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At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Ides of March’, 1 December 2011

The Ides of March 
directed by George Clooney.
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... George Clooney’s The Ides of March is a slow and modest political drama that often feels like a faster and better thriller. There’s no crime, just misbehaviour and deals and dangerous knowledge, but it generates quite a bit of the suspense and discomfort we associate with crime movies. We don’t want the truth of the story to be true, and we wish the characters would not act in the way they have already set about acting ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Hail, Caesar!’, 17 March 2016

Hail, Caesar! 
directed by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen.
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... about in a desert provided with triumphal arches, and a key moment when one of them, played by George Clooney, recognises the virtues of the preacher and rebel they are crucifying. Mannix’s question is ‘Does the picture of Jesus cut the mustard?’ He asks a panel diplomatically composed of four clerics: a Catholic priest, a Greek Orthodox ...

The Tooth-Pullers of the Pont Neuf

Will Self: The Art of Dentistry, 29 June 2017

The Smile Stealers: The Fine and Foul Art of Dentistry 
by Richard Barnett.
Thames and Hudson, 255 pp., £19.95, April 2017, 978 0 500 51911 0
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... implanting, and all the other procedures necessary if you want to smile as profitably as George Clooney. The person I feel most sorry for in all this is my old mate Pete. Like many junkies, Pete had an eye for an unconventional earner: his shtick was to tour the country, popping into dentists’ surgeries, where he’d ask the secretaries if he ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Dark Knight’ , 14 August 2008

The Dark Knight 
directed by Christopher Nolan.
July 2008
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... Returns (1992), but the series continued with impostors Val Kilmer, in Batman Forever (1995) and George Clooney in Batman and Robin (1997). I’m more than happy to forget the last two of those films, directed by Joel Schumacher, but the first two, both directed by Tim Burton, have much to recommend them – not least the presence of Jack Nicholson as ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘No Country for Old Men’, 21 February 2008

No Country for Old Men 
directed by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen.
January 2008
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... Hanks ought to allow, he’s not Alec Guinness. And what about Intolerable Cruelty (2003), with George Clooney and Catherine Zeta-Jones, which doesn’t look like a Coen Brothers movie because it doesn’t look as if it was directed by anybody? Still, they can’t be after a single perfect film, since their best work falls into such distinct ...

Shave for them

Christian Lorentzen: ‘The Submission’, 22 September 2011

The Submission 
by Amy Waldman.
Heinemann, 299 pp., £12.99, September 2011, 978 0 434 01932 8
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... celebrities; a fat man has ‘Pavarottian girth’; another, a good-looking Muslim, ‘resembled George Clooney with darker skin and a neatly trimmed beard’. Pointing out these lines, I feel like the mayor’s aide, ‘a compulsive pessimist, always looking for the soft brown spot in the fruit, pressing so hard she created it’. The soft brown spots ...

Shorn and Slathered

Christine Smallwood: ‘Reynard the Fox’, 5 November 2015

Reynard the Fox: A New Translation 
by James Simpson.
Liveright, 256 pp., £16.99, March 2015, 978 0 87140 736 8
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... on Wes Anderson’s 2009 animated version of Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox. Voiced smoothly by George Clooney, this fox is a gallant, wolf-phobic gentleman, a dreamer who writes a newspaper column and suffers an existential crisis that involves one master plan, three bandit hats and lots of gear. He doesn’t have much in common with the medieval ...

Not a Pretty Sight

Jenny Diski: Who Are You Calling Ugly?, 24 January 2008

On Ugliness 
edited by Umberto Eco.
Harvill Secker, 455 pp., £30, October 2007, 978 1 84655 122 2
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... Arnold Schwarzenegger in Commando, 1985); Adonis Clothed (2000 BC silver statuette from Aleppo to George Clooney, 2002); Portraits of Adonis (bronze head of Sargon from Akkad 2500-2000 BC to Denis Rodman c.1998 – no, I don’t know who he is either). In the pages that followed, Eco found an array of pictures to please, excite and rest the eye, and gave ...

Living the Life

Andrew O’Hagan, 6 October 2016

Powerhouse: The Untold Story of Hollywood’s Creative Artists Agency 
by James Andrew Miller.
Custom House, 703 pp., £20, August 2016, 978 0 06 244137 9
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... want to be Oprah,’ says ‘actor-producer-director-writer’ Eva Longoria, ‘crossed with George Clooney crossed with Tom Hanks.’ Poor Eva, if she doesn’t die of hyphenasia, she is bound to expire from the adverse effects of being too many people at once. Some of us can’t get enough of this stuff, and I began to see how the interview ...

Blackberry Apocalypse

Nicholas Guyatt: Evangelical Disarray, 15 November 2007

American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America 
by Chris Hedges.
Cape, 254 pp., £12.99, February 2007, 978 0 224 07820 7
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... evangelical Christians seemed more powerful than they had ever been. They had helped to re-elect George W. Bush in 2004, in spite of a rickety economy and the disastrous invasion of Iraq. They had waged a successful campaign in Washington to restrict access to late-term abortion. They had launched a series of ballot initiatives intended to prevent states or ...

Why do white people like what I write?

Pankaj Mishra: Ta-Nehisi Coates, 22 February 2018

We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy 
by Ta-Nehisi Coates.
Hamish Hamilton, 367 pp., £16.99, October 2017, 978 0 241 32523 0
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... mission to bring democracy to the world’s benighted. In The Fight Is for Democracy (2003), George Packer argued that a ‘vibrant, hardheaded liberalism’ could use the American military to promote its values. The subtitle of The Good Fight (2006) by Peter Beinart, the then editor of the New Republic, insisted ‘Why Liberals – and Only Liberals ...

Infisal! Infisal! Infisal!

Jonathan Littell: A Journey in South Sudan, 30 June 2011

... the men their best suits or ceremonial outfits. Near the awning set up for special guests, George Clooney, who is deeply involved in Sudanese causes, holds forth in front of a throng of cameras; a little further on, the American senator and former Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry speaks calmly to a few journalists. Between photo ...

Among the Flutterers

Colm Tóibín: The Pope Wears Prada, 19 August 2010

The Pope Is Not Gay 
by Angelo Quattrocchi, translated by Romy Clark Giuliani.
Verso, 181 pp., £8.90, June 2010, 978 1 84467 474 9
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... The private secretary is called Georg Gänswein. Gänswein is remarkably handsome, a cross between George Clooney and Hugh Grant, but, in a way, more beautiful than either. In a radio interview Gänswein described a day in his life and the life of Ratzinger, now that he is pope: The pope’s day begins with the seven o’clock Mass, then he says prayers ...

Travels with My Mom

Terry Castle: In Santa Fe, 16 August 2007

... tattooed to look like blue-black eyeliner.) She is still in love – in a distant way – with George Clooney, though playing with the Paint program on her computer (adapted for low vision) and writing the news every day to her pals in the Brit Group, a gossipy little chat room for elderly British expatriates, has cut into her movie-watching. And she ...

Is Palestine Next?

Adam Shatz: The No-State Solution, 14 July 2011

... government in Egypt. At 56 he is two decades younger than Abbas and bears a passing resemblance to George Clooney, but relative youth is not the only thing that sets him apart from Abbas. Where Abbas is an autocrat with little taste for democratic niceties, Meshaal is said to canvas opinion before reaching decisions. He is also a forceful and articulate ...

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