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Must we pay for Sanskrit?

Michael Wood, 15 December 2011

... pay for them. But their children will, and so will ours – and not with money. Keith Thomas and Michael Wood spoke at ‘Universities under Attack’, a conference sponsored by the ‘London Review’, the ‘New York Review’ and Fritt Ord held on 26 November at King’s College ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Lust, Caution’, 24 January 2008

Lust, Caution 
directed by Ang Lee.
October 2007
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... may be no escape from the scene, no return to whatever world there was before the movie took over. ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Tragedy of Macbeth’, 27 January 2022

... her. We were Macbeth until the camera shifted. We even get to see the lopped branches from Birnam Wood on their way to Dunsinane, which Macbeth learns of only by report. Some critics have felt the film is not grand enough, not up to the high rhetoric of its speeches, but the low-key acting adds a human element to scenes that are often played as ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: Bergman and Antonioni, 20 September 2007

... It’s too late to climb on the bandwagon now, and it wasn’t much of a bandwagon to start with. If cinephilia is dead, as Susan Sontag some time ago suggested it was, who cares about the simultaneous death of two cinéastes? Still, no reader of signs can resist a coincidence, the image of a meaning that can’t be there. Michelangelo Antonioni (born 1912) and Ingmar Bergman (born 1918) both died on 30 July 2007 – as if time, otherwise indifferent to plot and meaning, had something to say about the cinema ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Nomadland’, 20 May 2021

... The​ first thing that dies in Chloé Zhao’s Nomadland (which will be in cinemas from 17 May) is a town called Empire, in Nevada. The life-supporting sheetrock plant shuts down, the people leave, even the zip code vanishes. A woman called Fern, played by Frances McDormand, takes up residence in a van. She spends a Christmas season working at an Amazon warehouse, and hopes for jobs elsewhere ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’, 26 May 2022

... that kept failing to get its act together. (The OED says it was first used in its present sense by Michael Moorcock in 1963.) ‘Visible nature,’ James wrote, ‘is all plasticity and indifference, a multiverse, as one might call it, and not a universe.’ Kwan and Scheinert almost certainly weren’t thinking of this meaning when they worried about the ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘12 Years a Slave’, 6 February 2014

12 Years a Slave 
directed by Steve McQueen.
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... if you really wanted it to be another movie. The instant involves a tight close-up on the face of Michael Fassbender as Edwin Epps, the vicious second owner of Northup. He is, characteristically, reading to his slaves a passage from the Bible about the administration of stripes or lashes, and there is something about the closeness of the camera here, and the ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Stop-Loss’, 8 May 2008

Stop-Loss 
directed by Kimberly Peirce.
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... the war in Vietnam were slow in coming. Saigon fell in 1975, and Hal Ashby’s Coming Home and Michael Cimino’s The Deer Hunter both date from 1978. Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now was 1979. In their separate ways these films were all about damage done to Americans; any damage done to others was incidental, part of some larger story that wasn’t ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘A Fistful of Dollars’, 26 April 2018

... appears in so many legends and quite a bit of history. And in the fiction of Leonardo Sciascia and Michael Dibdin, where a crucial question about any crime is not who did it, but what to do with any knowledge you may have of this fact. Is there anyone you could report it to who might not be the criminal’s friend or protector? The same question arises in the ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard’, 15 July 2021

... he seems more a curser than a killer. Reynolds, as Jackson’s supposed protector, the bodyguard Michael Bryce, says he has ‘single-handedly ruined the word motherfucker’. I don’t know about the ruin, but he certainly uses the word a lot. We may have thought there was going to be a bit of metaplay in the film when we learned that the Japanese ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Tempest’, 31 March 2011

The Tempest 
directed by Julie Taymor.
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... The finest moment in Julie Taymor’s film of The Tempest occurs when the story has ended. Behind the credits a book drifts down through water, its leather covers separating from its bound pages. Beth Gibbons sings the play’s last lines – ‘lyrics by William Shakespeare’, the acknowledgment reads – with their plea for mercy and indulgence: And my ending is despair Unless I be relieved by prayer, Which pierces so that it assaults Mercy itself, and frees all faults ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘No Time to Die’, 21 October 2021

... The​ new Bond film, No Time to Die, directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, begins inside a memory and ends with a kind of apocalypse. Sound familiar? Not really. Memory has never been a prominent theme in the series, and the mood of this instalment is different in many ways, even if the concerns of the plot and most of the main characters come from Spectre (2015 ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Top Gun: Maverick’, 23 June 2022

... Children​ have some of the best lines in Top Gun: Maverick, directed by Joseph Kosinski and following not very hard on the heels of the original, which came out in 1986. When Penny Benjamin (Jennifer Connolly) reintroduces her long-term, on-off love interest to her daughter as Captain Pete Mitchell, the girl says, ‘Captain? Still?’ She obviously knows a lot about time and the navy, and probably guesses a lot about Pete (Tom Cruise, of course ...

At the Movies

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

The Ides of March 
directed by George Clooney.
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... that you keep forgetting what’s wrong with the writing) and a busy young intern (Evan Rachel Wood) who gets herself into all kinds of trouble. The very word ‘intern’ will give you a clue as to the kind of trouble this is, for her and for others, and the film rather clunkily underlines this suggestion – boys will be boys, even if they’re ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Peeping Tom’, 2 December 2010

The Peeping Tom 
directed by Michael Powell.
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... namesake, could not ‘wash his hands of responsibility for this essentially vicious film’), and Michael Powell’s career went into a slump. You can see the film on a Criterion Collection DVD with an excellent commentary by Laura Mulvey, or you can walk out yourselves from the Curzon and other cinemas, where it is now showing in a restored print. Martin ...

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