Latest Issue: 29 November 2014
29 November 2014
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27 November 2014 by Laura Gascoigne

In 1851, the Great Exhibition drew crowds to the Crystal Palace like moths to a lamp. But one young visitor resisted its lure – when taken to the exhibition, William Morris refused to go in.

27 November 2014 by Francine Stock

The subject of religious extremism has engendered powerful films in recent years – from Haim Tabakman’s study of an unorthodox relationship between two ultra-Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem, Eyes Wide Open to Abderrahmane Sissako’s striking Timbuktu about the influence of fundamentalist Muslims in Mali, which will be on release in the spring.

27 November 2014 by D.J. Taylor

Evelyn Waugh’s Vile Bodies (1930), opens on a storm-wracked cross-Channel ferry whose upper decks are populated by the improbably named minions (“Faith”, “Charity”, “Fortitude”) of “the woman evangelist”, Mrs Melrose Ape.

27 November 2014 by John Morrish

You may have heard of the “listicle”: an article in the form of a list, or a list purporting to be an article. The first episode of Tomorrow’s Worlds: The Unearthly History of Science Fiction (22 November) was what you might call a “listumentary”:

27 November 2014 by Mark Lawson

One of the duties of theatre is to explore lesser-known work by canonical dramatists and two British theatres have just admirably fulfilled this obligation. Welsh writer-actor Emlyn Williams (1905-87) wrote two popular hits – the thriller Night Must Fall and the melodrama The Corn is Green

27 November 2014 by Robert Thicknesse

The sun rises over the Moscow River; birdsong flutters out amid shimmering strings, a folky melody winds through a musical fabric of light and air. The Kremlin guards wake, joshingly recall their atrocities of the previous night, and the human world shatters the calm beauty of the natural one.

Previous issues

20 November 2014 by Laura Gascoigne

There is a long-standing rivalry between Brussels and Antwerp over ownership of the legacy of Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) going back to the artist’s own day. When, after his return from Italy in 1608, Rubens was appointed court painter to the Archduke Albert and Archduchess Isabella

20 November 2014 by Francine Stock

What makes a man good or ­otherwise? Aydin (Haluk Bilginer) is a grizzled former actor – the owner of a rambling hotel tucked into the Anatolian mountains. He is a patriarchal figure in a small community, both landlord and respected artist, husband to a beautiful if melancholy young wife,

20 November 2014 by John Morrish

Many people think their jobs were better “in the old days”. It is not just about workload and job security. It is about the replacement of autonomy and freedom by regulation and paperwork. That is true of doctors, academics, teachers, journalists and, probably, priests. It is especially true of police officers.

20 November 2014 by Mark Lawson

Following the world premiere of Wildefire, a new Roy Williams play about the Metropolitan Police, the Hampstead Theatre will revive Tiger Country, writer-director Nina Raine’s drama set among NHS staff. This means that the Hampstead repertoire suddenly resembles a mainstream TV schedule, with detective and medical procedurals in adjoining slots.

20 November 2014 by D.J. Taylor

The brief of Independent columnist Grace Dent in this six-part series is to sit down with various Titans of recent BBC radio comedy and thereby sketch out its history between the somewhat arbitrary dates of 1975 and 2005.

13 November 2014 by Robert Thicknesse

It seems a long way from Mary Magdalen to farmers’ markets; when you are talking to American director Peter Sellars, the conversation can go in strange directions. But when I suggest we may have drifted off the point, he exclaims: “No! It’s exactly the same thing!”

13 November 2014 by John Morrish

The last series of The Fall (13 November) attracted admiration and opprobrium in about equal measures. This week it came back, and it was interesting to see whether creator/writer/director Allan Cubitt would respond to his critics.

13 November 2014 by D.J. Taylor

As an account of bygone religious experience, Frank Cottrell Boyce’s documentary (9 November) had several conspicuous merits. One was its insistence that we ought to examine spiritual responses to the Great War on their own terms rather than by yardsticks devised a century later

13 November 2014 by Francine Stock

In the midst of the numerous “based on real events” films this year, there are remarkably few that take a radical approach to the subject in the way that a few years ago I’m Not There did with Bob Dylan.

13 November 2014 by Lucy Lethbridge

Edwin smith’s photographs capture the beauty of age on buildings, of the patina that time, wear and weather give to metal and stone.

13 November 2014 by Mark Lawson

This is the time of year when theatrical producers start angling for the office party and Christmas outings crowds, and two likely contenders have just opened in London.

06 November 2014 by Laura Gascoigne

Anselm kiefer wishes people wouldn’t fuss over his work. Everywhere his paintings go, curators follow, picking up bits that fall from their encrusted surfaces for conservation. Given that his work now changes hands for millions of dollars, their attitude is understandable. But for an artist whose principal theme is creation from destruction, it misses the point.

06 November 2014 by Francine Stock

In cinema terms, space still represents the greatest adventure, if not necessarily the final frontier. Western governments may have abandoned ambitious programmes but screenwriters persist in placing their superheroes at the far reaches of the galaxy or their star protagonists

06 November 2014 by Robert Thicknesse

It is still startling to think that 30 years ago you’d hardly ever see a Handel opera performed, and now they are almost the mainstay of the repertoire. This music is a kind of medicine to de-gunk the spirit after the hysteria of regular nineteenth-century fare, and the range and depth of sympathy and emotion expressed in a minutely controlled

06 November 2014 by Mark Lawson

A year of classical makeovers has so far seen Arthur Miller’s A View From the Bridge staged in jeans and T-shirts, Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya done with mobile phones, Shakespeare’s Henry IV in a women’s prison and Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People relocated to an apartment in twenty-first-century Germany.

06 November 2014 by John Morrish

It is rare to be able to pinpoint the moment at which a cultural archetype was created; but at the Villa Diodati on Lake Geneva, two came into being at once.

30 October 2014 by Rick Jones

Religious conversion is an unusual subject for opera, whose concerns tend to be secular, even frivolous. It is arguably better suited to oratorio, a more static and sober form. When in 1838 Donizetti proposed to depict on the Neapolitan opera stage the martyrdoms of an early Christian and his wife, the royal authorities would have none of it.

30 October 2014 by John Morrish

Few phenomena are more dispiriting than the British public in a fit of righteous indignation. The death of the toddler known as Baby P, and the failure of the authorities to prevent that death, unleashed a torrent of fury.

30 October 2014 by Francine Stock

Mike leigh’s film about J.M.W. Turner is not, he emphasises, a biopic. There’s no dalliance with the artist as Covent Garden-born prodigy. Instead, we catch up with him well established in the art world in the 1820s, aged 50, with a house in Marylebone where a dedicated housekeeper, Hannah Danby, prepares his canvases and pigments

30 October 2014 by Mark Lawson

It’s an unusual thrill to find two current Shakespearean productions that are, for different reasons, unrecognisable: Love’s Labour’s Won will be a title unknown to most theatre-goers, while few are likely ever to have imagined seeing Sir John Falstaff played by a woman.

30 October 2014 by D.J. Taylor

IsaiaH Berlin divided humanity into hedgehogs and foxes. The fundamental separation here in Cuba Offline (23 October) seemed to be between the connected and the unconnected.