The latest on books and the arts


Three's a crowd: My Night With Reg
How Kevin Elyot's Aids farce My Night With Reg became a play for today
By Mark Lawson - 29 January 10:25

Now showing at London's Apollo Theatre, the 1994 play shines even brighter in an age when its characters could marry.

Phoenix and Witherspoon star in the cartoon-like film.
From comedy to confusion, Inherent Vice shows the corruption of the hippie dream
By Ryan Gilbey - 29 January 10:22

Thomas Pynchon's novel makes for a wistfully funny film adaptation.

Churchill. Photo: OFF/AFP/Getty Images
An exercise in nostalgia – Jeremy Paxman’s Churchill: the Nation's Farewell
By Rachel Cooke - 29 January 10:14

Churchill: the Nation's Farewell and Modern Times: the Vikings Are Coming turn to life old and new.

Mexican soldiers guarding drugs. Photo: David Maung/Bloomberg via Getty Images
How to beat the dealer: two different approaches to the war on drugs
By Michael Hodges - 29 January 10:08

Johan Harri's Chasing the Scream refutes today's anti-narcotics policy, while Edward Follis and Douglas Century's The Dark Art takes us undercover in the global drugs change.

F cover.
Selfish giants: F is Daniel Kehmann's most technically accomplished novel yet
By Anthony Cummins - 29 January 9:35

The latest translation from the German author is an introspective, postmodern comedy.

Photo Op (2006) by Peter Kennard and Cat Phillipps.
The return of big history: the long past is the antidote to short-termism
By David Reynolds - 29 January 9:29

Historians Jo Guldi and David Armitage have created a powerful, ambitious rebuttal to "the spectre of the short term".

Seven Rotations 1-6 (1979) by Dóra Maurer
Hip to be square: suprematism at the Whitechapel Gallery
By Michael Prodger - 29 January 8:57

Adventures of the Black Square at the Whitechapel Gallery is a fascinating examination of an artistic phenomenon.

Crow feathers.
Hide and Seek: New poetry by Rowan Williams, Liz Berry and Vona Groarke
By Paul Batchelor - 29 January 8:01

Three sophisticated collections explore the paradox of poetry.

EM Forster by Dora Carrington.
The producer vowing to film E M Forster’s “unfilmable” novel
By Philip Maughan - 28 January 13:45

After spending three weeks in hospital with a suspected heart condition, Adrian Munsey decided to tackle The Longest Journey — the last unfilmed Forster novel.

The use of anachronistic music, as in “Marie Antoinette”, is increasingly gaining acceptance.
Why do we care about anachronisms in films?
By Oliver Farry - 28 January 12:05

Our desire for historical accuracy in films, TV programmes and books often tells us more about ourselves than it does about art.

Sanitising the streets of smallpox, 1877. Photo: John Thomson/Getty Images
Sooty and sweep: how the Victorians cleaned up the country
By Rose George - 28 January 8:55

There is much we could learn from the Victorian fight against filth. A new book by Lee Jackson clears the path.

Sega's 2001 rail shooter game Rez.
Critical Distance: This week in videogame blogging #3
By Critical Distance - 26 January 19:12

The academic side of gaming, from the formalism debate to hermeneutics in game criticism.

Beyond Clueless: a visual essay on teen movies from 1994-2004.
Beyond Clueless: a giant campus of candy-coloured teen life
By Ryan Gilbey - 23 January 13:10

Half-love letter, half-biopsy, Charlie Lyne's documentary analysis of teen movies is full of flashes of madness.

In the Frame: the Creme Egg controversy
By Tom Humberstone - 23 January 9:42

Tom Humberstone’s weekly comic.

Elvis Presley. Photo: BBC
A little less conversation: Remembering Elvis with Priscilla Presley
By Antonia Quirke - 22 January 13:06

It was less “Remembering Elvis”, more “Praising Bill Kenwright”.

