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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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... GeorgeClooney’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 ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Hail, Caesar!’

17 March 2016
Hail, Caesar! 
directed by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen.
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... in the movie that provides the title for the one he is in: a grand epic with lots of Romans trudging about in a desert provided with triumphal arches, and a key moment when one of them, played by GeorgeClooney, 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 ...

The Tooth-Pullers of the Pont Neuf

Will Self: The Art of Dentistry

28 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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... to their sculpting, dentists have turned increasingly to expensive preventive orthodontics, tooth-whitening, implanting, and all the other procedures necessary if you want to smile as profitably as GeorgeClooney. 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 ...

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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... of the Ealing comedy The Ladykillers? Even if Tom Hanks is funnier in that film than our idea of Tom Hanks ought to allow, he’s not Alec Guinness. And what about Intolerable Cruelty (2003), with GeorgeClooney 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 ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Dark Knight’

14 August 2008
The Dark Knight 
directed by Christopher Nolan.
July 2008
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... the series starts here, forget about those old impostors.’ Keaton gave up the role after Batman Returns (1992), but the series continued with impostors Val Kilmer, in Batman Forever (1995) and GeorgeClooney 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 ...

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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... conversation whose ‘dread built, crows landing one by one in a field’. Characters are compared to celebrities; a fat man has ‘Pavarottian girth’; another, a good-looking Muslim, ‘resembled GeorgeClooney 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 ...

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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... levers marked cutely with arrows. The film, with its expressive, jerky style, was clearly an influence on Wes Anderson’s 2009 animated version of Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox. Voiced smoothly by GeorgeClooney, 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 ...

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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... century BC, to Anita Ekberg in La Dolce Vita, 1960); Adonis Nude (a sixth-century Greek statue to Arnold Schwarzenegger in Commando, 1985); Adonis Clothed (2000 BC silver statuette from Aleppo to GeorgeClooney, 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 ...

Living the Life

Andrew O’Hagan

5 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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... it seems, can mean many things. Often it means being an amalgam of other showbusiness figures. ‘I want to be Oprah,’ says ‘actor-producer-director-writer’ Eva Longoria, ‘crossed with GeorgeClooney 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 ...

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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... Only a year ago, American 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 ...

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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... colleagues and supporters – who recommended war and condoned torture while advancing America’s 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 ...

Infisal! Infisal! Infisal!

Jonathan Littell: A Journey in South Sudan

30 June 2011
... between officials wearing yellow fluorescent vests; the women have put on their beautiful Sunday dresses, the men their best suits or ceremonial outfits. Near the awning set up for special guests, GeorgeClooney, 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 ...

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 world. Quattrocchi also considers the relationship between the pope and his private secretary. The private secretary is called Georg Gänswein. Gänswein is remarkably handsome, a cross between GeorgeClooney 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 ...

Travels with My Mom

Terry Castle: In Santa Fe

16 August 2007
... her face on’, with predictably fantastical, Isak Dinesen-like results. (She once had her eyelids tattooed to look like blue-black eyeliner.) She is still in love – in a distant way – with GeorgeClooney, 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 ...

Is Palestine Next?

Adam Shatz: The No-State Solution

14 July 2011
... cultivated relationships not only with Iran and Syria but with Turkey, Qatar and the transitional government in Egypt. At 56 he is two decades younger than Abbas and bears a passing resemblance to GeorgeClooney, 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 ...

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