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22 March 1990
First Diasporist Manifesto 
by R.B. Kitaj.
Thames and Hudson, 128 pp., £7.95, May 1989, 0 500 27543 2
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Reported Sightings: Art Chronicles, 1957-1987 
by John Ashbery, edited by David Bergman.
Carcanet, 417 pp., £25, February 1990, 9780856358074
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... For as long as he has been exhibiting Kitaj has been publishing commentary on his pictures. With him the two activities interlock, coming closer to the idea of the calligram that Foucault played with in his essay on Magritte than to anything that we usually expect from artists’ statements, almost always touched as they are with bravado in the face of the incompatibility of words and pictures. The ...

As time goes by

Brenda Maddox

2 July 1981
Ingrid BergmanMy Story 
by Ingrid Bergman and Alan Burgess.
Joseph, 480 pp., £9.50, November 1980, 0 7181 1946 0
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... There is a kind of woman who refuses dessert and then reaches over with her fork and eats most of her husband’s. Does it tell us something about Miss Bergman’s capacity for self-deception that she could neither leave Alan Burgess alone to write her biography nor sit down and write her own? Instead, they did it together, the actress and the author. Mr ...

The Kiss

Gaby Wood

9 February 1995
Jean Renoir: Letters 
edited by Lorraine LoBianco and David​ Thompson, translated by Craig Carlson, Natasha Arnoldi and Michael Wells.
Faber, 605 pp., £25, October 1994, 0 571 17298 9
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... and they are both documentations of particular relationships. One is composed of extensive correspondences (both sides are published) with Robert Flaherty, Dudley Nichols, Clifford Odets, Ingrid Bergman and François Truffaut. Many letters are exchanged, but since Renoir also actually saw these people, their friendship must have evolved in some space other than their writings, and a lot of the ...

Hoo-Hooing in the Birch

Michael Hofmann: Tomas Tranströmer

15 June 2016
Bright Scythe: Selected Poems 
by Tomas Tranströmer, translated by Patty Crane.
Sarabande, 207 pp., £13, November 2015, 978 1 941411 21 6
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... arbitrary, there is probably more truth in it than there ought to be. The Swede Tomas Tranströmer was for our time the poet of the North, the pendant – to use the obvious parallel – to Ingmar Bergman, in one of whose early films he was an extra, as a boy. Like Bergman, he gives you the days that are all night, and the nights that are all day; the interleaving of land and water, and city and ...
17 October 1985
A Maggot 
by John Fowles.
Cape, 460 pp., £9.95, September 1985, 0 224 02806 5
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The Romances of John Fowles 
by Simon Loveday.
Macmillan, 164 pp., £25, August 1985, 0 333 31518 9
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... deceived. He knew the whore Fanny only in her guise as the respectable maidservant, Louise, but he is better informed about the fake soldier, ‘Sergeant Farthing’, claiming that his real name is David Jones and that he is a Welshman loosely attached to the London theatre. As for ‘Mr Bartholomew’, the actor says he believes him to be something of a philosopher, with a dissident and free ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Murder on the Orient Express’

30 November 2017
Murder on the Orient Express 
directed by Kenneth Brannagh.
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... Orson Welles, José Ferrer, Tony Randall and many others have brought him to some sort of audio or audio-visual life, but the relatively recent personifications by Albert Finney, Peter Ustinov and David Suchet dominate most memories. None of these figures much resembles the ‘short, stout, elderly man, his hair cut en brosse’ that Agatha Christie describes. Well, they often manage the stout bit ...

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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... plot (the movie is written by Russell Gewirtz) has bothered many viewers of this film, but there are two good reasons for not worrying about it. First, this is only a movie, as Hitchcock told Ingrid Bergman when she was trying too hard to act like a real person; and second, some people know about the banker’s misdeeds even before they’ve seen the documentation. If we needed a third reason, we could ...

Pink and Bare

Bee Wilson: Nicole Kidman

8 February 2007
Nicole Kidman 
by David​ Thomson.
Bloomsbury, 311 pp., £18.99, September 2006, 0 7475 7710 2
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... To understand Nicole Kidman, David Thomson argues, you need to see a film called In the Cut. Not because Kidman is in it. She isn’t. The film stars Meg Ryan, is directed by Jane Campion and tells the story of how a lonely creative ...

