Documentary provocateur Nick Broomfield has enjoyed mixed fortunes with such musical excursions as Kurt & Courtney (1998), Biggie & Tupac (2002) and Whitney: Can I Be Me (2017). However, he has a personal stake in Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love, a chronicle of the relationship between troubadour poet Leonard Cohen and muse Marianne Ihlen, as Broomfield became the Norwegian's lover after meeting her on the Greek island of Hydra. This isn't the first profile of Cohen, as it comes after Donald Brittain and Don Owen's Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr Leonard Cohen (1965), Tony Palmer's Bird on a Wire (1974), Harry Rasky's The Song of Leonard Cohen (1980) and Lian Lunson's Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man (2005). But, while it provides a satisfactory introduction to the Canadian's music and lifestyle, it proves more reticent where the love of his life is concerned. 

Although they hadn't been in touch for a while, Leonard Cohen sent Marianne Ihlen a touching note when he heard that she was dying of leukaemia in the autumn of 2016. We hear the missive being read by her friend, Jan Christian Mollestad, as it's intercut with Cohen introducing `So Long, Marianne' at the 1970 Isle of Wight festival. He admits to having mispronounced her name (as there is a stress on the final `e'), while she confides that she had never really liked the song, as it had foreshadowed the end of their relationship.

Leonard and Marianne had met on the Greek island of Hydra in 1960 after he had used some literary prize money to travel and the famously bohemian Johnston family had taken him in. In voiceover, Nick Broomfield recalls meeting Marianne on the same island eight years later and becoming one of her lovers. Although the romance had been brief, he continues to owe her a considerable debt, as she had encouraged him to make films. 

Cohen had been born in Westmount, Montreal in 1934 and childhood friend Nancy Bacal recalls how keen they had been to get away from their achingly conservative neighbourhood. Photos suggest that they remained close down the years, as they shared a reluctance to conform. Ihlen was also running away, albeit with her son, Axel, from an unhappy marriage to novelist Axel Jensen. She recalls meeting Cohen on Hydra and the thrill that went through her body when he first spoke to her in a shop. As she didn't consider herself beautiful and he didn't rate his own looks, they felt they made a good match and Mollestad concurs that they brought out the best in each other. 

Frustrated by the creative process, Jensen often resorted to a violence and Leonard helped Marianne get over him. According to friend Jeffrey Brown, he virtually became Axel's surrogate father. Marianne's biographer, Helle Goldman, speaks fondly of growing up in the bohemian community presided over by Australian novelist George Johnston and his writer wife Charmian Clift, while Richard Vick recalls visiting the island on Broomfield's recommendation and staying for 14 years. Nobody had much money and the amenities were pretty basic, but all agree that the artistic lifestyle was idyllic.

Feeling insecure in his creativity, however, Cohen insisted on spending half the year in Montreal with his mentor, Irving Layton. His wife of 20 years, Aviva, recalls their bond and suggests that their shared Jewishness was an important factor. Cohen was from a wealthy family and was well educated, even though he had lost his father while still young and Aviva Layton wonders if her husband had slept with Cohen's eccentric Russian mother, Masha. Aviva declares that all good writers need a bit of oedipal insanity to help them along and Bacall confides that Cohen loved women and fed off their positive energy when they responded to his advances.

Marianne had doted on Leonard while he worked on his 1966 novel, Beautiful Losers, which Vick recalls he had written outdoors in frenzied bursts of creativity. However, the book was slaughtered by the critics and Cohen was in something of a funk when folk singer Judy Collins heard him perform `Suzanne' and coerced him into guesting on her tour. During the show, Cohen got into such a flap that he burst into tears and only returned to the stage after Collins had promised to sing with him. He always felt he had an awful voice, but the number was well received and female audience members were entranced by his looks and gravelly charm. Marianne had mixed feelings about his success, however, and once told Collins that she had ruined her life by transforming Cohen into a singer. 

After one of his prolonged absences, Leonard had asked Marianne to move to Montreal and Aviva suggests that this was a disastrous mistake, as he wanted to make the gesture without living out the reality. Marianne admits that she had been ready to end things when he had called, as she didn't like being left alone on Hydra. Broomfield joined her when she took eight year-old Axel to Summerhill School in Suffolk, but he was miserable there and we see several of the almost daily postcards in which he had protested his loneliness. For a while, Marianne lived with Broomfield in Kentish Town and became a muse to Julie Felix, who would introduce Cohen to UK TV viewers in 1968. Broomfield interviews the 80 year-old American, who reveals that Marianne was a very nurturing character. She also avers that Cohen was a feminist who couldn't wait for women to take over the world. 

