tue 21/08/2018

20th century

The Guardians review - beautifully crafted drama

A slow tracking shot over the gassed corpses of soldiers, their masks having failed the ecstasy of fumbling, opens The Guardians. This French art house film would perhaps have been better served by the English title The Caretakers; it's...

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Prom 44, Gringytė, CBSO, Morlot review - eloquently sculpted Gallic riches

This should have been the third much-anticipated Prom of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra's inspiring communicator-in-chief Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla. She's now on maternity leave. So those of us who hadn't experienced Ludovic Morlot live before...

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Edinburgh Festival 2018 review: Zimerman, LSO, Rattle - fizzing chemistry

It was Simon Rattle’s first visit to the Edinburgh International Festival for – well, really quite a few years. And the first of his two concerts with the London Symphony Orchestra drew, perhaps predictably, a capacity crowd in the Usher Hall, for...

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Blu-ray: Mishima - A Life in Four Chapters

So much of Japan can be lost in translation, and yet the West is fascinated by a culture that articulates the possibilities of belief and being in such a different mode than our own. Paul Schrader’s now classic 1985 film on the writer and actor...

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Annie Ernaux: The Years, review - time’s flow

“When you were our age, how did you imagine your life? What did you hope for?” It is a video of a classroom south-east of the Périphérique separating Paris from the working-class suburbs. The students are mostly girls between fifteen and sixteen and...

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Classical CDs Weekly: Louis Couperin, Pärt, Bruce Levingston

 Louis Couperin: Dances from the Bauyn Manuscript Pavel Kolesnikov (Hyperion)We’ll get the entertaining trivia out of the way first, namely that the musical Couperin dynasty came from Chaumes-en-Brie. I’m struggling to think of another example...

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Box office poison? Joan Crawford at BFI Southbank

What’s that? Joan Crawford had no sense of humour? Well, take a look at It's A Great Feeling. It’s a pretty bizarre (and pretty bad) 1949 musical with Jack Carson and Dennis Morgan playing themselves running round the Warner Brothers lot...

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Ariadne auf Naxos, Opera Holland Park - stylish staging, world-class singing

"When the new god approaches, we surrender, struck dumb". Especially if, for the singer of those words, popular entertainer Zerbinetta, the “new god” takes the shape of same-sex love. Director and designer Anthony McDonald locates the real “mystery...

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The Lehman Trilogy, National Theatre review - an acting tour de force

There's surprising and then there's The Lehman Trilogy, the National Theatre premiere in which a long-established director surprises his audience and, in the process, surpasses himself. The talent in question is Sam Mendes, who a quarter-century or...

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DVD: New Town Utopia

You come to Christopher Ian Smith’s New Town Utopia expecting a damning indictment of post-war British planning. But while there are melancholy moments, this is mostly an upbeat documentary. Smith manages, without the use of CGI, to make the much-...

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Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up, V&A review - appearances aren't everything

When in 2004 Frida Kahlo’s bedroom – sealed on the command of her husband Diego Rivera for 50 years from her death – was opened, a trove of clothes and personal items was discovered. They shed new light on the life of this iconic Mexican...

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Pelléas et Mélisande, Glyndebourne review - frigid metatheatre

Pierre Boulez simply crystallised the obvious when he described Debussy's unique masterpiece as "theatre of cruelty," despite its enigmatic beginnings. Richard Jones, when I asked him to talk about its plot, declared "it's about two men who love the...

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