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Arts

Herculean feat: hauling a steamship over a mountain for ‘Fitzcarraldo’

The enigma of Werner Herzog

Arts feature

Strange things happen to Werner Herzog — almost as strange as the things that happen in his haunting, hypnotic films. In 1971, while making a movie in Peru, he was bumped off a flight that subsequently crashed into the jungle.… Read more

The Immortal Hour

The small rewards of small-scale opera

Opera

Perhaps I should come clean straightaway and admit that, despite the fact that OperaUpClose is about to celebrate its fifth birthday, I’d never been to see one of its shows before last week. This has not been a conscious decision;… Read more

Second coming: Kate Bush is now regarded with almost universal awe

Kate Bush Hammersmith Apollo review: Still crazy after all these years

Music

It says something about Kate Bush’s standing in the music world that, perhaps uniquely in the history of long-awaited live comebacks, nobody has suggested — or possibly even thought — that her motives might be financial. After all, this is… Read more

‘I wish my boyfriend was as dirty as your policies’, 2011,by Coral Stoakes

Agitprop, love trucks and leaflet bombs: the art of protest

Exhibitions

Titles can be misleading, and in case you have visions of microwave ovens running amok or washing machines crunching up the parquet, be reassured — or disappointed. Disobedient Objects, the new free display in the V&A’s Porter Gallery, is about… Read more

Angry young man: Jesse Eisenberg as Josh in ‘Night Moves’

Night Moves – the opposite of a Dan Brown film

Cinema

Night Moves is a film by Kelly Reichardt, who also made the heart-wrenching Wendy and Lucy (2008), which may be one of my favourite films of all time. (If you don’t know it, go look it up; I’m old now,… Read more

Crazy love, Dogfight

Dolts, Doormats and FGM: theatre to make you physically sick

Theatre

Wow. What an experience. A 1991 movie named Dogfight has spawned a romantic musical. We’re in San Francisco in 1963. Eddie is a swaggering, shaven-headed Marine and Rose is a shy, awkward waitress. Come to a party, he says. She… Read more

Showing up to your prom in a tank is a bit 2013

BBC2’s Hotel India: slums? What slums?

Television

Viewers who like their TV journalism hard-hitting should probably avoid Hotel India, a new BBC2 series about the Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai. The tone of Wednesday’s episode was set immediately when the narrator introduced us to ‘one of the… Read more

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Who needs drugs when you have Radio 3?

Radio

I’m willing to bet it’s only on the BBC’s Radio 3 that you’ll find yourself listening to a programme quite like Words and Music (Sunday evenings). You might want to disagree. Surely, it’s just a few bits of music stuck… Read more

Bronze-Bowl-with-Lace

A wooden UFO lands in Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Culture notes

The New York-based sculptor Ursula von Rydingsvard comes from a long line of Polish and Ukrainian peasant farmers. She was born in Germany in 1942 on a forced labour farm to which her parents had been transported by the Nazis.… Read more

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Alex Salmond has already lost — if the Edinburgh Festival is anything to go by

Arts feature

Scotland’s on a knife-edge. Like all referendum-watchers at the Edinburgh Festival I grabbed a ticket for The Pitiless Storm, a drama about independence, which attracts big crowds every lunchtime at the Assembly Rooms. The play draws its inspiration from the… Read more

'Ashtray' Annie, 1956 Photo: Getty

‘Ashtray’ Annie Fischer was a piano giant. Why didn’t more people realise this?

Music

This year marks the centenary of a pianist whom London orchestral players nicknamed ‘Ashtray Annie’. Only at the keyboard did she have a cigarette out of her mouth. Annie Fischer (1914–1995) was one of those female pianists who, despite their… Read more

‘Futurist Motif’, 1920, by Gerardo Dottori

Futurism’s escape to the country

Exhibitions

Futurism, with its populist mix of explosive rhetoric (burn all the museums!) and resolutely urban experience and emphasis on speed, was a force to be reckoned with (at least in Italy) for longer than one might imagine. It was launched… Read more

Composer Giacomo Puccini; scenes from performances of Tosca in 1956 and 2010 Photo: Getty

In defence of Puccini

Opera

During my opera-going lifetime the most sensational change in the repertoire has, of course, been the immense expansion of the baroque repertoire, with Monteverdi, Rameau and above all Handel being not only revived but also seen now as mainstays in… Read more

Inhuman being: Scarlett Johansson as Lucy

Lucy: the shoot-outs, car chases and mysteries of the universe

Cinema

Here’s an idea for an article: The Tree of Life (2011) is the most influential film of the past decade. There’s quite a strong case to be made. Everything from car adverts to Hollywood blockbusters seems to have a touch… Read more

