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At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Mission: Impossible – Fallout’

30 August 2018
... his team, leading them to their deaths. The new film, directed as was the previous one (Mission Impossible: 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 ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘It Follows’

8 April 2015
... of the apocalypse could be as apocalyptic as what seems to be at hand, our only question is what sort of actual anticlimax awaits, and Mitchell gives us a series of brilliant answers and evasions. AnthonyLane 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 ...

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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... not just me feeling jaded: maybe there is an objective difference (or else we are of a similar age and therefore suffering from the same nostalgia syndrome). In a review (in the New Republic) of AnthonyLane’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 ...

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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... his (presumed) former ruthlessness. His teenage daughter, encouraged by her feckless liberal mother, has taken off for Europe, ostensibly to check out the Louvre, but really to follow a U2 tour. As AnthonyLane 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 ...

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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...  Maschler’s achievements as a general trade publisher rank him with Archibald Constable, George 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 ...

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 ...

Looking for Imperfection

Gilberto Perez: John Cassavetes

23 August 2001
John Cassavetes: Lifeworks 
by Tom Charity.
Omnibus, 257 pp., £10.95, March 2001, 0 7119 7544 2
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Cassavetes on Cassavetes 
edited by Ray Carney.
Faber, 526 pp., £17.99, March 2001, 0 571 20157 1
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... clothes on, it’s a performance. When you act with your clothes off, it’s a documentary. I don’t do documentaries.’ Quoting this bit of wit and wisdom in a recent New Yorker piece on Roberts, AnthonyLane wrote: ‘it shows … how remote she is from any European visions of cinema – not just from the relaxed, Old World attitude toward sex but from the European assumption (found lingering in the ...

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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... thirty years ago of Edward Said’s Orientalism. Said doesn’t discuss The Arabian Nights itself, 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 ...

Let Us Pay

John Lanchester: Can newspapers survive?

16 December 2010
... monthly or yearly or whatever. For many people, this would be integrated into an RSS feed, to create what amounts to an individualised newspaper. I would be entirely happy to pay to subscribe to AnthonyLane on movies in the New Yorker, and Patricia Wells on restaurants in the Herald Tribune, and Larry Elliott on economics in the Guardian, and David Pogue on technology in the New York Times, and I ...

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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... to exclude one who would become more distinguished than any of them. Blackfriars is an area rich in 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 ...

At the V&A

Peter Campbell: Penguin’s 70th birthday

2 June 2005
... more about content than the old liveries could.* The generic was driven out by the specific, the livery 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 ...

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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... His father had heard Charles Dickens read when he was six, had helped to found Granta and furiously defended 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 ...

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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... suffer one of the most gruelling chastisements that the British electorate has ever meted out. All 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 ...

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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... Catholic missionary priests and engineered the downfall of Mary Queen of Scots by methods of the most 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 ...
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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... to put the talkative Adams into the witness box.’ Is this trial by DNB, or do we now know for certain 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 ...

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