Peter Hoskin and Matthew d’Ancona count down the final 25 of The Spectator’s 50 Essential Films
(Stanley Kubrick, 1975)Cinema sure does work in mysterious ways. Take Barry Lyndon, Stanley Kubrick’s account of an Irish lad (played by Ryan O’Neal) who rises — and then falls — in 18th-century society. It’s a satire which lacks the vigour of Dr Strangelove (1964); a study of human nature which lacks the honesty of Paths of Glory (1957); and an adventure which lacks the expansiveness of 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).
HollywoodThe news cycle of a dead celebrity is a curious thing. One minute I am calmly watching Kelvin Mackenzie laying into Julia Goldsworthy about a rocking chair on Question Time, the next minute Michael Jackson is dead and I’m on a plane to LA. Los Angeles is a terrible place for a celebrity to die. It is an 11-hour flight and an eight-hour time difference, which naturally runs the risk of the celebrity being too dead by the time you land.
My defining memory of Michael Jackson — vulnerable, brilliant, otherworldly — is of watching him dance to the soundtrack of a movie.My defining memory of Michael Jackson — vulnerable, brilliant, otherworldly — is of watching him dance to the soundtrack of a movie. This was early in our friendship, around ten years ago in New York. I visited Michael in his hotel room and was amazed to find it decorated with Hollywood posters and eight-foot cutouts: Anakin Skywalker peeping out from the folds of Darth Maul’s cape, ET bicycling over the full moon.
Dominic West is the actor who plays the homicide cop Jimmy McNulty in the HBO series The Wire and if you don’t watch The Wire you are a big, big dummy, as it has to be the best thing on television ever. And if you do? Then you will know this: while one fully appreciates the programme’s epic exploration of urban decay and dark, difficult socio-political themes, when sexy McNulty takes off his shirt and has his way with a lady on the bonnet of some car, wey-hey! Only kidding.
‘All character is action’ goes the old Hollywood cliché — that is, we learn far more about people by how they behave than we do from what they tell us about themselves. Whatever else you think about the internet (for good or ill), it does two really important but significantly different things to allow us to pursue this study of homo sapiens: first, it allows us to connect with each other in ways and with a frequency unimaginable just a few years ago (and so amplifies our natural tendencies); and second, perhaps more significantly, it allows the curious to watch and listen to how vast numbers of folk respond to events in the outside world and marvel at how they interact with each other as a result.
Cass Sunstein — co-author of the hugely influential Nudge and an adviser to President Obama — unveils his new theory of ‘group polarisation’, and explains why, when like-minded people spend time with each other, their views become not only more confident but more extremeWhat explains the rise of fascism in the 1930s? The emergence of student radicalism in the 1960s? The growth of Islamic terrorism in the 1990s? The Rwandan genocide of 1994? Ethnic conflict in the former Yugoslavia and in Iraq? Acts of torture and humiliation by American soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison? The American financial crisis of 2008? The widespread belief, in some parts of the world, that Israel or the United States was responsible for the attacks of September 11, 2001? And what, if anything, do these questions have to do with one another? Here is a clue.
Rod Liddle says that metropolitan liberal ideology is too deeply ingrained in local councils, social services and the judiciary to be overturned by one panic measure driven by Labour’s sudden fear of the BNPThe government’s new and exciting ‘No Homes for Darkies!’ policy, announced earlier this week, has, for those of you on the right, a certain bracing, post-Weimar Republic feel to it. The policy — or, put better, pointless aspiration — was part of Labour’s relaunch, an amalgam of ideas with which it hopes to win the next general election, much in the way that Hull City might hope to win the Premier League next season by buying Michael Owen.