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Friday 01 July 2011
Wednesday 01 June 2011
Had she lived to see it, today would have been Marilyn Monroe's 85th birthday. To celebrate the life of one of the most photographed women of last century, we've put together a selection of images of her life.
Friday 29 April 2011
One misses the opening clarinet glissando to "Rhapsody in Blue", of course, but thereafter they furnish enough dextrous drama to satisfy, with delightful little jazzy touches, while the re-statement of the theme as a cakewalk is entirely in keeping with the mood and momentum of the piece.
Friday 04 March 2011
The Magnificent Seven, in chainmail. Jonathan English's action movie takes history as its base metal – the siege of Rochester Castle by King John in 1215 – and forges it into the cold steel of Medieval derring-do. Once you get past sniggering at Paul Giamatti as John, it's a pretty enjoyable face-off between the king's mercenary army and a rag-tag band of patriots led by James Purefoy's self-denying Templar knight and Brian Cox's lusty Baron. The trimmings are standard-issue: full-throated Middle Ages cackling, gnarled peasant faces straight out of Brueghel and lots of ferocious hand-to-hand combat with pluming fountains of blood. But it's a persuasive portrayal of a violent era and its harsh privations.
Wednesday 23 February 2011
It is 51 years since Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird was first published. Launched in the midst of the US Civil Rights protests, where young black men and women campaigned for the right to sit in the same public spaces as white citizens, the book captured brilliantly the simmering injustice of the time.
Sunday 30 January 2011
Pigeon-holed by his fame as a film composer, Bernard Herrmann would have heaved a weary sigh at the shower on the cover. But the "Psycho Suite" is only the coda to a disc that otherwise focuses on the lyrical abstractions of Herrmann's European-influenced "Echoes", and the extended "Souvenirs de Voyage".
Sunday 12 September 2010
I'd unfairly dismissed Charles Webb's The Graduate, first published in 1963, as one of those novels outdone by the movie it inspired. But, as Hanif Kureishi remarks in his introduction to this new edition, the book is more than a match for the film, carried along on light and limber prose.
Friday 16 July 2010
Tuesday 29 December 2009
Friday 23 October 2009
Steve McQueen is in his 1968 GT Ford Mustang. The hit men are in their black 1968 Dodge Charger 440 R/T. What follows, through the streets of San Francisco, is the greatest car chase ever filmed.
Wednesday 09 September 2009
The obituary of Keith Waterhouse (8 September) reminded me of an interview I once did with Albert Finney, who told me a lovely story about his West End debut as a leading man, in Waterhouse's famous play Billy Liar, writes Brian Viner.
Friday 07 August 2009
An innocent female in a Hitchcock film is handcuffed. The actress was obliged to do many takes, "crying out for her manacles to be removed".
Sunday 02 August 2009
Friday 24 July 2009
Sergio Leone's frontier parable is a landmark in Westerns, and features not only one of the greatest opening sequences ever made, but also the best use of a harmonica in cinema.As history it's quite possibly trash, but Leone instinctively grasps the romance of the West, and he uses actors' faces – Henry Fonda, Claudia Cardinale, Jason Robards, Charles Bronson – almost as landscapes in themselves. Memory, desire, ruthlessness, revenge are all here, treated in the only way this director knew – incandescently.
Friday 12 June 2009
Next Tuesday marks the 105th anniversary of Bloomsday – the eventful day of 16 June 1904, on which a young aspiring writer called Stephen Dedalus, a Jewish advertising canvasser called Leopold Bloom and his adulterous songbird wife, Molly, played out a bonsai version of Homer's Odyssey in the streets of Dublin. Hundreds of Dubliners throng the streets each year, recreating the characters in costume, on stilts and in carnival floats, breakfasting near Bloom's (now demolished) home in Eccles Street, lunching on cheese sandwiches and Burgundy at Davy Byrne's pub, making the pilgrimage through the day to the cabman's shelter where Bloom and Dedalus converged after midnight.
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