John Simon, who produced the 1967 debut album, Songs of Leonard Cohen, agrees that there was a female element to his work and explains how he had asked his girlfriend of the time to provide counterpointing vocals to echo this aspect of the lyrics. Ihlen recalls how Cohen had disliked the ballyhoo that went with success, but admits that he had rarely talked about the celebrity side of his life, as it wasn't any of her business. Perhaps this is just as well, as guitarist Ron Cornelius jokes that Cohen revelled in the opportunities his fame brought him and discloses that he had helped him write `Chelsea Hotel' about his affair with Janis Joplin. 

Cornelius also remembers Cohen starting to give concerts at mental health facilities after Masha was hospitalised for depression and he started to suffer his own bouts. Initially, the guitarist had felt it was a terrible idea, but he cme to the impact that the music had on the patients - although one chaps shouted them into silence and Cohen left the stage to hug him. At one show, he explained how he had come to write `So Long, Marianne' after they had been living together for eight years. He had realised that he was only spending a matter of weeks with her rather than months and the audience laughs nervously, as Cohen declares that he still lives with her for a couple of days each year. So much for Leonard the feminist.

Aviva claims that poets and artists can never be tamed and Marianne admits that she wished she could have put Cohen in a cage to keep him for herself. As road manager Billy Donovan jokes about the procession of women that used to visit Cohen's hotel bedroom, we see the Canadian charmer trying to escape the gaze of a camera while chatting up a woman who is flirting with him at a reception. He acknowledges that he became obsessed with conquest, while Marianne reveals that his infidelities made her miserable to the point of contemplating suicide. Aviva confides that Marianne had abortions because she knew Leonard didn't want children. As he rejoices in an interview about having lived through the era of Free Love, she gets tearful while recalling that she had reluctantly reached the decision that things had to end.

While seeking a new direction, Ihlen had visited the student Broomfield in Cardiff and urged him to make a documentary about slum clearance near his dockside digs. He recalls the kids flocking around her because she was so empathetic. But she was unhappy, even though Cohen had written `Bird on a Wire' with her when electricity had finally reached Hydra. Brown recalls Axel having to grow up quickly because life within the expat community was so unconventional. Moreover, as Marianne sought consolatory lovers, Axel was excluded and Brown laments that she wasn't always a great mother and cites this as a reason that Axel spent much of his life in institutions. Goldman says her own parents split up when she was still young and we hear how the Johnston family fell apart after leaving the island, as the struggle of reality and the effect of drink and drugs drove several members to early deaths and/or suicide. 

Longtime resident George Slater says he loved it on Hydra and insists that Cohen thrived there. But he had the gift for seeming to fit wherever he went and women flocked to him. He also started doing a lot of drugs and Cornelius recalls the madness of the Isle of Wight event when the stage caught fire just before they went on. Yet, the spaced-out Cohen was in his element and wondered if Marianne was in the audience to share the experience. By the time her image adorned the back of the sleeve for the 1969 album, Songs From a Room, however, she was finding it increasingly hard to communicate with Cohen and became ever more aware of the gulf developing between them. 

Both Cornelius and Donovan tell druggy tales in which LSD features heavily. Brown claims it was slipped in his drink when he was a kid and remembers mules staggering off down Hydra's steep, narrow streets after cruelly being fed acid. Cornelius recalls taking a needle prick of Desert Dust and being wasted for 14 hours. He swears that they took it 23 days in a row and much of one tour was conducted under its influence. Out of respect for his heritage, Cohen tried to stay clean in Jerusalem and apologised to the audience for playing so badly. Indeed, he even offered to refund their money. But, having come off stage, Cohen had shaved without soap and felt so much better that he went back out and finished the show. 

According to Judy Scott, Cohen started seeing artist Suzanne Elrod in Montreal while he was still living with Marianne on Hydra. Aviva Layton sneers that Elrod was a scheming woman who knew what she had to do to keep Cohen and always felt that he was like an insect trapped in a spider's web. Cornelius suggests that Cohen was always chasing something without ever quite knowing what it was and that this endless quest led to deep depressions. But John Lissauer - who produced the album New Skin for the Old Ceremony (1974) - believes that Cohen accepted these downswings, as quasi-depressed women of a certain age identified with him and he was forever being thanked for helping guide them out of their crises. Lissauer also reveals that Cohen was a funny man, but descended into darkness when he wrote and performed.

While they were working on the Songs for Rebecca project in the mid-1970s, Cohen decided to take a short break on Hydra. But Lissauer didn't hear from him again for seven years, because Marty Machat had cut a deal for Cohen to work with Phil Spector (whom he also represented) on Death of a Ladies' Man (1977). In retrospect, Cohen reveals that he had hated the sessions, as Spector was a gun-toting maniac, while his family life was becoming increasingly strained. In an effort to atone, Cohen contacted Lissauer and asked him to produce his next album, Various Positions (1984), which contained the anthemic `Hallelujah'. They both thought it was a masterpiece, but Columbia hated it and Machat told Lissauer that he was finished and tossed his contract in the bin. Thus, while the song went on to become the highlight of every Cohen concert and be recorded by 300 other artists, Lissauer didn't get any royalties because his contract had never been signed. 

