"In my experience of writing – and of life – the frenzy of dreams and that of form always go together." Iosi Havilio
On film
A bear in a million

A bear in a million

The varying merits of the UK’s early November film releases appear to be in direct proportion to the protagonists’ face-fuzz. Much was made in advance of Kenneth Brannagh’s reimagining of Hercule Poirot’s ‘magnificent moustaches’ in the latest adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express (20th Century Fox, 3 November), but the rest of...
Laughter in the dark

Laughter in the dark

One of the memories I most treasure about In the Loop, writer-director Armando Iannucci’s previous big-screen outing, is the moment when Alastair Campbell sat down to view the film with critic Mark Kermode. As Tony Blair’s ex-spin-doctor, Campbell was understandably tetchy at being compared to onscreen fixer Malcolm Tucker, a profane and conniving bully. “I...
The first killings

The first killings

Who now remembers the story of the Limehouse Golem, or cares to be reminded of the history of that mythical creature? ‘Golem’ is the medieval Jewish word for an artificial being, created by the magician or the rabbi; it literally means ‘thing without form’, and perhaps sprang from the same fears which surrounded the fifteenth-century...
Reality check

Reality check

She registered his shadow, a passing cloud bringing inclement weather. “Clare?” She was not even sure she heard her name, but she watched his mouth form the shape. The stereo was turned up loud, his voice lost in drums and double bass. He ducked his face to hers, kissed her on the forehead, then crossed...
Civil rights and wrongs

Civil rights and wrongs

When James Baldwin died in 1987, he left behind 30 pages of letters titled Notes Toward Remember This House, an unfinished manuscript about the lives and deaths of three of his friends – Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. – civil rights activists, all of whom were assassinated in the space of...
A positive betrayal

A positive betrayal

“On one hand it’s a psychological thriller, so people read it fairly quickly. On the other hand, it’s a novel that withholds things from you,” says Julian Barnes of his Man Booker Prize-winning The Sense of an Ending. In the thoughtfully crafted new film version, that withholding remains vital to the slow-burn reveal, but a...
Poets, pedants and survivors

Poets, pedants and survivors

Masterful reworkings of Julian Barnes’ The Sense of an Ending, Maylis de Kerangal’s Mend the Living, and Sarah Waters’ Fingersmith transposed to Korea head another bright batch of literary adaptations and biopics opening in UK cinemas in April. Here’s a selection to keep you dazzled in the dark at your favourite film venues for weeks...
Pennyfeather is sent down

Pennyfeather is sent down

Evelyn Waugh’s sparkling college satire Decline and Fall has been made into a three-part BBC One series starring Jack Whitehall, David Suchet and Eva Longoria, adapted by James Wood. As Penguin Classics publishes a special tie-in edition, we’re delighted to present an extract from the beginning of the book to remind readers why it’s remained...
Heart and darkness

Heart and darkness

As the current two top-ranking films at the US and UK box office testify, adaptations are a reliable route for getting a film out to a receptive audience. The Lego Batman Movie is an adaptation not only of the original DC Comics stories but also a playful take on just about every iteration of the...
Welcome to dystopia

Welcome to dystopia

Writer-directors Alex Helfrecht and Jörg Tittel have adapted and filmed György Dragomán’s dystopian fantasy The White King, a series of interlinked stories influenced by the author’s childhood in a Hungarian enclave of Romania during the Ceausescu regime. Lorenzo Allchurch stars as 12-year-old Djata, whose father Peter (Ross Partridge) is imprisoned while he and his mother...