Arts and Entertainment Rome sweet Rome: Tony Servillo in 'The Great Beauty'

From its delirious opening montage of disco divas, ageing socialites and strippers at play – one imagines Berlusconi's bunga bunga in a nutshell – Paolo Sorrentino's Roman satire has its sights fixed on epic greatness. There's a touch of La Dolce Vita in its fluid portrait of the city as carnival, with its parade of nuns, tourists, freaks, hangers-on, performance artists and other jokers. It is overseen by the dapper, disenchanted Jep Gambardella (Toni Servillo), a journalist who once wrote a great novel but is now more famous for his roof-terrace parties and languid cynicism. The haute bourgeoisie circles Jep moves in turn a blind eye and a Botoxed pout to the depressed, debased society around them, preferring to dance themselves dizzy and drink themselves silly. (Sample dialogue: "What job do you do?" "Me? I'm rich". "Great job"). Nor is there any recourse to religion when Vatican prelates offer not spiritual succour but top cooking tips.

Review: Poetry in perfectly balanced emotion

Seven Sonnets of Michelangelo Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith

Visual Arts: Like putty in his hands

No one could mould the male form like Michelangelo, and no one, says Tom Lubbock, has ever asked so much of the male anatomy

Visual Arts: In the tortured steps of Egon Schiele

Lea Anderson has created a dance from the works of the Austrian expressionist. Looks painful, says Louise Levene

Books: Borrowed and blue

How do you distinguish gay from straight literature? That's for the reader, not the writer, to judge, argues Peter Parker; A History of Gay Literature: the male tradition by Gregory Woods Yale University Press, pounds 24.95 Pages Passed from Hand to Hand: the hidden tradi tion of homosexual literature in English from 1748-1914 edited by Mark Mitchell and David Leavitt Chatto & Windus, pounds 17.99

Competition: Details No 370

IN WHICH painting by which painter can you find this cincture?

Sharing some of the facilities of private schools may salve liberal consciences, but it's difficult to dispel an uncomfortable aura of forelock- tugging

I'm looking forward to parental reaction to the Invasion of the Oicks into public schools, particularly if this - from sources close to my brother-in-law - is anything to go by. "Jolly good idea - teach 'em hunting, shooting and fishing - some of the bloody townies might see what hunting's all about. What about riding lessons - I believe they don't have them in those, what do they call 'em, basin schools. Put 'em on horseback - with luck a few of the buggers might fall off and break their necks."

Klimt castle sold for pounds 14.5m

A saleroom battle between two bidders left the London art market agog yesterday when a monumental landscape by Gustav Klimt sold for a record pounds 14.5m at Christie's - more than double the expected price.

People in fashion: World of the strange

It takes a bizarre imagination to create sets for Alexander McQueen's shows - like Simon Costin's - says Chris Maume

Open season for prose

No analogy too elevated, no description too celestial, no moralism too sententious. That's sports writing. We've had Sampras. Here comes Tiger Woods. By Boyd Tonkin

Poetry, art, music? I'll take mine without the blood

It was a remarkable day, said one commentator, which all the people involved would remember for the rest of their lives. "This is no occasion to croon softly," announced the song sheet handed out as they descended in their thousands from coaches, trains and private cars, "We are just a few yards from the West End, so let's really put on a show."

Malta mystery tour

Maltese markets reflect the island itself: they have everything. By Annie Caulfield

Money: Return of the saints

Young suits are buying the Old Masters, writes John Windsor

Re-educating Tilda

Tilda Swinton in power suits and lipstick? Yes, but it's not what it seems. 'Female Perversions' explores women's need to adopt false identities to survive. And, says the performance artist, the role taught her a lot. By Liese Spencer

Gentleman of Verona: Put to the test

Of all the tedious ways to spend an afternoon, I know of none worse than to find yourself sitting on the thesis commission of an Italian university. On a stool behind a low podium, a girl is telling a microphone about a British feminist called Vera Brittain. Facts, figures, fulsome admiration. But I'm not paying attention. What I'm thinking about is the disastrous argument I got drawn into last night: a pleasant evening in a restaurant became a pitched battle when I would not show sufficient concern about the state of Third World debt. Apparently such nonchalance on my part was equivalent to singing in the bath only a stone's throw from the smoking crematoriums of Auschwitz. The man I was talking to had closed his account - closed his account! - when he found his bank was lending money to Mobutu. Facts, figures, furious indignation. As usual, I was torn between an awareness of the desperate lot of starving millions and a rejection of any attempt to convert me to a life of vigilant piety. "In conclusion," the rather pretty girl concludes, "I think Vera Brittain offers a shining example we would all do well to follow."

The bodies in question

Anthony-Noel Kelly has been questioned by police about the origin of human body parts used in the making of his sculpture. But perhaps the charge against the artist should be this: grievous lack of originality. By David Cohen
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Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
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The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution