Arts reviews

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A look ahead

18 December 2010 12:00 am

The trend of fewer temporary exhibitions in our museums is becoming established, as the cost of mounting blockbusters escalates beyond even the generous reach of sponsorship.

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Intimations of infinity

18 December 2010 12:00 am

Andrew Lambirth finds a striking metaphor for the physical limitations of earthbound existence versus the infinite freedom of the spirit in Paul Nash’s painting ‘Winter Sea’

The road to ruins

11 December 2010 12:00 pm

Director Patrick Keiller made his name with London (1994) and Robinson in Space (1997), semi-documentaries recounting the peripatetic investigations into…

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Speech impediment

11 December 2010 12:00 am

It’s the juxtaposition of ‘u’ on ‘u’ that did for Jim. According to scientific study, a sequence of words with the same vowels in the same place can trip us up, as poor Jim Naughtie discovered on Monday morning.

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Flawed curiosity

11 December 2010 12:00 am

His brain clouded with opium fumes, Jean Cocteau wrote Les Parents Terribles in just one week. It opens like a Greek tragedy crossed with a madcap sitcom.

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Interview: Semyon Bychkov: his own man

11 December 2010 12:00 am

Semyon Bychkov has rather unspectacularly become one of the world’s most sought after conductors, and at present he is in London to conduct a series of performances of Wagner’s now least often staged canonical opera, Tannhäuser, at the Royal Opera House.

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Gruesome fun

11 December 2010 12:00 am

Having been away, I only got to Alexander Raskatov’s opera A Dog’s Heart at its fifth performance by ENO, by which time everyone knew that it was brilliantly mounted, but not of much musical substance.

Bring on the warmth

11 December 2010 12:00 am

Cold weather demands warm music. To which end I am delighted that Mojo, the monthly rock magazine for the more gnarled music fan, has chosen as its album of the year Queen of Denmark by John Grant.

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All the lonely people

11 December 2010 12:00 am

Whereas Sofia Coppola’s directorial breakthrough, Lost in Translation, featured two lonely souls rattling about in a Tokyo hotel, her latest film, Somewhere, features one lonely soul holed up in a Californian hotel, and isn’t half so good.

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Exhibitions Round-up: lifting the heart

11 December 2010 12:00 am

The run-up to Christmas is the perfect season for an exhibition of Andrew Logan’s joyful and extravagant art.

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Serious business

11 December 2010 12:00 am

Emily Mortimer on how her father John was asked by Kenneth Tynan to translate Feydeau’s farce and how she wishes he were still around to drink champagne with the current cast

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Juggling statistics

11 December 2010 12:00 am

I love statistics.

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Broken hearts

4 December 2010 2:30 pm

In a bleak St Louis tenement, the Wingfields are buckling beneath the Depression and their mother’s old-fashioned aspirations. A framework of fire escapes and raised walkways provides convenient perches from which Tom (Leo Bill) can narrate and look on with foreboding as his lame sister is dressed and groomed for the long awaited ‘gentleman caller’.

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Street life

4 December 2010 12:00 am

It is the 50th anniversary of Coronation Street and there seems to be as much celebration and feasting as there was for the Queen’s own golden jubilee, in 2002.

Playing it safe

4 December 2010 12:00 am

Put the life of a legendary music-maker/campaigner in the hands of a controversial choreographer and you’ll possibly end up with some explosive stuff.

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Magnificent Mozart

4 December 2010 12:00 am

The subtitle of Mozart’s Don Giovanni is ‘Il dissoluto punito’ (the rake punished), that of Rossini’s La Cenerentola is ‘La bontà in trionfo’ (goodness triumphant), while Monteverdi’s L’Incoronazione di Poppea might well be subtitled ‘Vice rewarded’.

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Incredible journey

4 December 2010 12:00 am

Monsters is a sci-fi alien film and is being promoted as a sci-fi alien film but it’s not really a sci-fi alien film as it’s a love story with a beautiful and unexpected ending.

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Light relief

4 December 2010 12:00 am

The so-called Glasgow Boys had no manifesto, common background or style, apart from working in and around the city of Glasgow and sharing a belief in the importance of painting from direct observation and experience.

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Tendentious drivel

27 November 2010 12:00 am

It told the story of two best mates, Frankie and Peter, serving in an unidentified northern regiment in Afghanistan where Peter quickly discovers he can’t cope under fire — and as a punishment is made the unit’s ‘camp bitch’ by the sadistic Lance Corporal Buckley (Mackenzie Crook).

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No laughing matter

27 November 2010 12:00 am

The Nobel prize is nothing. The real badge of literary greatness is the addition of the ‘esque’ suffix to one’s name and, if you’re truly outstanding, the word ‘nightmare’, too. Franz Kafka manages this distinguished double, although some readers find the connotations of horror arise not so much from his totalitarian dystopias as from his prose. But it’s best to approach Kafka with an open mind.

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Catching up with Clooney

27 November 2010 12:00 am

There are quite a few reasons to like The American. It is an action film with almost no action, making it a non-action action film which, I now know, is my favourite kind of action film. It stars George Clooney, and while I have tried to imagine Mr Clooney doing something uncharismatically — rinsing out his pants in the sink, say, or hosing down the car on a Sunday morning — I cannot. I’d buy a ticket for both. And it’s directed by Anton Corbijn, the Dutch photographer turned film-maker who made Control, the excellent film about Joy Division, and who knows how to compose a shot gorgeously.

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Conflicting passions

27 November 2010 12:00 am

Francesco Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur, his biggest success, dating from 1902, leads a fringe existence, but it persists thanks primarily to the name role, dramatically meaty and not imposing too great a strain on the performer.

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At the heart of Europe

27 November 2010 12:00 am

The historic centre of Bruges has 16 museums, enough to cater for every touristic taste. There’s a Diamond Museum, a Lace Centre, a Choco-Story (the narrative element distinguishes it from the 50 chocolate shops) and a Friet Museum — or ‘Belgian Fries Museum’, for English-speakers under the misapprehension that fries are French. But the main focus of the city’s five-yearly festival, now in full swing, is on a local product the French cannot lay claim to: the Flemish painting tradition founded by Jan van Eyck, who died in Bruges in 1441.

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Smoke and mirrors

27 November 2010 12:00 am

The Prince, according to Machiavelli, ‘should appear, to see him, to hear him, all compassion, all good faith, all integrity, all piety’ — which might be translated into Basic Blairish as ‘should appear a pretty straight kind of guy’ — but, as the Florentine Father of Spin emphasised, it was a great deal more important to seem to have, rather than actually to have, these qualities.

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Ray of sunshine

20 November 2010 12:00 am

Could there be subtle changes taking place at Radio 4 HQ? Late last Friday night, A Good Read was dropped in favour of a repeat of a half-hour profile of the extraordinary Burmese campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi.