tue 17/10/2017

biography

Claire Tomalin: A Life of My Own review - the biographer on herself

The title says it all, or at least quite a lot. Luminously intelligent, an exceptionally hard worker, bilingual in French, a gifted biographer, Claire Tomalin has been at the heart of the literati glitterati all her working life. Here she turns her...

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Prism, Hampstead Theatre review - a life through the lens

Jack Cardiff was one of the all-time greats of cinematography, the man who shot such Powell and Pressburger classics as The Red Shoes and A Matter of Life and Death, worked on John Huston’s The African Queen with Humphrey Bogart and Katharine...

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James Hamilton: Gainsborough - A Portrait review - an artistic life told with verve and enthusiasm

James Hamilton’s wholly absorbing biography is very different from the usual kind of art historical study that often surrounds such a major figure as Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788). Hamilton is positively in love with his subject, and writes with...

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It's So Easy and Other Lies, Sky Arts review - uneven rock bio outstays its welcome

Duff McKagan is a survivor. He’s a bass player too, from the fledgling Seattle punk/proto-grunge outfit 10 Minute Warning to the stadium-filling behemoth of Guns N’ Roses, but if you were judging by the narrative weight of this 2015 documentary, you...

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Brenda Maddox: Reading the Rocks review - revelations of geology

Reading the Rocks has a provocative subtitle, “How Victorian Geologists Discovered the Secret of Life”, indicating the role of geology in paving the way to an understanding of the evolution of our planet as a changing physical entity that was to...

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The Seasons in Quincy: Four Portraits of John Berger review - voyages round a giant

“Men act and women appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at. This determines not only most relations between men and women but also the relation of women to themselves.” I’ve quoted these words by John Berger many, many...

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Sunday Book: Yiyun Li - Dear Friend, From My Life I Write to You in Your Life

Yiyun Li’s fiction comes garlanded in praise from authors and journals that don’t ladle it out carelessly, so it feels almost churlish to cavil over a memoir written during the course of two years while the author battled serious mental health...

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To Walk Invisible, BBC One

Yorkshire-born screenwriter Sally Wainwright has carved a distinguished niche for herself as chronicler of that brooding, beautiful region’s social and familial dramas. After the romance of Last Tango in Halifax and the gritty panorama of Happy...

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Sunday Book: Ruth Franklin - Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life

When asked about her most famous short story, "The Lottery", Shirley Jackson said, “I hate it. I’ve lived with that thing 15 years. Nobody will ever let me forget it.” Sixty-eight years later, it’s seared into the American psyche and has been a set...

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Who was St Clair Bayfield?

This week Stephen Frears's film about Florence Foster Jenkins opens. It will bring to the widest attention yet the story of a New York socialite who couldn’t sing and yet did sing, infamously, to a packed Carnegie Hall at the age of 76 in 1944....

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Jeepers Creepers, Leicester Square Theatre

You might think that the combination of a play about one of the funniest comics of the second half of the 20th century, written by his biographer and directed by a member of Monty Python would be a winning one. But sadly Robert Ross's Jeepers...

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Dawn French, Vaudeville Theatre

When is a comedian not funny? Dawn French has spent so much of her life making audiences laugh that her debut as a one-woman performer requires some recalibration. The next-door smile is as big as ever, and the eagerness to be liked, so the early...

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