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At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Mission: Impossible – Fallout’

30 August 2018
... Rogue Nation, 2015) by Christopher McQuarrie, takes up pieces of an earlier story. Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), the leader of the so-called Syndicate, is in American custody, and has been interrogated, we are told, in 12 countries. The bad guys’ plot is to kidnap him and exchange him for three plutonium bombs that will be released in Rome, Jerusalem ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘It Follows’

8 April 2015
... of actual anticlimax awaits, and Mitchell gives us a series of brilliant answers and evasions. Anthony Lane thinks the film belongs to a ‘distinct genre: slacker-horror’. But then his criticism of ‘its dazed and aimless air’ comes off as a sort of baffled praise, and I certainly incline to the praise. How can an apparently casual and ...

Mad Monk

Jenny Diski: Not going to the movies

6 February 2003
The New Biographical Dictionary of Film 
by David Thomson.
Little, Brown, 963 pp., £25, November 2002, 0 316 85905 2
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Nobody’s Perfect: Writings from the ‘New Yorker’ 
by Anthony Lane.
Picador, 752 pp., £15.99, November 2002, 0 330 49182 2
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Paris Hollywood: Writings on Film 
by Peter Wollen.
Verso, 314 pp., £13, December 2002, 1 85984 391 3
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... and therefore suffering from the same nostalgia syndrome). In a review (in the New Republic) of Anthony Lane’s book Nobody’s Perfect, Thomson, aged sixtyish, compares a non-exhaustive list of the movies available for Pauline Kael to review in the 1970s with those reviewed in the New Yorker by Lane, aged between ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The International’, ‘Duplicity’

9 April 2009
The International 
directed by Tom Twyker.
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Duplicity 
directed by Tony Gilroy.
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... has taken off for Europe, ostensibly to check out the Louvre, but really to follow a U2 tour. As Anthony Lane says, she is picked up so quickly by the bad guys that her parents might just as well have FedExed her to them. Neeson can redeem any movie, and he doesn’t fail here, but it is a close call, for two reasons: because the plot often feels like ...

Wolfish

John Sutherland: The pushiness of young men in a hurry

5 May 2005
Publisher 
by Tom Maschler.
Picador, 294 pp., £20, March 2005, 0 330 48420 6
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British Book Publishing as a Business since the 1960s 
by Eric de Bellaigue.
British Library, 238 pp., £19.95, January 2004, 0 7123 4836 0
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Penguin Special: The Life and Times of Allen Lane 
by Jeremy Lewis.
Viking, 484 pp., £25, May 2005, 0 670 91485 1
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... Smith, John Blackwood, George Routledge, Frederick Macmillan, David Garnett, Ian Parsons, Allen Lane. It was one of the most highly regarded of today’s younger publishers, Peter Straus (now an agent), who commissioned the book. None of these coat-brushers of genius is a household name: most publishers remain invisible. And many of Maschler’s authors ...

Large and Rolling

Penelope Fitzgerald

31 July 1997
The Scholar Gypsy: The Quest for a Family Secret 
by Anthony Sampson.
Murray, 229 pp., £16, May 1997, 0 7195 5708 9
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... Anthony Sampson begins and ends his book with an account of his grandfather’s funeral, held, as requested in his will, at the top of a Welsh mountain, Foel Goch. Among the mourners were Gypsy harpers and fiddlers, scholars, civic officials and ‘the painter Mr Augustus John’. ‘Hundreds of spectators,’ it was reported, ‘waited for the coming of the mortal remains of Dr John Sampson, the well-known philologist and librarian of Liverpool University ...

Travelling Text

Marina Warner: ‘The Arabian Nights’

18 December 2008
The Arabian Nights: Tales of 1001 Nights 
translated by Malcolm Lyons, with Ursula Lyons.
Penguin, 2715 pp., £125, November 2008, 978 0 14 091166 4
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‘The Arabian Nights’ in Historical Context: Between East and West 
edited by Saree Makdisi and Felicity Nussbaum.
Oxford, 337 pp., £55, November 2008, 978 0 19 955415 7
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... but he does scathe some of its scholars and translators, notably the English Arabist Edward Lane, whose three-volume edition, illustrated with William Harvey’s fine steel engravings, was published between 1838 and 1841. I have a copy of this translation, which came from my great-grandfather’s library, and it’s one of the few books I owned as a ...

