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At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘True Grit’, 3 February 2011

True Grit 
directed by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen.
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... challenge. Henry Hathaway’s 1969 film had rich, bright colours, National Park scenery with snow-capped mountains, long shots of little log cabins nestling in lonely valleys, a fulsome ‘western’ score by Elmer Bernstein, reminding us of dozens of movie trips to the unpopulated wilds, and even a sentimental folksy song delivered over the credits by ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Sisters Brothers’, 9 May 2019

... back in the seat than can be comfortable. The West includes grasslands, rocky crags, forests, snow-capped mountains – all shot, apparently, as American dreams should be, in Spain and Romania. The brothers encounter cultural innovations that surprise them and move them: a toothbrush, a water closet. We see western towns being built, patches of desert ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Swing Time’, 4 April 2019

... is so erratically hot and cold – hence the wonderful song ‘A Fine Romance’, sung in the snow. Finally, it turns out that the neglected fiancée loves someone else, and Astaire is off the hook. ‘Gee, that’s swell,’ he says, remembering only a moment later to feign regret. Earlier, he had said goodbye to Rogers in the number with pennies ...

After the Movies

Michael Wood: Godard’s Histoire(s) du cinéma, 4 December 2008

Histoire(s) du cinéma 
directed by Jean-Luc Godard.
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... text, voice-over, moving pictures, stills, paintings, engravings, cartoons. We see the witch in Snow White and the corpses piled up at Auschwitz and Ravensbrück; plenty of Goya, Seurat, Manet; Kim Novak almost drowning in Vertigo, the old major dying in The Magnificent Ambersons; Ivan the Terrible and Stalin; Hitler in one frame immediately followed by ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Wonder Woman’, 13 July 2017

Wonder Woman 
directed by Patty Jenkins.
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... the German opposition and liberate a village. There is beer all round, much terrible music, and snow obligingly, romantically falls. Diana was able to lead the troop across the fields in spite of intense enemy fire because of her magically undamageable bracelets and her ability to see bullets arriving as if in slow motion. Diana quite plausibly thinks ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Blade Runner 2049’, 2 November 2017

Blade Runner 2049 
directed by Denis Villeneuve.
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... the second. The weather is still terrible: torrential rain for much of the film, with some elegant snow now and then for scenic reasons. Los Angeles still looks like a crowded, run-down version of Tokyo. Coca-Cola is advertised, and Rick Deckard (played again by Harrison Ford) still drinks Johnny Walker Black Label, although it now comes in a fancy designer ...


Michael Ignatieff: Canadian Elections, 1 November 1984

... alone on an ice-field stretching to infinity. It is the moment of winter when the clouds meet the snow and abolish the world. I am skating with the languid ease which eludes me in life. My skates make no sound. Out of the whiteness all around me, someone else’s blades are approaching, a lethal lulling swish. A Canadian dream – God on skates. The dreams ...

Unfrozen Sea

Michael Byers: The Arctic Grail, 22 March 2007

... be no sea-ice at all in the summer. Recent satellite measurements analysed by the US National Snow and Ice Data Center are even more alarming. In March 2006 the area covered during the winter by sea-ice was at an all-time low: 120,000 square miles less than the previous year. At this rate, the Arctic could lose all of its sea-ice by 2030. Phytoplankton in ...

Out of Babel

Michael Hofmann: Thomas Bernhard Traduced, 14 December 2017

Collected Poems 
by Thomas Bernhard, translated by James Reidel.
Chicago, 459 pp., £25, June 2017, 978 0 85742 426 6
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... of black flowers, you are driven by an endless wind from the north, I will sleep, tomorrow the snow and solitude will already cover me after your shoes …But one might as well read Celan, or perhaps merely something histrionic translated from the Spanish. One might read Bernhard: Birds blackened the winter passages of my loneliness and brought news of ...

Like the trees on Primrose Hill

Samuel Hynes, 2 March 1989

Louis MacNeice: A Study 
by Edna Longley.
Faber, 178 pp., £4.95, August 1988, 0 571 13748 2
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Louis MacNeice: Selected Poems 
edited by Michael Longley.
Faber, 160 pp., £4.95, August 1988, 0 571 15270 8
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A Scatter of Memories 
by Margaret Gardiner.
Free Association, 280 pp., £15.95, November 1988, 1 85343 043 9
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... of rain or the crackling of a newly lit fire or the jokes of a street-hawker or the silence of snow in moonlight or the purring of a powerful car. This is a catalogue of the sensory pleasures that any Londoner might know (and note how carefully all five of the senses are brought into it). But it is also an act of self-definition, MacNeice claiming a role ...


Jenny Diski: On Meeting the Creatives, 22 February 1996

... It’s a bad year for snow in Zermatt. Mont Cervin is mostly bare red rock. Even the Matterhorn has only a frosting of snow. But the pistes are all right: every few hundred yards bright yellow snow-making machines, like small snub-nosed cannon, soak up water from the lakes and shoot it ten metres into the air to do what God can usually be relied on to achieve, and keep what skiers there are on the move ...

Poetry is a horrible waste of time

Frances Wilson: Thomas Lovell Beddoes, 28 October 1999

Thomas Lovell Beddoes: Selected Poetry 
edited by Judith Higgens and Michael Bradshaw.
Carcanet, 116 pp., £8.95, June 1999, 1 85754 408 0
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... The Brides’ Tragedy. But he was so ashamed of the former, which contained lines such as ‘The snow is falling featherily’, that he destroyed all the copies he could find (friends discovered that the pages of their editions had been cut out and the hollowed books returned to the shelves). Beddoes would have been relieved to know that Judith Higgens and ...

Injury Time

Robert Taubman, 2 July 1981

Gorky Park 
by Martin Cruz Smith.
Collins, 365 pp., £6.95, May 1981, 0 00 222278 7
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The Turn-Around 
by Vladimir Volkoff, translated by Alan Sheridan.
Bodley Head, 411 pp., £6.95, April 1981, 0 370 30323 7
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Thus was Adonis murdered 
by Sarah Caudwell.
Collins, 246 pp., £5.95, March 1981, 0 00 231854 7
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A Splash of Red 
by Antonia Fraser.
Weidenfeld, 229 pp., £5.95, May 1981, 0 297 77937 0
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... Between the three corpses dug out of the snow in Gorky Park, Moscow and the sables let loose in the snow on Staten Island at the end – ‘black on white, black on white, and then gone’ – there are connections of cause and effect such as few crime novels have ever had to cope with ...

Uniquely Horrible

Michael Howard, 8 September 1994

The Wages of Guilt 
by Ian Buruma.
Cape, 330 pp., £17.99, June 1994, 0 224 03138 4
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... material prosperity which, as Buruma graphically puts it, ‘covered the past like a blanket of snow, hiding all traces, muffling all sound’. It was also made easier by their conquerors, who after the first vindictive few months found it politically convenient to compromise with the regimes they had destroyed. Denazification came to a halt in West Germany ...


Michael Dobson: The Russell-Cotes, 23 February 2012

... the important thing was that you could see what they were about. Nice views, appealing animals, snow scenes, the occasional young woman in varying quantities of folksy clothes: you knew where you were with pictures. ‘Captive Andromeda’ by Arthur Hill (1876). Confusingly, though, the one public building in Bournemouth you might visit in order to ...

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