Arts

1959 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham

Cars are our cathedrals

Arts feature

Imagine for a moment Harley Earl, head of design at General Motors, Detroit’s wizard of kitsch. Standing before him, in his studio, is the cetacean bulk, nipple-coloured pink paint, churrigueresque chrome ornaments and rocket-ship details of his 1959 Cadillac Eldorado… Read more

‘Propeller (Air Pavilion)’, 1937

Better than Robert? Sonia Delaunay at Tate Modern reviewed

Exhibitions

In 1978, shortly before she died, the artist Sonia Delaunay was asked in an interview whether she considered herself a feminist. ‘No! I despise the word!’ she replied. ‘I never thought of myself as a woman in any conscious way.… Read more

Daniel Barenboim conducts the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra (Photo: Getty)

Why Daniel Barenboim should be the next head of the Berlin Phil

Music

Daniel Barenboim is back in town: the South Bank is mounting a ‘Barenboim Project 2015’ in which he’s playing the Schubert piano sonatas and conducting his magnificent Berlin Staatskapelle in Elgar’s Second Symphony and Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto, with Martha… Read more

opera

ENO's Between Worlds at the Barbican reviewed: too respectful

Opera

This week, some 200 years since Goya’s ‘The Disasters of War’, almost 80 years after Picasso’s ‘Guernica’, and over 50 since Malcolm Browne won a Pulitzer for his photograph of a self-immolating Buddhist monk, the British media found itself questioning… Read more

Find the voice, find the character: Steve Nallon as Margaret Thatcher

Even those who reviled Thatcher will be moved, appalled and astonished: Dead Sheep at the Park reviewed

Theatre

Dead Sheep is a curious dramatic half-breed that examines Geoffrey Howe’s troubled relationship with Margaret Thatcher. Structurally it’s a Mexican bean. It leaps all over the 1980s and it keeps shifting genre from cabaret to tragedy via cheesy political satire.… Read more

Gardeners’ world: Alan Rickman (Louis XIV) and Kate Winslet (Sabine De Barra) at Versailles

A Little Chaos review: Kate Winslet emotes her little socks off

Cinema

A Little Chaos is a period drama directed by Alan Rickman and starring Kate Winslet as a woman charged to design and build a grand fountain garden for Louis XIV at Versailles. The film is, I noted from the poster,… Read more

Free the nipple!

I wish Daenerys Targaryen would free the nipple: Game of Thrones series five reviewed

Television

Blimey, there has been so much good stuff to watch on telly of late: the Grand National, the Boat Race and the Masters; The Island with Bear Grylls; the final of University Challenge (bravura performance from Caius’s Loveday, though how… Read more

Bette Davis, 1940 (Photo: STF/AFP/Getty)

Why Bette Davis loathed theatre

Radio

It was called Frankly Speaking and by golly it was. The great screen actress Bette Davis was being interviewed by not one but two men: George Coulouris, with whom she co-starred in Hollywood, and a BBC producer. ‘It’s a little… Read more

london

Boris Johnson on his plans for the Olympic Park: inspired or whimsical?

Arts feature

Overseeing Boris Johnson’s futuristic office, with its spectacular view of the increasingly culinary skyscape of the City of London with its Gherkins and Cheesegraters, is a bust of Pericles, distinctive in his helmet. It is no surprise that the Mayor… Read more

Italy’s highest-paid heart-throb, Mastroianni as Guido Anselmi, a film director in ‘creative limbo’

How Fellini made his modernist masterpiece

Arts feature

Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita was a box-office triumph in Italy in 1960. It made $1.5 million at the box office in three months — more than Gone With the Wind had. ‘It was the making of me,’ said Fellini.… Read more

‘Observer’s Post’, 1939, by Eric Ravilious

Irresistible: Ravilious at the Dulwich Picture Gallery reviewed

Exhibitions

The most unusual picture in the exhibition of work by Eric Ravilious at Dulwich Picture Gallery, in terms of subject-matter at least, is entitled ‘Bomb Defusing Equipment’. In other ways — crisp linear precision, a designer’s eye for the melodious… Read more

Chris Rainbow fan: DJ Kenny Everett Photo: Getty

The golden age of pop has been replaced by the golden age of pop obituaries

Music

The golden age of pop music may be long gone, but the golden age of pop musicians’ obituaries is definitely with us. Soon I shall have to start apologising for returning to this subject with such regularity, but barely a… Read more

Graham Vick's production of Tippett's The Ice Break

Tippett’s triumphant failure: Birmingham Opera Company’s The Ice Break reviewed

Opera

The Ice Break is Michael Tippett’s fourth opera, first produced at Covent Garden in 1977 and rarely produced anywhere since, though there is an excellent recording of it. Its brevity (75 minutes) rather took the wind out of the Royal… Read more

Sunbee Han, Sooraj Subramaniam, Emily Pottage, Avatâra Ayuso and Richard Causer in Bayadere – The Ninth Life.
© Foteini Christofilopoulou

An Indian Bayadère that meets a sludgy end

Dance

For an Indian woman to make a dancework about La Bayadère is a promising prospect. This classical ballet of 1877 by Russia’s French-born genius Marius Petipa tells the simple story of an Indian temple dancer — essentially a religious sex… Read more

