tue 12/12/2017

1950s

The Crown, Series 2, Netflix review - all our yesterdays, cunningly rewritten

Beneath the creamy overlay of gowns, crystal chandeliers, palaces, uniformed flunkies and a sumptuous (albeit CGI-enhanced) Royal Yacht, a steely pulse of realpolitik fuels The Crown, returning to Netflix for its much-anticipated second series....

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Sylvia, Royal Ballet review - Ashton rarity makes a delicious evening

On paper, the appeal of a Sylvia revival is questionable. If even the choreographer (Frederick Ashton) wasn't sure his 1952 original was worth saving for posterity, do we really want to watch a 2004 reconstruction posthumously pieced together from...

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Suburbicon review - George Clooney's jarring pastiche of the American dream

If you’re hoping for an incisive look at Fifties American suburbia in this unappealing film, directed and co-written by George Clooney, you’ll be disappointed. It’s hardly worthy of the director of Good Night, and Good Luck, also set in the Fifties...

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Blu-ray: The Incredible Shrinking Man

The Incredible Shrinking Man starts innocently with a young couple bantering on a small boat off the California coast. Before what looks like an atomic mushroom cloud wafts towards the unfortunate Scott Carey, lightly coating him in glittery fallout...

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Ferrari: Race to Immortality review - death and glory in 1950s motor racing

And so the mini-boom in motor racing movies continues, this time with a look back at the history of Ferrari and the intense on-track battles of the 1950s, a decade in which the Scuderia won four of its 15 Formula One World Drivers Championships. In...

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DVD/Blu-ray: The Wages of Fear

The opening shot sets the tone for what follows: a pair of duelling cockroaches attached to a string, tormented by a bored child. In 1953’s The Wages of Fear, we quickly sense that Henri-Georges Clouzot’s characters are similarly powerless. His...

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Insignificance, Arcola Theatre review - once-iconic play feels overwrought

Terry Johnson's award-winning 1982 play Insignificance hasn't been seen in London since the playwright directed a 1995 revival at the Donmar (though Sam West staged his own production a decade later in Sheffield). But even the intrigue inherent in...

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Breathe review - heroic but airbrushed struggle against disability

It’s a challenge to review this film without resorting to adjectives like “plucky” and “well-meaning”, and its mainstream comfiness made it a strangely cautious choice for the opening night of the recent London Film Festival. Breathe is not only...

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The Death of Stalin review - dictatorship as high farce

Like Steptoe and Son with ideological denouncements, Stalin’s Politburo have known each other too long. They’re not only trapped but terrified, a situation whose dark comedy is brought to a head by Uncle Joe’s sudden, soon fatal stroke in 1953. The...

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The Lady from the Sea, Donmar Warehouse review - Nikki Amuka-Bird luminous in a sympathetic ensemble

What a profoundly beautiful play is Ibsen's The Lady from the Sea. It stands in relation to the earlier, relatively confined A Doll’s House, Ghosts and Rosmersholm as Shakespeare's late romances do to the more claustrophobic tragedies. And with what...

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Osud/Trouble in Tahiti, Opera North - swings and roundabouts in a surprising double-bill

It was a topsy-turvy evening. Sometimes the things you expect to turn out best disappoint, while in this case the relatively small beer yielded a true "Little Great" of a production and the best singing in Opera North's latest double bill (subject...

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Sparks, O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire review - age does not wither them

It’s more than 40 years since Sparks appeared on Top of the Pops with “This Town Ain’t Big Enough for Both of Us”, one of a handful of hits from the brothers Mael, Ron and Russell, who grew up in 1950s and ‘60s LA detesting the “cerebral and sedate...

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