Film Critic, Hon. Pres International Film Critics Association (Fipresci), Pres. British Federation of Film Societies
Derek Malcolm born in 1932 and was educated at Eton and Merton College, Oxford, having been sent to various boarding schools from the age of four. On leaving university, where he studied history, he attempted to get into publishing but couldn’t get a job and instead became an amateur steeplechase rider, winning 13 races over three seasons before trying a professional acting career in the theatre. Later, he became a journalist, being engaged as a showbiz correspondent by the Daily Sketch. From there he went to Cheltenham and worked for the Gloucestershire Echo as general reporter and theatre critic.
In the late fifties, he went to The Guardian in Manchester as an arts page sub-editor under Brian Redhead. A few years later, he moved to The Guardian in London, again as arts sub-editor and was eventually made deputy drama critic to Philip Hope-Wallace, then deputy film critic to Richard Roud. When The Guardian started horse racing, he became the first racing correspondent of the paper until appointed film critic in the early sixties. He remained film critic for over 25 years until his enforced retirement at 65.
A few years later he succeeded Alexander Walker as film critic of the Evening Standard. Earlier this year, he left regular reviewing to become the Standard‘s critic at film festivals. During his time at The Guardian, he won the IPC Critic of the Year title, directed the London Film Festival, became a Governor of the BFI, President of the International Association of Film Critics (Fipresci) and President of the British Federation of Film Societies. He has also served on juries at the three main European Festivals in Berlin, Cannes and Venice, as well as at the Moscow, Istanbul, Goa, Singapore, Chicago, Dinard and Rio Festivals.
He has written three books — Robert Mitchum, 100 Years of Cinema and Family Secrets. The last was a personal memory of his father’s marriage to his mother and the famous case during the First World War during which his father was accused at the Old Bailey of shooting his wife’s lover. In 2001, he was named by an American film trade paper as one of the six most influential film critics in the world.
Outside the world of film, he has been a keen cricketer, tennis and squash player, and was Captain of The Guardian cricket team for some years, touring India, Sri Lanka and California with the team.
The weather was fine throughout, the security as tight as expected, the films were okay but not much more than that, and there were a record number of women directors and actors among the prize-winners. Thus the 70th Cannes Festival ended without too much controversy about screening versus streaming or Netflix and Amazon versus the rest.
Do Film festival awards mean anything anymore? Some doubt it if the successful film is American and full of stars. That sort of movie will find its way with or without prizes at Berlin, Cannes and Venice, the three major competitive jamborees. But the non-English speaking nations would disagree. To win a major festival can make a director's reputation and send his or her film round the world.
How do you dramatise history on film without adding a large dollop of fiction to the mix? Many have tried and most have failed. But Pablo Larraín succeeds better than many with <em>Jackie</em>, the story of Jackie Kennedy, giving an interview to her ghost writer some time after the assassination of her husband Jack.
Not only is it extremely violent but the characters in it have more than a passing resemblance to people she knows, including herself. Totally different from <em>A Single Man</em>, the film bows to <em>Blue Velvet</em> as much as any other movie, with bloody fiction bleeding into uncomfortable reality.
You have to take the rough with the smooth at film festivals. Sometimes the films are so impenetrable that boos break out among those left by the end. Sometimes the applause lasts for a full two minutes and nobody leaves early.
No one expected Chazelle to make a musical. It is, though, pretty unorthodox stuff, bursting into song and dance when you least expect but mainly concentrating on two things. These are the drama itself between the two leads and a semi-satire of the musical conventions of the past. Does the mix work? Not entirely.
Never heard of Karlovy Vary? Well, it's in the Czech Republic and a spa town like few others. They drink the healing water all the time and wander the vast gardens before and after. It's near Marienbad where Alain Resnais made his famously indecipherable classic <em>Last Year at Marienbad</em>.
The other awards were even more surprising. In fact, most of them were odd enough to secure hearty boos from the journos sitting in the theatre next door to the main auditorium and watching the prizes on the video screen. Most astonishing was the lack of anything at all for Maren Ade's <em>Toni Erdmann</em>, a hit with almost everyone bar the jury.
You wouldn't expect Jim Jarmusch, that eminent stylist of the American independent cinema, to make a movie about a New Jersey bus driver who writes poetry. Nor would you imagine that a bulldog he owns called Marvin gets so annoyed at his apparent neglect that he tears the diary in which the poems are set out bit by bit apart.
If you never know what you are going to get from Woody Allen, a director who writes notes on an old typewriter which do not always translate into great movies, the same could be said for the Cannes Festival's opening films. Sometimes you just have to look away towards the bigger fish of the competition and hope like hell.
The biggest shock was to bestow the coveted Golden Lion for best film to <em>From Afar</em>, a Venezuelan debut by Lorenzo Vigas about a middle-aged gay man who gets involved with a potentially violent street kid. This was a brave and well-made movie but hardly the best in the competition.
At last a film at the Venice Festival that may well become a classic of its genre - Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson's <em>Anomalisa</em>. Stop motion animation was never this sophisticated, thanks to Kaufman's shrewd screenplay and Johnson's visual flair.
There may not be too many British Films around - most of them have gone to Toronto - but British actors seem to be two-a-penny. Not that Johnny Depp is British but playing his brother in the crime thriller <em>Black Mass</em> is none other than Benedict Cumberbatch.
It is a deeply depressing tale. The young boy and his family are first seen sheltering in a village some way away from the coup which is destroying the government forces of their unnamed state. Their hopes of avoiding the conflict between government and rebel forces are ruined when government troops arrive and start slaughtering those who they believe are supporting the coup...
<em>Everest</em> is one of those cinematic spectacles that doesn't insult the intelligence of its audience and tries to tell the truth about an extraordinary adventure as solidly and dramatically as it can.
More and more the question being asked is "is to all worth it?" The cynics suggest that a big, starry American film will make its way at the box-office whether or not it wins a Festival prize. And an art movie from a small country will be bought and shown all over the world if it is good enough.
28/08/2015 18:35 BST
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