Have we met before? The mutable Oscar Isaac.
Welcome to Oscar season — Oscar Isaac season, that is
By Ryan Gilbey - 22 January 12:52

Oscar Isaac exploits his unique charisma and mutable appearance in two of the biggest films released this awards season.

Terraced roof tops. Photo: Matt Cardy/Getty Images
Margeret Forster's My Life in Houses is an inspirational reflection on eight decades of home
By Matthew Dennison - 22 January 11:16

Margeret Forster's sensitive new study of a life in real estate is more than simple autobiography.

Central Asian warrior-heroine Saikal on a Kyrgyz stamp.
Pale riders: Adrienne Mayor's "The Amazons" shows how a myth developed
By Edith Hall - 22 January 11:14

A new book on warrior women reveals the true origins of a pervasive popular archetype.

Tamsin Greig in Women on the Verge. Photo: Alastair Muir
Nervous breakdown coming on? Time to burst into song
By Mark Lawson - 22 January 11:09

Tamsin Greig stars in the innovative Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, while the Tate Modern wallet incident presses us to ask: what is art?

Playing after dark. Photo: Niall McDiarmid/Millennium Images
A journey into the dark heart of sport: Anna Krien's "Night Games"
By Juliet Jacques - 22 January 10:54

The William Hill 2014 Sports Book of the Year covers the rape trial of an Australian Rules footballer -- but also raises broader questions about how to resolve a culture clash.

Traffic light on amber. Photo: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
Eventually, I took a driving test. But Mister Much didn’t think much of my motoring skills
By Suzanne Moore - 22 January 10:51

Suzanne Moore learns to drive and finds an accidental therapist.

Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell in Wolf Hall. Photo: BBC
Wolf Hall review: The BBC's new spin on Hilary Mantel's novel is dazzlingly restrained
By Rachel Cooke - 21 January 15:33

There’s nothing else like this unnervingly quiet drama on our screens right now.

Why women are getting a bum deal on film posters
By Ralph Jones - 20 January 14:31

Film posters are addicted to showing a faceless woman from behind, with her legs framing the real hero.

Obscurasoft's gay dating sim “Coming Out on Top”.
Critical Distance: This week in videogame blogging #2
By Critical Distance - 20 January 10:48

Are queer and black voices being excluded from games?

Christian Bale in the 2000 film adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’s novel “American Psycho”.
Women are clever enough to know when art is just misogyny in disguise
By Glosswitch - 19 January 15:37

Misogyny both creates and thrives on women’s intellectual insecurities, implying that dissent merely signifies one’s inability to access a greater, higher truth.

John Maynard Keynes. Photo: Tim Gidal/Picture Post/Getty
Virtuous vices: our mutable notions of good and bad
By John Gray - 16 January 13:48

From jealousy to cowardice to greed, the power of vices is to inspire virtue.

Fred Astaire. Photo: AFP/Getty
"Fred": a new poem by Isobel Dixon
By Isobel Dixon - 16 January 13:35

“Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were sexy, but only with their feet, like butterflies.” – Clive James

P J Harvey. Photo: Hannah Peters/Getty Images
Tracey Thorn: Do we really want to watch P J Harvey drinking tea and plugging in studio leads?
By Tracey Thorn - 16 January 13:22

From bonus tracks to signed T-shirts to private concerts, do we end up here, selling not just the finished record, but every moment of the process? 

I am not Charlie. Comic: Tom Humberstone
In The Frame: I am not Charlie
By Tom Humberstone - 15 January 18:00

Our cartoonist Tom Humberstone reflects on the Charlie Hebdo shooting and subsequent debates.

Marion Cotillard has received a surprise Best Actress nomination for Two Days, One Night. Photo: Getty
The 2015 Oscar nominations: no surprises, but a few oddities
By Ryan Gilbey - 15 January 17:13

There is little to surprise a seasoned awards-watcher in this year’s nominations – Ryan Gilbey gives his verdict.