High Fidelity at 20: the sneakily dark edge of a comedy about bad breakups

Stephen Frears’ smart adaptation of Nick Hornby’s novel of stunted growth remains as compelling as ever with one of John Cusack’s best performances

Rob Gordon is kind of a jerk. And High Fidelity, based on Nick Hornby’s incisive dissection of the pop-addled male brain, is about the process of him becoming a little less of a jerk. It didn’t seem necessary to point that out 20 years ago, when the film received exactly the niche appreciation it was destined to find, but it does now, because it’s not often we’re given a hero as blinkered as Rob Gordon and not told how we’re supposed to feel about him
In fairness, Rob is the one doing the telling here, and he’s played by John Cusack, the affable goof of “Savage” Steve Holland comedies like Better Off Dead and One Crazy Summer, and the ingratiating underachiever of Say Anything …, which had established him as a tender romantic soul about a decade earlier. When Cusack was cast as the lead in High Fidelity, it was hard not to think of him as a grownup version of Lloyd Dobler in Say Anything … – just as aimless and uncertain about the future, but coarsened by failed relationships and the grinding inertia of his professional life. Lloyd didn’t want “to sell anything, buy anything or process anything as a career”, but here he is, buying and selling records at Championship Vinyl, a Chicago record store with a location “chosen to attract a minimum of foot traffic”.

The Lloyd Dobler comparison doesn’t hold up much to scrutiny, however. At no point in his life has Rob possessed Lloyd’s earnestness, openness and emotional generosity. At roughly the same age Lloyd was out there Continue reading


Movies to help us through: “Another Year”

By Michael Stevenson

The Hobbledehoy never fail to see the latest film from British director Mike Leigh. High Hopes, Life Is Sweet, Career Girls, Happy Go Lucky are each wonderful films, but the one we need to help us through the Covid-19 lockdown is 2010’s Another Year.

Why is film necessary viewing during our confinement? I love how the characters in Another Year take care of each other. The script covers four seasons in the life of one British couple, Tom (Jim Broadbent) and Gerri (Ruth Sheen) and their small group of friends. The couple tends a seasonal garden that requires tender care, as does their challenging friend “Mary” (Lesley Manville) – a deeply troubled narcissist trying to hold onto her youth by pursuing her friend’s much younger son. There is birth, death, disease and always much love throughout.

Leigh’s actors Broadbent (Another Year, Life Is Sweet) Sheen (High Hopes, Vera Drake) and Manville (High Hopes) each give brilliant performances.

Said one reviewer of Another Year: “Ordinary people doing really ordinary things and making these things really important.”

I suppose that’s what we are each doing during this lockdown – making seemingly ordinary things, like staying at home, really important. And caring for each other, even our crazy friends.

Have you seen Another Year ? If so, tell us your thoughts. Have your own film recommendation to help us get through? Tell us.

Watch ANOTHER YEAR on Amazon

Interview with Jim Broadbent and Lesley Manville

UK coronavirus death toll may be over 32,000 – 54% higher than reports

CORONAVIRUS deaths in the UK might be 54 per cent higher than reported – meaning the grim death toll could be at least 32,000.

The Office for National Statistics today found there were 22,300 deaths involving Covid-19 in and outside of hospital up to April 17 but registered to April 25.

his is compared to 14,451 reported by the Department of Health for England and Wales at the same time.

The number means the UK death toll could be around 54 per cent higher than the current total of 21,092 – bringing the total number of deaths from the disease to at least 32,000.

The figures explore deaths that happened outside hospital – including care homes and private houses – as well as backdated hospital deaths.

“Every death from this virus is a tragedy. This is being exacerbated by the fact some social care staff and other frontline workers still lack the necessary PPE to protect themselves and the people they care for from contracting coronavirus.”

Ian Hudspeth, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board

It also includes hidden deaths where Covid-19 is mentioned as a suspected cause of death but the victim has not necessarily tested positive for the disease.

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