Film Freak: Contains Mild Nudity, Bad Acting and Lots of Laughs, by Christopher Fowler, Doubleday, RRP£16.99, 336 pages
French auteur François Truffaut once said there was “a certain incompatibility between the terms ‘cinema’ and ‘Britain’ ”. Christopher Fowler, FT reviewer and self-proclaimed cinephile, agrees. Fowler spent his youth (and much of his adult life) at local cinemas watching flicks by English directors, such as Ken Loach and David Lean, and foreign films such as Suspiria (“the noisiest horror film ever”) and Blackenstein.
In the late 1970s, Fowler headed for Wardour Street, London’s answer to Hollywood, to make his name as a scriptwriter. By this time, though, money had dried up; TV spin-offs and low-budget smut dominated English cinema. Yet, as Film Freak wittily chronicles, he pursued his passion for cinema and eventually founded the first UK film marketing company.
Film Freak is a homage to pre-digital cinema, an elegy for the vanishing London of almost half a century ago, and a tribute to friendship, gonzo-style. Two thumbs up for this triple-billing.
Review by Charlie McCann
Nijinsky: A Life, by Lucy Moore, Profile, RRP£25, 320 pages
The Russian dancer Vaslav Nijinsky was the first man to rival any prima ballerina. Accompanied on tour by a coterie that included Igor Stravinsky and Jean Cocteau, he earned as much as his female contemporaries and pushed early 20th-century ballet to the limit – so much so, that some theatres were reluctant to stage his work.
Offstage, Nijinsky was monopolised by Sergei Diaghilev, the possessive ballet impresario. When Nijinsky later married the equally manipulative Romola de Pulszky, Diaghilev felt betrayed and cast out his favourite from the Ballets Russes, setting Nijinsky on a depressive and ultimately fatal path. The pressure of bringing his choreography to a new company overwhelmed Nijinsky and he disappeared from the spotlight, dying in a psychiatric hospital in 1950.
Although Moore relies heavily on the diaries of Nijinsky’s younger sister Bronia, she never loses sight of why Nijinsky’s art was so great. The result is a captivating biography.
Review by Camilla Apcar