Category Archives: review

plague novels: a scent of new-mown hay

While Andromeda Strain is the most bloodless science fiction – the microorganism is a solid hexagonal crystal, no messy fluids here – A Scent of New Mown Hay (John Blackburn, 1959) is a work of horror. Every other chapter ends with people people running screaming, or … Continue reading

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a distant mirror

I, too, could not believe that they would railroad Nixon through until I read a [Walter] Lippmann column a few days before they did, who explained to my satisfaction how it had all been planned for weeks and months ahead; … Continue reading

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#moonliving

It was Glark who first said ‘70s sci fi is all about hexagons. Duncan Jones’ film Moon is all about octagons. Almost every space, structure, aperture has chamfered corners that quote Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and match the Omni magazine fonts of the … Continue reading

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film: the international job

The Italian Job, now being re-released for its 50th anniversary, seems at first to be an ensemble drama like Ocean’s 11, with a diverse sample of loveable rogues rotating through scenes showcasing their specialisms and speech patterns. In fact, it … Continue reading

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films on planes and off

When you’re in a straitjacket seat, can’t sleep, and the battery on your book device is fading, there is really not much to do but catch up on the contemporary cinema. (Spoilers ahead.) Widows – Sad, tragic Ocean’s Four. Slow-paced, except … Continue reading

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museums: Fahrelnissa Zeid

Tapestry, carpet, stained glass window, mosaic, kaleidoscope are some of the metaphors that come to mind in viewing the work of the Ottoman-born artist Fahrelnissa Zeid. Her dominant tones were modulations of primary colors – tomato red, denim blue, Girl … Continue reading

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museums: David Hockney

Is that … the Ladybird Book of David Hockney? A few things about David Hockney, based on the exhibition now closing at the Tate: 1. His palette resembles the acrylic paints we used in school – those saturated hues that came … Continue reading

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theater: macbeth at the globe

Cloth wrappings are integral to Iqbal Khan’s Macbeth; the witches, four of them, perform a body-part puppet show with a black curtain while a PA system speaks their speech over ghostly music. At intervals through the action, characters appear draped in … Continue reading

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film: a most violent year

A Most Violent Year was mostly passed over for awards, yet it is a better film about business ethics than anything Martin Scorsese has done lately. Oscar Isaac plays Abel Morales, the self-made chief executive of a heating oil business, … Continue reading

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art: goya: order and disorder

Before visiting the latest blockbuster MFA show I had little sense of Francisco Goya except a vague and incorrect association with Maja soap. I came away flattened by his reach and versatility: portraitist, cartoonist, war artist, realist, imaginer, storyteller; in … Continue reading

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film: interstellar

It has been said that all 20th century novels are about the historical progress of the 20th century; they refer, however subtly, to ideologies and great wars and seismic shifts in material and prosperity. Exceptions that seem “timeless,” like Donna … Continue reading

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theatre: an unmatched seam (rsc love’s labour’s lost and found)

The Royal Shakespeare Company have a genuine hit on their hands with Love’s Labour’s Lost. The acting is natural yet marvelous, with every scene-carrying performance balanced with a scene-stealing one. The musical interludes are delightful, with an unexpected edge of … Continue reading

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