Meanwhile, Marianne had left Hydra and returned to Oslo. Goldman reveals that she became a secretary, married a Norwegian man named Jan and became stepmother to his children in a cosily dull existence. Broomfield goes back to Hydra and finds it's become the playground of the rich. The author of 30 self-published books, Don Lowe still lives there and uses candles and a well rather than electricity and running water. He got closer to Marianne in her later years and says Cohen's shadow remained over her. She divorced and remarried Jan and seemed to find a sort of contentment. Cohen sought his in the Mount Baldy Zen Centre between 1994-99, during which time manager Kelley Lynch stole $6 million and he had to leave the Buddhist monastery in order to make his living on the road. It was during this period that Cohen became cool and he felt better adjusted to revel in the adulation. 

Marianne accepted front-row tickets to the 2009 Oslo show and we see her singing along with her former lover. Mollestadt recalls her contacting him to let him know that she was dying and asked him to tell Cohen, With her permission, Mollestadt brought a camera to her hospital bedside and recorded her reaction as she listened to Leonard's message about his eternal gratitude and being just behind her. She thought it was beautiful and Mollestadt believes that these were the words she had waited a lifetime to hear. Cohen himself died three months later in Los Angeles on 7 November 2016. 

While the title suggests that this is supposed to be a joint portrait, much of the focus falls on the more famous partner in a relationship that exposed the best and the worst of Leonard Cohen's personality. As a friend of Marianne's, Broomfield is wholly entitled to take her side. But he also seems to shield her and Axel by gently pushing them into the margins while he concentrates on the more colourful aspects of Cohen's post-Hydra career. It would be interesting to know more about Ihlen's life in Oslo. especially as her biographer is on hand to provide some discreet insights. Instead, we get some rather tiresome `what happens on tour' anecdotes about Cohen's appetite for drugs and women, which actually do little to enhance his reputation.

For once restricting his own appearances, Broomfield makes haunting use of Leonard and Marianne's voices to put a personal spin on the rather perfunctory meld of archive footage and talking-head revelation. Yet he never gets inside the couple's minds and hearts, as he flits between their island circle and Cohen's extramural commitments and hedonistic betrayals. It might also have been nice to hear a bit more of such pivotal songs as `So Long, Marianne' and `Bird on a Wire'. But we learn more about `Suzanne' and `Hallelujah', which have nothing to do with the romance under scrutiny. Slickly assembled, this casts a pleasantly nostalgic glow. But it hardly sheds new light.

When Hull was named UK Capital of Culture for 2017, documentary maker Sean McAllister was appointed creative director of the opening event. On returning to his home city, McAllister moved in with his ageing parents, Harry and Kate, and vowed to ensure that the year-long celebration spoke to everyone in the city rather than just the cultural elite. To this end, he hooked up with warehouse worker Steve Arnott, who was appalled by the fact that one in three children in Hull live in poverty and hoped to provide them with a means of escape by taking hip hop into the city's primary schools. His efforts are captured in A Northern Soul, which the BBFC saddled with a 15 certificate on its cinema release because of its salty language. Now it's on disc, the film finally has a chance to reach the very kids with whom Arnott was trying to connect. 

Once known as the gateway to Europe, Hull was the second most bombed British city during the Second World War and it has struggled to recover since its fishing fleet slipped into decline. McAllister hoped that the awarding of the City of Culture tag will help Humberside regain its confidence in the midst of a recession and Brexit confusion. Consequently, on opening night, he projected films on to the city's iconic buildings to help restore people's pride in their home and coax them into approaching the future with renewed confidence. 

Steve Arnott hopes to do the same with his Beats Bus, a brightly painted box van that he intends taking to local schools in order to give children a chance to express themselves and be heard. His company, Arco, is helping out and he is suitably grateful. But the tattooed 42 year-old chain smoker has to work hard for modest wages and McAllister compares the grind he endures with the comfortable retirement his parents are enjoying. Fussed over by a mother who complains about his scruffy clothes and wields an iron in the same way he brandishes a camera, McAllister identifies with Arnott because he also left school at 16 and started making films like The Season (1990) while working in a factory. 

Having just separated from his second wife, Arnott is living with his mother, who defies poor health to battle on. The neighbourhood is undergoing a facelift, but work has fallen behind schedule and Arnott and McAllister recognise this as a typical Hullian trait. Thus, Arnott is determined to make a success of his six-week programme with assistants Tim Yeomans, Nigel Taylor, Dave Okwesia, Paul Clark and Nick Horsefield. They receive a warm welcome at their first school, where eight year-old Harvey and Blessing rise to the challenge of rapping along with Arnott and Nigel during a busy day of activities that also includes graffiti art and break dancing.