Let Us Pay

John Lanchester: Can newspapers survive?

16 December 2010
... causes a sufficiently lucrative spike in advertising. It’s like jumping out of an airplane in the hope that you will land in a big enough pile of hay. But guess what? It worked. The Standard’s circulation is now at 700,000 copies, and it is – as you can tell just by looking at it from a distance – fuller of ads than ever. It seems bizarre to ...

A Common Playhouse

Charles Nicholl: The Globe Theatre

8 January 2015
Shakespeare and the Countess: The Battle That Gave Birth to the Globe 
by Chris Laoutaris.
Fig Tree, 528 pp., £20, April 2015, 978 1 905490 96 7
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... Shakespearean associations, invisible but well attested. Down an alleyway running south off Carter Lane lies New Bell Yard. Now dominated by the glass-fronted atrium of the Grange St Paul’s Hotel, this was formerly the site of the Bell Inn. In the 1590s its landlady was a Mistress Greffine or Griffin, and among its frequent guests was a Stratford businessman ...

At the V&A

Peter Campbell: Penguin’s 70th birthday

2 June 2005
... of orange, green or blue by full-colour free dressing. Baines’s first sections show how Allen Lane set about producing a branded product. Seeing Tschichold tidy up the original grid without changing the arrangement of the essential elements or the typeface is like hearing a professional orchestra take over from an amateur band in mid-performance. But ...

What’s Happening in the Engine-Room

Penelope Fitzgerald: Poor John Lehmann

7 January 1999
John Lehmann: A Pagan Adventure 
by Adrian Wright.
Duckworth, 308 pp., £20, November 1998, 0 7156 2871 2
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... the Liberal cause at the Punch table. John himself had been at Eton with Alan Pryce-Jones, Anthony Powell, Eric Blair and Cyril Connolly, who, we are told, stood at the door of his room in the Sixth Form Passage asking, ‘Well, Johnny Lehmann, how are you this afternoon?’ While he was at Trinity his sister Rosamond published her first novel, Dusty ...

Fatalism, Extenuation and Despair

Peter Clarke: John Major

5 March 1998
Major: A Political Life 
by Anthony Seldon.
Weidenfeld, 856 pp., £25, October 1997, 0 297 81607 1
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... of this is still fresh in our memories. Indeed, it was only six months after Major’s demise that Anthony Seldon published this substantial book, and looking at it now provokes mixed reactions. First to marvel that even the prodigiously industrious Dr Seldon – a busy headmaster whose name appeared on five dustjackets in the 1996 season – did it so ...

Turncoats and Opportunists

Alexandra Walsham: Francis Walsingham

5 July 2012
The Queen’s Agent: Francis Walsingham at the Court of Elizabeth I 
by John Cooper.
Faber, 400 pp., £9.99, July 2012, 978 0 571 21827 1
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... dubious morality. Building on the classic image of Walsingham as spymaster established by James Anthony Froude’s History of England from the Fall of Wolsey to the Defeat of the Spanish Armada (1856-70), his early 20th-century biographers, Sidney Lee and Conyers Read, presented him as an astute and distinguished patriot who laid the foundations for the ...
10 May 1990
The Dictionary of National Biography: 1981-1985 
edited by Lord Blake and C.S. Nicholls.
Oxford, 518 pp., £40, March 1990, 0 19 865210 0
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... that Adams was guilty? And if we don’t, why does he get an entry? Wickedness, in the case of Anthony Blunt, actually pays off rather handsomely. He gets a four-column entry against the average two, and it is unlikely that this would have been his lot had he been listed merely as ‘art historian’ and not also as ‘a communist spy’. (Donald ...

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