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Heroes and Villains

Heroes and villains

Villain
Ridley Scott, according to the French, who think his new Napoleon biopic does their national hero a disservice. Critics have mocked the film’s historical inaccuracies – such as the protagonist joining his men in cavalry charges – and its portrayal of the emperor as, in the words of Le Figaro, a “sentimental brute with a gun in hand”. Historian Patrice Gueniffey, writing in Le Point, dismissed Napoleon as the irredeemably biased “film of an Englishman”.

Heroes
Booths, the upmarket northern supermarket chain, for its “joyous decision” to rip out self-service checkouts and replace them with actual human staff, says Michael Deacon in The Daily Telegraph. I’ve had enough of those “miserable machines”, which encourage fraud by letting crafty customers scan their shopping incorrectly to pay less. Some of them even have a screen displaying a “hideously unflattering” camera feed of your face. Why would I want to be confronted with “live video footage of my double chin”?

Hero
Margaret Thatcher, according to Argentinian presidential candidate Javier Milei. In a recent debate, the self-described “anarcho-capitalist” said Thatcher was one of “the great leaders in the history of humanity”. This didn’t go down well with those in his country still smarting from Argentina’s loss in the Falklands War. But Milei was unfazed, saying that dismissing the British PM’s “greatness” would be like criticising French footballer Kylian Mbappé because he scored three goals against Argentina in the 2022 World Cup final.

Villain
Markwayne Mullin, a Republican senator from Oklahoma, who challenged a union leader to a fight in the middle of a congressional hearing. Mullin read out a tweet in which Sean O’Brien insulted him, then told O’Brien to “stand your butt up” and settle the dispute like a man. Things escalated from there, says The Washington Post – before Bernie Sanders “bellowed” at everyone to calm down. Watch the full clip here.

Hero
A book club in Venice, California, which has finally finished James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake after 28 years. The monthly meeting tackled only one or two pages at a time from the notoriously impenetrable tome, described by one member as “628 pages of things that look like typographic errors”. Since completion, the group have started again from the beginning. “There is no next book,” host Gerry Fialka tells The Guardian. “We’re only reading one book. Forever.”