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Strange Stardom

David Haglund: James Franco

17 March 2011
Palo Alto: Stories 
by James Franco.
Faber, 197 pp., £12.99, January 2011, 978 0 571 27316 4
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... in the entry on Heath Ledger in the latest edition of his Biographical Dictionary of Film. ‘They are a type of celebrity now.’ He contrasts Ledger, who died three years ago at the age of 28, with James Dean, who died 55 years ago at the age of 24 and became the standard against which all young, handsome, would-be acting geniuses in Hollywood are measured. It’s not only, Thomson says, that Ledger ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Milk’

1 January 2009
... Gus Van Sant’s new film, Milk, is thoughtful, patient, funny and touching, and both Sean Penn and JamesFranco should get Oscars, but it doesn’t answer the questions any biopic raises for me: what’s it for and why now? Or perhaps it does have the answers, but we have to do our own digging for them. Harvey ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Project Nim’, ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’

8 September 2011
Project Nim 
directed by James​ Marsh.
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Rise of the Planet of the Apes 
directed by Rupert Wyatt.
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... human entanglements with chimpanzees, a feature-length documentary and a fiction feature, should be showing in London at the same time is presumably an accident of distribution. That the two works, James Marsh’s Project Nim and Rupert Wyatt’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes, should resemble each other so closely begins to look like a message or a clue, a movieworld sign that we actually are ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Spider-Man 3’

24 May 2007
Spider-Man 3 
directed by Sam Raimi.
May 2007
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... sort of missile-bearing boomerang. He dies in a fight with Spider-Man at the end of the movie, but keeps making guest/ghost appearances in the other two; in the latest film, his son Harry, played by JamesFranco, now knowing who Spider-Man is, becomes the imaginatively named New Goblin, and follows in his father’s flight-pattern, riding an airborne missile-bearing skateboard, and duelling with Peter ...

Diary

Christian Lorentzen: Are books like nappies?

2 August 2012
... Perec’s classic Life: A User’s Manual, written in accessible, clear prose’ – but its baby steps into quality lit aren’t yet in evidence. (One signing is the actor turned fiction writer JamesFranco, but his status as symbolic capital is a little shaky.) In the past few weeks, the Nation has run a cover story called ‘Amazon and the Conquest of Publishing’ by Steve Wasserman, and Ken ...

At the British Museum

James​ Davidson: Persia’s ‘Forgotten Empire’

22 September 2005
... Darius boasts of the size of his empire in three languages, together with its equally extraordinary plain stone box. Sponsorship is provided by BP, formerly the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, for the Franco-Persian agreement did not stop William Knox D’Arcy from undertaking a different kind of exploration. There is a lot of history and politics in this exhibition, and not all of it is ancient. The ...

To kill a cat

Anthony Pagden

21 February 1985
Settecento Riformatore. Vol. IV: La Caduta dell’Antico Regime 1776-1789. Part One: I Grandi Staii dell’Occidente 
by Franco​ Venturi.
Einaudi, 463 pp., lire 45,000, July 1984, 88 06 05695 6
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Settecento Riformatore. Vol. IV: La Caduta dell’Antico Regime 1776-1789. Part Two: II Patriotismo Repubblicano e gli Imperi dell’Est 
by Franco​ Venturi.
Einaudi, 1040 pp., lire 55,000, July 1984, 88 06 05696 4
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The Great Cat Massacre, and Other Episodes in French Cultural History 
by Robert Darnton.
Viking, 284 pp., £14.95, July 1984, 0 7139 1728 8
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Rousseau, Dreamer of Democracy 
by James​ Miller.
Yale, 272 pp., £25, July 1984, 0 300 03044 4
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... It is the fortune, or perhaps the misfortune, of the Enlightenment that its historians frequently write very long books. Franco Venturi’s Settecento Riformatore, which must surely be one of the longest, has now reached its fifth and final volume. As an enterprise it can have few parallels even among dixhuitièmistes. It ...

