Angry Pinter shoots down our man in Tinseltown

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The Independent Online

Harold Pinter rarely affords interviews, which will make his sit-down this week with Time Out all the more uncomfortable reading for British director Paul Greengrass, our most valuable behind-the-cameras export to Hollywood.

The Nobel Prize-winning playwright lays into Greengrass's recent Matt Damon-led secret agent offering.

"I saw a film, The Bourne Ultimatum," Pinter begins, "and I thought: Fucking hell! This guy is clearly the strongest man in the world. He can beat up about 12 people in about 35 seconds and kill half of them.

"The whole thing is totally unreal. I was stupefied by it, it was so lacking in intelligence." He adds that he sat in the cinema "seething, thinking: What am I doing here, being bombarded by this sound? It knocks you out."

The interviewer pointed out that Oscar-nominated Greengrass is considered a master of dramatic realism.

"Paul Greengrass?" replies Pinter. "I saw Bloody Sunday, I also saw United 93: that fellow is no chump."But: "I've never been able to write a film which I didn't respect, I just can't do it."

Greengrass's publicist declined to comment last night.

Hopefully the two men will find common ground on Greengrass's next project, a cinematic adaptation of Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone, by the Washington Post journalist Rajiv Chandrasekaran.

Greengrass considers the invasion of Iraq "the most calamitous decision of our generation", while Pinter, in his acceptance speech to the Nobel committee, described it as "an act of blatant state terrorism".

Law's timely intervention helps Caine save face

The long blue zig zag running across Sir Michael Caine's forehead appeared, at first, to be an attempt to reach for the young Harry Potter audience.

On closer inspection, however, it emerged that Caine had been allowed to walk up the red carpet, sign autographs for fans and then talk to radio journalists, despite having inadvertently drawn on his face with a biro. He was eventually grabbed and hurriedly wet-wiped by his assistant, and by Jude Law, left, his co-star in the Kenneth Branagh-directed remake of the 1972 sexual thriller Sleuth.

Caine, 74, defended Law, 34, over his entanglements with members of Her Majesty's LightningPaparazzi Division.

"It's harder now," he said. "Jude has to deal with the photographers and I never had to. In my day, at his age, there were only a few of those reporter people around and they were usually drunk anyway."

Maul over the hors d'œuvre

Mixed together, English rugby players and book launches are violently combustible ingredients. Players Mike Catt and Lawrence Dallaglio drew the wrath of teammates for their recent cash-in exposés of squad life at the World Cup.

An intriguing invitation arrives, then, to Wednesday night's launch of the official book chronicling England's unsuccessful defence of the Webb Ellis Cup. "Drinks with players from England's World Cup squad!" it promises.

Fights over the canapés! Hooray! Nothing like a bit of infighting to excite the gutter press. Strangely, the publisher seems unenthusiastic to return calls demanding to know who the Rugby Football Union has, and hasn't, invited.

Move over, Darling

There were musical chairs at yesterday morning's Westminster Abbey service of thanksgiving on the occasion of the Queen's diamond wedding anniversary.

Two minutes before festivities began, a glaringly empty space became apparent on the front pew. The supposed incumbents? None other than the tightly clenched buttocks of our dear Chancellor, Alistair Darling.

Darling had not been consumed by his hungry eyebrows. Instead, he was busily preparing to address the Commons on the impending sale of beleaguered bank Northern Rock.

Nearby sat David Cameron and his opposite number from the Lib Dems, Vince Cable. DC was heard to chortle: "I think that's our fault he's not here."

MPs seek hidden treasure

Politicians race each other out of the blocks to denounce the degenerate binge-drinking habits of today's yoof. Exciting to hear, then, that selected parliamentarians can tonight acquire first-hand experience of this alleged debauchery. Conservative MPs, including the shadow Home Secretary David Davis, Alan Duncan and Derek Conway are on the guest list for the launch of Knit Couture, by Derek's fashion writer son Henry Conway, 25.

Beverages will be provided by the West End watering hole Mahiki – a favourite of Princes Harry and Wills, and home to the notorious Treasure Chest brandy cocktail (£100), served in a wooden box for eight people to drink through straws. Dinky Duncan – said to be quite the connoisseur when it comes to cocktails – is this time making his excuses; he has to rush off to a dinner.

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