Manhunter was the first appearance on the big screen of Hannibal Lecter and it’s now come to Blu-ray. Michael Mann’s 1986 film starring a pre-CSI William Petersen (as FBI agent Will Graham) has Lecter in a supporting role, played by the magnificent Brian Cox, as the main murderer here is the Tooth Fairy (the creepy Tom Noonan). Based on Thomas Harris’s book Red Dragon, Manhunter is directed in a very cold and detached way and even the production design acts as a barrier to the viewer getting too emotionally connected to the characters. Sometimes the directing does become a little too detached but credit has to be given to Mann and the cast, especially Petersen and Cox, although Dennis Farina as Petersen’s FBI compatriot is also very good. The thriller element is well-handled except for the slightly silly ending where Graham becomes an action hero after being more cerebral for the rest of the film. Despite the fact that there are moments when some of the Eighties touches have dated a little, Manhunter holds up better than the other big-screen outings for Lecter that followed. A modern classic that should be seen…



Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy starring Gary Oldman in the George Smiley role, feels like a film from a different era. The TV adaptation starring Alec Guinness was set in a world where England and America were playing a game of espionage against the Russians in a period when one side may have blown the other to kingdom come (or that’s how it felt at the time). There are no jump cuts, people don’t leap through the air followed by explosions and you don’t get knife fights or pursuits over the rooftops of particularly picturesque Moroccan houses. Oldman doesn’t even speak for about the first twenty minutes of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy but his presence is feel nonetheless. The plot is labyrinthine, about a Russian traitor in the British secret service and the lengths that Smiley and his colleagues go to to expose and flush the Judas out. Oldman is brilliantly understated here with every nuance serving a purpose on screen. He is assisted by a very competent supporting cast that includes Colin Firth, playing a little against type but displaying a little more range than usual, the ubiquitous Mark Strong (who shows that he is more than just the comedically sinister villain for Hollywood movies), Benedict Cumberbatch and Ciaran Hinds. Even small cameos by actors like Stephen Graham and Roger Lloyd Pack lend something to the overall mix. Director Tomas Alfredson (Let The Right One In) has a very steady hand here, letting the performances speak for themselves. He also recreates 1970s London (and a few other places) with rare skill and attention to detail, with the help of production designer Maria Djurkovic. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is a classic British spy film with some exceptional performances and assured directing. It should be remembered by posterity as it makes the case that not all remakes have to be inferior. Deserving of many awards when the season kicks off later in the year…



On Sunday I went to the Hampstead and Highgate Literary Festival 2011. In the London Jewish Culture Centre in Hampstead, I watched four panels (one on the anniversary of 9-11 with the BBC’s Gavin Esler and three very smart panellists; one on Guilty Pleasures for Reading with The Guardian‘s John Crace, Olivia Lichtenstein, John Sutherland and Joanna Briscoe; one that was just TV personality Nicholas Parsons promoting his autobiography and the last was a talk on book The Stones of London by its author Leo Hollis). It was in very civilised surroundings and the talks were each interesting for different reasons: the 9-11 talk featured author Frank Ledwidge (who served in Iraq), BBC journalist Jil McGivering and Granta‘s editor John Freeman and it was obvious that they had only just scratched the surface of the topic; while the Guilty Pleasures panel was a nice light counterpoint to the 9-11 one. It was fairly impressive to watch Parsons speak on his own for around an hour about his life and career although it did feel a little bit like this was territory he had trod before. The Stones of London talk was very fascinating indeed and I regret missing half of it because it was scheduled against the Parsons talk. So, for what was my first book event as a photographer, the first day of the Ham & High Literary Festival 2011 was a very satisfying one for me. It’s on Monday and Tuesday this week so I’d recommend trying to get down to it…


On the Tuesday before last, I grabbed the new TRIPWIRE, issue #55. It’s taken a bit longer than we were hoping but I hope this is our best issue to date. The Elric cover, by David Michael Beck, looks spectacular: the heavier paper stock really brings out the image. And the features have come out really nicely especially the Jason Aaron, the Christopher Fowler but it all looks really strong. And it’s available in UK comic shops as of today (Wednesday). It can also be reordered from Diamond Comic Distributors, item #MAY111336. So what are you waiting for?