sun 06/12/2020

theartsdesk com, first with arts reviews, news and interviews

Kieron Tyler
Sunday, 06 December 2020
Scars’s tour de force album Author! Author! has been out of sight for too long. Originally released in 1981, it first reappeared on a swiftly withdrawn CD in 2007. Apparently,...
Demetrios Matheou
Sunday, 06 December 2020
The big talking points of Martin Scorsese’s lauded return to the gangster genre, 2019’s The Irishman, were his reunion after 25 years with Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci, and...
Rachel Halliburton
Saturday, 05 December 2020
One of Marc Chagall’s last commissions was for a stained-glass window in Chichester Cathedral, which channelled his characteristically exuberant spirituality into a response to...
Adam Sweeting
Saturday, 05 December 2020
Lockdowns must be good for something, right? British writer-director Rob Savage (a 2013 Screen International Star of Tomorrow, factoid fans) has made the most of the unwelcome...
Graham Rickson
Saturday, 05 December 2020
 Brahms: Symphonies 3 & 4 Australian Chamber Orchestra/Richard Tognetti (ABC Classic)Why these live performances from 2015 and 2013 have waited so long for release is a...
Barney Harsent
Saturday, 05 December 2020
After a 16-year wait for the second album from Australian sample-stitchers The Avalanches, their third, a mere four years later, feels like a rush release by comparison. We Will...
Markie Robson-Scott
Friday, 04 December 2020
“California is for cocksuckers and flag-burners. Did they know you were a fag in the army?” Willis (Lance Henriksen; best...
Robert Beale
Friday, 04 December 2020
The Hallé have been slow off the mark, compared with some, in their response to the challenge of concert-giving in the Covid...
Adam Sweeting
Friday, 04 December 2020
The story of the raid on dams in Germany's Ruhr Valley by the RAF’s 617 Squadron in May 1943 has become a subject of...
Thomas H Green
Friday, 04 December 2020
Doncaster musician Dominic Harrison – Yungblud – appeared a couple of years ago, a self-proclaimed punk, alive with vim and...
Maxine Kwok
Thursday, 03 December 2020
2020: a year that at some point felt like the end of live performance for the world of the performing arts, certainly for...
Adam Sweeting
Thursday, 03 December 2020
This debut feature by writer/director Henry Blake is a shocking and remarkably assured drama about the “county lines” trade...
Veronica Lee
Thursday, 03 December 2020
Edgy comedy runs the risk of discomfiting the audience so much that they can't relax and enjoy the show. But Natalie...
Joe Muggs
Thursday, 03 December 2020
Dance music has a notably different relationship to its past than other kinds of music. This has a real, material basis:...
Sarah Kent
Wednesday, 02 December 2020
Hail the Dark Lioness (Somnyama Ngonyama in Zulu) is a powerful celebration of black identity. These dramatic assertions of...
Demetrios Matheou
Wednesday, 02 December 2020
For so much of the year, Tenet was cited as the film that was going to save cinema – the tentpole extravaganza...
Liz Thomson
Wednesday, 02 December 2020
Mary Chapin Carpenter’s Songs from Home has been an anchor-point almost since the beginning of lockdown for many people, all...
Graham Fuller
Wednesday, 02 December 2020
It was around the time of the 14th century Black Death that the word “corruption” – from the Latin corruptus, the past...
Guy Oddy
Wednesday, 02 December 2020
The Covid pandemic has meant, with both performance and recording opportunities at a minimum, that many musicians have had...

