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Sunday, April 5, 2015

Thomas Brodie-Sangster: ‘They got my autograph but still wouldn’t serve me a pint’

From Game of Thrones to Wolf Hall, Thomas Brodie-Sangster is still playing kids at 24. Will Thunderbirds change that?

Not long ago British actor Thomas Brodie-Sangster tried to buy a pint in a pub. He was visiting Canada for work and in order to finalise a visa he’d handed in his passport. So no ID when bar staff asked for it. The 24-year-old is impeccably beardless, pale, and looks – tops – 17. “For the first time in my life I got out my phone,” says Brodie-Sangster, “and looked myself up on IMDb.” See, he told staff, he was the cute orphan in Love, Actually. The boy-mystic in seasons three and four of Game of Thrones. He was born in 1990! “They laughed,” he recalls, “and even got me to sign my autograph. But they wouldn’t serve me that pint.”


Brodie-Sangster makes an interesting choice for casting directors. With that youthfulness he can still play kids well into his 20s (his character in Game of Thrones, Jojen, was meant to be a 12-year-old.), but has an authoritative, distant aura that suggests the wisdom of someone much older. “I don’t know what it is. I’ve always been able to be firm, to talk my way out of sticky situations. Bullies at school. Attempted muggings. I was never gung-ho, but I was…” The actor can’t think of the word. Neither can I. Sagacious? Aloof?


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Altman review – a hagiographic romp

The fascinating career of director Robert Altman is reduced to platitudes in this frustrating documentary


This hagiographic romp through Robert Altman’s inspiring/exasperating career never gets beneath the surface of its fascinating subject. Home-movie footage and well-sourced TV/movie clips provide a tantalising patchwork upon which the narrative fails to build, with investigation of Altman’s methods limited to platitudes about a script being little more than a blueprint, and fleeting descriptions of his sound-recording techniques. None of the director’s flaws (his problematic portrayals of women, for example) is addressed, let alone examined, while failures such as the still-underrated Popeye are simply recounted rather than re-evaluated. Most annoyingly, a succession of collaborators (Bruce Willis, Julianne Moore, Robin Williams, Elliott Gould) are rolled out to deliver toe-curlingly gnomic definitions of the word “Altmanesque”, which reduce his enigmatic achievements to the level of a Hallmark greeting card.


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Literary critic James Wood: ‘I’m taking a religious view of an earthly form’

Wood’s new book tells how novels gave him the freedom to think when he was growing up. Has he become an evangelist for literature?

This, I thought when I arrived to meet James Wood, is no place for a literary critic to be staying – a boutique hotel on Park Avenue in Manhattan that offers “karma rewards”, including “spa credits”, to frequent guests. In the lobby, the lift disgorged corporate fixers, high-styled hipsters, Japanese tourists festooned with electronic gadgets, and then the incongruous figure of Wood – slightly hunched, donnishly inward-looking despite his smile, a man who lives in books and who in The Nearest Thing to Life praises novels for a “hospitality” that is probably more welcoming than the hotel’s “luxurious Frette linens”, “in-room yoga mats” and “signature animal-print robes”.


We talked in a black den where an espresso machine hissed like an angry dragon in a corner. “It’s an experiment,” said Wood about the place where he’d spent the night away from his home in Boston. “Anyway, in America, I’m often the only literary critic in the hotel!” Wherever you find him, he is a rarity: not an abstract theorist or an analytical mechanic but a writer for whom criticism is a way of proselytising for literature and narrowing the gap between art and life.


Related: My hero: Philip Roth by James Wood


Related: The Fun Stuff and Other Essays by James Wood – review


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8-bit Instant photo Gameboy gun

8-bit Instant photo Gameboy gun



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Indiana Residents Rue Damage to State’s Welcoming Reputation

As a religious exception law divided Indiana, there was a more general agreement that the debate had tarnished the state’s reputation for magnanimity and friendliness.





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Election in Scarred Ferguson Carries Hope of ‘New Tomorrow’

Activists in Ferguson, Mo., are looking to City Council elections on Tuesday to change the face of the mostly black city’s predominantly white political leadership.





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Children living in Victorian conditions, say teachers

Teaching union’s survey finds children are turning up to school sick because parents cannot afford to take time off and sometimes without socks or a coat


Children are turning up to school sick because their parents cannot afford to take time off to care for them, teachers say.


School staff are also still seeing youngsters arriving for lessons hungry, tired and wearing inappropriate clothes due to a continuing squeeze on family finances, according to the NASUWT teaching union.


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Cern's Large Hadron Collider restarts with sights set on dark matter

The world’s largest and most powerful atom smasher has been upgraded, raising hopes of a ‘new era for science’


The world’s largest and most powerful atom smasher is to be restarted after an upgrade that could see it making scientific history for a second time.


Shortly after 8.30am on Sunday UK time, scientists plan to send two beams of high-energy particles racing through the Large Hadron Collider’s 16.7 miles of circular underground tunnels.


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Kenya's Easter prayers mark start of official mourning for university attacks

Flags fly at half-mast as President Kenyatta vows to retaliate in ‘severest way’ and al-Shabaab warns of ‘long, gruesome war’


Kenyans will dedicate Easter Sunday prayer services to the 148 victims of a university massacre by Somalia’s al-Shabaab Islamists, marking the first of three days of national mourning.


Easter ceremonies across the country were due to be held in the memory of the students and security personnel killed in a country where 80% of the population is Christian, with flags flying at half-mast in a show of respect.


Related: Are the terrorists of al-Shabaab about to tear Kenya in two?


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