thu 17/01/2019

Communism

theartsdesk in Budapest: Prophecy in the world's best concert hall

August 1914, September 2001, all of 2016: these are the dates Hungary's late, great writer Péter Esterházy served up for the non-linear narrative of his friend Péter Eötvös's Halleluja - Oratorium Balbulum. Its Hungarian premiere in one of the world...

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DVD: The Lovers & the Despot

What to do if you’re a despotic leader with an underperforming film industry? Hiring better directors and actors wasn’t an option for Kim Jong-il in the late 1970s, so he took drastic action: luring South Korea’s biggest female star Choi Eun-hee to...

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Travesties, Menier Chocolate Factory

Is this the most dazzling play of a dazzling playwright? First staged in 1974, Travesties is the one which manages to squeeze avant-garde novelist James Joyce, Dada godfather Tristan Tzara and communist revolutionary Lenin into a story which...

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The Flames of Paris, Bolshoi Ballet, Royal Opera House

The Flames of Paris, in Alexei Ratmansky's 2008 reworking, is a ballet of contrasts. Between the first and second acts, so different in pace and quality, between the naturalistic intimacy of certain pas de deux and the stylised posturing of the...

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Marx: Genius of the Modern World, BBC Four

An old subversive Soviet joke has Karl Marx coming back from hell, facing enormous crowds of very unhappy people and telling them, "Oh I'm so sorry – it was only an idea." But what an idea and ideas, as Bettany Hughes's film reminded us. She...

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The Sugar-Coated Bullets of the Bourgeoisie, Arcola Theatre

The playwright Anders Lustgarten has spent a considerable chunk of his life reading and writing and thinking about China, and clearly wants to set a few points straight. Tired of the persistent Western view of that country and its people as...

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DVD: Something Different/A Bagful of Fleas

The expectation that late means great is one embedded deeply in our culture: that the consummation of creative endeavour finds its peak towards life’s conclusion, with experience assimilated into a rich finale. These two films from the very start of...

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The Propaganda Game

The set-up behind Spanish film-maker Álvaro Longoria’s intelligent documentary on North Korea is almost as bizarre and unlikely as the regime he’s attempting to probe.Having felt compelled for several years to make a film about the country, he’s...

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Trumbo

Trumbo depicts the 13-year struggle by the screenwriter Dalton Trumbo (Bryan Cranston) to break the blacklist imposed on him and the other members of the Hollywood Ten in 1947. By continuing to get his scripts produced throughout the Fifties, Trumbo...

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P’yongyang, Finborough Theatre

Every incarnation of totalitarianism has its own specific mythology, which exists in different forms as it is believed at home and “translated” abroad (or not, in both cases). North Korea surely occupies a special place in any such hierarchy,...

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Catherine Tate's Nan, BBC One

Everyone knows a Nan – whether their own grandmother, someone else's, or maybe an elderly woman you see on the bus rudely (but rightly) telling youngsters they shouldn't be sitting when she has to stand. My grandmothers were nothing like the foul-...

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DVD: The Czechoslovak New Wave - A Collection, Vol. 2

Distributor Second Run’s second collection of the Czech New Wave (strictly speaking, Czechoslovak, although the three films included here are from the Czech side of the movement) reminds us what an astonishing five years or so preceded the Prague...

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