Notes on a Retired Life (cont’d)

THE number of older people using social media doubled last year, according to research from Ofcom, the telecoms regulator.

Among those whom Ofcom terms “social seniors” (ugh), 90 percent chose Facebook, which has simultaneously fallen in popularity with young people.

So much for my efforts to get down with the kids.


WE recently went through a heatwave. It prompted The Current Mrs Feeney to buy a disposable barbecue and a couple of steaks. We lit the tray of lumpwood, and left it for the recommended 30 minutes to get hot, before putting on the steaks.

For the next ten minutes we stared at the raw meat, as it stubbornly refused to cook. Then TCMrsF took the steaks into the kitchen and fried them. Delicious.


THERE was quite a reasonable crowd for the lunchtime showing of Churchill (see review below). TCMrsF surveyed the heads in the rows in front of us. Most were as silvered as this writer’s.

“I’m too young to watch this film,” she said.

A reviewer in a film magazine, to which I subscribe, this month suggested that a movie she had just savaged would be “just the bill for those seniors’ matinees where the ticket comes with a cuppa and a biscuit.”

Patronising rubbish. Cinema goers who are over 60 are just as averse to watching crap as anybody else.


I READ in my morning newspaper that Italy’s anti-establishment Five Star Movement has intensified its rhetoric against migrants and Gypsies. Its leader described the inhabitants of Gypsy camps in Rome as thieves.

When TCMrsF had her purse stolen on the Roman metro this year, the charming carabinieri officer who took down her particulars explained to us, with a rueful smile, that the crime would, beyond doubt, have been carried out by a Roma child.

We are certain that it was actually committed by the bourgeois-looking couple who stood behind us on the train.


I HAVE always had a terrible memory for names. Not great for a journalist.

An acquaintance whom I had not met for at least 30 years bumped into me outside the supermarket. I was pretty sure that we had once played in the same football team, but for the life of me, I couldn’t remember if he was called Ian (pronounced EE-ann) or Ieuan (pronounced Yi-ann). This matters in Wales.

I puzzled at it for hours, before it came to me with certainty. He was called Ivor.


AT TCMrsF’s request, I go through the cluttered drawer on my dressing table. Among the items no longer of any use, I find my mother’s and father’s bank cards. I cut them up and dispose of them.

More than a year after their deaths, moments of what is fashionably called “closure” continue to occur.


Churchill. ***


June, 1944. Ninety-six hours to D Day. The Allied forces are massed on the south coast of England. Standing in the way of the largest invasion force in history is one man; British wartime Prime Minister, Winston Churchill.

Leave your preconceptions of Churchill at the cash desk; here we see an old, exhausted man, filled with foreboding about the Normandy landings, and racked with guilt about his part in the catastrophic Gallipoli landings in the first world war. He tries to stop Operation Overlord, interferes in the Allied commanders’ plans, attempts to get a berth on a British battleship for himself and King George VI, and sinks into despair and depression as he is forced to confront the fact that his romantic notions about glory are fantasy.

A study in the loneliness of leadership – be it Churchill, supreme Allied commander Eisenhower, or the British monarch – the point is laboured with too many panoramic shots of men alone on beaches or in palaces. Ironically, the film’s best scene is far more intimate, when King George VI quietly explains to Churchill why it is their duty to ‘stay at home, and stay safe.’

Strong performances, but overly episodic and repetitive. A good shot at redressing the myth, without ultimately diminishing the man.

Cast: Brian Cox (Winston Churchill), Miranda Richardson (Clementine Churchill), John Slattery (General Dwight D Eisenhower), Julian Wadham (General Bernard Montgomery), Richard Durden (General Jan Smuts), James Purefoy (King George VI), Danny Webb (General Alan Brooke).

Director: Jonathan Teplitzky.

What’s going on?

JUST in case anybody is wondering: “Why is Retired Bloke posting a string of old film reviews?” the answer is disappointingly mundane. I’ve created a new page – The Film Reviewer – about my weekly slot on our local television station, and have posted brief posts on all of the films I’ve reviewed so far.

My Cousin Rachel

Based on the novel by Daphne du Maurier, with Rachel Weisz as the mysterious, beautiful widow who may (or may not) have poisoned her rich husband and may (or may not) now have designs on his young male heir. Strong feminist theme of women’s dependence on, or independence from, men.

For a film with overt themes of suspicion, paranoia, desire, and sexual anxiety, this is curiously lacking in passion and tension. The did-she or didn’t-she mystery at its heart never flares into life. Still, handsome scenes of sweeping Cornish moors and pounding surf.


The Mummy

The first in Universal Studio’s planned Dark Universe franchise of remakes of classic 1930 horror movies, this is a mix (unconvincingly at times) of action, horror and silliness. ┬áTom Cruise stars as the treasure-hunting soldier who accidentally releases malevolent Egyptian Princess Ahmanet from her secret crypt.

Entertaining enough, aimed at families with some good ‘jump in your seat’ moments.


Alien: Covenant

The latest in the Alien franchise, it covers a lot of old ground, plus much that is familiar from other recent films including Passengers and Life. Tries to compensate by increasing the goriness of the scenes when the monster attacks the crew members. Michael Fassbender’s performance in two roles is the best thing in it.

Tedious reprisal of over-familiar scenarios.


Miss Sloane

Jessica Chastain in the title role of a Washington DC lobbyist who turns down a job for a pro-gun group, and instead moves to a firm backing a proposed law to restrict gun sales.

Chastain gives a fantastic performance as the driven and ruthless lead character. Some very gripping moments, but at more than 2 hours and 30 minutes, the film is just too long. Shorter would have been so much better.