In the dark

Philip Horne

1 December 1983
The Life of Alfred Hitchcock: The Dark Side of Genius 
by Donald Spoto.
Collins, 594 pp., £12.95, May 1983, 0 00 216352 7
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Howard Hawks, Storyteller 
by Gerald Mast.
Oxford, 406 pp., £16.50, June 1983, 0 19 503091 5
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... in the childhood of Uncle Charlie, the visiting killer of rich widows. A similar accident left Hitchcock with a faint scar on the chin. He also wrote the wondering, stunned reaction of Ingrid Bergman in Notorious (1946) to the news of her father’s suicide (Hitchcock’s elder brother had died, probably by his own hand, in 1943). Such eloquently personal contributions illuminate the idea of ...

A Particular Way of Looking

J. Hoberman: NeoRealismo

19 November 2019
NeoRealismo: The New Image in Italy 1932-60 
edited by Enrica Viganò.
Prestel, 349 pp., £49.99, September 2018, 978 3 7913 5769 0
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... the female lead in Bitter Rice, was a home-grown star, several years before Sophia Loren and Gina Lollobrigida. Other stars were imported. Rossellini made a series of movies with his wife, Ingrid Bergman; Visconti’s Senso (1954) paired Alida Valli (returned to Italy from Hollywood) with Farley Granger; De Sica’s Stazione Termini (1953) starred Jennifer Jones and Montgomery Clift. De Sica had ...

The Real Magic

David​ Sylvester

8 June 1995
A Biographical Dictionary of Film 
by David​ Thomson.
Deutsch, 834 pp., £25, November 1994, 0 233 98859 9
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... of criticism rather than Proust if the Bible and Shakespeare weren’t already there, but for some years now I have taken the view that my ‘Desert Island’ book, if I were asked, would have to be David Thomson’s A Biographical Dictionary of the Cinema. First published in 1970, it has just re-appeared as A Biographical Dictionary of Film in a third edition that is revised and considerably enlarged ...

So Hard to Handle

John Lahr: In Praise of Joni Mitchell

22 February 2018
Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell 
by David​ Yaffe.
Farrar, Straus, 420 pp., £20, October 2017, 978 0 374 24813 0
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... was as immediate on her musical peers as on the public. ‘Fantastic girl with heaven words,’ Jimi Hendrix noted in his diary after their first, brief meeting. ‘She just knocked me on my ass,’ David Crosby said after hearing her sing ‘Both Sides, Now’. ‘It was the highest quality of songwriting. I liked her better than Dylan.’ Crosby briefly became Mitchell’s inamorato and produced her ...
8 March 1990
Emotion Pictures: Reflections on the Cinema 
by Wim Wenders, translated by Sean Whiteside and Michael Hofmann.
Faber, 148 pp., £12.99, November 1989, 0 571 15271 6
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Scorsese on Scorsese 
by Martin Scorsese, edited by David​ Thompson and Ian Christie.
Faber, 178 pp., £12.99, November 1989, 9780571141036
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... for some time). Since the mid-Seventies, Britain has been lamentably served in this respect, with the decline or disappearance of the main series that flourished in the Sixties, the era of Bergman, Fellini and Godard. Secker had Cinema One and Cinema Two; Lorrimer did Classic and Modern Film Scripts; and Movie magazine, through Studio Vista, produced a couple of dozen Movie Paperbacks. These ...

Dastardly Poltroons

Jonathan Fenby: Madame Chiang Kai-shek

21 October 2010
The Last Empress: Madame Chiang Kai-shek and the Birth of Modern China 
by Hannah Pakula.
Weidenfeld, 787 pp., £25, January 2010, 978 0 297 85975 8
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... her beauty,’ he went on, ‘but you miss the point of her if you think of her only as an angel – although she is one, an avenging angel.’ Rita Hayworth, Shirley Temple, Ginger Rogers, Ingrid Bergman and Mary Pickford joined a committee to welcome her to Hollywood, where David O. Selznick sponsored an evening in her honour during which the Los Angeles Philharmonic played ‘The Madame Chiang Kai ...

Complicated System of Traps

Michael Wood: Geoff Dyer’s ‘Zona’

19 July 2012
Zona: A Book about a Film about a Journey to a Room 
by Geoff Dyer.
Canongate, 228 pp., £16.99, February 2012, 978 0 85786 166 5
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... show, and an early Britney Spears album. Tarkovsky’s Zone is another place. But the words I have quoted are not the end of the book. We turn the page and read a quotation from the American novelist David Markson: ‘Or was it possibly nothing more than a fundamentally recognisable genre all the while, no matter what Writer averred? Nothing more or less than a read?’ We can take the question as ...

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