thu 04/03/2021

theartsdesk com, first with arts reviews, news and interviews

Adam Sweeting
Thursday, 04 March 2021
Admittedly, Antarctic explorer Captain Scott was at the other end of the earth from the protagonists of The Terror (BBC Two), but they would surely have concurred with his...
Matt Wolf
Wednesday, 03 March 2021
A teen comedy with a thematic difference, Moxie has enough memorable moments to firmly establish comedian Amy Poehler as a director worth reckoning with in what is her second film...
Adam Sweeting
Wednesday, 03 March 2021
Nice to find Bryan Cranston taking the lead in a TV series again (this is his first since Breaking Bad ended in 2013), and the role of New Orleans judge Michael Desiato fits him...
Marina Vaizey
Wednesday, 03 March 2021
Pioneering is an attractive adjective in this context, alerting the spectator to what has been, over the past half century, an extraordinary body of contemporary ceramics produced...
Lisa-Marie Ferla
Wednesday, 03 March 2021
Shortly after Arab Strap split up in 2006, Malcolm Middleton was quoted saying “I don’t think we should ever get back together”. That’s the sort of fighting talk that’s just...
Boyd Tonkin
Tuesday, 02 March 2021
Beatrice Blackwood had lived in a clifftop village between surf and jungle on Bougainville Island, part of the Solomon archipelago in the South Pacific. She hunted, fished and...
Graham Rickson
Tuesday, 02 March 2021
Jindřich Polák ’s 1963 film Ikarie XB-1 (also available from distributor Second Run) still seems fresh, a cerebral, visually...
Robert Beale
Monday, 01 March 2021
Manchester Camerata’s performance with Jess Gillam at Chetham’s School of Music was filmed in private on 9 January (and the...
Nigel Hess
Monday, 01 March 2021
It has been well-documented over the last few months that there has been an upsurge in listener numbers for many radio...
Graham Fuller
Monday, 01 March 2021
“How it went with the women,” Martin Amis’s phrase for what most straight men are likely to contemplate in the evenings of...
Adam Sweeting
Sunday, 28 February 2021
The Billie Eilish story is a paradigm of pop music and marketing, 2020s-style. Eilish’s instinctive talent became evident...
Kieron Tyler
Sunday, 28 February 2021
On 31 December 1966, the Daily Mail's Virginia Ironside got to grips with a new trend in pop music. Under the heading “The...
Sebastian Scotney
Saturday, 27 February 2021
The clever programming of the “Unwrapped” series has been transformational for the reputation of Kings Place. Ever since the...
Graham Rickson
Saturday, 27 February 2021
 The Way of Light – The Music of Nigel Hess (Orchid Classics)You’ve probably heard Nigel Hess’s music without realising...
Kieron Tyler
Saturday, 27 February 2021
Flock ends with “Solarised”, a glorious five-plus minutes excursion into retro-futurist pop with the artistic smarts of...
Saskia Baron
Friday, 26 February 2021
One of the sadnesses of covid is that films like Judas and the Black Messiah have been held over for release in...
Veronica Lee
Friday, 26 February 2021
Everyone (well, almost everyone) can tell a joke. But being a comic – holding an audience rapt, getting a roomful of...
Aleks Sierz
Friday, 26 February 2021
As the events of last year made clear, the police have a problem with race on both sides of the Atlantic. In the UK, BAME...
Mark Kidel
Friday, 26 February 2021
John Benjamin Power (formerly half of Fuck Buttons) opens his new opus with glittering synth arpeggios – reminiscent of the...

★★★ BILLIE EILISH: THE WORLD'S A LITTLE BLURRY Sprawling account of the singer's rise to stardom

★★★★★ JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH Powerful biopic restores Civil Rights story

THE HEALING POWER OF MUSIC Nigel Hess on his great-aunt Myra’s wartime concerts

★★★★ GILLAM, MANCHESTER CAMERATA, KUUSISTO, STOLLER HALL ONLINE Time stands still and enthusiasm cheers the spirits in a concert for the present

★★★★ TOMORROW I'LL WAKE UP AND SCALD MYSELF WITH TEA Blu-ray release of likeable Czech time-travel romp

★★★★★ FRANCES LARSON: UNDREAMED SHORES How the first female anthropologists found freedom far from home

disc of the day

Album: Arab Strap - As Days Get Dark

A welcome musical return from the caustic Scottish duo


The Terror, BBC Two review - nightmare in the Arctic wastes

Powerful cast in doomed search for the Northwest Passage

DVD: T S Eliot - The Search for Happiness

Competent documentary revises the poet's reputation as a callous husband


Moxie review - likeable if confused high school comedy

Amy Poehler's sophomore directing effort is both winning and wayward

Blu-ray: Tomorrow I'll Wake Up and Scald Myself with Tea

Lightweight but likeable Czech time-travel romp

Judas and the Black Messiah review - powerful biopic

Well crafted biopic brings another key episode in America's civil rights history into the light

new music

Album: Arab Strap - As Days Get Dark

A welcome musical return from the caustic Scottish duo

Reissue CDs Weekly: The Misunderstood - Children Of The Sun The Complete Recordings (1965-1966)

Definitive statement on the John Peel-lauded psychedelic pioneers


Gillam, Manchester Camerata, Kuusisto, Stoller Hall online review - calm and exhilaration

Time stands still and enthusiasm cheers the spirits in a concert for the present

‘The Healing Power of Music’: composer Nigel Hess on great-aunt Myra’s wartime concerts

Parallels between lockdown solace and a great Dame's National Gallery events


Tony and the Young Artists, Royal Opera/Liebeslieder Waltzes, Blackheath Halls online review - love and joy

Much-needed platforms for talented youth to make its way in difficult times

Der Freischütz, Bavarian State Opera online review – marksmen as marketeers

Tcherniakov’s staging heightens the psychological drama, but his feminist angle falls flat

Hansel and Gretel, Scottish Opera online - bewitching feast for ears but not eyes

Rhian Lois and Kitty Whately excel as babes in the cheap wood of a cut-price production


Typical, Soho Theatre online review - powerfully poetic and painful
Film version of 2019 monologue about institutional racism is brilliant
Sherlock Holmes: The Case of the Hung Parliament review – choose-your-own whodunnit
Playful interactive show casts audience members as amateur detectives
Barnes' People, Original Theatre Company online review - intriguing quartet of monologues revived
Jemma Redgrave and Adrian Scarborough excel in Peter Barnes radio solos brought to screen


Best of 2020: Dance

In a perilous year, bright ideas and perseverance sometimes prevailed

The Nutcracker: an end-of-year obituary

It's been a rough ride for the seasonal cash cow. Here's how ballet companies coped

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

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


Frances Larson: Undreamed Shores review - journeys without maps

How the first female anthropologists found freedom far from home

Joseph Andras: Tomorrow They Won't Dare to Murder Us review - injustice and tenderness in the Algerian War

This thriller-ish debut revives the only European executed in the French-Algerian conflict

visual arts

Pioneering Women, Oxford Ceramics Gallery online review - domestic pleasures

A survey of female potters explores ancient ubiquity and the allure of pure form

Best of 2020: Visual Arts

Our critics reflect on their favourite exhibitions of 2020

latest comments

Just watched the three episodes of Zen, loved it...

He will be missed. His work, Jesus of Nazareth,...

Just a poor movie, and the accents were terrible....

After multiple listenings, I'd say this is the...

I like what Scorsese did with this material. The...

Like the previous comment I too have just...

The best episodes of 'Peep Show' are brilliantly...


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