The importance of family dining

At the dining-table children learn about the connections between food, feelings and family life

Pick of the Day:Digital, Cable and Satellite Television

AS HE did so memorably with Sense and Sensibility, Taiwanese director Ang Lee brings the lucidity of an outsider's vision to The Ice Storm (10pm Sky Premier), a period drama showing on satellite for the first time tonight. In this beautifully realised portrait of disintegrating families in 1970s Long Island, Sigourney Weaver (right) plays Janey, a bored housewife having a messy affair with neighbour Kevin Kline. The details are meticulously evoked; it's all reel-to-reel tape recorders, wind-chimes and wife-swapping. The wardrobe people have had a field-day, too, turning up the most exquisite turquoise trouser-suits, airplane-wing- sized collars and Starsky wrap-around cardigans.

Words: Sensible

AS HE sped down the M4's bus lane last week past a tailback of frustrated motorists, many of them no doubt floating voters, Tony Blair had time to wonder whether the bus lane was such a fine idea after all. But it had seemed right at the time; "sensible" was the word he had used about it a fortnight earlier, a good steady word. One was reminded of the old electioneering slogan "You know it makes sense". We expect our politicians to be sensible, whatever else they are.

Open Eye Letter: Summer schools

Many thanks to you and all of those responsible for the publication of Open Eye. In my opinion it is a first-rate publication, extremely useful for programme planning and containing many articles of particular interest. May its success continue for some time to come.

Arts: Sense and sensibility

Neil LaBute's latest film is another portrait of bad behaviour with laughs. At whose expense?

Win copies of `The Ice Storm' video

Ang Lee's The Ice Storm is emotional, thought-provoking and has earned

Cinema: A winter's tale of politics, sex and the Seventies

WATERGATE, the oil crisis, Vietnam and the Osmonds made the 1970s a difficult, discouraging decade for American culture. But the decade's mix of political atrophy and social excess is making it an attractive subject for film-makers. Last month, Paul Thomas Anderson's Boogie Nights turned the clock back to 1975. This month, Ang Lee's The Ice Storm (15) takes the time tunnel to 1973. Costume drama has gone flared: bell-bottoms are the new bodices.

Film: So cold and bleak you could cheer

The Big Picture: The Ice Storm

A FAMILY MAN

THERE IS A MOMENT in Ang Lee's The Ice Storm when a father stands, suitcase in hand, in the doorway of his son's bedroom. "I'm back!" he announces cheerfully. His son stares at him as if he's never seen him before. "You ... you were gone?" he stutters. It is the axis upon which the whole film rotates. After "Pinteresque silence" and "Hitchcockian suspense", we may one day talk about "Ang Lee excruciating family moments".

All dressed up for the movies

As a wave of costume dramas reaches the big screen, are we about to drown in good taste? John Lyttle asks if oldies are always goldies, while David Benedict provides a dinner-party primer for those who may have lost the plot

Space-cakes in Austenland

Elinor and Marianne by Emma Tennant; Simon & Schuster, pounds 9.99; Byronic communes, fevers on the brain: Victoria Coren just about swallows a salacious sequel to `Sense and Sensibility'

Making sense of Miss Thompson's sensibility

What is it that turns an actress into a movie star? Britain is rich in actresses, perhaps richer than any other country. But we have very few movie stars, performers able to command an audience's attention on the big screen, and as a consequence, command the respect of Hollywood. Emma Thompson does. She has already won one Oscar for her performance as Margaret Schlegel in `Howard's End' and has just been nominated for two more - Best Actress for her performance as Elinor in `Sense and Sensibility' and Best Adapted Screenplay for the same film.

You can take me higher...

TRAINSPOTTING Danny Boyle (18) SENSE AND SENSIBILITY Ang Lee (U); Two films, one heritage. But is history all that connects these two sure- fire hits?

ARTS: DRAMA: Whatever happened to Jane?

All of a sudden, Jane Austen is everywhere. But why her? And why now? Marianne Macdonald reports on the Austen industry

A WEEK IN POLITICS

Consternation gripped readers all over the nation this week, as they pondered the insultingly direct question mooted on the front page of the current London Review Of Books: Was Jane Austen Gay? The LRB has shown signs of skittishness in the past (like its former editor Karl Miller's crush on Fiona Pitt-Kethley) but this is something else. For the magazine further hints that Ms Austen's sapphic intimacies extended to her elder sister Cassandra.
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