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10 March 1994
Short Cuts 
directed by Robert Altman.
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Short Cuts: The Screenplay 
by Robert Altman and Frank Barhydt.
Capra/Airlift, 144 pp., £12.99, October 1993, 0 88496 378 0
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Short Cuts 
by Raymond Carver, introduced by Robert Altman.
Harvill, 157 pp., £6.99, March 1994, 0 00 272704 8
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... RobertAltman’s Short Cuts is a long, loose-looking movie, but the looseness is an effect, carefully worked for. Plenty of themes recur throughout – insecurity, chance, rage, damage, the long, bruising war ...

Fashville

Robert​ Tashman

9 March 1995
Prêt-à-Porter 
directed by Robert Altman.
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... the fashion editors and designers are tough but endearing. Fashion is shown as it was then: a big business, but not, as it is now, a corporate power that crosses national and class borders. RobertAltman’s new film, Prêt-à-Porter, is like La Dolce Vita grafted onto Funny Face. The unaffected and trusting Hepburn and Astaire would be marginalised or crushed in the fashion world portrayed here ...

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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... 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 RobertAltman in 1974. All these stories, of course, were originally novels written by someone else, but we do get a sense that in Hollywood this process is less like recycling and more like playing a jazz ...
31 October 2002
Sweet Sixteen 
directed by Ken Loach.
October 2002
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The Cinema of Ken Loach: Art in the Service of the People 
by Jacob Leigh.
Wallflower, 192 pp., £13.99, May 2002, 1 903364 31 0
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... be themselves so that everything looks as though it has just happened.’ A performer working with Loach would do well not to ask any questions about motivation. On Carla’s Song, he gave the actor Robert Carlyle a run-down of his character. ‘Your name’s George and you drive a bus. Maybe it would be a good idea if you learned to drive a bus.’ Had Loach stuck with theatre directing – an early ...

A Smaller Island

Matthew Reynolds: David Mitchell

10 June 2010
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet 
by David Mitchell.
Sceptre, 469 pp., £18.99, May 2010, 978 0 340 92156 2
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... to be as likeable as possible. Even the fanatical cultist is rather charming. The episodes are linked by occasional economic interdependence and mainly beneficent chance: the narrative structure that RobertAltman used in his film Short Cuts, set in Los Angeles, is here projected across the globe. Beneath the novel’s postcolonial multiplicity lurks a neocon assurance of the smallness of the world and ...

Dirty Money

Paul Foot

17 December 1992
A Full Service Bank: How BCCI stole millions around the world 
by James Ring Adams and Douglas Frantz.
Simon and Schuster, 381 pp., £16.99, April 1992, 0 671 71133 4
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Bankrupt: The BCCI Fraud 
by Nick Kochan and Bob Whittington.
Gollancz, 234 pp., £4.99, November 1991, 0 575 05279 1
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The BCCI Affair: A Report to The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations 
by Senators John Kerry and Hank Brown.
US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 800 pp., September 1992
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Inquiry into the Supervision of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International 
by Lord Justice Bingham.
HMSO, 218 pp., £19.30, October 1992, 0 10 219893 4
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... When Abedi first met him Clifford was looking for a cause – especially if it had a few million dollars attached to it. Adams and Frantz describe in detail one deal in which Clifford and his partner RobertAltman, well-known in Washington social circles since he was married to Wonderwoman, bought and sold shares through BCCI and ended up with $9.8m in their pockets. Kerry reveals that Clifford’s and ...

Diary

Christopher Hitchens: On the Original Non-Event

20 April 1995
... Usually, success is everything and brings everything in its train, but the idea that the industry regarded this as its best effort was widely thought to be embarrassing. As the movie’s director Robert Zemeckis gave his speech of acceptance (which he did, excruciatingly, by speaking ‘on behalf of Forrest Gumps everywhere’), the girl seated next to Madonna, in the words of my colleague Frank ...

No Tricks

Frank Kermode: Raymond Carver

19 October 2000
Call If You Need Me: The Uncollected Fiction and Prose 
by Raymond Carver.
Harvill, 300 pp., £15, July 2000, 1 86046 759 8
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... I would want to spread the good news. I duly distributed them among my literary colleagues and waited for a response, but there was none. Carver’s British reception has taken a little time. The RobertAltman movie Short Cuts, of 1993, based on nine stories and a poem of Carver’s, helped to get him wider notice. Among the stories incorporated in the film were ‘A Small, Good Thing’ – the one ...

