Arts and Entertainment Morgan Freeman, Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro and Kevin Kline in Last Vegas

(12A) Jon Turteltaub, 104 mins, Starring: Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Kline

A class act

Morgan Freeman has had three Oscar nominations. He doesn't get work just because he's black. And he can't need the money... So why, asks Janie Lawrence, is he playing a black factotum in a dire `Moll Flanders'?

The fine art of killing

The killer as artist, the victim as installation: this is Hollywood's aesthetic response to serial murder. By Kim Newman

Seven Oscar nominations, not much bite

Cinema

FILM THEATRE EXHIBITIONS GIGS CLASSICAL MUSIC/DANCE

GOING OUT - CRITICS' CHOICE

The revenger's tragedy

Adam Mars-Jones on Bandit Queen and The Shawshank Redemption

FILM / The last Apache: Sheila Johnston on Geronimo, the best western to come out of America since Unforgiven. Plus other new releases

Geronimo (12), Director: Walter Hill (US); To Live (12), Director: Zhang Yimou (China); The War of the Buttons (PG), Director: John Roberts (UK); Monkey Trouble (U), Director: Franco Amurri (US); Sparrow (12), Director: Franco Zeffirelli (Italy); Threesome (18), Director: Andrew Fleming (US)

The bad and the indifferent

LAST WEEK, I went to see Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven. In one sense, it was all Eastwood. Once again, the wordless, narrow-eyed loner wreaks justice with his gun. Once again, the sky and the mountains look down on a community mired in cruelty and cowardice, waiting for its saviour. But Unforgiven is more than just another Clintiad.

FILM / The Last Detail: The western is back. But whatever happened to the white picket fence?

I LIKE westerns. More precisely, I like westerns without Indians and without pretensions. Which ought to exclude, on the latter count, Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven. But since I found it as magnificent as everyone else apparently did, I would argue that, if you define pretension as 'overreaching ambition', then Unforgiven is indeed a western without either Indians or pretensions. (Dances With Wolves, of course, had both in spades.) And while I'm striking a strictly personal note, let me say that I'm also not crazy about westerns set in Mexico (with their fiestas and cantinas and Speedy Gonzales comic relief), westerns about fur trappers (boring), and westerns in which grizzled oldtimers sport long red underwear.

FILM / Here's shooting at you, Kid: Unforgiven; A League of Their Own

A MAN beside a grave, silhouetted by sunset: such is the image that opens and closes Unforgiven. It looks too corny by half, but then westerns have always taught us that really high-grade corn can ripen into poignancy. We know the liturgy so well - the lonesomeness, the matching crags of paleface and rockface, the coat peeled back like a curtain to show the holstered gun; it should go stale, but the promise of adventure feels more reliable every time. Come home to real gunfire.

FILM / An end to the Perrier western: Eastwood returns on a horse and on form

When Clint Eastwood is preparing a western, he wears the gear around for a while. He pretty much lives in the shirt and pants. He spends time in the hat. This sounds like a standard American film-star approach, until you realise that Eastwood is at the opposite extreme to say, Robert De Niro in his preparation. It's not that he needs to practise how it feels to wear a cowboy hat, if he's to get properly inside his part. It's a method acting lesson all right, but it's for the benefit of the wardrobe not the actor. The shirts and pants have to feel right about what they're doing. The hat needs to get used to being worn by Clint Eastwood.

RIFFS / Kate Pierson of The B52s on Dylan's 'A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall'

This would have to be the song that's most influenced me. Normally I'm interested in melody and harmony and yet this song is not strong on either. There's certainly no harmony in it, but it's based on a simple folk song melody, so it's the kind of song which makes you want to harmonise as you listen to it. I first heard 'A Hard Rain' when I was about 13, and a complete Bob Dylan fanatic. It was hard to get my friends to like it. I was in a folk protest group called The Sun Doughnuts - we were going to be the Sundowners but someone was already called that - and we wrote and covered protest songs, and this was one I wanted us to do. But the rest of the band said no. The lyric is full of symbolism and it captures the intensity of the times. It sounds like a stream of consciousness, as if it just poured out of him. And it's political without being didactic: it doesn't hit you over the head, but as you listen you get more and more stirred up, until, by the end, you're feeling, change the world. There's so much in this song about America that is still true. I went to the Democratic convention and heard Clinton's speech, and it was about America divided, segregated. Things haven't changed that much. But I like the line about hope: 'I'm a'goin' back out 'fore the rain starts a-fallin' . ' I love that it's a call to action by the end.
Career Services

Day In a Page

Independent Travel
Vietnam & Cambodia
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Bruges
India & Nepal
Japan
Berlin, Dresden, Meissen & Colditz
Prices correct as of 17 October 2014
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

The school that means business

Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
10 best tablets

The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

Pete Jenson's a Different League

Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

The killer instinct

Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

Clothing the gap

A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain