Cries & Whispers

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The Independent Culture
I HAD made a private vow not to mention Hugh Grant; not because he has suffered enough, but because he has gotten quite enough publicity already out of a thin story. But an item has come my way from Madame Tussaud's, the museum started by the woman who earned her living making likenesses of the guillotined. How appropriate then that Grant is to be the next addition to the wax-show. I say "is to be" but I imagine that "was to be" is probably the case now. I mean, we wouldn't want a man who enjoys himself opposite the likes of Hitler or Prince Charles would we? But it does raise the question of how the finished model should look. I dare say the front seat of a BMW would be easy to mock up. The shadowy outline of a lady of the night rummaging under the dashboard might be more difficult to achieve. Still, at least Hughie will have a smile on his face, unlike all the other dummies.

LAST week I suggested that there are hardly any public sculptures worthy of the space they take up, let alone worthy to be placed on that empty plinth in Trafalgar Square. But there is of course one place where you can see much three-dimensional work that is aesthetically pleasing, and that is the street itself. Strolling along Crawford Street, W1, the other day, I came across the new Fiat coupe (the one in the ads which say that no Italian boy grows up wanting to be a train driver). And what a fine beast it is. From its double-bubble headlight fairings to its boot- up-the-rear Kamm tail, it is a sculptural delight. But the really bold detail is the diagonal slash mark above each wheel well. Some wag at Fiat PR was suggesting that this was inspired by the way the Italian Futurists of the Twenties used to slash their canvases . But that was done to outrage the viewers' sensibilities. The nearest equivalent would be for Fiat to deliver it with nails in the tyres and a smashed windscreen. Round where I live that is par for the course, but it falls a little short of automotive bliss. Perhaps we should ask the designer, Pininfarina, for his thoughts about that plinth.

AMAZING how the fuss has already died down about that video of live executions which the censor, in his finite wisdom, decided we should all be allowed to see. After all the pundits had fulminated about it for a day, the only man with the cojones to sit down and actually review it was Alexander Walker in the Evening Standard. A staunch libertarian, he made the case that all, even the morbidly curious, might view this video with profit. He then went on to one of the bravest personal confessions ever made by a critic: that he would be perfectly happy to open the trapdoor personally, after due process of law of course. This is wholly admirable. So few critics put their money where their mouth is. But it does raise a nasty spectre. I dare say he is old enough to have hanged Timothy Evans for example. Still, it will be a great day for England when our film critics take a daytime job punishing their fellow men. Many film directors take the line that that is what they do already.

Jack Hughes