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The Hell out of Dodge

Jeremy Harding: Woodstock 1969, 15 August 2019

Woodstock: Three Days of Peace and Music 
by Michael Lang.
Reel Art Press, 289 pp., £44.95, July 2019, 978 1 909526 62 4
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... This month​ marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Woodstock festival. Michael Lang, the tenacious 24-year-old who made Woodstock happen, has a habit of surfacing at Woodstock birthdays: one book to mark the tenth anniversary, another to mark the fortieth, a couple of namesake concerts and now a coffee-table volume of photos from the 1969 festival, plus brief explanatory notes ...

Fritz Lang and the Life of Crime

Michael Wood, 20 April 2017

... As far​ as we know, Fritz Lang’s life of crime was confined to his films, although there was some gossip about the circumstances of his first wife’s convenient death. The familiar phrase has many uses and meanings, of course, and we might say the more the better. The lives we imagine for crime may help us to see in it and around it, and thinking about crime may help us to think about other matters ...

Dead Not Deid

James Meek: A Great Radical Modernist, 22 May 2008

Kieron Smith, Boy 
by James Kelman.
Hamish Hamilton, 422 pp., £18.99, April 2008, 978 0 241 14241 7
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... Scottish,’ Kieron concludes. Fraternisation is possible. Kieron has Catholic friends, such as Michael Lang. ‘Michael Lang was brave because of all what happened to Papes. It was a shame for him. I saw him in my head. He was split in two, the bit I knew and the other bit was a Pape.’ In a long passage from ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Le Mépris’, 21 January 2016

Le Mépris 
directed by Jean-Luc Godard.
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... based on a novel by Alberto Moravia. There are Brigitte Bardot and Jack Palance … And also Fritz Lang … The images are by Raoul Coutard … It’s a film by Jean-Luc Godard.’ Then we do get a bit of text to read, from André Bazin, telling us that films create a world ‘more in accordance with our desires’ than with reality. The text continues after ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Ghost Writer’, ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’, 22 April 2010

The Ghost Writer 
directed by Roman Polanski.
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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 
directed by Niels Arden Oplev.
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... what remains in the mind, is the set-up. It was a brilliant idea to have Pierce Brosnan play Adam Lang, the former prime minister whose career so closely resembles that of a recent one we know. Brosnan is an actor who can be suave and charming without the faintest effort but always looks like a model who has wandered into a movie from a photo-shoot. It’s ...

The Lady in the Back Seat

Thomas Jones: Robert Harris’s Alternative Realities, 15 November 2007

The Ghost 
by Robert Harris.
Hutchinson, 310 pp., £18.99, October 2007, 978 0 09 179626 6
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... British auxiliary front in America’s war on terror was not Tony Blair, but someone called Adam Lang. Blair and Lang are not entirely unalike: their names scan the same way; Lang, like Blair, has a Scottish family background; he was born in the mid-1950s; he’s a Christian. ‘I want ...

After the Movies

Michael Wood: Godard’s Histoire(s) du cinéma, 4 December 2008

Histoire(s) du cinéma 
directed by Jean-Luc Godard.
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... he discussed quite a few of his own films in relation to the work of selected classic directors: Lang, Dreyer, Minnelli, Resnais, Rossellini, Eisenstein. Certainly all of these directors recur in Histoire(s), as do many of Godard’s own long-serving ideas. But the form is different: an intense and intricate video essay that looks forward (or across) to ...

‘I love you, defiant witch!’

Michael Newton: Charles Williams, 8 September 2016

Charles Williams: The Third Inkling 
by Grevel Lindop.
Oxford, 493 pp., £25, October 2015, 978 0 19 928415 3
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... it was too public a club. In 1917 he married Florence Conway, a schoolteacher; their only child, Michael, was born in 1922. Williams turned out to be a fugitive husband and absentee father. As a refuge from the pram in the hall, he became involved with A.E. Waite’s Fellowship of the Rosy Cross, an offshoot of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and ...