★★★★★ HALLE, ELDER, BRIDGEWATER HALL Re-consecration of the house

★★★ HIGH CONTRAST - NOTES FROM THE UNDERGROUND An elegiac take on rave revivalism from thoughtful Welsh superstar producer

★★★ THE DAMBUSTERS, CHANNEL 5 Yet another telling of the Bouncing Bomb story

★★★★  COUNTY LINES How criminal gangs lure vulnerable children into their distribution rackets

★★ YUNGBLUD - WEIRD! Pop-punky Brit singer's second album sounds fizzy and enormous but lacks rebel spirit

★★★★ FALLING Portrait of a disintegrating mind in Viggo Mortensen's powerful debut

★★★★★ MANK David Fincher’s brilliant, bitter-sweet paean to Hollywood’s Golden Age

★★★★★ NATALIE PALAMIDES: NATE: A ONE MAN SHOW, NETFLIX A deep dive into toxic masculinity

disc of the day

Blu-ray: The Irishman

Scorsese's gangster reprise has the wisdom of age and all the panache of the past


The Dambusters, Channel 5 review - yet another telling of the Bouncing Bomb story

An eager Dan Snow recreates the fabled mission of Guy Gibson and 617 Squadron


Blu-ray: The Irishman

Scorsese's gangster reprise has the wisdom of age and all the panache of the past

Host review - Zoom seance triggers unspeakable consequences

Director Rob Savage's fiendishly cunning lockdown horror movie

Falling review - Viggo Mortensen's powerful directorial debut

Portrait of a disintegrating mind: Lance Henriksen excels as an angry old man

new music

Reissue CDs Weekly: Scars - Author! Author!

Expanded edition of the sole album from Edinburgh’s exceptional post-punks

Album: The Avalanches - We Will Always Love You

The Australian sample-stitchers return with an album of big themes rich in small detail

Album: Yungblud - Weird!

Pop-punky Brit singer's second album sounds fizzy and enormous but lacks rebel spirit


Classical CDs Weekly: Brahms, Anna Höstman, Mozart, Mark Simpson

A pair of romantic symphonies, the greatest of wind serenades, and new piano music from Canada

Not-quite-solitude on the 34th floor: violinist Maxine Kwok on the short film 'Rising'

The LSO player relates her lockdown experience in the City of London she loves so much


L'enfant et les sortilèges, VOPERA, LPO, Reynolds online – Ravel and Colette reimagined

Through the laptop screen and what the child found there, in a brilliant take on a classic

The Seven Deadly Sins, Opera North online review - viscerally thrilling

Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht's indictment of capitalism in a vibrant new production

Ariodante, Royal Opera online review – stylish, but confined

Accomplished ensemble tries its best to cross the footlights in livestream-only Handel


What a Carve Up!, Barn Theatre online review – ingenious whodunnit
Film adaptation of Jonathan Coe’s 1994 bestseller is a postmodern masterpiece
15 Heroines, Jermyn Street Theatre online review - putting the women back into Greek myth
Scorching adaptation of Ovid is a welcome theatrical respite from lockdown


The Seven Deadly Sins, Opera North online review - viscerally thrilling

Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht's indictment of capitalism in a vibrant new production

The Royal Ballet: Live, Within the Golden Hour review - stunning, joyous dance

Setback? What setback? Restrictions seem to push this company to ever greater things

Birmingham Royal Ballet, Sadler's Wells review - onward and upward

Carlos Acosta sets out his stall as artistic director of BRB


Annie Ernaux: A Man's Place review - an intimate portrait, necessarily incomplete

In a memoir built on absence, France's leading writer inspects the life of her father

Zaina Arafat: You Exist Too Much review - second-generation love addiction

Self-conscious therapeutic development cannot help but recall the past

Patrick Barwise and Peter York: The War Against the BBC review - we won't know what we've got until it's gone

No government has attacked the BBC more determinedly than 21st century Conservatives

visual arts

Zanele Muholi, Tate Modern review - photography as protest

Pictures so confrontational they knock you sideways

Michael Clark: Cosmic Dancer, Barbican Art Gallery review - mould-breaker, ground-shaker

A crash course in the life and times of an iconoclast and muse

Sin, National Gallery review - great subject, modest show

A small gathering can't do justice to this fabulous topic

latest comments

My sentiments exactly. I've looked around for the...

this will give insight to people out here

The most boring album of all time from the DM...


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters