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At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Inside Man’, ‘V for Vendetta’ , 11 May 2006

Inside Man 
directed by Spike Lee.
March 2006
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V for Vendetta 
directed by James McTeigue.
March 2006
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... even before they’ve seen the documentation. If we needed a third reason, we could find one in Christopher Plummer, who plays the evil banker and is so securely installed in the stereotype of the suave rich fellow that the only Nazis he could possibly have met would have come from central casting. But what kind of movie is this, and why is Spike Lee making ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘A Dangerous Method’, 8 March 2012

A Dangerous Method 
directed by David Cronenberg.
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... Knightley. The movie – David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method, with a screenplay by Christopher Hampton – opens with a view of her struggling against her captors in a horse-drawn coach (the date is 1904) and being delivered to a posh sanatorium in Switzerland. She goes rigid when she tries to talk, can’t at first get her words out, but ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Gospel According to Saint Matthew’, 21 March 2013

The Gospel According to Saint Matthew 
directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini.
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... and so it is. But not in the same way that the screenplay for John Huston’s The Bible is by Christopher Fry, or for Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ by Paul Schrader. Pasolini hasn’t really written this movie, he has made excerpts from the gospel and filmed them, either as images in the manner we have just looked at, or with ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Mission: Impossible – Fallout’, 30 August 2018

... 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 ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Nosferatu the Vampyre’, 10 October 2019

... in the titular role, also appeared in 1979. But Langella is all charm, as Bela Lugosi (1931), Christopher Lee (1958 and six other years) and Gary Oldman (1992) also were in their way: hard to imagine them out of evening dress, aristocrats after all. Charm and rank are not where we start with Klaus Kinski as Nosferatu. The Anglo-Transylvanian film ...

In the Company of Confreres

Terry Eagleton: ‘Modern British Fiction’, 12 December 2002

On Modern British Fiction 
edited by Zachary Leader.
Oxford, 328 pp., £14.99, October 2002, 0 19 924932 6
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... ill and like getting old, who prefer winter to summer and autumn to spring’. These Babes in the Wood crave the rainy, stained and soggy. Yet the later Murdoch was a hard-line Tory, who may well have been liberal in her aesthetics but was hardly so in her politics. She had right-wing views on most topics, and lambasted the work of Derrida while having only ...

The Thing

Michael Wood: Versions of Proust, 6 January 2005

In Search of Lost Time: Vol. I: The Way by Swann’s 
by Marcel Proust, edited by Christopher Prendergast, translated by Lydia Davis.
Penguin, 496 pp., £8.99, October 2003, 0 14 118031 5
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In Search of Lost Time: Vol.II: In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower 
by Marcel Proust, edited by Christopher Prendergast, translated by James Grieve.
Penguin, 576 pp., £8.99, October 2003, 0 14 118032 3
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In Search of Lost Time: Vol. III: The Guermantes Way 
by Marcel Proust, edited by Christopher Prendergast, translated by Mark Treharne.
Penguin, 640 pp., £8.99, October 2003, 0 14 118033 1
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In Search of Lost Time: Vol. IV: Sodom and Gomorrah 
by Marcel Proust, edited by Christopher Prendergast, translated by John Sturrock.
Penguin, 576 pp., £8.99, October 2003, 9780141180342
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In Search of Lost Time: Vol. V: ‘The Prisoner’ and ‘The Fugitive’ 
by Marcel Proust, edited by Christopher Prendergast, translated by Carol Clark and Peter Collier.
Penguin, 720 pp., £8.99, October 2003, 0 14 118035 8
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In Search of Lost Time: Vol. VI: Finding Time Again 
by Marcel Proust, edited by Christopher Prendergast, translated by Ian Patterson.
Penguin, 400 pp., £8.99, October 2003, 0 14 118036 6
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The Proust Project 
edited by André Aciman.
Farrar, Straus, 224 pp., $25, November 2004, 0 374 23832 4
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... to ‘a’? Quoting the same sentence in his preface to the full set of new translations, Christopher Prendergast writes: ‘all paradises are lost paradises.’ This is impeccably aphoristic, and assumes that false paradises are just not paradises at all. Proust himself could be more accommodating, and at one point implies that almost anything may be ...


Christopher de Bellaigue: ‘Mummy est morte’, 19 March 2020

... of his stairs wearing the red leather slippers and grey cardigan that meant he was off duty. ‘Christopher,’ he greeted me in a kindly voice. ‘Hello, sir,’ I said, with a vague sense of relief that I wasn’t to be punished. He was holding the telephone receiver. ‘It’s your father on the telephone.’‘...

With Great Stomack

Simon Schaffer: Christopher Wren, 21 February 2002

His Invention so Fertile: A Life of Christopher Wren 
by Adrian Tinniswood.
Cape, 463 pp., £25, July 2001, 9780224042987
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... Christopher Wren, England’s best known architect and one of its greatest natural philosophers, experimented with everything: stone and wood, cones and domes, animals and men. He liked to depart from revered authorities. Under his hands plans for a church steeple or an academic hall would turn into a bold revision of Vitruvian schemes, the twitches of an anatomised dog into a startling challenge to Galenic orthodoxy, the motion of a planetary model into liberation from the ‘tyranny’ of ancient astronomy ...

Unreal City

Michael Wood, 7 October 1993

Paris and the 19th Century 
by Christopher Prendergast.
Blackwell, 283 pp., £35, June 1993, 0 631 15788 3
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... enjoyments of the tourist city are still possible – more possible, and more permissible, than Christopher Prendergast suggests – and they are surely more appealing than the glum romanticising of awfulness by which many city-dwellers manage simultaneously to accuse and congratulate themselves. But of course Prendergast is right to point to what such ...

Ceaseless Anythings

James Wood: Robert Stone, 1 October 1998

Damascus Gate 
by Robert Stone.
Picador, 500 pp., £16.99, October 1998, 0 330 37058 8
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... to seem too dramatically intractable, and thus too easy; a way of reversing into simplicity. Christopher Lucas, Stone’s hero, is a journalist who is writing a book about the ‘Jerusalem Syndrome’, the way that city turns certain people into majnoon, or religious lunatics – who think they are the Messiah, or Moses, or Elvis, and who take Jerusalem ...


James Wood: Speaking our Minds, 1 June 2000

... He has hitched a ride with two men, a wool trader named Kuzmichov, and a priest called Father Christopher. At the beginning of the journey, as they leave the boy’s home village, they pass the cemetery in which his father and grandmother are buried: From behind the wall cheerful white crosses and tombstones peeped out, nestling in the foliage of cherry ...

Wall? I saw no Wall

T.H. Barrett, 30 November 1995

Did Marco Polo Go to China? 
by Frances Wood.
Secker, 182 pp., £14.99, November 1995, 0 436 20166 6
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... good reason: more than twenty-five years may have passed, but I distinctly remember how Frances Wood and I were warned that anyone contemplating working on the Mongol period in Chinese history would be issued with a bottle of aspirin, in view of the immense difficulties involved in studying an empire which employed in its administration not only classical ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Innocents’, 9 January 2014

The Innocents 
directed by Jack Clayton.
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... be seen in a restored print at the BFI. It is also very well evoked in a new BFI Classics book by Christopher Frayling. The film is a little heavy in portents, swirling curtains, flickering candles, bumps in the dark, and the ghost of Peter Quint in particular looks as if he has come from a bad night at a rock concert. Still, Psycho was only a year old, and ...
The Children’s Book of Comic Verse 
edited by Christopher Logue.
Batsford, 160 pp., £3.95, March 1980, 0 7134 1528 2
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The Children’s Book of Funny Verse 
edited by Julia Watson.
Faber, 127 pp., £3.95, September 1980, 0 571 11467 9
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Bagthorpes v. the World 
by Helen Cresswell.
Faber, 192 pp., £4.50, September 1980, 0 571 11446 6
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The Robbers 
by Nina Bawden.
Gollancz, 144 pp., £3.95, September 1980, 0 575 02695 2
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... one can be certain whether adults are speaking seriously, or think it funny if they are not. Christopher Logue who has compiled The Children’s Book of Comic Verse for Batsford, and Julia Watts in The Children’s Book of Funny Verse (Faber), have both grasped the essentials about a child’s sense of humour – far better than the 1935 editors of The ...

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