Directed by Gillo Pontecorvo

Written by Franco Solinas

Story by Franco Solinas and Gillo Pontecorvo – Based on Souvenirs de la Bataille d’Alger by Saadi Yacef

Produced by Antonio Musu and Saadi Yacef

Main Cast: Jean Martin, Saadi Yacef, Brahim Haggiag, Tommaso Neri and ensemble.

Cinematography by Marcello Gatti

Edited by Mario Morra and Mario Serandrei

Music by Ennio Morricone and Gillo Pontecorvo


The Battle of Algiers (1966) was one of the greatest films I had NEVER seen. Now, The Battle of Algiers (1966) is one of the greatest films I have EVER seen. I’m embarrassed to admit that I had, for some unknown reason, not found the time to watch it. But wow, the “best films of all time” lists it appears on are NOT wrong. For sure, I don’t always get on with the critics’ list released by respected publications such as Sight and Sound, nevertheless with this incendiary work of cinema I am in total agreement of its deserved high ranking. In fact it could be higher.

The Battle of Algiers (1966) is set during a particularly brutal period of the Algerian War of Independence which occurred between 1954 and 1962. It is not a conflict I am too familiar with historically, nonetheless, I am aware of the desire by the Algerian National Liberation Front to decolonize themselves from French rule. Their demands were rejected by French leaders, thus the Algerian people took to the streets to wage a guerrilla campaign against both civilian and military targets.

Like many a bloody conflict lives, families, businesses, homes, properties and animals were savagely hurt and left irreparably damaged. As the prolonged fighting ensued in Algiers both sides resorted to more extreme combat measures. But with Algiers becoming a politically adverse battlefield, France’s external allies, such as the USA, moved their support away and eventually the Algerian people would overcome the hostile landlords. For the French, the Algerian rebels were terrorists. But remember, one person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter.

A short review on a humble film blog cannot pretend to imagine the currency of horror, grief and pain encapsulated within this brutal conflict. Yet, incredibly, Gillo Pontercorvo, as well as producing a searing indictment against the barbarity of war, has in The Battle of Algiers (1966) made palpable such horror, grief and pain through sheer formal cinematic ingenuity. In two hours, Pontercorvo and his production team, employ a stark black-and-white-film-documentary-style, non-professional actors, chopping episodic narrative, percussive and beating sounds, handheld cameras, vérité production design and dynamic, dialectic montage to spectacularly bring the psychological power of war to the screen. Not to mention the iconic Morricone and Pontercorvo composition which pulsates throughout the soundtrack.

Intrinsically focussed on events in the Casbah, Algiers between 1954 and 1957, as the story is bookended from the perspective of Ali la Pointe (Brahim Haggiag). La Pointe is a petty criminal who is politically radicalized while in prison, but becomes a formidable force in the fight. The narrative events display a variety of bombings he organizes against the French and his attacks lead the French to bringing in experienced soldier, Lieutenant-Colonel Mathieu (the sole professional actor, Jean Martin). The paratrooper commander is tasked with bringing down the Algerian Liberation Front and his methods of torturing prisoners soon begin to turn the bloody tide.

I cannot overstate how moved I was emotionally and intellectually by The Battle of Algiers (1966). It is momentous filmmaking and made me feel both a fraud and horribly depressed at how evil human beings can behave. I am a fraud because I am safely able to live out my privileged life thankfully free of the horror I have witnessed in the film. Moreover, it is so depressing that we never learn as conflict continues to blight this poisoned planet we exist on. Lastly, Pontercorvo, redefines for me the job a what a director does. The Battle of Algiers (1966) is a pinnacle of how filmmaking style and form can match the heartfelt agony of the narrative themes on show. It is not only one of the greatest anti-war films of all time, but simply one of the most complete films ever made.



Written and Directed by: Kristoffer Borgli

Produced by: Andrea Berentsen Ottmar, Dyveke Bjørkly Graver

Cast: Kristine Kujath Thorp , Eirik Sæther, Fanny Vaager, Henrik Mestad, Andrea Bræin Hovig, Steinar Klouman Hallert, Fredrik Stenberg, etc.

Cinematography by Benjamin Loeb


Human beings are capable of incredible acts of compassion, creativity, kindness, artistry, charity, care and beauty. But I have to admit there is a flaw, and in some people a sickness, which makes them narcissistic, selfish and image-obsessed with the constant need for attention. Indeed, with the advent of mobile phones and social media anyone with an internet connection can drop a video on YouTube, Facebook, TikTok or Instagram and get instant gratification. Not to mention the plague of TV talent and reality programming which showcase the epitome of this “me-me-me” generation.

