Jumbo the elephant was a Victorian sensation, who between his birth in modern-day Eritrea and alcoholic death in the American circus of the incorrigible showman PT Barnum was the star attraction at London Zoo.
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Friday 23 July 2010
Lucy Gordon didn't live to see the acclaim that she would receive for playing Jane Birkin in Gainsbourg, a biopic about the acclaimed French crooner, Serge. She committed suicide aged 28 in May 2009, just a short time after filming had completed and just before she was due to appear in Cannes to promote the film. The usual tittle-tattle about suicide notes and suppositions as to why she took her own life quickly appeared, alongside premature (the film was still some way from being completed) assessments of her talent. Now, as Joann Sfar's film hits cinemas, it's clear that, like Birkin, Gordon was set to move from mannequin to actress with aplomb.
Friday 18 June 2010
In the land of the dispossessed, belonging is king. Feeling loved is the antidote to the trauma of abandonment, the Holy Grail sought by Lauren Socha in Samantha Morton's The Unloved, a semi-biographical tale of children in care.
Thursday 07 January 2010
Dylan Jones: 'Seasonal Suicide Notes' is a funny, acute stocking filler that should appeal to any half-decent misanthropist
Saturday 05 December 2009
Friday 13 November 2009
Tackling the best known of all biographical subjects is a tall order, but Martin has achieved an enthralling and original portrait. Despite his Stephen Fry-like celebrity ("I believe there is hardly a day in which there is not something about me in the papers"), Johnson emerges as sad and afflicted, in keeping with his dark reflection shortly before death on "the general disease of my life".
Wednesday 28 October 2009
Friday 10 July 2009
Paul Schrader's 1985 biopic of the Japanese writer Yukio Mishima is a brave but flawed attempt to tell a sensational story in a formalist manner. The author's last day in November 1970 – when he committed ritual suicide after addressing an army garrison – is interspersed with black-and-white flashbacks to his painful boyhood and dramatic excerpts from his novels, remarkably visualised by the designer Eiko Ishioka. Yet the cerebral cool of Schrader's perspective sacrifices emotional connection to its subject: Mishima's life will always be a mystery, but the careful layerings don't give much of a clue as to why he became an object of cult worship to the Japanese.
Wednesday 10 June 2009
An elderly gunman opened fire inside the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum today, wounding one security guard before two other officers returned fire. The assailant and his victim were both hospitalized.
Sunday 22 February 2009
The Turner-winning artist Steve McQueen turns Bafta-winning writer/director with this mesmeric film about Bobby Sands’ hunger strike. Unstintingly brutal, yet often fabulous to look at, it rejects the structure of a traditional chronological biopic.
Sunday 04 January 2009
Wednesday 24 September 2008
Zelda Sayre was one of the most controversial literary figures of her time. Some claim that her marriage to F Scott Fitzgerald inspired him to produce the Jazz Age's best novels. Others say she stifled his creativity.
Sunday 20 July 2008
Even if he were to cover his sort-of namesake's "Grace Kelly", Micah P. Hinson would still sound like a backwoods mechanic hiding something in the cellar.
Thursday 27 March 2008
Friday 11 January 2008
Reading about the McMaster review of arts funding, headlined in one newspaper as "Britain on verge of 'new Renaissance', minister claims", I was reminded of the – possibly apocryphal – Hollywood biopic in which one artist turns to another and says furiously: "Don't you understand? You can't paint like that any more – we're in the Renaissance now." The point is, of course, that the Renaissance wouldn't even exist as a concept until some 300 years later: a renaissance isn't something that you can identify at the time.
Friday 11 January 2008
Stephen Fry explains what he would say if he was 'confronted by God'
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
President Putin is a dangerous psychopath - reason is not going to work with him
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign
- 1 Three-year-old boy shoots pregnant mother and father in New Mexico
- 2 Stephen Fry explains what he would say if he was 'confronted by God'