This definition of anti-Semitism has been too stretched for too long

Ryan Gilbey on film

I'm not a "lists" person. But do you realise just what an incredible four-and-a-half months of films we've had? It's like 1972 or something. (How fitting that The Godfather is being re-released in July.) It may not be cool to get this giddy about a year when you're not even halfway through it. But even if 1996 doesn't produce another single frame of the remotest worth, it should still go down as the richest year of the decade so far. I can't remember ever feeling quite so happy to hand over my seven quid.

BOOK REVIEW / A bearded prophet of the wilderness

Michael Coveney's biography of the director Mike Leigh sent John Campbell scuttling back to the video shop; The World According to Mike Leigh by Michael Coveney, HarperCollins, pounds 18

John Walsh

So there I was the other night in a decommissioned bordello behind St Martin's Lane, run by an epicene Argentinian with a lisp. A cool party is in progress, to launch a book by Michael Coveney, the Guardian's incisive drama critic. Its subject is the life and work of Mike Leigh, the celebrated playwright and film director, whose low-budget, low-key movies win awards and open film festivals these days.

site unseen Camley Street Natural Park, King's Cross, London

Some parts of London never appear in visitors' guidebooks. This is fine if you like tourist-free zones, but it does mean that the "official" view of London is decidedly sanitised.

Man about the set

Inhabitants of Bethnal Green's Quilter Street found themselves at the heart of a film set when Mike Leigh's crew moved into number 76.

Hollywood pirates and prose poems

Michael Bracewell applauds the delicacy and precision of William Boyd's short stories; The Destiny of Nathalie X and Other Stories by William Boyd Sinclair-Stevenson, pounds 9.99

The Bernard Cribbins of his generation?


PETER YORK ON ADS : Memories are made like this


BOOKS: Back in the bad old days

POOR SOULS by Joseph Connolly Faber £9.99

Battle of the notepads

CRAZY PAVING Louise Doughty Touchstone £9.99

INTERVIEW / On both sides of the ledger: For most of the Eighties, Robert Altman couldn't get arrested. But with 'The Player' and now 'Short Cuts', his star has risen again. He talks about his years in the box-office doldrums, bucking the Hollywood system, and getting cats and dogs to mate

A CRAMPED lobby just off the rue Faubourg St Honore in Paris. Builders are lugging bags of cement into the lift, so I take the stairs. Wading past loose cables and discarded tools, I eventually reach the fourth floor, and the office of Pret-a-Porter, Robert Altman's next film. Lights, cameras, action - the Altman HQ is going full tilt, soundtracked by a steady thrum of fax and phone and photocopier.

Movers and shakers on the town: Ravers have no monopoly of fun. Alix Sharkey joins the scrabble for seats at two of London's newest clubs, and throws a six to start

I know you were not looking when I took my turn, but, Scout's honour, I did not pass go, did not collect pounds 200, did not go to jail. Instead I chose the racing car (or a black cab doing a fair approximation thereof) and, starting at Russell Square. leapt across the board to take my chances at Flipside, a club discreetly tucked away in the corner of Park Lane and Piccadilly.

OBSESSIONS / Game for anything: A club in London's Soho is devoted to games of the sedentary variety. Emma Cook picks up the dice and acts board

Sega and Nintendo are banned,' says co-manager Steve Furst of the door policy at the Double Six Club, London's first night spot devoted to board games: 'We're not interested in solitary obsessions here.'

Thompson wins film award

EMMA Thompson added to her clutch of film awards last night when she was named Best Actress in the Evening Standard Film Awards, writes David Lister.

POWER & INFLUENCE IN THE ARTS: FILM / Modest proposals and large returns: It may seem perverse to talk about power and influence in an industry which has risen from the grave more times than Dracula. But consider David Aukin. As the commissioning editor of films for Channel 4, he now holds the most important job in British cinema, argues Kevin Jackson

On 1 October 1990, a man with no prior experience of film production took on the most important job in British cinema: true or false? As they used to observe on The Brains Trust, the answer depends on your choice of definition. It is certainly true that it was on the aforementioned date that David Aukin, whose CV had until then been filled with posts in law (he worked as a solicitor until 1970) and the theatre (Leicester Haymarket, Hampstead, the NT), took over from David Rose as Channel 4's Head of Drama and commissioning editor of Film on Four. Not everyone, though, would concede the significance of the appointment.
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