thu 13/12/2018

Communism

'I’ve told everyone that it’s a comedy – but will anyone laugh?' Jonathan Dove on his new Marx opera

Marx is having a terrible day. He is supposed to be finishing volume two of Capital but he’s distracted by his lust for the maid, workmen are taking away the furniture, his daughter thinks she’s caught a spy.... and what will his wife say when she...

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Cold War review - a gorgeous and mesmerising romance

Can we ever really know the passion that brought our parents together? By the time we are old enough to hear the story of how they first met, that lovers’ narrative has frayed in the telling and faded in the daily light of domestic familiarity. But...

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Blu-ray: A Gentle Creature

“To our enormous suffering!” There are many macabre vodka toasts, accompanied by some appropriately gruelling visuals, in A Gentle Creature, but that one surely best captures the beyond-nihilist mood of Sergei Loznitsa’s 2017 Cannes competition...

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DVD/Blu-ray: Black Peter

Fifty years after the 1968 Soviet invasion that so brutally interrupted it, the Czech New Wave really is a gift that keeps on giving. It still astounds that such a sheer variety of cinema was created in so short a time – really just six or seven...

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Aftermath: Art in the Wake of World War One, Tate Britain review - all in the mind

Not far into Aftermath, Tate Britain’s new exhibition looking at how the experience of World War One shaped artists working in its wake, hangs a group of photographs by Pierre Anthony-Thouret depicting the damage inflicted on Reims. Heavy censorship...

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John Gray: Seven Types of Atheism review - to believe, or not to believe

To suggest an absence is to imply a presence. Philosophers, novelists, dictators, politicians – as well as almost every “ism” you can think of – take the stage in this absorbing, precisely and elegantly written study of various kinds of atheism. All...

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Storyville: Toffs, Queers and Traitors, BBC Four review - the spy who was a scamp

“There is something odd, I suppose, about anyone who betrays their country.” It’s an excellent opening line, particularly when delivered in director George Carey’s nicely querulous narrative voice, for Toffs, Queers and Traitors (BBC Four). He...

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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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Neruda, review - 'poetry and politics'

Chilean director Pablo Larrain has described Neruda as a “false biopic”, and it’s a film that surprises on many levels in its presentation of Pablo Neruda, the great poet who is his country’s best-known cultural figure. It captivates for the scope...

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DVD: Revolution - New Art for a New World

Revolution - New Art for a New World film starts well: the opening shot (main picture) is of young women painting white letters onto a red banner. “We all knew what to paint,” says the voice-over. “Bread, Work, Vote, but the message was ‘...

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DVD: The Spring River Flows East

There’s rich irony in the timelining of 1940s Chinese blockbuster The Spring River Flows East. Cai Chusheng and Zheng Junli’s melodrama dates its 14-year timespan – events unroll from 1931 to the end of the war in 1945 – with reference to the...

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Travesties, Apollo Theatre

Tom Stoppard’s humungously funny play Travesties was born out of a piece of James Joyce doggerel about how a British diplomat sued him for the cost of two pairs of trousers. It’s like this. Joyce was organising an expat amateur production of Wilde’s...

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