mon 16/01/2017

race issues

The Kite Runner, Wyndhams Theatre

Khaled Hosseini's 2003 bestseller ticks all the boxes as an A-level text. A personal story with epic sweep, it interweaves the bloody recent history of Afghanistan with a gripping family saga. Its treatment of racism and radicalism is timely. Other...

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Strictly Come Dancing 2016 Final, BBC One

What is light entertainment for? It won’t save the world or heal the sick or bring warring factions to the negotiating table. It’s teeth and smiles and bread and circuses on a Saturday night and it shouldn’t have to bear any greater weight. The...

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Albums of the Year: Beyoncé - Lemonade

When, back in October, Donald Trump sulked that his political opponent was being a “nasty woman”, little did he realise the cultural impact it would have.Those two words – a fit of pique that was impressive even amidst an ever-lengthening line of...

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The Birth of a Nation

DW Griffiths's 1915 silent epic, The Birth of a Nation, became notorious for its pejorative portrayal of black people and its heroic vision of the Ku Klux Klan. For his directorial debut, Nate Parker has appropriated Griffiths's title and whipped it...

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Chi-Raq

“This is an emergency. Homicides in Chicago, Illinois have surpassed the death toll of American special forces in Iraq.” This news bulletin forms the opening of Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq, pronounced Shy-Rack, a stylised, bombastic take on the gang...

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DVD/Blu-ray: Odds Against Tomorrow

Robert Wise directed the 1959 bank heist thriller Odds Against Tomorrow after the classic film noir cycle had ended, but it's an exemplary noir nonetheless. In its day it was an important transitional work – a race-relations allegory...

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NW, BBC Two

“Why is everyone from your school a criminal crackhead?” “Why is everyone from yours a Tory minister?” These questions lie at the heart of Zadie Smith’s NW. Keisha (the wonderful Nikki Amuka-Bird), aka Natalie, is married to wealthy Frank (Jake...

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The Royale, The Tabernacle (Bush)

With the Bush Theatre’s main building undergoing renovations, this company’s shows are being staged in a selection of temporary spaces in West London. So, on this dark and freezing evening, I make my way to The Tabernacle, a Grade II-listed building...

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DVD/Blu-ray: Paris Blues

The original 1961 poster for Paris Blues trumpeted it as “a love-spectacular so personally exciting you feel it’s happening to you”. Would it were actually thus. Instead, it’s ponderous and features a cast so obviously “acting” that any verve...

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DVD/Blu-ray: Pioneers of African-American Cinema

The parallel universe of what was known as “race” cinema gets five packed DVDs here. Instead of cringing with sympathy at small, racistly conceived black roles in a classic Hollywood era which coincided with an American Apartheid, these are indie...

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Blu-ray: Pool of London

True to its title, Pool of London is one of the great London films. More than this, it included British cinema’s first – albeit chaste – interracial romance and convinces as film noir. Filmed in 1950 and released in February 1951, it was passed by...

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One Night in Miami..., Donmar Warehouse

Kemp Powers’s play is set in a motel room in Miami on the night of 25 February 1964, after Cassius Clay (as Muhammad Ali then was) had earlier beaten Sonny Liston to gain the world heavyweight title. He is joined by two friends, the singer Sam Cooke...

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