Satan’s Slave (1976)

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We generally like a bit of cult even if Satan is not our favourite person. As in film, so in life… This bit of erotic-minded tosh from film critic and sex/horror author David McGillivray’s output commences with a witch gathering deep in Surrey and is followed up PDQ with a rape by Stephen, scion of the household. Lovely. Then a girl called Catherine (Candace Glendenning, Rashel from Blake’s 7) on a car trip with her parents to see an uncle they’ve never met, crashes into the entrance to this den of iniquity, the car explodes. So now she’s an orphan. She inexplicably stays in the care of moustachioed Michael Gough as her doctor uncle, has her folks buried on his property and then waits for her body to be turned into a vessel for ultimate evil. As you do. We don’t dislike McGillivray because he writes for Julian Clary, the most brilliant and outrageous standup comedian I have had the pleasure to see live. But this is really not Sunday morning viewing even if the setting is alarmingly familiar. Ho hum!


The Holiday (2006)

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What a cast. And it’s seasonal too! Christmas in April, as Preston Sturges didn’t write (for him it happened in July…) This is writer/director Nancy Meyers’ most explicitly essayistic film about love – and movies. Kate’s a society columnist in London in love with engaged Rufus Sewell, who wants her as his mistress;  Cameron is the LA trailer-maker shacked up with cheating Ed Burns.  They swap homes for the vacation and love turns up on their respective doorsteps.  One learns to cry for the first time in years, the  other learns to stop. Meyers takes knowing swipes at Hollywood genres, gets these impressive professional high-achieving women to rewrite the conventional ending and leaves us all with serious home envy (I have Kate’s, I want Cameron’s.) As in all of Meyer’s films, this is knowingly subversive with some home truths and life lessons (many coming from the wonderful Eli Wallach, the screenwriter neighbour who hasn’t worked since 1978) and there’s a surprise walk-on from Dustin Hoffman not to mention the stars of the film-within-a-film (alright, I won’t!). A film that repays repeat viewings. And if you want to read more about Meyers and her work I’ve written a book that takes you from her debut, Private Benjamin (1980) through It’s Complicated (2009). Pathways of Desire:  Emotional Architecture in the Films of Nancy Meyers is for sale on Amazon.