Saturday, December 31, 2016

Mario Testino / Women

Laetitia Casta

Mario Testino

Lara Stone

Laetitia Casta

Scarlett Johansson

Shakespeare's 400th anniversary / 'Man of Stratford' to be celebrated in 2016

William Shakespeare

Shakespeare's 400th anniversary: 'man of Stratford' to be celebrated in 2016

Death of most performed playwright in the world to be marked in Stratford-on-Avon, London and across the globe

Maev Kennedy
Friday 1 January 2016 10.00 GMT

he world shares him and London claims him, but Stratford-on-Avon intends to spend 2016 celebrating William Shakespeare as their man: the bard of Avon, born in the Warwickshire market town in 1564, and who died there 400 years ago.

Stratford remained hugely important throughout Shakespeare’s life, argues Paul Edmondson, the head of learning and research at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. “People have seen Shakespeare as a Dick Whittington figure, who turns his back on Stratford and his family, goes to London to earn his fortune and only comes back to die,” he said.
“[But Stratford is] where he bought land and property, where he kept his library, where he lived and read and thought. We are going to spend the year re-emphasising the importance of Shakespe
For a man famous in his own lifetime there is little documentary evidence for Shakespeare’s life and times. The plays would scarcely have survived if his friends and fellow actors had not gathered together every scrap of every play they could find – drafts, prompt scripts, scribbled actors’ parts, and 17 plays not known in any other version – into the precious First Folio published in 1623, seven years after Shakespeare’s death.
The actor Mark Rylance has called it his favourite book in the world, and most of the surviving First Folios will be on display – including those belonging to the British and Bodleian libraries, and a tattered copy recently discovered in France.
Some of the most precious surviving documents will be gathered together in an exhibition at Somerset House in London, opening in February and jointly organised by the National Archives and King’s College London, including four of his six known signatures, which are all slightly different.
By Me, William Shakespeare will include his will, the court papers relating to the audacious move when Shakespeare and his fellow actors dismantled a theatre on the north side of the Thames and rebuilt it as the Globe on the South Bank, and accounts showing payments from the royal treasury for Boxing Day performances of James I and Queen Anne.
The outgoing Globe director, Dominic Dromgoole, recently jokily claimed Shakespeare as a true Londoner – albeit conceding “some spurious claim” by Stratford-on Avon. Stratford, however, will be insisting that the town made and educated Shakespeare His old school room is being restored with a £1.4m Heritage Lottery grant, to open as a permanent visitor attraction.

Shakespeare bought the splendid New Place, the second best house in the town, where he died according to literary legend on St George’s Day, 23 April, the same day as his birth. “You don’t buy a house like New Place and not live there,” Paul Edmondson said. “The general public and many academics have consistently underestimated the importance of Stratford to Shakespeare.”

Edmondson believes that after Shakespeare bought the house in 1597, all his thinking time was spent there, and that the late plays, including The Tempest, were at least planned in his library and probably written there.
The Shakespeare Birthplace Trustdescribes New Place as “the jewel in the crown of the 400th anniversary celebrations”, but in truth it is more a mount with a gaping hole where the gem should be.
Shakespeare’s house was demolished 300 years ago, and the house that replaced it, probably incorporating some of the original fabric, was flattened in 1759 by an irascible clergyman, Francis Gastrell, in a row over taxes. He had already cut down Shakespeare’s mulberry tree, under which the writer is said to have sat and worked, because he was irritated by all the tourists peering into his garden.
The gap in the Stratford streetscape has never been filled, but a five-year archaeology project has peeled back the years, and the news that Shakespeare’s kitchen had been found in the partly surviving cellars went round the world. The whole site is being redisplayed for the anniversary, with the foundations marked and the garden restored.
“Without Stratford,” Edmondson said, “There would have been no Shakespeare.

Jean-Claude Carrière / Luis Buñuel

Luis Buñuel
Photo by Man Ray

Jean-Claude Carrière

He said he worked with me because he understood my voice. Everything I said was nonsense, but at least he understood.

