Culture vulture

28th January 2005 at 00:00
Images bring the words alive for James Durran

Best book ever

The book I read again and again is physicist Richard Feynman's memoir, Surely You're Joking Mr Feynman. Someone gave it to me when I was about 20.

I love the amazing joyousness of his writing; the fun; the sheer good sense he talks. He was a wonderful communicator as a teacher; maybe I aspire to some of that. I tend to read a lot of non-fiction, particularly science, probably because my father was a science teacher and I'm a frustrated scientist. At the moment I'm re-reading Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time. I'll read anything about cosmology, but there's also a certain thrill in knowing that someone understands all this stuff even if I don't.

Reading group

I've been in a reading group for about 10 years. We've just read the graphic novel Maus by Art Spiegelman. It's amazing. The idea of taking an almost verbatim spoken narrative from the author's father and converting that into a pictorial story is extraordinary. It's such a complete narrative, told in such a powerful way.

Favourite film

I love using literature to teach about the moving image, and vice versa. A good example would be Baz Luhrmann's Romeo and Juliet. It's a superb film, but as a piece of Shakespeare in performance it's compelling. It speaks to teenagers of their interests, concerns and enthusiasms. It's so exciting visually. And the editing and cinematographic style make it very teachable.

My favourite film as a consumer rather than a teacher would be Local Hero by Bill Forsyth. It's an underrated masterpiece, as is his Gregory's Girl. They're often considered light British cinema, but they're quite profound. Local Hero is an extraordinary and rather sad film about people longing for what they can't have.

Something for school

Shakespeare's Globe is an amazing place to take children. We always stand up against the stage, where you are within inches of the actors' feet and there's lots of interaction with the audience. It's a magical experience.

Looking forward to The next series of The Sopranos on video.

James Durran, 39, is an advanced skills teacher in English and media at Parkside community college, Cambridge. He was talking to Karen Gold

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