For many, the Cannes Film Festival is suggestive of a slightly tacky glamour. The French have long taken le cinéma seriously, however, and for all the red-carpet posturing, the world’s most famous film festival is indubitably a celebration of an illustrious international art form.
Until 2015, the abbreviation LFBM stood for the Lufthansa Festival of Baroque Music but the airline sponsor withdrew after three decades and now the “L” stands for London. Without a principal backer, the programme has shrunk a little but audiences and artists have remained loyal both to each other and to a great institution.
There is definitely a gap in the television market for short, dark plays with creepy and fantastical twists. The question is whether there is a market in the gap. Would anyone today watch something like Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected? Or do they get all the weirdness they want from Doctor Who?
“Naked women and pictures of Jesus” is how the teenage George Shaw once summed up the contents of the National Gallery. Little did he dream of growing up to become the gallery’s Associate Artist, awarded a two-year residency on site to prepare an exhibition inspired by the collection.
Lemonade isn’t fizzy. It isn’t sweet. And it isn’t champagne. In contrast to perhaps her most famous song so far, this one is maybe about taking a ring off rather than putting one on. You don’t have to read between the lines. You just have to read the lines. All is not well in the most powerful entertainment business marriage.
Louis Theroux has made a remarkable transition from satirist of minor celebrities to sympathetic listener to people leading difficult lives. His methods, though, have hardly changed: in sometimes meandering programmes, he ingratiates himself into people’s domestic settings, lets them talk, and then asks pointed questions that sometimes stay just this side of impertinent.
After The recent success of theatre and TV versions of Hilary Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell novels, it is proven that the same book can thrive equally well on stage and screen. Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, though, appeared almost simultaneously in the two media. Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited is a different proposition.
William Shakespeare, his father, mother, wife and daughter are sitting in his kitchen. Anne Hathaway gives the playwright some advice. “Don’t do comedy. It’s not your strong point.” Will is affronted. “It is my strong point, wife. It just needs lengthy explanation and copious footnotes. If you do your research, my stuff is really funny.”
An East Belfast loyalist, shown his baby granddaughter for the first time, is horrified to see the face of Gerry Adams looking back at him. A depressed young man, seeing no option but to end his life, finds access to his suicide auctioned to the highest bidders.
First things first: the lift. Up you go, at the Ikon Gallery, to the sound of a heavenly choir; what a smart idea is this. The piece you are listening to is an installation by Martin Creed, the Quaker artist who won the Turner Prize in 2001; the piece, Work 409, involves the recorded choral voices, which rise as the lift ascends and descend as it falls.
Jack Monroe started writing – I was going to say “her” but as a non-binary transgender she prefers the pronoun “their” – austerity recipe blog in 2012. The goad was a complaint by a Southend councillor that drunks, drug addicts and single mothers were depressing the town’s retail trade.
Poor old Richard Wagner! You spend a third of your life constructing The Ring of the Nibelung – surely the biggest one-man artwork in history – and a mere 150 years later most even of the culturally literate have only a dim (and probably contemptuous) awareness of it as some peculiar, possibly proto-Nazi manifesto stuffed with elves, dragons and gigantic blondes in horned helmets. Oh, and the “Ride of the Valkyries”.
One act of mercy Premium28 April 2016 | by Anthony Quinn
It is the thing you have half-imagined, could scarcely believe, possibly had nightmares about. Son of Saul brings us close – as close as cinema will ever get – to the dragon’s mouth of the Holocaust.
The BBC’s celebration of the Queen’s ninetieth birthday was wonderfully site-appropriate. While BBC1 – among much else – offered Nicholas Witchell’s matey encounter with Prince William, the World Service weighed in with Sir David Cannadine’s sober analysis of Her Majesty’s role as an international stateswoman (20 April).
At evensong on 20 September 1966, sharp-eyed worshippers at Chichester Cathedral noticed that one of the canons was wearing dark glasses. Charitable observers might have attributed this to conjunctivitis, had it not been for a glaringly obvious explanation.
Rebroadcast to mark the fiftieth anniversary of Evelyn Waugh’s death on Easter Sunday 1966, this television interview from June 1960 began with an archive clip of the host, John Freeman, recalling his trepidation at having to deal with such a legendarily irascible figure.
One hundred years ago this month, an event took place in central London that was effectively the Live Aid of its day. It was April 1916, and Britain was in the throes of the First World War. Death, danger and destruction were all around; the nation’s young men were falling like flies in the battles that were raging in trenches in foreign fields.
In the cast of the first non-London production of Harold Pinter’s second play The Birthday Party was a young Scarborough actor called Alan Ayckbourn. And, although Pinter’s career is completed while Ayckbourn’s continues, the two men remain linked as the English dramatists whose works from the 1960s and 1970s are most regularly produced. A lavish revival from each backlist coincidentally opened last week.
Titanic troubles Premium14 April 2016 | by Anthony Quinn
Mark Cousins’ cine-memoir opens with a lightning storm; a fitting overture to the violent convulsions that have shaken his native city to the verge of despair.
At the start of Europe: Them or Us (12 April) Nick Robinson stood on the white cliffs of Dover and reminded us that we are separated from the continent by geography and history. It was a pity to start with a pair of clichés, verbal and visual, but he recovered to produce a thorough and interesting programme.
The 100th anniversary of the 1916 Dublin Easter Rising has been much marked in the media over the past few days and weeks. But according to John Gilhooly, the Limerick-born director of London’s Wigmore Hall, the real focus of the centenary should not be war and violence, it should be reconciliation, mutual friendship and a shared cultural heritage.
In a nod to the centenary of the Easter Rising, BBC 4 broadcast a celebration of W.B. Yeats, who wrote about that event with a profound ambivalence. Bob Geldof on W.B. Yeats: A Fanatic Heart was thorough, informative and respectful – and passionate.
The American dramatist Lorraine Hansberry (1930-65) is known only for A Raisin in the Sun, her 1957 African-American domestic drama that has just completed a British tour by the Eclipse Theatre Company. That play – and the song “To Be Young, Gifted and Black”, written as a musical eulogy by Nina Simone, a friend and admirer – seemed likely to be her cultural legacy.
Radio 1 presenter Clara Amfo, the effervescent impresario of that station’s “rockest record” and its celebrated “Live Lounge” feature, was leaving the Metro on her way to take part in last March’s Paris half-marathon when her mobile phone rang.
In the middle of the Louvre’s Mona Lisa room, an endless queue of tourists snakes around a maze of control barriers for a moment’s audience with the world’s most famous painting. What is it about the Mona Lisa that exerts this magnetism? The answer lies in the subject’s mystique.
It wasn’t conceived as a paschal ballad, but somehow it felt completely right to be belting out “High Hopes” on Easter Sunday evening with Kodaline. The song is all about redemption, and beginning again, and fresh starts; and there was a distinctly hymn-like quality to its rousing rendition in the cathedral of Hammersmith Apollo.
There has surely been no writer more prolific than Georges Simenon. In a career lasting more than 60 years, he produced hundreds of novels and stories. But his best-known works are the “Maigret” books, a regular subject of television adaptation.
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