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At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Da Vinci Code’

8 June 2006
The Da Vinci Code 
directed by Ron Howard.
May 2006
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... secret of Ron Howard’s movie version of The Da Vinci Code has nothing to do with murders, cryptology, the Templars, Opus Dei, Mary Magdalene, or the idea that Christ might have been a practising heterosexual. It’s a masterly ...
9 September 2015
... When I hear​ other people talking about procrastination, I find myself getting proprietorial: surely their fleeting pauses are as nothing to mine ...

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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... Joel and Ethan Coen often look like moviemakers in search of a movie; as if their perfect film were waiting for them out there and they had to do something while they were looking for it. What else could have driven them to their 2004 remake 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 ...

To Hairiness!

Cathy Gere: Hairy Guanches

23 July 2009
The Marvellous Hairy Girls: The Gonzales Sisters and Their Worlds 
by Merry Wiesner-Hanks.
Yale, 248 pp</span>., &pound;18.99, May 2009, 978&nbsp;0&nbsp;300&nbsp;12733&nbsp;1
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... The first culture to be extinguished as a result of European imperialism was that of the Guanches, the light-skinned indigenous po pulation of the Canary Islands. In 1402, the Kingdom of Castile sent a small band of mercenaries to the island of Lanzarote ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: HBO

10 June 2010
... Somewhere around the time of the second season of The Sopranos, people at dinner parties stopped gossiping about their friends’ sex lives and started talking about American television shows, later designated ‘box sets ...


Jenny Diski: Hairdressing

2 March 2000
... At 17 I was (let me be bold, let me put it on record) gorgeous, and gorgeous in exactly the way a person was supposed to be in 1964. Thin as a leaf, a Biba size eight, hips that held hipsters perfectly in place, and legs that were perfectly designed for emerging from skirts that were little more than a pelmet ...


Randolph Quirk

25 October 1979
Collins Dictionary of the English Language&nbsp;
by P. Hanks, T.H. Long and L. Urdang.
Collins, 1690 pp</span>., &pound;7.95
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... English lexicography​ knocks Johnnie Walker into a tricuspidal fedora. Over four hundred years, and going stronger than ever. Of course, in the 16th century the market was for ‘bilingual’ dictionaries (especially Latin-English). We had to wait upon Robert Cawdrey in 1604 for a ‘monolingual’ model – aimed at ‘Ladies … or other unskilfull persons ...

Pay Attention, Class

Robert Hanks: Giles Foden

10 September 2009
by Giles Foden.
Faber, 353 pp</span>., &pound;16.99, June 2009, 978&nbsp;0&nbsp;571&nbsp;20522&nbsp;6
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... Much has been written about the potentially stultifying effects of creative writing courses on novelists, usually on the assumption that it’s the students who are going to feel these effects. But what about the teachers: is there a danger that too much time spent trying to pin down what constitutes Good Writing (and not enough time spent on the writing itself) might be bad for them? Giles Foden’s first two novels, The Last King of Scotland, about Idi Amin’s Uganda, and the Boer War-set Ladysmith, seemed, though far from flawless, almost effortlessly distinctive and intelligent; and while his third, the self-consciously terse, thrillerish Zanzibar, was less impressive, it is with Turbulence, his first book since his appointment as professor of creative writing at the University of East Anglia in 2007, that real difficulties begin ...

Man without a Fridge

Thomas Jones: Haruki Murakami

17 April 2003
After the Quake&nbsp;
by Haruki Murakami, translated by Jay Rubin.
Vintage, 132 pp</span>., &pound;6.99, March 2003, 1&nbsp;84343&nbsp;015&nbsp;0
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Earthshaking Science:&nbsp;What We Know (and Don’t Know) about Earthquakes&nbsp;
by Susan Elizabeth Hough.
Princeton, 238 pp</span>., &pound;17.95, May 2002, 0&nbsp;691&nbsp;05010&nbsp;4
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... 1995, shortly before 6 o’clock, the city of Kobe was hit by the largest earthquake to strike Japan since 1923. During the twenty seconds of shaking that followed, more than five thousand people died, tens of thousands were injured and three hundred thousand were made homeless. At least ...

Pink and Bare

Bee Wilson: Nicole Kidman

8 February 2007
Nicole Kidman&nbsp;
by David Thomson.
Bloomsbury, 311 pp</span>., &pound;18.99, September 2006, 0&nbsp;7475&nbsp;7710&nbsp;2
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... the Cut. Not because Kidman is in it. She isn’t. The film stars Meg Ryan, is directed by Jane Campion and tells the story of how a lonely creative writing teacher, Fran, becomes involved with a cop (Mark Ruffalo) who is investigating a string of particularly gruesome murders. As the film ...
22 June 2000
The Way We Lived Then:&nbsp;Recollections of a Well-Known Name Dropp</span>er&nbsp;
by Dominick Dunne.
Crown, 218 pp</span>., &pound;17.99, October 1999, 0&nbsp;609&nbsp;60388&nbsp;4
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Gary Cooper Off Camera:&nbsp;A Daughter Remembers&nbsp;
by Maria Cooper Janis.
Abrams, 176 pp</span>., &pound;22, November 1999, 0&nbsp;8109&nbsp;4130&nbsp;9
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... There came a time in the middle and late 1970s when Dominick Dunne knew he was washed up. For most of his life he had been trying to get into Hollywood by acting as more than he was. Or without pausing to ask what he was. As a stage manager for NBC TV he’d been picked to work on their 1952 production of The Petrified Forest – with Humphrey Bogart repeating his classic 1936 role, Henry Fonda doing Leslie Howard, and Lauren Bacall as Bette Davis ...

How to Survive Your Own Stupidity

Andrew O’Hagan: Homage to Laurel and Hardy

22 August 2002
Stan and Ollie:&nbsp;The Roots of Comedy&nbsp;
by Simon Louvish.
Faber, 518 pp</span>., &pound;8.99, September 2002, 0&nbsp;571&nbsp;21590&nbsp;4
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... If you watch The Simpsons or South Park – cartoon serials where gangs of doodles get to demonstrate the wisdom in modern stupidity – you come to feel that the characters are really doing something quite old-fashioned. They may be media savvy and product-articulate, these yellow-faced goons, but in essence they go in for the kind of stuff that used to have people rolling in the aisles of the music halls ...

Living the Life

Andrew O’Hagan

5 October 2016
Powerhouse:&nbsp;The Untold Story of Hollywood’s Creative Artists Agency&nbsp;
by James Andrew Miller.
Custom House, 703 pp</span>., &pound;20, August 2016, 978&nbsp;0&nbsp;06&nbsp;244137&nbsp;9
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... If you lived​ on another planet and depended on American po p culture to tell you what a human being is, you’d be in tears (if you had tears) but mainly you’d be baffled, especially when it came to an entity called the talent agent, who spends his days torturing people he likes (but says he hates) in order to gain benefits for individuals he hates (but says he loves ...
17 December 1981
... Dear Britain, Merry Christmas! If I may Presume on your attention for the space Of one broadsheet, I’d simply like to say How pleased I am to see your homely face Perked up and looking forward to the day When even the downcast are kissed by grace – The day a perfect birth is celebrated And we who are imperfect feel elated ...

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