Voices

Who knew that Harry Styles, the curly-haired, urchin-faced pretty boy from One Direction, fancifully described by a leading fashion commentator as "part Indie-boy mess, part French arthouse, part young Mick Jagger", enjoys knitting?

Guess who's in the new Almodovar film?

Yes, it's Penelope again. And yesterday the director explained why he always chooses Cruz

The Accidental Husband (12A)

Even taking into account the dismal pedigree of director Griffin Dunne (Practical Magic, Addicted to Love) and writer Bonnie Sikowitz, one could hardly have predicted this shocker.

Comfort, joy and 'Kill Bill', by Joanne Harris

For weeks we've been exhorting you to spend, spend, spend, but now that the presents have (with any luck) been bought and the preparations are complete, it's time to ponder the deeper meaning of Christmas. We asked our favourite writers to rant, reflect or reminisce on a festive theme. As Ronald Hutton explains, the last thing you should feel at this time of year is guilty, so sit down with a mince pie and enjoy

Moir Lockhead: A public transport boss who is driving a green agenda

A day in the life: Fresh from spending £1.9bn on two American icons, Moir Lockhead, chief executive of FirstGroup, tells Susie Mesure of his company's environmental aims

Kill Bill Vol 1 (18)

First cut isn't the deepest  

Film: Giggling with Kubrick

What ever happened to the scene in Eyes Wide Shut where Tom Cruise kissed a corpse? Julienne Davis was that body

The History of... Nail Varnish: Talon-spotting

NAIL VARNISH is instant fashion in a bottle that won't break the bank. There is evidence that as far back as 4,000 years ago manicures took place in southern Babylonia, and manicure instruments have been found Egypt's royal tombs. Body decoration, including henna as a stain for fingernails and toenails, has been practised across the world for centuries.

Cinema: Even Ralph and Uma can't save the day

The Avengers

Film: Oh, it's had very good 'word of mouth'

No critic will be allowed to see The Avengers before its release. Just how bad is it?

FILMS: US TOP 10

1 / DEEP IMPACT

Fashion: Out of the bathroom closet

UMA THURMAN keeps her complexion flawless with Janet Fildermans Lime Blossom Cleansing Milk, pounds 11.25. (Mail order 0171 262 7034)

Why are they famous? Uma Thurman

MAIN CLAIM: Space alien sex symbol meets soulful thespian. Now Uma and boyfriend Ethan Hawke, the jeunesse doree of American bohemia, look set to marry. Expecting their first child in July, the couple have been spotted queuing for a marriage licence and leaving St John the Divine Church in New York. "I've been sworn to secrecy about the place and the day but it's going to be soon, very soon," Uma's brother helpfully informs us.

We have ways to make sure that your genes become your destiny

The world depicted in the cautionary film, Gattaca, is not far away, but says Tom Wilkie, we can still choose a different future

NICE LEGS, PITY ABOUT THE GENES

Andrew Niccol's film 'Gattaca' depicts a futuristic world where genetic make-up is all. Sci-fi it may be, says Marek Kohn, but there are no laws of nature blocking the way
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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
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?