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…)
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
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
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…
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)
Those of you who, like me, are admirers of the cinema of Abbas Kiarostami are probably aware that – given the high esteem in which he was held – surprisingly few books have been written about the late, very great Iranian artist’s work, be it in film or in any of the other mediums he … Continue reading Conversations with Abbas Kiarostami: a welcome (new-ish) book of interviews.
Of all the directors who came to the fore when the Hollywood studio system was breaking down in the 60s and 70s – they included, among others, the likes of John Cassavetes, Shirley Clarke, Francis Coppola, Clint Eastwood, Terrence Malick, Arthur Penn, Bob Rafelson, Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg – my favourite has always been … Continue reading Still timely after all these years: Robert Altman on the rewriting of American history
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
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
A confession: while I’ve always enjoyed classical music, until around 12 years ago I was generally quite wary of contemporary composers, and tended to stick to a few favourites like Arvo Pärt, Michael Nyman, Terry Riley, John Adams, Giya Kancheli and – really adventurous, this! – James MacMillan. (My interest in the last came about … Continue reading Mixing the old with the new: richly rewarding recent classical releases.