Friday, December 30, 2016

How close were Marlowe and Shakespeare?

Shakespeare by Fernando Vicente
How close were Marlowe and Shakespeare?
The editors of the Oxford Complete Shakespeare believe Christopher Marlowe collaborated on the three Henry VI plays … but are they right?

John Dugdale

Friday 28 October 2016 13.00 BST
By crediting Christopher Marlowe this week as the previously unacknowledged co-writer of Shakespeare’s Henry VI trilogy, the New Oxford Shakespeare’s editors have added another portrayal of Marlowe – the handy helpmeet working with a less experienced writer, and apparently not seeking recognition for the results – to the wildly contrasting other versions of him (and of his relationship, if any, with Shakespeare) offered by novels, plays and screen fiction. Here are some of them:

Seminal but solo

In the conventional account of his career, Marlowe had written at least five plays, starting with his 1587 smash hit Tamburlaine, and the narrative poem Hero and Leander, by the time of his much-speculated-about death in a knife fight in Deptford in 1593 – but, unlike most of his Elizabethan peers, idiosyncratic Kit is not viewed as having added to his CV as a team-writer. Shakespeare, also born in 1564 but a comparatively late starter (he staged his first play in 1590/91), paid graceful homage to him in As You Like It and was clearly influenced by him in choice of subject and individual passages. But there is no documentary evidence of them meeting, let alone pooling resources.

Dream team collaborator

In the Oxford complete Shakespeare, published on 27 October, Marlowe is credited as co-writer on the title pages of all three parts of Henry VI for the first time in a Collected Works; and reportedly is regarded as the lead writer on Part One, the debut covering England’s defeats in France after Henry V’s death that gave the young Shakespeare a deceptive reputation as a jingoistic chronicler of war (hitherto Marlowe has been cited among possible collaborators on it, but with others seen as more likely). How the partnership worked is unclear: the academic editors behind the project have said the playwrights may have written together, or a draft could have been handed on or around (like team-authored scripts in Hollywood today) for additions and rewrites.

 Christopher Marlowe (1585), by an unknown artis

Masterclass mentor

The idea that the playwrights collaborated is anticipated in John Madden’s Oscar-winning Shakespeare In Love, scripted by Tom Stoppard, where Marlowe is Elizabethan theatre’s undisputed No 1 (“there’s no one like Marlowe”, says Henslowe, and almost all the audition scene hopefuls choose the same speech from Doctor Faustus). Yet to pen a single word of “Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate’s Daughter”, Joseph Fiennes’s Shakespeare, a struggling wannabe with writer’s block, is set on the course to greatness when Marlowe, played by Rupert Everett, suggests an Italian setting, romance entangled with a family feud and the death of Romeo’s best friend in a fight. Anthony Burgess’s Marlowe bio-novel, A Dead Man in Deptford (1993), similarly sees them as star writer and occasional sidekick, and specifically as partners on Henry VI Part One.

First advanced in the 19th century, the “Marlovian theory” – that the story of his death in 1593 was a ruse, and he continued writing plays billed as by Shakespeare – was turned into docu-fiction in Ros Barber’s verse novel The Marlowe Papers, winner of the 2013 Desmond Elliott prize. Facing a trial for heresy, Marlowe flees across the Channel and becomes an exile creating works supposedly conjured up by a merchant from the Midlands – and somehow it works. A comparable arrangement is talked about in Peter Whelan’s 1992 RSC play The School of Night (where they are friends but also rivals as both playwrights and suitors of a Dark Lady figure) as a solution to Kit’s arrest for his atheistic views and links to the titular free-thinkers; but in the end the official version of his death turns out to be true.

Bumped off by the Bard

Based on the best-known variant of the so-called “anti-Stratfordian” theory - that the plays attributed to Shakespeare were written by Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, Roland Emmerich’s 2011 film Anonymous posits that Marlowe stumbled on the secret and was killed by the provincial nobody (a boozy, devious young actor paid to be the De Vere conspiracy’s frontman once Ben Jonson declined the role) after confronting him. But not in 1593, apparently, as Kit is seen still alive in the late 90s.


