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It was not just to earn a few spare millions and world acclaim that my frequent collaborator Denny Lawrence and I, over twenty-five days of two Christmas breaks, co-wrote in rainy heat our genial confection Shakespeare in Italy wherein young Will is recruited in Rome as a Papist spy by Peretti, Pope Sixtus V, inventor of waterboarding. It was also to show that workaday writers […]

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The Other Kevin

I haven’t read and so can’t say what the famed Lionel Shriver novel We Have To Talk About Kevin was like, but the film Lynne Ramsey made out of it was unsettling, upsetting, disruptive, traumatic and for some life-changing, suicide-inducing for others, abortion-inducing for at least a few, and, at its heart, a tremendous, fraudulent wank. It is not circumstance, this fool film asserts, that […]

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As I Please: Albo, Mick and the Luck of the Labor Party


Sunday, 11.05 am At Evan Williams’s pre-Christmas lunch party yesterday (with John Bell, Ross Gittins, Gill Appleton, Myfanwy Horne, Leo Schofield, Viv Skinner, John Edwards, Geoff Lehman, Ed Campion and a goodly number of greybeard eminences with faces I know and names I forget, but not, this year, Gough Whitlam, or Margaret), I found Brian Johns aghast at at having heard of that morning’s Insiders’ […]


Anonymous: The Oxford Heresy Recalled to Life


Anonymous gives us a grimy, cluttered, unsanitary, conspiratorial, suspicious, truth-managed and bastard-swapping England of Elizabeth, Essex, two Cecils, the sonnetee Southampton, Ben Jonson, Dick Burbage, Chris Marlowe, Henslowe and Kempe– and the great Globe itself — that beggars disbelief, so fine is the costuming and the dusty heaped interiors and the muddy Bankside vistas over miles of authentic City. It gives us torture chambers, a paranoid […]

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As I Please: The War of Jenkins’ Tears

As always, Gillard knows how to add but cannot hear the inner music of the numbers. She’s gained a vote but lost the Jenkins Effect from a parliament that will hereinafter seem a cage of whooping, leaping Neanderthals. She is also the stupidest dramatist ever to kiss hands and take the oath in our democracy. To force Harry out of the post that he and […]

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From earliest times the drama of Rome has been about lovers caught at it, and the big lies that underpin respectability in the upper-middle classes. Giovanni Veronese’s fine three-parter Ages of Love, the third of his praised series A Manual of Love, carries on this tradition, in the age of skypes  and texts and phone-cameras and an ever more godlike, watching technology. In Youth a […]


As I Please: That Was The Year That Was


Friday, 7.25 pm My new co-written book The Year It All Fell Down is not yet commenced but concerns, of course, the earthquakes, meltdowns, tornadoes, economic shambles, refugee drownings and Arab uprisings, the crackdowns, facedowns, shootouts, lockouts, arrests, royal weddings and assassinations of a year not yet completed, the fall of Mubarak, Ghadafi, Murdoch, Bin Laden, Keneally, Rann, Strauss-Kahn, Palin, Perry, Cain, the shooting of […]

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As I Please

2.05 am The rain has abated but night after night returns, as in a tropical country like Nuigini, and gives good indication that long harsh droughts will not be a feature of the next hundred years of our history. The desert has bloomed, and bloomed so lushly that Mad Max 4 and my wife Annie’s desert film will be shot in Namibia now. The Menindie […]


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It was Charles Dickens I guess who invented the narrative plotline of a crabbed, unrepentant old man forced by a pestering visitant on Christmas Eve to review and assess his past life lest he go to his grave unthankful. And Frank Capra who, in It’s A Wonderful Life, asked what the world would have been like without him, before Richard Curtis added, in Love Actually, […]


Moore Park Revisited: Fred Schepisi’s Eye of the Storm

A tour de force in its way and a simmering wonder, mostly, of great acting and fine directing, Fred’s awed glance at White’s World is nonetheless arch and portentous, expensive, smug and windy, and a crashing failure as drama. Playing upperclass, boarding-schooled Australians raised rich in the 1930s, Davis and Rush correctly brandish the off-BBC accents of the time, but their rich Edwardian mother Charlotte […]

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