UK-based writer and broadcaster James writes about film for AMEX Essentials. With over a decade’s experience in journalism, he draws on his extensive knowledge and contacts to bring you the best of cinema. He discusses his love of storytelling, New York and chocolate below…
You write about film for amexessentials.com. What most inspires you about the subject?
I love cinema’s ability to reflect who we are, and who we wish to be. Any number of lessons or adventures can be hiding behind the movie theatre curtain!
What kind of details do you look for?
Something that shines a new light on a familiar story. Maybe it’s a behind-the-scenes anecdote from an interview, maybe it’s just rewatching a classic scene and noticing something I didn’t see before. If I can find something that reveals a new side to a film or performance everybody knows, it sparks a fascination in me and, I hope, the reader.
What’s the most unusual thing you’ve covered?
I’ve always found movie premieres a strange thing to witness in person. The glamour is all for the cameras; in reality the red carpet is rather chaotic, with hundreds of people clamouring to get a fleeting moment with one actor. It’s an interesting portrait of celebrity, and meeting famous people is always a surreal experience.
What’s the next big thing?
In film, the director Damien Chazelle (La La Land, Whiplash). While he’s already established as an Oscar-winning filmmaker, I have no doubt that there are more classics to come. His devotion to making traditional cinema, the type of film you have to see on the big screen, will no doubt inspire a whole new generation of artists.
What social media channel inspires you most and why?
I’m very active on Twitter (@JLFilm). You can connect instantly with humanity at its best – and worst. It’s changed the way I approach my work, and converse with the people who read it.
What website do you check first every day?
Aside from AMEX Essentials?!? BBC News or The Hollywood Reporter. As well as getting the latest headlines, I’m drawn to interesting reporting and, of course, good writing.
How do you relax?
Meet with friends in London, or stay at home with my wife and cat listening to records.
Film or TV?
Film is my first love, and as wonderful as some television is, nothing compares to the things I have felt in a movie theatre.
Books or ebooks?
Books. They’re cheaper, feel nicer and never run out of battery.
Wine or beer?
Beer. I have tried sporadically to get into wine, but I just don’t enjoy it. Also, the craft beer movement has brought some sophistication back to beer drinking.
Street food or fine dining?
I’m not averse to street food, but restaurants can be much more relaxing. The weather in England does not always lend itself to outdoor dining!
My favourite place in the whole world is the street in Greenwich Village, New York where I used to live. It was a formative time for me in my younger years, where everything seemed possible, and revisiting it years later with my wife made it all the more meaningful.
Your secret travel tip?
Don’t experience things from behind a screen. Take lots of pictures if you want, but memories are more valuable than uploads.
Your three travel essentials?
Comfortable shoes, podcasts and research.
Your essential luxury?
Chocolate – I have a very sweet tooth.
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