Juggling shifts and visits, Arnott admits that the project has had a negative impact on his working life, as he has missed out on bonuses that he needs to help pay the monthly instalments on his £9000 debt. He is also being investigated after a co-worker reported him for making an unconventional repair to a snagged conveyor belt. Moreover, Arnott is only able to see his young daughter every fortnight, as he doesn't drive and she lives 90 minutes away in Helmsley. But he is determined to avoid the mistakes that his own father made and is also attempting to rebuild his relationship with a man who regrets the misdeeds of his past. 

As a result of the school visits, Arnott has selected eight kids to mentor and rehearse for a series of performances over the summer. Alongside Ash, Gabby, Gracie, Kaci, Lily Ann, Roxanne and Spencer are Blessing and Harvey, although the latter (who is bullied at school because of his stutter) has to be reminded about his behaviour after his mum is called to collect him after he steps out of line. However, he perks up after Arnott drops round to his house and Blessing also responds to a little pep talk after he gets upset following the first live show because neither of his parents could get time off work to watch him. The small crowd in a rough estate respond enthusiastically to the kids and Arnott is delighted with their work. He is also hugely proud when they audition for Britain's Got Talent.

Meanwhile, McAllister's parents are making an effort to attend some of the many multicultural events that have taken over the centre. They even tag along to a gay tea party outside the town hall. But, as nine months whizz past in the twinkling of an eye, the strain of the Beats Bus initiative begins to tell on Arnott, who is finding it difficult to make meaningful time for his daughter during her visits. He also has to put up with being demoted from line manager to general operative after the conveyor belt incident and the drop in wages makes it trickier to manage his debts. Yet, he is still in negotiations with the company to keep the van after City of Culture ends and continue finding new talent in the backstreets. 

McAllister is concerned for Arnott, who has started to feel like a `high-vis prisoner', and pleased when he hooks up with a woman he knew at school. However, she dislikes being filmed, unlike Harvey and Blessing, who have a delightful conversation about crisps that culminates in the latter declaring that he likes prawns, but he doesn't care for the cocktail. This flicker of humour scarcely lifts the gloom descending on Arnott, however, as he is informed that Arco have decided not to renew the insurance on the van and have given the equipment to a local school. Moreover, he has opted to sign an Individual Voluntary Agreement to restructure his debt payments and he gives a wry smile as he admits that the Beats Bus has done more for the kids than it has for him. 

Harvey is delighted when Arnott presents him with his copy of the band's CD single and he poses in front of the framed press cuttings in his front room. McAllister reminds Arnott that he has helped transform a troubled little boy and he receives further plaudits from the small audience when he performs at an open mic session. His rap tells of his pride in Hull and one is left to reflect on the price he has had to pay to make his contribution to the City of Culture schedule. As McAllister takes his father in a wheelchair to the Hull Prom, Arnott vows to take the positives out of his experience and a closing caption reveals that he quit Arco six months later to dedicate himself to the Beats Bus workshops. 

Closing with Harvey and Blessing recording a new song, this is a magnificent companion piece to Hull's Angel (2002), in which McAllister followed 48 year-old Tina's attempts to help the 1500 asylum seekers residing in the area known as `Little Beirut'. However, it also contains echoes of The Liberace of Bagdad (2004) and A Syrian Love Story (2014) in showcasing McAllister's talent for unearthing identifiable human interest sagas that provide telling insights into a wider news stories. Yet, by maintaining an on-screen presence and including his own folks among the dramatis personnae, McAllister has put a personal imprint on an actuality that exposes the impact of austerity cuts on the very `hard-working families' that governments always claim to have uppermost in their minds. In this regard, it has much in common with classic 1930s documentaries like Arthur Elton and Edgar Anstey's Housing Problems (1935).

Like most of us, Arnott is a victim of circumstance and his own misjudgements. But he doesn't court sympathy and channels the pain he feels at being apart from his daughter into helping kids on his doorstep who are in dire need of a little encouragement. Given that this is a relatively short film and a number of key events occur off camera, it's a shame we don't get to know the other six members of the Beats Bus combo or learn a bit more about Arnott's fellow volunteers. However, it's easy to see why McAllister would want to focus on Blessing and Harvey, as they become naturals in front of the camera once they manage to overcome their initial shyness. 

But, while this is very much a people picture, McAllister also has trenchant points to make about the state of the nation in general and Hull in particular. In adopting a edgily energetic style, he could easily have made this a grim exposé of Broken Britain, but he prefers to emphasise the positive aspects of a region that has been hard hit by post-industrial decline and social spending cutbacks. One hopes he revisits Arnott in a few years time to see whether he has managed to keep the show on the road and his own head above water. On the strength of this profile, he deserves to do both.

