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At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Taking of Pelham One Two Three’, 6 August 2009

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three 
directed by Tony Scott.
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... musical. This is a heist movie, but the caper itself gets a little blurred, because the director, Tony Scott, is not very interested in the planning or execution of crime, only in the psychodrama of criminality, and its counterpointing with the travails of the good man, in this case Denzel Washington, caught up in a large-scale crisis. Around the two ...

My Kind of Psychopath

Michael Wood, 20 July 1995

Pulp Fiction 
by Quentin Tarantino.
Faber, 198 pp., £7.99, October 1994, 0 571 17546 5
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Reservoir Dogs 
by Quentin Tarantino.
Faber, 113 pp., £7.99, November 1994, 0 571 17362 4
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True Romance 
by Quentin Tarantino.
Faber, 134 pp., £7.99, January 1995, 0 571 17593 7
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Natural Born Killers 
by Quentin Tarantino.
Faber, 175 pp., £7.99, July 1995, 0 571 17617 8
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... unable to spot the cop in their midst. True Romance, Tarantino’s first script, directed by Tony Scott and released in 1993, has a big drug deal that ends in a massacre because too many people show up at the party. There is a marvellous three-way stand-off here – drug-buyer’s bodyguards against cops against Mafia – which is repeated in ...
Citizen Lord: Edward Fitzgerald 1763-98 
by Stella Tillyard.
Chatto, 336 pp., £16.99, May 1997, 0 7011 6538 3
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... was to turn him into a Bonny Prince Charlie figure, and lament romantic Ireland dead and gone. Scott did much the same, with enormous profit to his sales, by celebrating the past glories of Scotland, glories safely past thanks to the unromantic prosperity of the Union. Tom Moore was to follow suit, his romantic Irish ballads bringing tears to the eyes of ...

Facing South

Alistair Elliot, 23 June 1994

... for Tony Harrison Happiness, therefore, must be some form of theoria. Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, X.8 Theoria: ... a looking at, viewing, beholding ... ‘to go abroad to see the world’ (Herodotus) ... 2. of the mind, contemplation, speculation, philosophic reasoning ... theory ... II. the being a spectator at the theatre or the games ...

Scots wha hae gone to England

Donald Davie, 9 July 1992

Devolving English Literature 
by Robert Crawford.
Oxford, 320 pp., £35, June 1992, 9780198112983
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The Faber Book of 20th-Century Scottish Poetry 
edited by Douglas Dunn.
Faber, 424 pp., £17.50, July 1992, 9780571154319
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... argument on behalf of the Scots, avoids this mistake, detecting in a provincial Englishman like Tony Harrison a fury and resentment not surpassed by any Scot. But this is hardly a novel perception, for Harrison has achieved fame on the strength of it. In fact, it’s hard to find any English writer who isn’t provincial in origin; I’m as much a West ...

Scaling Up

Peter Wollen: At Tate Modern, 20 July 2000

... its aftermath the Festival Hall, the National Film Theatre and, on the other side of Giles Gilbert Scott’s Waterloo Bridge, the new National Theatre. The next came in 1977, with the foundation of the Coin Street Action Group when, reacting against a decline in public housing and the proliferation of office blocks, the inhabitants of the area to the east of ...

Yawning and Screaming

John Bayley, 5 February 1987

Jane Austen 
by Tony Tanner.
Macmillan, 291 pp., £20, November 1986, 0 333 32317 3
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... with Dickens and the Romantic poets, and it is now happening with Jane Austen. Not that Tony Tanner’s study is wilfully abstract or – except for his use of the unnecessary term ‘discourse’ – filled with modern jargon. It is, on the contrary, one of the most readable books yet to appear on Jane Austen, as well as the most interesting in ...


Denis Donoghue, 6 November 1986

Write on: Occasional Essays ’65-’85 
by David Lodge.
Secker, 211 pp., £12.95, September 1986, 0 436 25665 7
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... Uncollected Short Stories of J.D. Salinger, a book about the ‘Catholic sensibility’ of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Blake Morrison’s The Movement, Martin Amis’s Success, Tony Tanner’s Adultery in the Novel, Graham Greene’s Ways of Escape, Mailer’s The Executioner’s Song, Truman Capote’s Music for ...

On the Beach

Peter Campbell: Untucked, 5 September 2002

... I have no memories of big florals: no surfboards, boats, fish and dancing girls (the pin-up on Tony Blair’s cuff was surely an anomaly), but the British on holiday have learned to untuck. The T-shirt, perhaps, or the dress of an Asian cornershop-keeper, has taught us how to accept that down south, where the sun is really hot and Ricard tastes OK, we ...

Blame Robert Maxwell

Frederick Wilmot-Smith: How Public Inquiries Go Wrong, 17 March 2016

... negotiations over the publication of minutes of cabinet meetings and the correspondence between Tony Blair and George W. Bush delayed things by a year. In 2014 it was agreed that a ‘small number of full extracts from the minutes of [Cabinet] meetings’ thought to be ‘most critical’ could be published. The sensitivity of the Blair/Bush correspondence ...


David Bromwich: President-Speak, 10 April 2008

... of a society based on ‘certain inalienable rights’ – had to be resisted. And when the Dred Scott decision by the Supreme Court in 1857 denied negroes all the rights of citizenship (and claimed that the constitutional founders had always intended to deny those rights), he made a speech against Chief Justice Taney’s majority opinion. Lincoln’s ...

Per Ardua

Paul Foot, 8 February 1996

In the Public Interest 
by Gerald James.
Little, Brown, 339 pp., £18.99, December 1995, 0 316 87719 0
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... of overthrowing the Labour Government. James’s contribution was an ingenious plan to impeach Tony Benn (he does not reveal what for) – a plan which, to James’s disgust, was peremptorily turned down by Monday Club MPs. By 1988 Astra had snapped up two mighty subsidiaries, the Walters group in the US and BMARC, an arms company based in ...

Short Cuts

Philippa Hetherington: Canberra’s Coups, 27 September 2018

... He initially supported the foreign minister, Julie Bishop, in a three-way contest with Dutton and Scott Morrison, the treasurer. Bishop bowed out after receiving only 11 votes, despite having served as deputy leader of the party for 11 years. At press conferences following the coup, she described the bullying she and other female Liberal MPs had experienced ...

Ecclefechan and the Stars

Robert Crawford, 21 January 1988

The Crisis of the Democratic Intellect 
by George Davie.
Polygon, 283 pp., £17.95, September 1986, 0 948275 18 9
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... tradition, whether in the anthologism of Burns, the encyclopedia-makers, the lexicographers, or Scott. Scott’s finest novels exemplify Davie’s ‘comparative method’. Waverley passes its protagonist through a succession of cultures and languages – England, English-speaking Scotland, Scots-speaking ...


Glen Newey: Life with WikiLeaks, 6 January 2011

... in virtue, may get travestied by the inwardly vicious. Everyone also suspects himself, as Scott Fitzgerald noted, of possessing at least one cardinal virtue. Where politicians continually have to flatter a demos that sees them as clay-footed, each citizen, banjaxed and blandished by turns, is apt to divine in himself a moral purity his political ...

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