Ben Elton’s BBC2 sitcom Upstart Crow wittily inverts the Marlovian theory, depicting Shakespeare as authoring Marlowe rather than vice versa. Marlowe, a philandering, swaggering Elizabethan 007 resembling Rik Mayall’s Lord Flashheart in Blackadder, needs to be seen as a poet as a cover story for his spying; so David Mitchell’s verbose Warwickshire family man produces plays for the playboy spook who gave him his break in the theatre including Tamburlaine and Doctor Faustus.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The funniest person I Know / Jayde Adams

Jayde Adams: ‘Absolutely Fabulous hasn't aged at all’

The standup and 2016 Edinburgh best newcomer nominee on what makes her laugh the most, from Brooklyn Nine-Nine to YouTubers

Rachel Aroesti
Friday 23 December 2016 13.00 GMT

The funniest person I know

John Sizzle. He’s a drag queen I gig with and he owns a pub called The Glory in Dalston. He’s more than a drag queen. He’s a comedian, but like one who is undercover. He’s also on Netflix in a movie about east London drag queens called Dressed As A Girl.

The funniest TV show I’ve ever seen

Brooklyn Nine-Nine. The Captain alone is very funny. And Ab Fab: it hasn’t aged at all.

The funniest book I’ve ever read

Yellow Pages. Why are they still printing it?

The funniest sketch I’ve ever seen

The Hobbyist. It was made by a couple of Welsh blokes in 2008 and it won a Virgin Media Shorts award back then.

The funniest thing that shouldn’t be funny

I find this YouTube generation stuff quite funny: these young people vlogging and making millions of pounds from something that essentially doesn’t exist and then flaunting their wealth from that “job” on their channels and thus making this generation of children believe that’s how it’s all meant to be. When I was their age I worked hard at menial jobs and earned no money at all and was treated badly by managers who hated me because I was young. Young people aren’t meant to be millionaires.

The funniest hairstyle I’ve ever had

I dyed it rainbow for my Sky horror short Bloody Tracy and then crimped it. I’m 32.

The funniest word

Ffa Pob. It’s Welsh for baked beans. I’m not Welsh but I lived there for a while. I met Charlotte Church the other day at Sink The Pink in east London and it was like meeting Michael Jackson.

The funniest item of clothing I’ve ever owned

My old Asda uniform that I like to wear in posh private members bars to make the management worry that working-class people have accidentally bought memberships.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Lucia Berlin / Angel’s Laundromat

Angel’s Laundromat

by Lucia Berlin

A tall old Indian in faded Levi’s and a fine Zuni belt. His hair white and long, knotted with raspberry yarn at his neck. The strange thing was that for a year or so we were always at Angel’s at the same time. But not at the same times. I mean some days I’d go at seven on a Monday or maybe at six thirty on a Friday evening and he would already be there.

Monday, December 26, 2016

A Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin, Reviewed

There is a moment in Berlin’s story, “Strays”:

“The world just goes along,” says Tina, a rehabbing heroin addict, “Nothing much matters, you know? I mean really matters. But then sometimes, just for a second, you get this grace, this belief that it does matter, a whole lot.”

Sunday, December 25, 2016

The 50 best films of 2016 in the UK: the full list

The 50 best films of 2016 in the UK: the full list

Our countdown of the Guardian film team’s favourite movies released in the UK is complete, topped by a strange and wonderful encounter

Tuesday 29 November 2016 13.06 GMT

1 Anomalisa

Charlie Kaufman's piercingly original puppet animation, an ineffably strange account of a motivacional speaker underging an identity crisis and his encounter with a fan.