Director Mark Sloper has a decent track record when it comes to rockumentaries, with Sid! By Those Who Really Knew Him (2009), One More: A Definitive History of UK Clubbing 1988-2008 (2011), Punk ’76 (2013) and Billy Fury: The Sound of Fury (2015) to his credit. However, he has also produced five entries in the I, Superbiker series (2011-15) and he returns to two wheels in Speed Is My Need, which touches on a range of topics after initially following Leon Haslam's bid to win the British Superbike Championship for the JG Speedfit Kawasaki team in 2017. 

As ex-World Superbike champions Colin `Texas Tornado' Edwards and `Fast' Freddie Spencer recall the sensations they experienced on the starting line, performance coach Penny Mallory and sports psychologist Professor Craig Mahoney discuss the role that fear and excitement play in driving the great riders. `Rocket' Ron Haslam knows all about the adrenaline rush and the notion that each race could be the last from his own days on the track. But, now, he is watching son Leon Haslam challenging Shane Byrne for the BSB title in 2017 and commentators James Haydon and James Whitham and race director Stuart Hicks question the Kawasaki team's tactics in the penultimate weekend of the season, as Leon's bike didn't have the oomph to see off `Shakey' Byrne.

As Ron had a reputation for letting titles slip out of his grasp, rumours spread of the family curse striking again and Times journalist Rick Broadbent claims it can't be easy for Leon riding in his father's shadow. But personal trainer Kirk Gibbons urges him to forget about the past and focus on his own destiny. However, brake failure during the final race sends Leon spinning off the track and he has to be carried to embrace the victorious Byrne in the pits. While Hicks muses on the Haslam yips, Mallory declares that winners are invariably those who want it more and are willing to go through all sorts of sacrifice and suffering to be the best. 

Over old footage of Barry Sheene in his pomp, we hear him describe how his father got him into the sport and clinical psychologyst Dr Victor Thompson agrees that the family connection is often important in shaping a young person's interest. Broadbent mentions the Dunlop family (who were so painfully profiled in Michael Hewitt and Diarmuid Lavery's Road, 2014) and both Edwards and Spencer remember growing up around bikes, becoming comfortable on them and developing the ambition to race. 

Mallory and Mahoney also highlight the extent to which father's live vicariously through sons in the hope they will emulate or surpass their achievements. There is also the `ugly parent' syndrome that sees fathers getting angry on the sidelines in order to urge their child on, while making themselves unpopular in the process. However, Broadbent reckons that Rocket Ron tried to steer Pocket Rocket away from the sport because he knew what he would have to endure and because he had lost his brother, Terry in 1984. We see footage of Leon winning motocross races at the age of nine and Ron reveals that he actively sought to persuade him to switch sports after a leg break. But Leon was determined to keep racing and Ron backed him because he knew he was competing for himself and not to please his dad. 

In discussing the racing mindset, Spencer claims that riders need to think so far ahead that they can solve problems on the track before they arise. Mahoney and Mallory concur that develop physical and mental skills to cope with the demands competition makes. Edwards jokes that it's a primeval urge to beat everyone else to `get all the chicks'. But Spencer insists that racers need a mindfulness that allows them to get the better of an opponent while ensuring everyone gets home in one piece. 

A caption reveals that over 250 riders have perished in the Isle of Man TT Races since their inception in 1907. Commentator Matt Roberts claims the race appeals because it hasn't changed much in the intervening 112 years and that the element of danger makes it more attractive to the thrill-seeking side of the best bikers. Spencer recalls his first ride on the open roads and Horst Saiger and Gary Johnson agree it's a lifetime goal to complete the course. We see a memorial to those who have lost their lives on the island, but Edwards and Spencer reveal that riders have to shelve any emotions about fatalities or serious injuries because the race must go on and that entertaining doubts makes you a danger to yourself and others. Mahoney suggests it's a harsh reality, but it's also part of a survival instinct because negative thoughts can have grim consequences. 

We meet Dean Cooke, who owns a hyperbarbic chamber that helps riders recover more rapidly from injury, and Peter Hickman, who wins the Senior race at the end of the TT fortnight. But these episodes feel a bit tossed into the mix, while Broadbent and Edwards's concluding remarks about competitors entering the event of their own volition and having a right to do what they want with their own lives have a whiff of the machismo that has previously been kept in check. 

Back on the track, team owner Pete Extance monitor's JD Speedfit's pre-season testing. He is confident that the problems have been addressed, but the opening race goes badly and Leon finishes ninth. Wife Oli says they will bounce back and reveals she is close to mother-in-law Anne and they make a good support team. But rather than examining this aspect of the Haslam brand, Sloper veers back off into an analysis of the addictive nature of competing. Mallory and Mahoney discuss personality types and how the body produces chemicals to help turn fear into thrill so that it can savour the rush of pleasure that comes with victory. Interestingly, Spencer says he raced from a sense of purpose, while Edwards claims that the glory was nice, but the real motivating factor for him was the cash to make the risks worthwhile. However, Mahoney counters that legacy often matters more than money, especially when a successful rider has already banked a sizeable nest egg. 

