wed 26/06/2019

World War Two

Overlord review - nightmares in Normandy

The trailer for Overlord promises havoc, horror, evil, madness, terror and rage, and to be fair it delivers on most of those. From the fantasy factory of producer JJ Abrams, it’s the ghastly story of an alternative D-Day, in which American...

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1945 review - Hungarian holocaust drama

Ferenc Török is firmly aiming at the festival and art house circuit with his slow-paced recreation of one summer day in rural Hungary. A steam train stops at a rural siding, two Orthodox Jewish men descend and with minimal speech, oversee the...

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War and Peace, Welsh National Opera review - an Operation Barbarossa that comes off

What lunatic would ever have the idea of turning War and Peace into an opera? Well, maybe if you, a composer, had found yourself in Moscow in June 1941 when news of the German invasion reached the Soviet capital, you might have decided to mount an...

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DVD/Blu-ray: It Happened Here

Kevin Brownlow and Andrew Mollo’s It Happened Here surely deserves the acclaim often accorded it as “the most ambitious amateur film ever made”, and the rich supporting extras on this BFI dual-format release make clear why. Best of all is a 65-...

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The Bletchley Circle: San Francisco, ITV review - the ludicrous in search of the preposterous

Belatedly picking up from where series 2 of The Bletchley Circle left off in 2014, this comeback version has a go at transporting a couple of the original characters to the Californian West Coast, where they embroil themselves in the hunt for that...

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Line of Separation, All 4, review - handsome if soapy epic

You don’t see a lot of German drama imported to British television. France, Italy, Scandinavia, yes. But the biggest country in Europe is less of a player. The great exception – and it really was great - was Deutschland 83, a thrilling hit when...

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Effigies of Wickedness, Gate Theatre review - this sleek cabaret conceals desolation behind a smile

The show’s subtitle – “Songs banned by the Nazis” – is a catchy one, and somewhere under the confetti, the stilettos, the extravagant nudity, the sequins and even shinier repartee that are wrapped around Effigies of Wickedness like a mink coat on...

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Life and Fate / Uncle Vanya, Maly Drama Theatre, Theatre Royal Haymarket review - the greatest ensemble?

Towards the end of the Maly Drama Theatre of St Petersburg's Life and Fate, a long scene in director Lev Dodin's daring if necessarily selective adaptation of Vasily Grossman's epic novel brings many of the actors together after a sequence of...

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DVD/Blu-ray: They Came to a City

Ealing Studios veteran Basil Dearden may have directed it, but 1944’s They Came to a City is mostly a JB Priestley film, an engaging blend of the mundane and the metaphysical. The work’s stage origins are clear; apart from the newly-written prologue...

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Absolute Hell, National Theatre review - high gloss show saves over-rated classic

Rodney Ackland must be the most well-known forgotten man in postwar British theatre. His legend goes like this: Absolute Hell was originally titled The Pink Room, and first staged in 1952 at the Lyric Hammersmith, where it got a critical mauling....

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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society review - artery-furring whimsy

There’s a serious film to be made about the German occupation of the Channel Islands. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society is not that film. The absolute gobful of a title more than hints at artery-furring whimsy. Its provenance is...

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theartsdesk in Bremen: 150 years of A German Requiem

They did things differently in 1858. Between the movements of Brahms's surprising new Requiem in the Biblical German of Martin Luther, resounding in Bremen's Romanesque Cathedral on Good Friday, came "Erbarme dich" from Bach's St Matthew Passion,...

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