Further Gems from ECM: revisiting some favourites

Four years ago this month, a friend, knowing I was a big admirer of the music put out by ECM, suggested I put together a list of my all-time favourite releases on the label, in response to a New York Times list of 21 ‘essential’ ECM albums published to mark the music then newly available … Continue reading Further Gems from ECM: revisiting some favourites

Not Just the Band: Todd Haynes’ The Velvet Underground

You may think you know all you need to know about The Velvet Underground: the encounter of New York songwriter Lou Reed and Welsh classical violist John Cale, the bringing in of drummer Maureen Tucker and guitarist Sterling Morrison, the ‘sponsorship’ of the band by Andy Warhol, the temporary addition of Nico to the outfit, … Continue reading Not Just the Band: Todd Haynes’ The Velvet Underground

Of Whales and Men: Navigating The North Water

Call me curious. Some years ago – never mind how long precisely, but it must have been back in the ’70s or early ’80s – I embarked on what might have been a major odyssey: reading Moby-Dick. I didn’t get very far. But now I’m giving it another try. That’s why you can call me … Continue reading Of Whales and Men: Navigating The North Water

Update on Igor Levit: a star takes on Shostakovich and Stevenson

Back in March 2017, I posted a piece in praise of the pianist Igor Levit. By then he had already garnered considerable acclaim in the classical music world, but since that time he has become remarkably well known… without, it must be stressed, having compromised his artistic integrity in any way. The daily filmed-at-home online … Continue reading Update on Igor Levit: a star takes on Shostakovich and Stevenson

Howard Hawks: Hollywood hack or supreme cimematic artist?

Howard Hawks has been one of my favourite filmmakers ever since I first discovered what a director did. How could he not be when he made –  to cite my personal top-ten of his films (for today, anyway, and listed in the order they were made) – Scarface, Only Angels Have Wings, His Girl Friday, … Continue reading Howard Hawks: Hollywood hack or supreme cimematic artist?

Piano Forte: 75 minutes with Thomas Adès (and Ludwig van…)

The last 18 months or so have been strange and troubled for music and musicians (as well as for everyone else). Thanks to our philistine, economically irrational UK government, musicians and others whose lives depend on live performance have had it very tough indeed – but anyone who understands that the arts are crucial to … Continue reading Piano Forte: 75 minutes with Thomas Adès (and Ludwig van…)

Film as Criticism: the illustrious example of VF Perkins

When I first became a cinephile back in the autumn of 1973 – my life changed, imperceptibly but permanently, when I took a seat in the front row of the Cambridge Arts Cinema to watch Bergman’s Cries and Whispers – I set about learning about the (for me) newly discovered art form as quickly as … Continue reading Film as Criticism: the illustrious example of VF Perkins

The Man Who Lived Movies: a Tribute to Bertrand Tavernier

If I’m a little late to the wake with this tribute to Bertrand Tavernier (1941-2021), that has nothing to do with my feelings about the man or his films, and everything to do with other obligations. I’ve been pleased (and not a little surprised) to see his passing marked so widely with obituaries and remembrances, … Continue reading The Man Who Lived Movies: a Tribute to Bertrand Tavernier

Women’s Pictures: 75 great films you may not have seen…

Since it’s International Women’s Day, I thought I’d put together a list of some of my favourite films directed by women. It was going to be 50 fiction features, but even by restricting each director to just one title, that meant leaving out rather too many movies I really wanted to mention, so I tried … Continue reading Women’s Pictures: 75 great films you may not have seen…

But Is It Jazz?… (Five recent unclassifiable musical gems)

As you may have noticed from my writings here, with regard to the arts I tend to be pretty constant, even loyal, in terms of my interest in the work of certain people; if they produce one or two pieces I find unusually satisfying, I generally try to keep up with what they do next. … Continue reading But Is It Jazz?… (Five recent unclassifiable musical gems)