Spencer defines a winner as `somebody who refuses to get beat' and Leon Haslam ably proves the point by winning on the Brands Hatch circuit where his championship dream had ended a few months earlier and triumphs on a tricky rain-slicked course. He then won the second race after surviving a shoulder barge on the line to present Ron with a Father's Day double. 

We duck out of the BSB title race to consider the right time to retire and both Spencer and Edwards claim they knew when the moment had come. Broadbent, however, recalls Valentino Rossi telling him that he would retire in his late twenties and he is still racing approaching 40. Mahoney opines that older riders become more conservative and the slight hesitancy makes them more likely to have a spill. But, as Mallory (an ex-rider herself) notes, riders are retired a long time and they need to find something to replace the sensations that had experienced in their heyday. When not on his farm, Edwards runs a bikes and guns resort for enthusiasts, while Spencer runs a training school to put something back by encouraging students to use best practices on the track and on the road. 

As Spencer avers that discipline and consistency are as important as speed and flair, Leon begins to impose himself on the BSB Championship. With Byrne suffering an injury, the man threat comes from Jake Dixon. But he comes to the 12th Round at Brands needing only to come sixth to take the crown. After cannily keeping out of trouble, he finishes where he has to and takes the title to the delight of his proud father. Byrne is among the first to congratulate him to confirm the camaraderie of the gladiators and Leon jokes that they were the longest 20 laps of his life. While he relishes the moment, Spencer and Edwards agree that the need to win is in our DNA and that humans will always feel the need to prove their mettle against others. 

Those familiar with the sport will already know the outcome of the Haslam side of the story and will be robbed of the element of suspense that awaits newcomers. But it's hard to think there will be many of those, as this is purely for two-wheel petrolheads. The race footage is slickly assembled by Craig Macintosh, but his contribution as Sloper's co-scenarist is less distinguished, as the film veers between its salient points about rider mentality with more vigour than cogency. 

Overall, the scientific input is more intriguing than the inside track insight, with Mahoney and Mallory rightly refusing to sensationalise or simplify complex concepts. Freddie Spencer's contribution is also markedly more considered than that of Colin Edwards. But the person you'd want to spend most time with is journalist Rick Broadbent, as he combines an appreciation of the mind-and-body aspects with a knowledge of the sport's history and a respect for the riders who risk life and limb for the myriad reasons Sloper identifies during his haphazard, but enjoyable ride.

Having dedicated a documentary to the Shower Scene in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960), it should come as no surprise to learn that Alexandre O. Philippe has followed the fitfully intriguing 78/52 (2017) with a treatise on the Chestburster Sequence in Ridley Scott's Alien (1979). This was one of the first of what became known as water-cooler moments, as everyone gathered in the office or school corridor to discuss it the day after the movie's premiere. But, while he spreads the net a little wider in examining the genesis of the screenplay and the inspiration behind the sharp-toothed critter, Memory: The Origin of Alien is strictly for the nerdiest of fanboys. 

Following some garbled theories proposed by a mix of academics and podcasters, we meet Diane O'Bannon, the widow of Dan O'Bannon, who came up with the idea for Alien She describes his childhood in a remote corner of rural Missouri, where his father ran a curio shop called Odd Acres and Dan helped him fake photographs of an alien invasion. Quite how this went down with his science-fiction-hating mother is left to our imagination, as Diane recalls the impact made on O'Bannon of such Cold War sci-fi movies as Gordon Douglas's Them! (1954), Nathan Juran's Deadly Mantis, Bert I. Gordon's Beginning of the End, Kenneth G. Crane's Monster From Green Hell and Edward Ludwig's The Black Scorpion (all 1957), which all contained fearsome creepy crawlies. He channelled this fear into an unrealised screenplay about a mutating cicada entitled They Bite, 

As TV movie host Ben Mankiewicz continues, Bannon borrowed heavily from an eight-page DC Comics story called `Seeds of Jupiter'. Cartoonist and fellow Mid-Westerner Tim Boxell also points out the similarities to his own `Defiled' contribution to the Death Rattle comic in 1972. But the influence of HP Lovecraft's `weird fiction' is also evident, particularly the 1931 novel, The Mountains of Madness, while William Linn from the Joseph Campbell Writers' Room rather smugly highlights the importance on O'Bannon's thinking of Campbell's The Hero With a Thousand Faces (1949), which posits the theory of the monomyth to link all tales of heroism back to the various world mythologies. 

