Brighteners for ‘Blue Monday’: a dozen sources of pleasure

Last week a friend alerted me to the imminence of ‘Blue Monday’ – the third Monday of January, believed by some to be the most depressing day of the year. With the current state of uncertainty, that’s an even more dubious superstition than it has been in the past, but since I fully accept that … Continue reading Brighteners for ‘Blue Monday’: a dozen sources of pleasure

Best of a bad year: movies, music and other highlights of 2020

In the few years I’ve been posting best-of blogs in the face of worsening political circumstances, I’ve often expressed a rather forlorn hope that things might improve the following year. Well, it turns out, obviously, that the hope I expressed last year could not have been more forlorn. How terrible 2020 has been… not only … Continue reading Best of a bad year: movies, music and other highlights of 2020

Music and movies for Christmas and beyond: a few recommendations

Sitting at home the other evening, contemplating the dismal antics of our wretched government, I found myself taking consolation from the melancholy beauty of Lawrence Power’s viola in his performance of James Macmillan’s marvellous concerto for that instrument. And, generous fellow that I am – not to mention someone who often dithers endless over what … Continue reading Music and movies for Christmas and beyond: a few recommendations

Re-considering Kazan (or how I was wrong about Elia K’s movies)

When my colleagues in the programming team at BFI Southbank decided to take up my suggestion that we should mount a retrospective of the films of Elia Kazan – the last one had been way back in the early 1970s – I thought it would be interesting to curate it myself and even, perhaps, to … Continue reading Re-considering Kazan (or how I was wrong about Elia K’s movies)

My best movies, music and other moments from 2019

This time last year, in introducing the lists of my favourite films, music, etc, etc of 2018, I expressed the admittedly somewhat forlorn hope that 2019 would give us less reason to have to seek solace in such things, and that peace, tolerance and reason would prevail. Well, it didn’t quite work out that way, … Continue reading My best movies, music and other moments from 2019

Movies and music for Christmas 2019 (and beyond…)

In December 2017 and 2018, I posted brief pieces highlighting some of my favourites movies and music which had been released on disc during the previous 12 months; I hoped they might prove helpful for anyone wondering what to buy for Christmas presents. The posts seemed to go down quite well, so this year I’m … Continue reading Movies and music for Christmas 2019 (and beyond…)

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

Movies and music for Christmas and beyond

This time last year I posted a piece highlighting some favourites movies of mine which had been released on disc during 2017; I hoped it might prove helpful for anyone wondering what to buy for Christmas presents. It seemed to go down quite well, so this year I’ve decided to repeat the exercise, with some … Continue reading Movies and music for Christmas and beyond

At last: Doctor Atomic on CD

For my first three decades, even though I liked classical music (my main interests were then pop, rock and jazz), I would tell friends – and, indeed, myself – that I had no time for opera: that it was a mish-mash of inferior drama, inferior poetry and inferior music. Naturally, I’d reached this absurd conclusion … Continue reading At last: Doctor Atomic on CD