. Is the accusers’ case really so fragile that they have to resort to such extremes in a bid to maintain the illusion of Ms Walker’s guilt?

Well? Is it?

Jackie Walker isn’t the only person to face vexatious claims of anti-Semitism.

Visit our JustGiving page to help Vox Political’s Mike Sivier fight anti-Semitism libels in court


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Stand-up comic who played Daniel Blake wins prestigious acting award

Dave Johns.

Dave Johns.

This Writer has no personal experience to indicate whether the award is well-deserved or not as I, Daniel Blake has yet to be screened in the wilds of Mid Wales.

That being said, the reaction to the movie, its themes and message all suggest very strongly that Mr Johns is indeed a worthy recipient and to be congratulated for his work in bringing the plight of sick and disabled benefit claimants to the attention of the world.

Note also the ‘most promising newcomer’ award for co-star Hayley Squires.

Comedian Dave Johns has won his first major acting award.

The veteran stand-up scooped best actor at the British Independent Film Awards for his role in the Ken Loach film I, Daniel Blake.

The movie, in which Johns plays a widowed carpenter who can’t get his benefits following a heart attack, previously won the prestigious Palme D’Or at Cannes.

But this is his first acting accolade. He has also been nominated in the European Film Awards, which will be handed out next weekend.

Speaking after collecting the BIFA award tonight, he said: ”I’ve been a stand-up for 27 years and no one knows who I was. Now I’ve done my first film and it’s been incredible.’ He added that the comedy circuit had been ‘amazingly supportive’ of his career change.

Johns’s co-star Hayley Squires won most promising newcomer.

Source: Dave Johns lands his first acting award

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