Maybe society has always been like this, full of attention seekers desiring to become actors or singers or comedians or artists. But now there is a constant platform for the talented, untalented and arguably mentally unbalanced to post their wares online for an ego hit, likes and if they’re lucky, to “go viral.” But it’s just a bit entertainment isn’t it? A bit of a laugh? Getting a bit of attention and maybe even becoming famous. But there is a dark, horrific side to social media and reality show attention. The internet is replete with stories about people who have killed themselves having found “fame” this way. Sometimes too much attention becomes too much for some.

The Norwegian black comedy, Sick of Myself (2022) written and directed by Kristoffer Borgli, darkly explores the themes of narcissism, art and attention-seeking through the twentysomething characters of Signe and Thomas. The couple live somewhat regular lives in Oslo. Signe is a coffee shop server, while Thomas is an aspiring artist. Two excellent scenes introduce their characters succinctly. Thomas, who it is revealed throughout to be a kleptomaniac, initially gets a hit stealing an expensive bottle of wine from a posh restaurant. While Signe gets a massive adrenaline punch from the attention she receives when assisting a bloodied customer savaged by a dog. These fascinating narrative strands are the foundation for a series of funny, cringeworthy and horrific scenes expertly developed by Borgli.

The film is very much delivered in a believable and realistic style as, Sick of Myself (2022), develops its character and thematic analysis with understated direction. But the actions of the characters are anything but understated. Signe diverts attention away from Thomas’ growing fame in the art world by resorting to more extreme ways to get people to notice to her. The initial comedic situations, such as Signe faking a nut allergy to interrupt Thomas’ speech in a restaurant, give way to constant lying and actual self-harm, as her personality is blighted by undiagnosed Munchausen’s syndrome. With echoes of DeNiro’s and Scorsese’s The King of Comedy (1983), Signe is a grotesque creation reflecting a dangerous side within our society. But whereas Rupert Pupkin had a goal to become a famous stand-up comedian, Signe, as portrayed with muted and natural brilliance by Kristine Kujath Thorp, has no such career desire other than to just be constantly noticed. She is a tragic character, like many in society, who desperately need psychological help.

Mark: 8 out of 11

Film Review: TO LESLIE (2022)

Film Review: TO LESLIE (2022)

Directed by: Michael Morris

Written by: Ryan Binaco

Produced by: Claude Dal Farra, Brian Keady, Kelsey Law, Philip Waley, Jason Shuman, Eduardo Cisneros, etc.

Cast: Andrea Riseborough, Andre Royo, Owen Teague, Stephen Root, James Landry Hebert, Marc Maron, Allison Janney, etc.

Cinematography Larkin Seiple


Cinema and booze have always been two of my favourite things to distract me before I stagger off to the great pub in the sky! And there have been some of the great drunken characters and performances over the years on the box or at the cinema. The drunk is an often-used archetype employed for tragic, humorous and, on occasions, heroically redemptive narrative purposes.

Getting drunk actually is certainly easier than acting drunk on screen. Al Pacino in Scarface (1983) was a monstrous example of venal intoxication, Richard E. Grant in Withnail and I (1987) gave us one of the most hilarious drunkards, while Dean Martin’s, Dude in Rio Bravo (1959) and Kilmer’s Doc Holliday in Tombstone (1994) were fine Western inebriates. Romantic dramas Leaving Las Vegas (1996) and Days of Wine and Roses (1962) fiercely show the power alcohol has as it systematically shakes you like a rabid dog until one’s soul is hollowed out.

Ray Milland won an Oscar in The Lost Weekend (1949) as the epitome of liquid self-destruction. While my favourite “drunk actor” of all time is the imperious soak, Willie Ross.  His lagging-pisshead renditions are the best I have ever seen on screen!  His character in Rita, Sue and Bob Too (1987) is a racist, sexist, unemployable, drunken bully who when stood up to would simply cower amidst his own weakness.  Club comedian, Willie Ross would repeat the feat in classic British TV drama Our Friends in The North (1996) as Daniel Craig’s vicious alcoholic father.

