The first two parts of Peter Jackson’s super-sized Hobbit trilogy held their own, but the director squanders all his best assets in this sorry mess of a final installment.
Tom Humberstone’s weekly comic.
“Nobody buys short stories anyway,” says a character, Richard, in the prologue to Kirsty Gunn’s new collection, Infidelities. “No one thinks there’s enough going on.” The challenge from writer to reader is stark; watch out, there will be plenty going on here.
The central tenet of Hard Times is that the economic slump of 2008 and its aftermath have augmented the schisms already present in two rich, but profoundly unequal societies: the UK and the US.
The task Azar Nafisi sets herself here, to build an argument for fiction in western culture, is one that has driven her personal and professional life.
The protagonists of Rose Tremain’s fifth collection of short stories – her first since 2005’s The Darkness of Wallis Simpson – are all operating under some form of constraint: social, sexual, emotional, pressingly immediate or far distant, unrelentingly real or garlanded with imaginative flourishes.
Richard II’s meeting with the rebels is one of the most astonishing moments in English history, as a 14-year-old boy rides out to meet thousands of his armed and angry people.
The life of a forgotten First World War character.
The work of a great artist often appears so fluent, so graceful, that we assume it must have come easily – but nothing in art is worth much if it is not hard won.
In the spirit of festive generosity I would like to offer a helping hand when it comes to surviving the onslaught of hot plonk. Here, food, as in so many situations, is your friend.
The candidates shovel saffron into some trifle.
On screen and off, Hollywood is terrible at giving opportunities to anyone who isn’t white, and one of the US’s biggest stars is calling them out on it.
Christopher Jefferies stands for us all in the matter of what the newspapers can do to a person, should they happen to take against him.
New DNA research into Richard III’s remains has cast the legitimacy of the royal line into question, all the way down to the present queen.
Cinemas are going to be full of biopics in the next couple of months – in preparation, Ryan Gilbey picks the best examples of the form from the past few years.
Tom Humberstone, who creates the weekly “In the Frame” comic for the NS, looks back at the past year.
The roc/doc/mockumentary returns for a second series and – oh no! – there’s a jukebox musical in the works...
Dr Phil Whitaker’s Health Matters column.
The piece is an attempt to see the Passion through the eyes of the women who surrounded Jesus, with particular emphasis on Mary Magdalene.
The Nature Column by John Burnside.
One day Cumming was warned that it might emerge that he was not his father’s biological son. It was a bad moment in his life, no question. And yet, on some sad level, he greeted the news with relief.
Amanda Craig’s round-up of reading to enchant and inspire young minds this Christmas.
Jane Shilling finds a blend of syrup and venom in this kiss-and-tell book by François Hollande’s former partner.
Tom Humberstone’s weekly comic.
Suzanne Moore’s Telling Tales.
In the recent viral video footage of a woman being repeatedly catcalled as she walks around New York, the first comments we hear addressed to her are: “Smile! SMILE!” It’s an order, an expectation.
Real Meals by Will Self.
Everyone is white, and everyone is rich – or about to be. Where’s the grit in that? But grit there is: it is stupid to assume that for a drama to be a hit, it must be filled with “people like us”.
This gritty tale of eastern European rent boys in Paris might at first sound like Ken Loach gone gay. But the effect is more redolent of a Gus Van Sant spin on Oliver Twist.
A pantomime villain imbued with the sophistication of Moriarty, Fu Manchu captured the imagination of a public already accustomed to lurid, exaggerated tales of vice among Britain’s Chinese population.