Photographic genius at the Tate: the remarkable work of Don McCullin

Tate Britain’s exhibition devoted to the work of the great photographer Don McCullin is, in its own pleasingly straightforward and unpretentious way, one of the finest exhibitions I’ve been to in some years. Of course, as someone who used to peruse the Sunday Times magazine in his teens, when McCullin’s strikingly vivid, often deeply disturbing … Continue reading Photographic genius at the Tate: the remarkable work of Don McCullin

Agnès Varda par…

Some hours after the announcement of the death of Agnès Varda, my friend Nick James – editor of Sight & Sound magazine – felt moved to tweet that his Twitter feed was so choked with tributes, it felt as if Varda was the Bowie of cinema. ‘Perhaps she was,’ he added. It was an intriguing … Continue reading Agnès Varda par…

Mulling over Antonioni

Michelangelo Antonioni (1912-2007) was undoubtedly a major artist, and a hugely important, massively influential filmmaker, one of those few who really did change how people thought about the cinema and its potential as an art form. Not surprisingly, then, his films amply repay repeat viewings. (Hence the current BFI retrospective.) That’s partly because the films … Continue reading Mulling over Antonioni

My best movies, music and other moments from 2018

When, around this time last year, I posted my round-up of my favourite movies, music and so on of 2017, I felt the need to say what a difference the arts had made for me in a time of depressing political confusion and chaos. I’m not going to kick off another rant this year, even … Continue reading My best movies, music and other moments from 2018

Faces and far more: the photographic genius of August Sander

I’ve had a good week, exhibition-wise, kicking off with a visit to the Tate Modern’s pleasingly not-too-crowded ‘Picasso 1932’, followed by a first-day (and therefore extraordinarily quiet) encounter with the Royal Academy’s historical survey of summer-show landmarks, ‘The Great Spectacle’. I can recommend both shows, but it was a third outing that gave me the … Continue reading Faces and far more: the photographic genius of August Sander

My Best Moments of 2017: films, music and other stuff…

What with the depressing political mess we found ourselves in throughout 2017, which tended to privilege prejudice over reason, brazen deceit over factual truths, personal profit over compassion for others, and the short-term gains of the present over the long-term requirements of the future, it could be difficult to find cause for hope. But that … Continue reading My Best Moments of 2017: films, music and other stuff…

Of films and photos: more from Romania’s remarkable Cristi Puiu

A few months back, I received an invitation to participate as a member of the jury for the main competition of the Transilvania International Film Festival (TIFF) which takes place in Cluj-Napoca, Romania’s second largest city after Bucharest, in early June. Honoured to be asked, and keen to visit a country which has been giving … Continue reading Of films and photos: more from Romania’s remarkable Cristi Puiu

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

Rapsodie espagnole (sort of): new music from the Iberian peninsula

Let me warn you now, immediately: you may well find you’re not remotely interested in the kind of music – contemporary music for the concert hall and the classical CD market – that I’m going to write about. But just in case your tastes do stretch in that direction – and I confess, from personal … Continue reading Rapsodie espagnole (sort of): new music from the Iberian peninsula

Through Gary Oldman’s eyes: the star gets behind a camera again

It’s now 30 years since I first saw Gary Oldman act – as Sid Vicious in Sid and Nancy (1986) – and almost 20 since I first met him in person – at the Carlton Hotel in Cannes, for an interview about his debut as writer-director, Nil by Mouth (1997). Though both those works – … Continue reading Through Gary Oldman’s eyes: the star gets behind a camera again