Son of Saul

Traumatisingly plausible study of the brutalities of a Holocaust death camp, revolving around a Jewish Sonderkommando gas-chamber worker. An astonishing debut from Hungarian László Nemes. Read more


Emotionally intelligent alien-contact sci-fi from Sicario’s Denis Villeneuve,with Amy Adams as the unhappy linguist called in to try and decipher communications from mysterious extraterrestrial arrivals. Read more

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Murder Most Appealing / Black And Rendell

Murder Most Appealing: Black And Rendell

John Banville, when he’s not winning the Man Booker Prize and other literary hosannas, has become one of the world’s great mystery men. You might know him better in that vein by his pen name — Benjamin Black, author of four previous Dublin novels featuring the aptly named Quirke, a forensics specialist often enlisted by the Dublin police force in the 1950s.
Benjamin Black
Author John Banville, AKA Benjamin Black. (Photo by Barry McCall.)
A depressive man of uncontrollable appetites for women (mostly of the fatale variety), wine (and anything else with an elevated alcohol content), and food (the unhealthier the better), Quirke’s swagger doesn’t take a back seat to any fictional investigator’s out there. And Black’s literary style doesn’t take a back seat to any other mystery writer out there with the possible exception of Ruth Rendell.
Coincidentally, Black and Rendell both have new books out, Black with “Vengeance” and Rendell with “The St. Zita Society,” though Rendell is so prolific she always seems to have a new book out, sometimes under her pen name of Barbara Vine. To add to his bona fides, Black/Banville also made news recently by signing up with the Raymond Chandler estate to write a new Philip Marlowe book.
Black and Rendell both create worlds that their fans lust to spend time in, as do all mystery writers. What makes Black and Rendell more artful is that the worlds they create also have something to say about our world. Both are sharp observers of the darker recesses of class clashes across the pond, a big issue in both their new books. Rendell, along with the late Patricia Highsmith, is justly praised as a pioneer of the psychological mystery novel. Black is no slouch at investigating the darker recesses himself.
What makes Black and Rendell more artful is that the worlds they create also have something to say about our world. Both are sharp observers of the darker recesses of class clashes.
And in both, storytelling technique trumps detecting technique. You enter these worlds to partake of the authorial vision of the human parade, not because the murders are particularly grisly, the perpetrator so maniacal or difficult to guess, the denouement so tension-filled.
None of those book-selling niceties are on display in “Vengeance.” A successful businessman takes his partner’s lower-born son aboard his boat, pours out his sadness to the young man, takes out a gun and shoots himself. Quirke, whose upbringing allows him to navigate the Irish class structure, is called in to help with the investigation, and eventually figures out the shenanigans that led to this death and a later murder.
It’s not as good or issue-oriented as the two best in the series, “Christine Falls” and “A Death in Summer” — the actions of one or two of the main characters aren’t particularly believable — but it’s still a delicious read. Here’s a father and son — the lower-born partners — at the funeral of the suicide:
Jack Clancy was dragging on a cigarette as if he was suffocating and it was a little tube of oxygen. His son, looking more than ever like a bantamweight contender, was frowning at the sky, as if wistfully expecting something to swoop down out of it and carry him off to somewhere less grim than this balefully sunlit churchyard.
Black describes Ireland with as much detail as he does the Irish. What’s missing here, and in some of the other Quirke books, is a sense of time. You’re forced to remind yourself that the events are happening half a century ago. Part of that is because Black’s characters are timeless, but part of it is his neglect of period detail. No matter. Quirke and his friends and his enemies make for great company. Black is to mysteries what Guinness is to beer — rich, complex, satisfying.
Ruth Rendell
Ruth Rendell (Photo by Jerry Bauer, courtesy of Scribner)
Rendell, meanwhile, has taken to writing Altmanesque books that shift quickly from one character to another without a real central protagonist. It’s a device that usually works beautifully for Rendell, allowing her to survey the new multiculturalism of London with more than a touch of humor worked into the occasional horror.
She’s also as masterful as anyone in any genre of British literature at limning the class differences of her country, evoking little sympathy for the rich or sentimentality for the poor. Each class carries its baggage and Rendell delights in exposing their dirty underwear. Tastefully, of course.
“The St. Zita Society,” in that sense, is the perfect wedding of her new style and her old concerns with class as she focuses on a rich London street that still has an “Upstairs/Downstairs” quality to it. The society is actually a gathering of the servants — drivers, gardeners, au pairs, etc. — who meet regularly at a pub to compare the injustices and other issues of their lives outside of England’s one percent. (St. Zita is the patron saint of domestic servants.) It’s a wonderful stew as far as it goes, but I wish Rendell had gone further and taken a little more time to make those class differences as integral to the story as she has in previous books — notably “A Judgement in Stone” or a more recent multicultural affair, “Tigerlily’s Orchids.”
Still, the Pinteresque power plays that result when one of the servants helps one of the masters get away with murder, the clash between swinging London and Muslim morality, the psychopath who thinks the automated voice on his phone is his guardian angel, make for a good, Rendellian time. Even when the story isn’t hi-test, the literary miles per gallon sets an industry standard.