So, how does Andrea Riseborough compare as a screen drunk in, To Leslie (2022), to the luminaries mentioned above. Well, along with director Michael Morris and writer Ryan Binaco, Riseborough is at the top of her game in this painfully accurate indie character study. They bravely make no attempt to make Leslie sympathetic or charismatic. She is an absolute car crash of a human being. The film opens with a flashback via television news report announcing Leslie as a major lottery winner. Back in the present day she is hammered, broke and getting chucked out of her dingy motel room. Does she attempt to recover and change? No, she tracks down her estranged son, James (Owen Teague), and immediately begins to leech from him and his friends. Teague is really impressive as a naïve and kindly soul trying his best not to get dragged down by his mother’s self-destructive impulses.

As the narrative progresses, Leslie defiantly refuses to adhere to any structure of sobriety, but gets lucky when Marc Maron’s hotel owner takes pity, providing her with a cleaning job and free board. Maron is on fine form here too, playing softer than some of his previously more alpha-male roles. Even after his help the addictive power of booze threatens to destroy what little Leslie has. Addiction is an illness and fatal flaw, strangling Leslie’s body and soulful quintessence.

Riseborough’s Leslie is an infuriating character to watch and experience. I have to admit that at times I even hated her. But that’s the point. Her drunk is a lost soul scrabbling to find the will to survive. Redemption is a town Leslie cannot locate. Later in the film there comes hope for Leslie, but I felt that the filmmakers arguably spent too much time on the pathetic and paralytic Leslie, rather than the silver-lined one. Her road to recovery was somewhat skimmed over in the final act. Nonetheless, Riseborough is magnetic, certainly deserving the Oscar nomination she received. However, I would not want to spend any further time with Leslie Rowland again. Drunk or sober.

Mark: 8 out of 11

[Book review:] The Hollywood Standard (3rd Edition) – by Christopher Riley

[Book review:] The Hollywood Standard: The Complete and Authoritative Guide to Script Format and Style (3rd Edition) – by Christopher Riley


The WRITER (early 50s), balding, could be in better shape but he’s a slave to his work and not the gym. Hunched over his laptop the Writer stares at a blank screen. Thinking. Suddenly a flurry of TYPING.



BACK TO: the Writer YAWNING.

Nothing like a looming deadline
to help get things done. Everything
except hitting that looming deadline.
Cleaning. I tend to clean a lot
when I have a deadline. My flat and
office have never been so clean
The kitchen too. It wasn’t even
my kitchen.

The Writer checks his watch. It’s 8.15pm. Rubs his eyes.

I’d been tasked with writing a review
of Christopher Riley’s formidable
guide script format and style called
The Hollywood Standard.
I was struggling. How could I write this
review in an interesting way?
What could I say that hasn’t already been
said by way more talented people than me?
What I can say is this book is the bible
and a must buy for screenwriters of all
levels. Not only does Riley write with
authority about the basics of script
formatting, but he also gives us a vital
chapter on ‘Deadly Mistakes to Avoid’ while
writing one’s screenplay.
I mean, you may have the greatest story
known to humanity, but if you don’t
write with clarity, accuracy and follow
the basic rules, then those hard-to-impress
studio script readers will throw your
hard work and dreams to the proverbial pyre!

The Writer’s mobile phone BUZZES with a text.

Looks at his phone. Eyes roll. Pushes the phone away.

Moreover, Riley brilliantly
backs up pages of fine advice, with
examples of classic scriptwriting by
the likes of Vince Gilligan, Guillermo
Del Toro, Jordan Peele, and the Coen

The Writer’s mobile phone VIBRATES from a call.

(to the PHONE)
Not now!
(won’t go away, so answers)
Yes. . . sorry. I’m tired. 
Got stuck here writing this
book review.
Soon. . . I know I work too hard.
Okay, my dear. . . The book?
It’s brilliant. I’m close to
concluding. Just about to
write how important a clear writing
style is when conveying your
cinematic vision on the page.
Funny you should ask, Riley
covers dialogue, action, dream,
montage, flashback sequences,
texts, [parentheticals], transitions,
and more. . . Yeah, The Hollywood
is invaluable. . .
I’d better go. Need to get home.
Yes, I know this conversation’s
in my head. I’m just typing this for
a meta-conclusion. To be clever.
The review is finished. Got to
start writing that feature film I’m
getting paid for. You’re right!
Right! THAT fridge won’t clean itself.

Buy the book from HERE:

Publication from

Michael Wiese Productions (MWP) was launched in San Francisco in 1976 primarily to produce films. Today, the company is known worldwide having published some 200 books. Some of the bestsellers have been translated into 28 languages, are used in over 1000 film courses, in the Hollywood studios and by emerging filmmakers.

(Note from THE WRITER: I know the script above should be in Courier New font, but WordPress won’t let me change it or I don’t know how.)