Arts feature

How Technicolor came to dominate cinema

They’ve already found a cure for the common cold. It’s called Technicolor. My first dose of it came during the Christmas holidays when I was about 12. There I was, ailing and miserable, when The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) came on the television at the end of my bed. Nothing had prepared me for


How did this plotless goon-show wind up at the Royal Court?

One of the challenges of art is to know the difference between innovation and error. I wonder sometimes if the Royal Court realises such a confusion can arise. Its new production, RoosevElvis, has been hailed as a thesaurus of fascinating novelties but to me it looks like a classic case of ineptitude posing as originality.



Spying and potting

The main problem with being a TV critic, I’ve noticed over the years, is that you have to watch so much TV. It’s not that I’m against it in principle: I like my evening’s televisual soma as much as the next shattered wage slave with no life. But the reality is that you end up


The man who made abstract art fly

One day, in October 1930, Alexander Calder visited the great abstract painter Piet Mondrian in his apartment in Paris. The Dutch artist had turned this small space on rue du Départ, which also doubled as his studio, into a walk-in work of art. Even his gramophone, painted bright red, had become a note of pure


Was Steve Jobs really a genius?

Steve Jobs is a film about a man in whom I have little interest, but for 120 minutes I was at least quite interested, which is a result. But this doesn’t make it a great film, and in many ways it isn’t. It never quite pins Jobs down. It never quite works out what it


Bach breaking

It’s just not what you expect to hear on Radio 3 but I happened upon Music Matters on Saturday morning and after playing us a clip from the opening chorus of St Matthew Passion Tom Service pronounced, ‘Bach is a tasteless and chaotic composer.’ I felt as if my ears had been syringed. Service was