Friday, December 23, 2016

John Cooper Clarke / This much I know / ‘Impotent rage is my default setting. Specifically when it comes to politics’

John Cooper Clarke
Photograph by Ki Price
John Cooper Clarke: ‘Impotent rage is my default setting. Specifically when it comes to politics’

The poet, 67, on late fatherhood, not liking crowds, and being a control freak

‘A dry martini and the odd flutter on the nags are my lasting vices’ John Cooper Clarke

Portrait of the artist / John Cooper Clarke / At heart, I'm just a frustrated playboy

Shahesta Shaitly
Saturday 11 June 2016 14.00 BST

It only takes one person to change a lot of minds. I went to what can only be described as a slum school in Salford – rough and full of trainee punks – but I was very lucky in that I had one inspiring teacher, John Malone, who gave the whole class an interest in romantic poetry. Somehow he created a hothouse, competitive atmosphere. Poetry, because of him, became a macho thing at our school, and we discovered very quickly that it was a great way to impress chicks.
I’m not fond of crowds. I’m no jittery neurotic, but I don’t really want to be surrounded by a lot of people if I have a choice. A big audience though… now that I love.
By the 80s, anything to do with punk was perceived as rancid. Me being known as the “punk poet” meant my work and I plummeted. I spent a decade living a feral existence on very little, and heroin became a big part of that. Slowly, with help, I managed to get myself out.
Impotent rage is my default setting. Specifically when it comes to politics. I can’t believe the ideas people walk around with. I try not to get too upset but it’s got to the point where I’d like to stop reading the news, as I’m infuriated on a daily basis.
I worry about other people’s kids. I watched a guy in the street yesterday pushing his daughter in a pram while he had his phone wedged between his ear and shoulder. The thought of him crossing the road without looking horrified me.
A dry martini and the odd flutter on the nags are my lasting vices. I don’t drink until after 6pm – I’m no lush – but a few glasses of wine with dinner and chat is a nice way to spend an evening, isn’t it?

The last time I cried was today, when I heard an old friend had died. I’ve said goodbye to a lot of my pals in recent years. I guess it’s an occupational hazard at this point in my life.
If I’d have known how much fun fatherhood would be, I would have started way earlier than 45. I know that men can still father children into their late years, but we decided not to. My daughter is a great kid.
Films are one of my greatest loves. Old films, with proper film stars like John Wayne and Dean Martin. You don’t get screen stars of that magnitude any more. Most of them couldn’t chew gum and fart at the same time.

I’m writing more poetry now than everbecause the world is infuriating. My poetry can come from anger at something on the telly or the radio, and then it just blurts out. It’s always about real stuff – I don’t have time for fiction or fantasy.
I’m a total control freak. If I wasn’t a poet, I’d probably be some tin-pot dictator of a banana republic. Whatever I do, I’ve got to be in charge.
I’ve turned into my dad. He was always a bit of a comedian. My aunts used to say that I was a miniature version of him and encouraged me to be entertaining, but it’s only now when I bet on a horse or have a drink that I see that I’m actually morphing into him.
I look like a ruined matinée idol. I fucking hate getting old, but it’s too late to complain – I’m already there.