Burning Witches

Michael Rogin, 4 September 1997

Raymond Chandler: A Biography 
by Tom Hiney.
Chatto, 310 pp., £16.99, May 1997, 0 7011 6310 0
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Raymond Chandler Speaking 
edited by Dorothy Gardiner and Kathrine Sorley Walker.
California, 288 pp., £10.95, May 1997, 0 520 20835 8
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... and American hard-boiled crime melodrama. One originator, the refugee film director Fritz Lang, made his first films in the United States, Fury and They Only Live Once, in 1936-7: both are very un American portrayals of a menacing society that turns those icons of American innocence, Spencer Tracy and Henry Fonda, into ...

After Smith

Ross McKibbin, 9 June 1994

... political parties also behaved impeccably. The eulogies I heard – Major, Beckett, Ashdown and Lang – were all remarkable for their dignity, sensitivity and generosity. Mr Major’s was the best speech I have heard him make and Mr Lang – who I have hitherto associated only with heavy-handed bureaucracy – was ...

The Wonderfulness of Us

Richard J. Evans: The Tory Interpretation of History, 17 March 2011

... under-appreciated tragedies of our time has been the sundering of our society from its past,’ Michael Gove announced at the Tory Party Conference last October: Children are growing up ignorant of one of the most inspiring stories I know – the history of our United Kingdom. Our history has moments of pride, and shame, but unless we fully understand the ...

It looks so charming

Tom Vanderbilt: Sweatshops, 29 October 1998

No Sweat: Fashion, Free Trade, and the Rights of Garment Workers 
edited by Andrew Ross.
Verso, 256 pp., £14, September 1997, 1 85984 172 4
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... athletic shoe industry, and the fashion industry as a whole, traffics in images. A Nike as depicts Michael Jordan as a corporate CEO who takes time in between games to inspect the shoes bearing his name. The figures of athletes and supermodels flash everywhere. ‘Because beauty has something to say,’ is how Esquire announced its Christy Turlington cover, as ...

When the beam of light has gone

Peter Wollen: Godard Turns Over, 17 September 1998

The Films of Jean-Luc Godard 
by Wheeler Winston Dixon.
SUNY, 290 pp., £17.99, March 1997, 0 7914 3285 8
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Speaking about Godard 
by Kaja Silverman and Harun Farocki.
New York, 256 pp., $55, July 1998, 0 8147 8066 0
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... coherent and considered re-evaluation of classic American cinema. Godard recognised Hitchcock and Lang and Griffith as great masters – alongside Rossellini, Renoir and Eisenstein – but he also recognised the strengths of marginal and eccentric Hollywood productions, the odd films out of the studio system. Talking about his second film, Le Petit Soldat, he ...

Us and Them

Robert Taubman, 4 September 1980

The Secret Servant 
by Gavin Lyall.
Hodder, 224 pp., £5.50, June 1980, 0 340 25385 1
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The Flowers of the Forest 
by Joseph Hone.
Secker, 365 pp., £5.95, July 1980, 0 436 20087 2
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A Talent to Deceive: An Appreciation of Agatha Christie 
by Robert Barnard.
Collins, 203 pp., £5.95, April 1980, 0 00 216190 7
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Enter the Lion: A Posthumus Memoir of Mycroft Holmes 
by Michael Hodel and Sean Wright.
Dent, 237 pp., £4.95, May 1980, 0 460 04483 4
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Dorothy I. Sayers: Nine Literary Studies 
by Trevor Hall.
Duckworth, 132 pp., £12.50, April 1980, 9780715614556
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Milk Dime 
by Barry Fantoni.
Hodder, 192 pp., £5.50, May 1980, 0 340 25350 9
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... investigated fictional character of his age. What was practised as a diversion by Andrew Lang and Ronald Knox has turned into a full-scale critical apparatus. It’s a mock apparatus, and not really engaged with criticism; and yet not just a joke, since it does elucidate something – those aspects of another way of life that for us have now become ...

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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... clear authorship of many Hollywood films, ideas or stories did not belong to the individual. Fritz Lang re-made La Bête humaine as Human Desire, and La Chienne as Scarlett Street, Buñuel re-made Diary of a Chambermaid in 1964, and Dudley Nichols’s idea of making Thieves like Us was taken up by Nicholas Ray in 1948 and by Robert Altman in 1974. All these ...

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