Added into O'Bannon's brew are movies like Howard Hawks and Christian Nyby's The Thing From Another World (1951), Edward L. Cahn's It! The Terror From Beyond Space (1958), Mario Bava's Planet of the Vampires (1965) and, as academic Nicholas J. Cull notes, the Roger Corman-produced Curtis Harrington shocker, Queen of Blood (1966). Ian Nathan, the author of Alien Vault, also mentions O'Bannon's collaboration with John Carpenter on Dark Star (1974), which prompted the writer to hack out on his own after he felt he'd been cheated of a co-directorial credit. His intention was always to make a horror version of the scenario and his thoughts began to coalesce while working with Chilean visionary Alejandro Jodorowsky on his thwarted adaptation of Frank Herbert's Dune.

When this project collapses, O'Bannon moved in with fellow writer Ronald Shusett, who worked with him on the story for what was then called Memory. As Diane reveals, the impetus for the alien bursting out of an astronaut's stomach came from the fact that O'Bannon had been diagnosed with Crohn's Disease. But Gary Sherman, the director of Death Line (1972), notes that Shusett was also fascinated by the concept of humans hosting an alien embryo and he remembers waking in the middle of the night with the face-hugger and chestburster ideas. However, the idea came from nature and director Ridley Scott used to show the crew footage of wood wasps fiendishly laying their eggs. 

According to art director Roger Christian, it was at this point that Swiss artist HR Giger became involved in the project after Jodorowsky showed O'Bannon a copy of his book, Necronomicon. Diane highlights their bonding over Lovecraft, while Carmen Giger flags up her husband's obsession with Egypt and how the goddess Nut played a central idea in the notion of the alien giving birth to a race that could destroy humanity. At this juncture, the script had assumed the name Starbeast and Roger Corman remains sorry that he didn't have the resources to make it. He advised O'Bannon to go to a bigger studio and it was then that the screenplay attracted the attention of director Walter Hill. 

Along with producers Gordon Carroll and David Giler, he took the project to 20th Century-Fox, who refused to have anything to do with the illustrations that O'Bannon had commissioned from Giger at this own expense. Hill then withdrew and actor Tom Skerritt admits that he also passed on the picture, as he felt like something Edward D. Wood, Jr. might have concocted. Associate producer Ivor Powell and editor Terry Rawlings reminisce about showing the script to Ridley Scott, whose antipathy to sci-fi vanished during his first reading. Indeed, Belgian director Axelle Carolyn is among many to aver that Alien would never have made movie history without the creative triumvirate of O'Bannon, Giger and Scott, as they all realised this was about past civilisations and repression, as much as it was an outer space horror. 

In discussions of the Nostromo sets (with their sexual overtones), the roving camera technique and the picture's impish defiance of science, we hear lots of praise being heaped upon Scott (who only appears in archive footage) and his cinematic genius. Clearly, his insistence on items like the `space jockey' as the source of the eggs was vital, as was the decision to have little other than quotidian stuff happen during the first 45 minutes of the picture. But it's all a bit fawning and it's something of a relief when Philippe cuts to the chase (in his own Scott-like coup) and turns his attention to the Chestburster. 

We learn from biographer Michael Peppiatt about the influence on Giger's creature of Francis Bacon's 1944 triptych, `Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion', and hear from academic Denise Demetriou about the significance of The Furies, who cast such a shadow over Bacon's psyche after his father cast him out of the family home for being gay. But Philippe doesn't linger over these details. Instead, he has Mankiewicz read the page from O'Bannon's script has media scholar Henry Jenkins relate it to the emergence of `body horror' in pictures like David Cronenberg's Shivers (1975) and Scanners (1981). 

But we rewind for horror writer Alan Jones to compare the space shots to those in Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and for Cull to link the storyline to the anti-colonial writings of Joseph Conrad through the naming of the spacecraft, `Narcissus' and `Nostromo'. He suggests that it's no accident that Francis Ford Coppola should have been basing Apocalypse Now (1979) on Conrad's `Heart of Darkness' at the same period and links in both films with the wave of Paranoia Pictures produced by New Hollywood in the wake of the Vietnam and Watergate crises. Academic Drew Martin also points to the coincidence of the arrest of a number of American serial killers and suggests that Alien tapped into a sense that humanity is powerless to combat pure evil. 

Cull also claims it follows the likes of Robert Benton's Kramer vs Kramer and Woody Allen's Manhattan (both 1979) in reflecting a panic about the breakdown of the traditional family unit. Director Adam Egypt Mortimer opines that the scenes involving the crew as family point the way to the multi-character blocking and overlapping dialogue technique used in 1980s movies (yet, as the clip from Robert Altman's M*A*S*H, 1970 shows, this was clearly happening a decade earlier). He makes a more valid point in comparing the film to Bob Rafelson's Five Easy Pieces (1970) and Michael Cimino's The Deer Hunter (1978) in its objection to the exploitation of blue-collar workers and notes the way Harry Dean Stanton and Yaphet Kotto's proletarian characters are ignored when they wisely suggest that John Hurt's clearly ailing executive officer should be frozen to prevent problems occurring on the isolated ship miles from Earth. 