Working under Covers

Paul Laity: Mata Hari

8 January 2004
Female Intelligence: Women and Espionage in the First World War 
by Tammy Proctor.
New York, 205 pp., $27, June 2003, 0 8147 6693 5
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... as sexy. Could it be that there’s never been a better time for female espionage? Halle Berry is shaping up to be Pierce Brosnan’s match, Cate Blanchett is rumoured to be portraying Mata Hari in a RobertAltman TV film, and Helen Fielding has created Olivia Joules, in her Bond-parody follow-up to Bridget Jones, Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination.† There’s nothing of the Amazon about ...

Looking for Imperfection

Gilberto Perez: John Cassavetes

23 August 2001
John Cassavetes: Lifeworks 
by Tom Charity.
Omnibus, 257 pp., £10.95, March 2001, 0 7119 7544 2
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Cassavetes on Cassavetes 
edited by Ray Carney.
Faber, 526 pp., £17.99, March 2001, 0 571 20157 1
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...  how remote she is from any European visions of cinema – not just from the relaxed, Old World attitude toward sex but from the European assumption (found lingering in the work of Americans like RobertAltman) that the scent of documentary can and should be allowed to flavour a fictional method.’ Lane is thinking of American cinema as Hollywood. But there is a strong tradition of American ...

The Wickedest Woman in Paris

Colm Tóibín: Rupert Everett

6 September 2007
Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins 
by Rupert Everett.
Abacus, 406 pp., £7.99, July 2007, 978 0 349 12058 4
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... up ‘dancing the night away with a couple of lesbians at Gateways’. This time, however, Rupert had not given Lord Snowdon’s number but the number he was actually calling from, which belonged to Robert Fox and his wife, Celestia. Fox was arrested. ‘Robert’s been arrested,’ his wife said when she rang Rupert and Min. ‘We were just going to bed, and the doorbell rang. Twelve policemen burst ...

Bohemian in Vitebsk

J. Hoberman: Red Chagall

9 April 2009
Chagall: Love and Exile 
by Jackie Wullschlager.
Allen Lane, 582 pp., £30, October 2008, 978 0 7139 9652 4
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... as the Knave of Diamonds, encompassed rival camps of folk-nativists and cosmopolitan Cézannists. Chagall and the other artists who could be considered Yiddish modernists – the painters Nathan Altman, Robert Falk and, for a time, El Lissitzky, the composers Lev Pulver and Moshe Milner, the writer who called himself Der Nister – were defined by the struggle to integrate these two tendencies ...

All That Gab

James Wolcott: The Upsides of Sontag’s Downsides

24 October 2019
Sontag: Her Life 
by Benjamin Moser.
Allen Lane, 832 pp., £30, September 2019, 978 0 241 00348 0
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... entire career, a watchful muse and Medusa starer in portraits by Peter Hujar (whose photographs line the inside cover of Moser’s book like a wall of publicity stills), Diane Arbus, Richard Avedon, Robert Mapplethorpe, and, later, her partner Annie Leibovitz. Sontag’s post-cancer skunk-stripe hair made her instantly spottable. For those hitting the right places in Manhattan, Sontag sightings were as ...
9 March 1995
... began in 1969 with the Stonewall Uprising in New York, but it did not produce a significant literature for another ten years. To be sure, essayists (Hocquenghem in France, Tripp in America, Altman in Australia) had begun in the early Seventies to write theoretical works about homosexuality; but fiction had to wait until 1978 to make a major impact. At that time emerged a new gay fiction which ...

Burbocentrism

Tom Shippey

23 May 1996
Beyond Uhura: ‘Star Trek’ and Other Memories 
by Nichelle Nichols.
Boxtree, 320 pp., £9.99, December 1995, 0 7522 0787 3
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I Am Spock 
by Leonard Nimoy.
Century, 342 pp., £16.99, November 1995, 0 7126 7691 0
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Science Fiction Audiences: Watching ‘Doctor Who’ and ‘Star Trek’ 
by Henry Jenkins and John Tulloch.
Routledge, 294 pp., £40, April 1995, 0 415 06140 7
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‘Star Trek’: Deep Space Nine 
by Mark Altman, Rob Davis and Tony Pallot.
Boxtree, 64 pp., £8.99, May 1995, 0 7522 0898 5
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... so Nimoy assumes as fact that before Star Trek ‘most science fiction ... portrayed extra-terrestrials negatively, as the stereotypical bug-eyed monsters bent on conquering Earth.’ So much for Robert Heinlein’s Star Beast, Brian Aldiss’s The Dark Light-Years, Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End, and a dozen other classics. Nimoy doesn’t pretend to be a scholar and he is not obliged to ...

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