Pushing 70, but not very hard: Anne Archer as Jane Fonda

An innocent graduate of Operation Yewtree, Jim Davidson, dazzles in Edinburgh

Theatre

Let’s start with a nightmare. Wendy Wason, an Edinburgh comedienne, travelled to LA last year accompanied by her husband, who promptly succumbed to a fainting fit. Wason called an ambulance, unaware she was in a hospital car park, and was… Read more

Adeel Akhtar plays Wilson Wilson in Utopia

Eye-gouging within the first half-hour: the edgy new rules of TV drama

Television

Where is Jessica Hyde? If those words mean nothing to you then I have some excellent news. If not, then you’ll already be aware that I have failed you totally. And not for the first time, either. I was about… Read more

A technician mends the broken glass of a landing light at Tempelhof Airport in Berlin, during the Berlin Airlift, 1949 Photo: Getty

Ambridge recovers its sense of humour — finally

Radio

‘Isn’t that charming!’ Carol declares at the height of the great Home Farm cocktail party, after being subjected to Jennifer’s somewhat over-enthusiastic description of her wine storage unit. Just three words but such a lot of meaning. Carol Tregorran’s resurrection… Read more

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Anne Seymour Damer: the female Bernini?

Culture notes

Anne Seymour Damer (1748–1828) was virtually the only female sculptor working in Britain during her lifetime. Contemporary artists may have dismissed her as a well-connected dilettante with curiosity value as a woman. But her most important connection was her uncle,… Read more

Shinkansen: one of the most powerful symbols of modern Japan

My addiction to the bullet train

Arts feature

In 1963, Dr Richard Beeching, an ICI director with a PhD in physics, a qualification that clearly boondoggled his credulous political patrons, published a government report called ‘The Reshaping of British Railways’. It identified 8,000km of painstakingly created track for… Read more

Natasia Demetriou

The best of the Edinburgh Fringe

Theatre

Rain whimpers from Edinburgh’s skies. The sodden tourists look like aliens in their steamed-up ponchos as they scurry and rustle across the gleaming cobblestones. Performers touting for business chirrup their overtures with desperate gaiety. Thousands of them are here. Tens… Read more

Daft, and sensationally innocent: the Inbetweeners down under

The Inbetweeners 2 is as filthy as a teenage boy – and it's hilarious

Cinema

The first Inbetweeners film made £45 million at the box office, and was such an unexpected smash there was always going to be a second one, which is fair enough. It is based on the TV sitcom (Channel 4, 2008–2010),… Read more

‘The Sutherland Cup’ by Angie Lewin

The perfect excuse to get out all the best Ravilious china

Exhibitions

A day trip to the Towner Art Gallery in Eastbourne is a summer pleasure, and two concurrent shows are proving a considerable draw, with their focus on design and applied art. Designing the Everyday is in some ways just an… Read more

‘Llyn Cau, Cader Idris’, 1765–67, by Richard Wilson

How Richard Wilson made Wales beautiful

Exhibitions

‘I recollect nothing so much as a solemn — bright — warm — fresh landscape by Wilson, which swims in my brain like a delicious dream,’ wrote Constable of his encounter with the Welsh artist’s ‘Tabley House, Cheshire’ after he… Read more

Ivan Vasiliev and Natalia Osipova, Solo for Two

Ballet’s super couple should stick to the classical repertoire

Dance

Last week, the feast of long-awaited dance events on offer echoed bygone days when London life was dominated by the strategically engineered appearances of rival ballet stars at the same time in different venues. At the London Coliseum, Solo for… Read more

Charlotte Salomen

Strauss and Hofmannsthal deserve better from the Salzburg Festival

Opera

The Salzburg Festival’s reputation might largely be one of cultural conservatism, but it made an impressive commitment to new works when it announced in 2011 that it had commissioned four operas, to be unveiled at the rate of one a… Read more

The new journalism: Vice leaves the rest of the West’s media standing

Scoops, snark and jihad – this is Vice News's war

Television

War can reshape the medium of television. The First Gulf War was a landmark moment in broadcasting: CNN had reporters in Baghdad when the first bombs fell, no one else did, America was riveted and the concept of 24-hour news… Read more

6 Music's success can be attributed to seasons from Bob Dylan, visitations from Jarvis Cocker, Alex James and more recently Iggy Pop

Why is Radio 3 still leaderless?

Radio

It’s happened almost by stealth but the number of listeners to 6 Music has now overtaken Radio 3, creeping up to 1.89 million per week (just .05 million more than the classical-music station). Actually the margin between them is probably… Read more

Urs-Fischer-Skinny-Sunrise-Nylind

Less cuddly, more creepy: The Human Factor at the Hayward Gallery

Culture notes

Jeff Koons’s ‘Bear and Policeman’ has been used to advertise the Hayward Gallery’s latest show The Human Factor (until 7 September). But don’t be fooled; this exploration of the human figure is neither cute nor cuddly. It includes photos of… Read more