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When the beam of light has gone

Peter Wollen: Godard Turns Over, 17 September 1998

The Films of Jean-Luc Godard 
by Wheeler Winston Dixon.
SUNY, 290 pp., £17.99, March 1997, 0 7914 3285 8
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Speaking about Godard 
by Kaja Silverman and Harun Farocki.
New York, 256 pp., $55, July 1998, 0 8147 8066 0
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... the set and Godard tore up the script, beginning again with Burgess Meredith and Molly Ringwald. Woody Allen did a walk-on as Mr Alien and Godard himself appeared as Professor Pluggy. Mailer’s vision of the film as a gangster movie in the tradition of The Godfather was systematically thrown to the winds. 7. Stabilisation. In the most recent phase of ...

Just one of those ends

Michael Wood: Apocalypse Regained, 13 December 2001

Apocalypse Now Redux 
directed by Francis Ford Coppola.
August 2001
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Marlon Brando 
by Patricia Bosworth.
Weidenfeld, 216 pp., £12.99, October 2001, 0 297 84284 6
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... Peter Cowie tells us, Brando reads the whole poem. This is a great, time-twisting gag, worthy of Woody Allen. A resurrected fictional character, cued by a reference to himself in his earlier incarnation, picks up and reads a work by a real-life poet. Coppola now seems to have invented Conrad, Kurtz and Eliot, but the only real agent here is ...

Seeing Stars

Alan Bennett: Film actors, 3 January 2002

... therefore the mother-in-law to be of Frank Sinatra, and later still the tigerish adversary of Woody Allen. Lauren Bacall, Gene Tierney, Laraine Day: here they all were in the un-cinematographic flesh, more worn perhaps than when we had first met in the ninepennies. But still cool, still sceptical (and still smoking, very often), though they were ...

They’re just not ready

Neal Ascherson: Gorbachev Betrayed, 7 January 2010

Uncivil Society: 1989 and the Implosion of the Communist Establishment 
by Stephen Kotkin, with Jan Gross.
Modern Library, 240 pp., $24, October 2009, 978 0 679 64276 3
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Revolution 1989: The Fall of the Soviet Empire 
by Victor Sebestyen.
Weidenfeld, 451 pp., £25, July 2009, 978 0 297 85223 0
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There Is No Freedom without Bread: 1989 and the Civil War that Brought Down Communism 
by Constantine Pleshakov.
Farrar, Straus, 289 pp., $26, November 2009, 978 0 374 28902 7
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1989: The Struggle to Create Post-Cold War Europe 
by Mary Elise Sarotte.
Princeton, 321 pp., £20.95, November 2009, 978 0 691 14306 4
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... He was dismayed by the enthusiasm of rebels like the bearded János Kis, who reminded him of a Woody Allen character: ‘They’re just not ready.’ His team shared his fear that the Cold War might end in chaos and local conflicts. At the start of the year, Bush had sent Henry Kissinger (codenamed ‘Kitty’) to Moscow on a secret mission to make ...

What’s your dust worth?

Steven Shapin: Corpses, 14 April 2011

After We Die: The Life and Times of the Human Cadaver 
by Norman Cantor.
Georgetown, 372 pp., £18.75, December 2010, 978 1 58901 695 8
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... much part of life. If you need complete secularism, it’s not Wittgenstein you should go to but Woody Allen: ‘I’m not afraid of death, I just don’t want to be there when it ...

I only want the OM

Christopher Tayler: Somerset Maugham, 1 September 2005

Somerset Maugham: A Life 
by Jeffrey Meyers.
Vintage, 411 pp., £12, April 2005, 1 4000 3052 8
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... that ‘a novelist must arrange the facts to entertain his readers.’ (In one of his parodies, Woody Allen has Maugham advising: ‘At the end of an interrogatory sentence, place a question mark. You’d be surprised how effective it can be.’) Waugh described him as a master of ‘creating the appetite for information . . . withholding it until ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 2016, 5 January 2017

... at the Evening Standard awards lunch. I was struck by how stylish and Ivy League he was (like Woody Allen, who wore similarly dapper outfits then), slim and neat in a look I always fancied. More striking was that Albee was there in company with his male partner, which was still a bold step in 1972 and only the second time I had come across such an ...

Short Cuts

J. Hoberman: The CIA’s Animal Farm, 5 July 2007

... and the IRD the only interested parties: according to Leab, both the US Army and the producers of Woody Woodpecker cartoons also made inquiries as to the availability of Animal Farm’s film rights. The trade press reported that de Rochemont financed Animal Farm with the frozen British box-office receipts from his racial ‘passing’ drama Lost ...