Jenkins claims that O'Bannon also sought to break from the sanitised version of space presented in films like Michael Anderson's Logan's Run (1976), George Lucas's Star Wars (1977) and Robert Wise's Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979). Cull next addresses the #MeToo relevant themes of male penetration and pregnancy that Scott and O'Bannon included to reflect a sense of guilt at the oppression and objectification of women that was slowly emerging in the 1970s. Podcaster Clarke Wolfe concurs that Alien is an attempted act of retribution on behalf of a patriarchal society. But Axelle Carolyn is less convinced and jokes that the studio would have shut the picture down in a trice if it had suspected it was about male rape. Nevertheless, in regretting the subsequent shortage of strong female characters like Ellen Ripley (who was originally written as male), she's grateful that `the unconscious works in so many wonderful ways'. 

Having tired of this latest digression. Philippe yanks us back to the Chestburster Scene. But. having brought us to John Hurt's first inklings of feeling unwell, we tangent off again to focus on Ian Holm's science android, Ash. The talking heads agree that he is aware of the infestation and that he has been programmed to be a misogynist. Over clips from Roman Polanski's Macbeth (1971) and Peter Greenaway's The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (1989), Mortimer notes that the key scene occurs at the dining table and makes a weak pun about guessing who's coming to dinner. 

Mortimer joins Martin in eulogising about Scott's shot selection in the seconds before the eruption, with the latter identifying something Kubrickian about the sudden shift from formal detachment to looser compositions. Veronica Cartwright remembers the day of the shoot and suggests that the puppet Roger Dicken created looked like a penis with teeth. Ian Nathan dispels the myth that only John Hurt knew that the alien was going to burst out of his chest. However, nobody was prepared for the smell of the offal that Scott had requested to add to the effect of the flying innards. 

Much to everyone's amusement, the critter failed to rip through the white t-shirt on the first two takes. But this prompted Scott to add more bloodlines and Cartwright reveals that no one was ready for the amount of gore and goo that would splatter them. Skerritt chuckles on recalling a shocked Cartwright tripping over a banquette and having to remain in character as she scrambled up. Christian commends Dicken's artistry in making the puppet so terrifying and authentically childlike. We see second camera footage of the scene, with Scott directing Dicken and one contributor notes that when Scott re-staged the scene in Alien: Covenant (2017), he replaced the bright lighting with darkness. Apparently, this is to reflect his rumination upon his own mortality and reaffirms the child destroying the parent notion he had previously explored in Blade Runner (1982) and Prometheus (2012).

As cinema is a window on our collective unconscious. Alien continues four decades after it was made to remind us of the concerns we should be addressing. In claiming that her late husband went back to the future from whence he had come, Diane O'Bannon promises that there is more to come, because she has been guarding scripts and scraps whose pertinence is only now becoming apparent. As we wait to discover what these are, Philippe returns to Delphi, where he had opened the film with a spurious recreation of a scene from Aeschylus, in which Clytemnestra (Shannon Muchow) wakes the Furies, one which says in Greek (Mickey Faerch), `The reek of human blood smiles out at me,' the very phrase Francis Bacon had used in explaining `Three Figures'. 

Having read Nick Pinkerton's uncompromising analysis in Sight and Sound, it's hard to think what else to say about a supposedly serious study, in which so many egos are mutually massaged that one can't help but feel a little queasy. This is as slick as Ronseal and certainly does what it says on the tin. Some of the contributions - particularly from the likes of Ian Nathan (who is well known to this critic) and Axelle Carolyn - are informative and proportionate. The picture slides off the rails when it starts to treat fanboy culture as something to be reverenced. This is a landmark movie and its creators managed to slip an admirable amount of weighty matter into a crowdpleaser. But they are not unique in doing this and it's intriguing that Scott has had nothing to do with the venture.  

Philippe is a fine forensic film-maker, but he has yet to produce anything on a par with Room 237 (2012), Rodney Ascher's study of Stephen King and Stanley Kubrick's visions of The Shining. Once again, the calibre of his so-called experts is wildly varied (although they're markedly less brattishly effusive than some were in 78/52) and there are too many one-shot cameos involving preening people who have little of value to impart. If you don't treat it like a work of shattering intellectual artistry, Alien is a grand watch. But, when it departs from the behind-the-scenes factuality and starts to sound like a Film Studies essay assignment, this becomes little more than a glorified extra from a DVD boxed set.