Saturday 7th April 2018

Stoke 1 Spurs 2

Christian Eriksen was once again influential as Tottenham held off Stoke City to win 2-1 and move level on points with third-placed Liverpool.

Son had Spurs best chance in the first half, being released for a one-on-one chance against Jack Butland only to be thwarted by the Potters keeper’s fine save.

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It should have been the breakthrough for a frustrated Spurs side, who had seen Mame Biram Diouf fluff his lines 12 yards out by sending the ball into Row Z.

The second half started in similar fashion but Spurs soon made their dominance pay as Dele Alli was released along side Kane, the former opting for Eriksen’s late run into the area for a smart finish.

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Their lead did not last long, however, as Hugo Lloris’s hashed clearance goes straight into Biram Diouf’s path and the striker finishes into an empty net.

Spurs soon found themselves back in front as Eriksen whipped in a free kick from the left wing and Kane jumped highest to get a slight touch to beat Butland.

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Stoke mounted a late challenge for points, Xherdan Shaqiri going closest when hitting the angle of post and bar from a free kick, but Spurs held on to move level on points with third-placed Liverpool with a game in hand.

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Final Portrait

It is based on the true story of how Alberto Giacometti invited the young American critic and influential admirer James Lord to sit for him in Paris in 1964; the resulting comedy is written for the screen by Tucci and based on Lord’s own memoir of the event.

In Paris 1964, famed painter Alberto Giacometti bumps into his old friend James Lord, an American critic, and asks him to be a model for his latest portrait in his studio for a couple of days. Flattered by the request, Lord complies and as the days turn into weeks, he realizes his entire life has been wasted by this erratic genius. Jumping between joy and frustration, Lord finally sees logic in Giacometti’s artistic but chaotic vision and witnesses the genius complete one of his last masterpieces.

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Having airily promised that the portrait sitting would last a few hours at the most, making no difference to Lord’s imminent return flight to New York, Giacometti announces he needs a few more days and then a few days more, and all the while declaiming his agony of self-doubt at the easel, repeatedly overpainting near-complete work he angrily decides is mediocre – and assuring Lord grimly that art can never be finished.

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His subject, though delighted and flattered by the honour, is forced to make a series of ruinously expensive flight cancellations. Complaining would of course be unthinkable ingratitude and discourtesy. He begins to fear he will be there for ever, like Tony Last in Evelyn Waugh’s A Handful of Dust reading Dickens to the jungle madman. For some reason, Giacometti likes having him around as ally and witness to all the tensions in his life: perhaps focusing on Lord’s youth is a way of indefinitely deferring death. Lord has to figure out a way of persuading Giacometti to stop painting. A strange bond develops between the men, something between friendship and duel.

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Geoffrey Rush is very funny as Giacometti himself: his ageing, bulbous, bespectacled face, framed in wiry halo of grey hair, is set permanently in an expression of droll contempt for everything, especially the quality of his own work. Armie Hammer shows charm and restraint as Lord, the foil to this huge comic turn. Sylvie Testud is Giacometti’s wife Annette, who has taken a lover in revenge for her husband’s obsession with his great muse and subject Caroline (Clémence Poesy), a prostitute. Tony Shalhoub is Giacometti’s brother and studio assistant Diego.

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Giacometti is given to acid rancour and hilarious despairing outbursts and strops.He will repeatedly stop painting and shout: “Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!” as if struck afresh by the utter pointlessness of everything. He is forever deriding himself and confessing to Lord that his self-doubt gets worse with every passing year. But he gets more successful every year, Lord mildly protests. Giacometti replies acidly: “There is no greater breeding ground for doubt than success!”

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46 Rue Hippolyte-Maindron in Montparnasse.

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The work goes on and on, with Giacometti muttering to Lord: “A real friend would tell me to give up.” “Who says I’m a real friend?” shrugs Lord.

As the ordeal continues, Giacometti’s agonies assume a Beckettian quality: “Fuck. Fuck! Let’s just stop there before I destroy everything … I’ll never find a way out of it … I have to stop. We can’t stop!”

Tucci notably allows his camera to make a leisurely, often silent tour of Giacometti’s chaotic studio, during the frequent periods of inactivity, the studio in which he has hidden vast dirty bundles of cash about the place because he and his brother don’t trust banks. Occasionally he and Lord will take walks in which Giacometti will unburden himself of his dyspeptic opinions, particularly about how much he despises Picasso.

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The parts of the film which open out to the louche night-life and Giacometti’s affair with Caroline and his negotiation with her violent pimps, are a little less interesting but always performed with great élan. Lord looks with wry and near-silent amusement at Giacometti’s heterosexual melodramas; the movie touches only briefly on his gay identity. It’s a highly entertaining portrait of the two men, and Tucci’s own directorial brush strokes are bold and invigorating.

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