Mine’s a zappuccino

Mine’s a zappuccino

However much everyone envies the 1960s generation, part of me suspects I would have hated them – because cool, trendy people always annoy and depress me. After a few days of hanging around hippies I would have been practically begging the military to take me to Vietnam. At university I was baffled by the romantic success of a man who could name all the “trip-hop” acts around, spoke with a cool trans-Pacific inflection, knew every happening night club in town… Read on

The blunting of Becky Sharp

The blunting of Becky Sharp

Making a screen version of Vanity Fair is the director’s equivalent of invading Russia; however confident you may feel in your powers, remember the land you tread over is littered with the dead careers of producers, actors and financial backers from campaigns past. So Mira Nair’s fans must have hoped she had good counsel before embarking on her first major Hollywood production, perhaps the type of lackey who used to whisper “remember you are just a man” in the ears… Read on

The death of swords and sandals 



The death of swords and sandals 



Alexander the Great was a force of nature, one of only a handful of men to change the course of world, rather than national, history. He finished classical Greece before destroying the Persian Empire, conquering 90 per cent of the known world and bringing the whole of Eurasia, west of the Himalayas, into one cultural mass. His conquests spread Hellenic culture as far as India and his decisions reverberated like ever shrinking shockwaves throughout centuries. And his brief existence inadvertently… Read on

The Bard without the luvvies

The Bard without the luvvies

If Shakespeare were alive today what sort of film, and no doubt he would be involved with the medium, would he be making? Well, according to Mackenzie Crook, who plays the role of Lancelot Gobbo, Michael Radford’s production of The Merchant of Venice is exactly that. It is a bold statement to make. At any rate, Shakespeare would certainly be pleased as a writer that little of his script has been tampered with. Sure, the play has been cut by… Read on

Let’s hear it for the Terror 



Let’s hear it for the Terror 



It is often said that if you are not a socialist at twenty, you don’t have a heart, and that if you are one at forty, you don’t have a head. Anyone who has read Mark Steel’s Reasons To Be Cheerful , a wry look at his small part in the anti-Thatcher movement of the early 1980s, will know he certainly had a heart. And those who read his latest work will soon realise that, though he has a fine… Read on