Stephen Mangan, John Rogan, Miles Jupp and Deborah Findlay in Rules For Living at the Dorfman, National Theatre, London. Photo: Tristram Kenton

Nicholas Hytner’s sod-you farewell: Rules for Living at the Dorfman reviewed

Theatre

Experts are concerned that Alan Ayckbourn’s plays may soon face extinction. Fewer than 80 of these precious beasts still exist in their natural habitat, so theatre-goers will be cheered to know that the National Theatre has created a genetically identical… Read more

Ryan Reynolds and Helen Mirren in ‘Woman in Gold’

Woman in Gold review: even Helen Mirren is weighed down by the script’s banalities

Cinema

Woman in Gold feels rather like a Jewish version of Philomena as this too is about an older woman seeking justice for what has been stolen from her in the past but, unlike the Jewish version of almost everything, this… Read more

Dara Ó Briain and Ed Byrne travel along the Pan-American Highway

A review of three reassuringly unoriginal new travel programmes fronted by comedians

Television

Who says British television lacks imagination? You might have thought, for example, that every possible combination of comedian and travel programme had been exhausted long ago. After all, it’s now 26 years since Michael Palin set the trend by following… Read more

The Reverend Libby Lane with Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu Photo: Getty

Why wasn’t there more about the other faiths over Easter on the BBC?

Radio

There was no shortage of Easter music and talks across the BBC networks with a sunrise service on Radio 4 followed by much fuss and fanfare for the ‘live’ relay of Libby Lane’s first Easter sermon as Bishop. A significant… Read more

heckler_110415

The Heckler: why it’s time to kill off James Bond

The Heckler

For fans of the franchise who remain unconvinced by Daniel Craig’s time on her majesty’s secret service, the stories leaking from the production of the latest film Spectre are further evidence that the time has come to hand 007 a… Read more

Maria Callas recording an album for EMI at the Salle Wagram, Paris, in 1963. Photo: Robert Doisneau

The audio anoraks bringing the great vintage recordings back to life

Arts feature

If there’s one thing people find annoying about classical music anoraks, it’s our passion for vintage recordings. ‘Listen to that ravishing rubato,’ we gush, as an elderly soprano swoops and scoops to the accompaniment of what sounds like a giant… Read more

Emma Thompson in Sweeney Todd Photo: Tristram Kenton

Blunt and bloody: ENO's Sweeney Todd reviewed

Theatre

A wicked deception is sprung in the opening moments of this New York-originated concert staging of Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s Sweeney Todd. The English National Opera orchestra, liberated from the pit, is duly assembled on stage at the London… Read more

Detail from the great and strange Altar of the Holy Blood by Tilman Riemenschneider at the Jakobskirche, Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Is this the greatest sculpted version of the Easter story? It's certainly the strangest

Sculpture

In April 1501, about the time Michelangelo was returning from Rome to Florence to compete for the commission to carve a giant marble David, a very different sculptor named Tilman Riemenschneider agreed to make an altarpiece in the small German… Read more

Portrait of a director: Robert Altman

I always think I'm going to hate Baumbach's films and never do: While We're Young reviewed

Cinema

Every time I sit down to a Noah Baumbach film I think I’m going to hate it, but I never actually do. From the French New Wave idiosyncrasies of 2013’s Frances Ha to the growing pains of his semi-autobiographical breakthrough… Read more

A trip to Craggy Island: David Bintley's Carmina Burana for the BRB

Birmingham Royal Ballet review: A Father Ted Carmina Burana

Dance

We ballet-goers may be the most self-deceiving audiences in theatre. Put a ‘new work’ in front of us and half of us go into conniptions because the classical palace is being brought down and the other half into raptures at… Read more

Bad Jews, St James Theatre

Bad Jews at the Arts Theatre reviewed: strange, raw, obsessive and brilliant

Theatre

Bad Jews has completed its long trek from a smallish out-of-town venue to a full-scale West End berth. Billed as a ‘hilarious’ family comedy it opens on a low-key note in a New York apartment where three cousins have gathered… Read more

Heckler-4-April

The Heckler: down with the actor-commentariat!

The Heckler

I’ve never been terribly keen on actors. I prefer hairdressers and accountants. And teachers and builders and lawyers. I may even prefer politicians and footballers to actors. It’s a modesty thing. No profession demands more attention. And no attention is… Read more

Written by Mrs Bach: Anna Magdelena Bach Photo: BBC

Our hero worship of Bach is to blame for rubbish like ‘Written By Mrs Bach’

Music

My impression that Bach has come to rival Shakespeare as a flawless reference point in the cultural life of the nation has recently received some further corroboration. Remember the fuss that some academics, in the hope of recognition, created around… Read more

Pointless hosts Alexander Armstrong and Richard Osman

Why James Delingpole is addicted to Pointless

Television

Ever since Boy got back from school my work schedule has fallen to pieces. Every few minutes, just when I’ve got my concentration back after the last interruption, Boy will burst into the office and say, ‘Dad, Dad. How good… Read more