Bat squeaks and red herrings

Blue Gadoo is one of those cats whose face looks like it’s been bashed flat with a wok. He lives in New York, apparently, and his bulging eyes goggle out from Gerald Barry’s programme note for his new Organ Concerto. Check him out: the Guardian published the full note a day before the performance, which

Arts feature

Wild at heart | 15 March 2018

There is a culty YouTube video shot three years ago on the laptop camera of Ruben Ostlund. It shows the film director listening live as the nominations for the Academy Awards are announced from Los Angeles. The tension mounts as they approach the foreign film category. Alas, Force Majeure from Sweden isn’t nominated. Ostlund disappears


Seeing stars

The Best Man by Gore Vidal is set during a fictional American election in 1960. Two gifted candidates seek their party’s nomination. Secretary Russell is a chilly but experienced political hack whose marriage is a sham. Senator Cantwell, a more attractive character, is an impulsive charmer married to a blonde bombshell who adores him. The


What’s in a name

Janacek is the master of the operatic title. Think of the slippery, sleight-of-hand emphasis of Jenufa in its original Czech —Her Stepdaughter — or the elegant misdirection of The Beginning of a Romance. It encourages the suspicion that when Janacek christened his final opera, deliberately truncating the title of Dostoyevsky’s Siberian prison camp-inspired novel Notes


The beautiful and the damned

Babylon Berlin (Sky Atlantic), the epic German-made Euro noir detective drama set during Weimar, is so addictively brilliant that I’d almost advise you not to start watching it. After the two seasons to date you’ll be left feeling like the morphine-addicted hero Gereon Rath (Volker Bruch) when deprived of his fix. That’s because they haven’t


Being and nothingness | 15 March 2018

René Magritte was fond of jokes. There are several in René Magritte (Or: The Rule of Metaphor), a small but choice exhibition at Luxembourg & Dayan, 2 Savile Row W1 (until 12 May), that includes numerous variations, accomplished and disturbing, on similar ideas to his famous ‘Ceci n’est pas une pipe’ painting. ‘L’usage de la


Original sin | 15 March 2018

This biopic of Mary Magdalene is a feminist retelling that may well be deserved but it’s so dreary and unremarkable that the fact it is well intentioned and even, perhaps, necessary can’t come through and win the day. Or even part of the day. Just the morning, say. Directed by Garth Davis (Lion), and written


The lady vanishes | 15 March 2018

‘Close your eyes and be absorbed by the storytelling,’ urged Jon Manel (the new head of podcasting at BBC World Service) as we settled into our chairs. We were just about to hear the ‘world première’ of the latest podcast from the BBC World Service, launched dramatically in the Radio Theatre at Broadcasting House in