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Djuna Barnes 
by Philip Herring.
Viking, 416 pp., £20, May 1996, 0 670 84969 3
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... magazine, and she stayed there for most of the Twenties, having met her legendary lover Thelma Wood, a silverpoint artist from St Louis. Barnes called Nightwood, her most famous book, ‘my life with Thelma’. As seen by their contemporaries, it was a life that involved swanning around cafés dressed in black, Djuna with a sweeping cloak and a walking ...

Dionysus in Love

Robin Robertson, 5 April 2012

... a deer for its speckled skin, and leapt on the back of a mountain bear and rode him out of the wood, all in imitation of the god Dionysus. Who stood, watching Ampelos. Then drew him close, with a warning, saying the boy need not fear the sharp mouths of panthers, lions or bears, only dread the horns of beasts – for he had seen a horned dragon rise from ...

Loose Woven

Peter Howarth: Edward Thomas’s contingencies, 4 August 2005

Collected Poems 
by Edward Thomas, edited by R. George Thomas.
Faber, 264 pp., £12.99, October 2004, 0 571 22260 9
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... I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and I – I took the one less travelled by, And that has made all the difference. Teasing Thomas about his hesitations between poetry and prose becomes in retrospect a rather darker meditation on choice and its consequences for both ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Servant’, 9 May 2013

The Servant 
directed by Joseph Losey.
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... answer, there would be much more to say – about the John Dankworth score, for example, and about Robin Maugham’s novel. But it does suggest – all right, offer hints and signals – that there is a gothic ground where too much, too little and too subtle happily go together. In fact, you couldn’t do this bit of Chelsea gothic – where the count is not ...

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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... At one point his passionate defence of his policies – imagine Tony Blair wiping the floor with Robin Cook on the subject of safety procedures – makes us feel not that he was right but that he was realistic, and if we don’t exactly feel sympathy for him we do feel there’s a dignity amid the smarm. Maybe it’s Polanski’s lack of interest in politics ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘A Most Wanted Man’, 25 September 2014

A Most Wanted Man 
directed by Anton Corbijn.
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... promotion and easy prejudices, but an American, the CIA chief played with impeccable, icy charm by Robin Wright, hair cut short and dyed black, but otherwise much in the style of her role in the American version of House of Cards. She and Bachmann have a remarkable exchange about their goals, about what all this secrecy and illegality and interference is ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Blade Runner 2049’, 2 November 2017

Blade Runner 2049 
directed by Denis Villeneuve.
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... to K, and when he expatiates, in front of his LAPD boss, on the thought of having a soul, she (Robin Wright, fierce and firm as usual) tells him he has managed well enough without one so far. She’s not really being philosophical, though, just reminding him that cruel jobs require cruel people. But then things happen, within him and in the plot. In the ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Wonder Woman’, 13 July 2017

Wonder Woman 
directed by Patty Jenkins.
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... and sinking plane, the Amazons repel the Germans, although not before Diana’s loved aunt (Robin Wright), the militarist counterpart to her pacifist mother, has been killed. The date is early 1918, and Trevor’s goal is to end the war that was supposed to end all wars. He means something pragmatic, like saving a certain number of lives. Diana thinks ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: Kurosawa, 22 February 2007

Yojimbo 
directed by Akira Kurosawa.
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... results of butchery. Sanjuro is captured by one of the gangs because, now a sort of surly Robin Hood, he has liberated a kidnapped woman, the boss’s mistress, and returned her to her abject husband and pleading child. He had to slice up six gangster guards to do this, so his craftiness, it turns out, is certainly backed up by swordsmanship, and the ...

Black Art

Robin Kinross, 31 March 1988

Twentieth-Century Type Designers 
by Sebastian Carter.
Trefoil, 168 pp., £14.95, April 1987, 0 86294 076 1
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Letters of Credit: A View of Type Design 
by Walter Tracy.
Gordon Fraser, 224 pp., £16.50, July 1986, 0 86092 085 2
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... of light. One might draw an analogy with change in the material of a simple hand-tool, when wood is replaced by a synthetic substance: it may do the job as well, but one misses the incidental sensual pleasures of a slightly idiosyncratic, slightly malleable material. This is not to argue any special case for the items that now trickle from the ...

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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... in English about Godard came from the Sixties – from Richard Roud, Manny Farber, Susan Sontag, Robin Wood, Raymond Durgnat and others. This reflected Godard’s much greater cultural centrality during that period and also his apparently secure place within the festival and art film system. When Godard veered off-course with the Dziga Vertov group, he ...

Eels in Their Pockets

Nick Richardson: Poaching, 17 December 2015

The Last English Poachers 
by Bob Tovey and Brian Tovey, with John McDonald.
Simon & Schuster, 288 pp., £16.99, May 2015, 978 1 4711 3567 5
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... come near the top of the national hierarchy of thieves. They’re up there with Raffles and Robin Hood. People who don’t own large estates and pheasants tend to like poachers, because like Raffles they’re artisans – you can’t smash and grab a forest – and like Robin Hood they sock it to the system. ‘The ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Dark Knight’ , 14 August 2008

The Dark Knight 
directed by Christopher Nolan.
July 2008
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... continued with impostors Val Kilmer, in Batman Forever (1995) and George Clooney in Batman and Robin (1997). I’m more than happy to forget the last two of those films, directed by Joel Schumacher, but the first two, both directed by Tim Burton, have much to recommend them – not least the presence of Jack Nicholson as the Joker, whose cheerful idea of ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: Scorsese, 16 November 2006

The Departed 
directed by Martin Scorsese.
October 2006
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... as Robert Warshow once suggested in a famous essay, but he is an embodiment of rogue power, a Robin Hood without the sentimental interest in the poor. Actually, gangsters in movies are always giving things away to children and widows, as Jack Nicholson hands out groceries at the beginning of The Departed; but this is just one more expression of their ...

The Leopard

James Meek: A Leopard in the Family, 19 June 2014

... and an old sideboard hand-decorated by my mother. The animal was killed by my great-uncle, Robin Meek, and a local huntsman, Belli, in the Nilgiri hills in southern India in 1931. Originally – that is, when I was a child – the leopard was in two parts, the skin and the head. The skin was backed with felt, the legs splayed out, the claws still ...

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