An Entire Order Converted into What It Was Intended to End

Perry Anderson: Italy’s Decline, 26 February 2009

La Casta: Cosi i Politici Italiani sono Diventati Intoccabili 
by Sergio Rizzo and Gian Antonio Stella.
Rizzoli, 285 pp., €18, May 2007, 978 88 17 01714 5
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La Deriva: Perche l’Italia Rischia il Naufragio 
by Sergio Rizzo and Gian Antonio Stella.
Rizzoli, 342 pp., €19.50, May 2008, 978 88 17 02562 1
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... But his limitations had long been apparent. Vaguely resembling a pudgier, bug-eyed variant of Woody Allen, Veltroni – an enthusiast for filmic dross and football; delighted to lend his voice to a Disney cartoon; author of opuscules like ‘Thirty-Eight Declarations of Love to the Most Beautiful Game in the World’ – had the advantage of ...

Into the Eisenshpritz

Elif Batuman: Superheroes, 10 April 2008

Life, in Pictures: Autobiographical Stories 
by Will Eisner.
Norton, 493 pp., £18.99, November 2007, 978 0 393 06107 9
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Epileptic 
by David B..
Cape, 368 pp., £12.99, March 2006, 0 224 07920 4
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Shortcomings 
by Adrian Tomine.
Faber, 108 pp., £12.99, September 2007, 978 0 571 23329 8
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Misery Loves Comedy 
by Ivan Brunetti.
Fantagraphics, 172 pp., £15.99, April 2007, 978 1 56097 792 6
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... or something?’ Alice is happy to feel her life intersecting with the set of a ‘nostalgic’ Woody Allen movie, because the American Jewish narrative offers a chance to fit her own idiosyncratic and often uncomfortable personal experience into an already meaningful story – one which, moreover, has a built-in happy ending. From the perspective of ...

The Unstoppable Upward

James Wolcott: ‘The Life of Saul Bellow’, 24 January 2019

The Life of Saul Bellow: Love and Strife, 1965-2005 
by Zachary Leader.
Cape, 864 pp., £35, November 2018, 978 0 224 10188 2
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... combining the pleasure of seduction with the purr of hearing his own voice. The prototype of a Woody Allen protagonist, he sought to furnish his protégées’ minds, groom their tastes, show them the world. (Bellow was suavely incorporated into the celebrity cast of Allen’s 1983 biopic spoof Zelig.) Leader’s ...

Spying on Writers

Christian Lorentzen, 11 October 2018

... Baldwin was absolutely right. Then there are snitches. What did the local liquor store owner in Woody Creek, Colorado, know about Hunter Thompson? The make of his car and that he was going to appear on the Today show. The main snitch in Ray Bradbury’s file was the actor and screenwriter Martin Berkeley, a former Communist Party member who gave around 160 ...

Among the Bobcats

Mark Ford, 23 May 1991

The Dylan Companion 
edited by Elizabeth Thomson and David Gutman.
Macmillan, 338 pp., £10.99, April 1991, 0 333 49826 7
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Bob Dylan: Performing Artist. Vol. I: 1960-73 
by Paul Williams.
Xanadu, 310 pp., £14.99, February 1991, 1 85480 044 2
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Dylan: Behind the Shades 
by Clinton Heylin.
Viking, 528 pp., £16.99, May 1991, 0 670 83602 8
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The Bootleg Series: Vols I-III (rare and unreleased) 1961-1991 
by Bob Dylan.
Columbia, £24.95, April 1991
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... run away from home at 12; he’d joined a carnival, worked as a farmhand, had played out West with Woody Guthrie, with Gene Vincent, with Blind Lemon Jefferson ... He was soon even mythologising his own early days in New York, claiming to Shelton, who swallowed the story whole, that he spent his first two months in the big city hustling around Times Square as ...

Firm Lines

Hermione Lee, 17 November 1983

Bartleby in Manhattan, and Other Essays 
by Elizabeth Hardwick.
Weidenfeld, 292 pp., £8.95, September 1983, 0 297 78357 2
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... Brook, Lévi-Strauss, Philip Rieff – sometimes it begins to sound like a conversation in Woody Allen’s Manhattan) and an occasional irritability: these are the minor flaws. The attack on Peter Conrad’s Imagining America is splendidly cross, but she does misquote him (‘hedonistic abandon’ for ‘abandoned hedonism’ and other smaller ...

Even Immortality

Thomas Laqueur: Medicomania, 29 July 1999

The Greatest Benefit to Mankind: A Medical History of Humanity from Antiquity to the Present 
by Roy Porter.
HarperCollins, 833 pp., £24.99, February 1999, 0 00 637454 9
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... successful management do give us more time to suffer the pains and debilities of old age but, as Woody Allen noted, consider the alternative. Still, Porter is on to something important here and the tension between his two narratives – the Exodus narrative of liberation from ignorance and disease, the other its ironic doppelgänger – suffuses his ...

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