Top Sergeant

D.A.N. Jones

23 April 1992
An Autobiography 
by Fred Zinnemann.
Bloomsbury, 256 pp., £25, February 1992, 0 7475 1131 4
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... seemed to me and my fellow-rankers markedly relevant to our situation – though we were less unprepared for invasion and insurrection than those surprised Americans at Pearl Harbor. The movie (and James Jones’s novel, on which it was based) presented that peace-time army as a community wherein a vicious and slothful officer might neglect his duties, turning over his responsibilities to the Top ...
24 August 1995
Days of Anger, Days of Hope: A Memoir of the League of American Writers, 1937-1942 
by Franklin Folsom.
Colorado, 376 pp., £24.50, July 1994, 0 585 03686 1
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... young people to agitated concern about the future of Europe. The developing policy of appeasement; the ‘non-intervention’ policy of the British and French governments with respect to the Franco rebellion in Spain; the helpless feeling that the humane liberal traditions in which so many of us had been brought up were dangerously threatened: all of this had us seriously worried. It led many ...

Short Cuts

Michael Dobson: Deutschland ist Hamlet

6 August 2009
... chief task facing an emergent Germany was that of pulling itself together and rousing itself to action, thereby finally outgrowing Shakespeare’s depressing and constraining plot. In the wake of the Franco-Prussian War, for instance, the American scholar H.H. Furness saluted the world’s first national society for the study of Shakespeare, the Deutsche Shakespeare-Gesellschaft, by dedicating his ...

By the Width of a Street

Christopher Prendergast: Literary geography

29 October 1998
An Atlas of the European Novel 1800-1900 
by Franco​ Moretti.
Verso, 206 pp., £16, August 1998, 1 85984 883 4
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... Somewhere around the middle of An Atlas of the European Novel, in a discussion of images of London in the 19th-century novel, Franco Moretti throws in a parenthetical aside on the whereabouts of his publisher (‘in a rather bleak part of Soho’). It’s a sort of joke, consistent with the laidback tone that Moretti seems able to ...

Royal Mysteries

V.G. Kiernan

10 January 1983
From Agadir to Armageddon: Anatomy of a Crisis 
by Geoffrey Barraclough.
Weidenfeld, 196 pp., £8.95, October 1982, 9780297781745
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... in turn, and parade before his cheering countrymen, peacock-tail uplifted, without a bullet fired. There need have been no obstacle so far as confidentiality was concerned. Foreign policy, which James I was so adamant about keeping to himself as ‘the royal mystery’, was still everywhere the preserve of very small, exclusive circles. In London scarcely more than a dozen men knew where British ...

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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... Lower East Side in the late 1950s and took the detritus harvested from demolished buildings as his material.Produced under Fascism in 1943, Visconti’s Ossessione (an unauthorised version of James M. Cain’s hardboiled novel The Postman Always Rings Twice) is generally considered the first Neorealist film, but it was Rossellini’s Rome, Open City (1945), the first movie made after the war to ...

The Real Price of Everything

Hilary Mantel: The Many Lives of Elizabeth Marsh

21 June 2007
The Ordeal of Elizabeth Marsh: A Woman in World History 
by Linda Colley.
HarperPress, 363 pp., £25, June 2007, 978 0 00 719218 2
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... was not much time for romance. The outbreak of the Seven Years War brought the threat of French invasion, and led to Milbourne’s hurried transfer to Gibraltar. Gibraltar was also under threat; if Franco-Spanish forces blockaded it, there was nowhere for the garrison to go. Colley believes it was Elizabeth’s own idea to leave her family and set sail for London, via Lisbon. She travelled on an ...

Towards Disappearance

James​ Francken: Oradour-sur-Glane

1 July 1999
Matyred Village: Commemorating the 1944 Massacre at Oradour-sur-Glane 
by Sarah Farmer.
California, 323 pp., £19.95, March 1999, 0 520 21186 3
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... of reaching an equitable verdict was apparent: the majority of the men were French, Alsatians serving in the German Army. Alsace was a region of fragmented attachments, ceded at the end of the Franco-Prussian War and returned to France in 1918. When it was again lost in 1940, those Alsatians who refused to give up their French citizenship were forced to leave, many of those who remained were ...

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