70 years of Cannes… and this is my 30th. (A view from the queue.)

This piece was originally written for and published by BFI online at bfi.org.uk With thanks to Sam Wigley for editing. Though the Cannes Film Festival is undoubtedly the most famous event of its kind, it isn’t the oldest. That honour belongs to Venice. Still, 2017 does mark the 70th edition of Cannes – having been … Continue reading 70 years of Cannes… and this is my 30th. (A view from the queue.)

Catching up with ‘in vain’ – an act not remotely in vain…

When I first heard about ‘in vain’, an orchestral work by the contemporary Austrian composer Georg Friedrich Haas, I confess I was little sceptical about the oft-repeated claims that it was one of the first genuine masterpieces of the 21st century. For one thing, such assessments – even when those making them include the likes … Continue reading Catching up with ‘in vain’ – an act not remotely in vain…

Jonathan Demme, Man from Long Island

I’m certainly not planning to write many memorial blogs for filmmakers, but at the unexpected and very saddening news of the death of the American director Jonathan Demme, aged 73 (portrait above by Peter Hapak), I felt moved to do so. I never got to know him well or count him as a friend, but … Continue reading Jonathan Demme, Man from Long Island

‘A Quiet Passion’: Terence Davies in fine fettle with a film about Emily Dickinson

Of the new films released in the UK this week, a surprisingly large proportion have a distinctly literary bent. Besides the adaptation of Julian Barnes' novel The Sense of an Ending – I read and greatly enjoyed the book, but haven't yet seen the movie –  there are no less than three films actually about real … Continue reading ‘A Quiet Passion’: Terence Davies in fine fettle with a film about Emily Dickinson

From The Colour of Pomegranates to the Armenian genocide: some notes on Tigran Mansurian

If you’ve ever seen Sergei Paradjanov’s remarkable and unforgettably odd film, you will probably recognise the striking tableau above as one from Sayat Nova, released in the West as The Colour of Pomegranates. However much I admire the movie for its bold originality and painterly beauty, I must confess that its radical, highly allusive style … Continue reading From The Colour of Pomegranates to the Armenian genocide: some notes on Tigran Mansurian

‘In a class of his own’: some notes on pianist Igor Levit

London, as any fule kno, is a great city for live music; spoilt for choice almost every night, you could spend a fortune, if you had such a thing. (I don't, by the way.) But if you choose carefully and avoid the big, expensive gigs, you can pack in a fair bit. It's all about quality. For me … Continue reading ‘In a class of his own’: some notes on pianist Igor Levit

Following in Hildegarde and Lili’s hallowed footsteps: today’s wonderful women composers

In just a few minutes, as this is about to go  online, it will be International Women’s Day, and while I appreciate that some may consider it presumptuous for a male to offer a few recommendations pertaining to female excellence, I hope there won’t be too many objections to this particular celebration of women’s genius. Only this week I … Continue reading Following in Hildegarde and Lili’s hallowed footsteps: today’s wonderful women composers

America After the Fall – a very timely exhibition

I could not resist making an early visit to the Royal Academy’s latest exhibition, entitled ‘America After the Fall: Painting in the 1930s’. For one thing I knew it included one my favourite American paintings, Grant Wood’s famous and much parodied ‘American Gothic’ (1930, above), which I’ve loved since I first discovered it as a … Continue reading America After the Fall – a very timely exhibition

Craig Taborn: a keyboards virtuoso and composer to look out for

Ever since Manfred Eicher launched ECM almost half a century ago with the Mal Waldon Trio’s ‘Free at Last’ , the label has been notable for its sterling support of great jazz pianists.  Among its first 20 releases were albums by Paul Bley, Chick Corea and Keith Jarrett;  these day you can find such distinguished … Continue reading Craig Taborn: a keyboards virtuoso and composer to look out for

Fable and fantasy find favour at Berlin 2017

The article below was originally written for and published by the BFI  http://www.bfi.org.uk On Body and Soul (2017) Though critics often complain about the awards given out by juries at film festivals, I rarely feel the need to take issue with such decisions. After all, taste in movies, as in anything else, is highly subjective, … Continue reading Fable and fantasy find favour at Berlin 2017