mon 29/12/2014

theartsdesk.com, first with arts reviews, news and interviews

Top Gear Patagonia Special, BBC Two

Matthew Wright

Despite appearances, Jeremy Clarkson aspires to be taken seriously, as readers of The Sun and The Sunday Times will know. With this Top Gear Special he managed it, being chased...

Last Tango in Halifax, Series 3, BBC One / Homeland, Series 4 Finale, Channel 4

Adam Sweeting

Back for its third series [***], Sally Wainwright's saga of Yorkshire folk continues to tread a precarious line between syrupy soapfulness and a family drama with sharp little...

The Theory of Everything

Demetrios Matheou

It’s Turing versus Hawking, Cumberbatch v Redmayne, computer science v astrophysics, tragedy v the triumph of love. Ever since The Imitation Game and The Theory of ...

Best of 2014: Theatre

Matt Wolf

That old canard about there being no good roles for women needed revising time and again in the theatre year just gone, so much so that end-of-year judging panels for the year's...

Best of 2014: Comedy

Veronica Lee

It may not have been the most stellar year for comedy at the Edinburgh Fringe, but 2014 was made memorable not just by a long-awaited reunion, but also by witnessing a fine solo...

Best of 2014: Gigs

theartsdesk

From the clubs of Berlin to the pubs of Birmingham, via Somerset and New York, our new music writers select their most memorable gigs of 2014. Drenge, Hare & Hounds,...

The Nutcracker, Scottish Ballet, Edinburgh Festival Theatre

Hanna Weibye

Every Nutcracker has its day, and every day has its Nutcracker. But sometimes history repeats itself, and so it was that I...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Sly Stone

Kieron Tyler

 Various Artists: I'm Just Like You – Sly's Stone Flower 1969–70Although a fixture on America’s mainstream charts since...

Best of 2014: Opera

David Nice

When everything works – conducting, singing, production, costumes, sets, lighting, choreography where relevant – then there’...

Listed: The Facts about Factual TV in 2014

Jasper Rees

It is a truism that the great tradition of documentary filmmaking has long since migrated to the big screen. Factual takes...

Downton Abbey: 2014 Christmas Special, ITV

Jasper Rees

“But I do want to be stuck with you.” Five series and five Christmas specials down, Downton fans heard a line of dialogue...

Best of 2014: Classical CDs

Graham Rickson

Search for shops which still sell classical CDs and it’s likely that you’ll be disappointed, in the UK at least. Peruse the...

Best of 2014: "Indie" Videogames

Simon Munk

The best games of 2014 were often to be found not from the "AAA" videogame equivalents to Hollywood, but, of course, bedroom...

Call the Midwife: 2014 Christmas Special, BBC One

Marina Vaizey

The Christmas scoop was the first appearance of the authorial voice, Vanessa Redgrave, playing Jennifer Worth, writing...

Birdman

Ellin Stein

Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, Birdman is the story of a fading star’s search for professional rehabilitation and...

Unbroken

Emma Simmonds

This year's award-courting survival picture (after 2013's All Is Lost, and 2012's Life of Pi) is based on the genuinely...

Bach B minor Mass, Trinity College Choir, OAE, Layton, St John's Smith Square

David Nice

While the embers of the concert year are dying out around the country, you can be sure of a great blaze-up at St John’s...

Exodus: Gods and Kings

Adam Sweeting

I wish Mel Brooks had directed this, but instead we've got the sort of stodgy techno-epic that has become all too common...

The Wrong Mans, BBC2

Barney Harsent

The recent comedy awards on Channel 4 threw up little in the way of surprises – or, indeed, laughter for that matter....

Annie

Matt Wolf

A lot of harsh words have been and will continue to be written about the new movie musical remake of Annie, the Broadway...

Madness, O2 Arena

Matthew Wright

There were silly hats, and venerable, bouncy songs for all the family at the O2 last night. The traditional Madness December...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Millions Like Us

Kieron Tyler

 Various Artists: Millions Like Us - The Story of the Mod Revival 1977–1989A “testosterone-fuelled youth movement” is...

Widowers' Houses, Orange Tree Theatre

Alexandra Coghlan

When the Orange Tree lost all its Arts Council funding earlier this year it was hard to get too outraged. An institution...

theartsdesk at the Dubai International Film Festival

Demetrios Matheou

Dubai is a city that famously emerged from the desert, founded on oil and ambition, rising in an eruption of skyscrapers,...

 

BEST OF 2014: OPERA A vintage year as our reviewers struggle to narrow it down to a Top 10

BEST OF 2014: GIGS Tour veterans, comebacks and stars on the rise: we share the year's musical highs

REISSUE CDS WEEKLY: SLY STONE An overdue and revelatory appreciation of the soul maverick's short-lived Stone Flower label

THE NUTCRACKER, SCOTTISH BALLET, EDINBURGH FESTIVAL THEATRE Sumptuous redesign transforms old favourite into a safe new classic

LISTED: THE FACTS ABOUT FACTUAL TV IN 2014 This year's documentaries climbed high and swung low on Britain's social ladder

ALBUM OF THE YEAR: PEPE WILLBERG – PEPE & SAIMAA Instant orchestral-pop classic from Finland which has barely registered elsewhere

disc of the day

Album of the Year: Beck - Morning Phase

The erstwhile slacker-rocker discovers his Zen

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Listed

Listed: The Facts about Factual TV in 2014
This year's documentaries climbed high and swung low on Britain's social ladder
Best of 2014: "Indie" Videogames
theartsdesk's videogames writers pick the independent, quirky plays of the year
Listed: Science Fiction in Videogames
Nearly all videogames are fantastical, but few are interestingly fantastical

We Made It

We Made It: Factum Arte

Recreating a facsimile of Tutankhamun’s tomb and a painting by Veronese is all part of revolutionising our experience of art

We Made It: Publisher and Curator Amelia Gregory

Gold leaf and alchemical processes feed into a unique view of publishing

We Made It: Bex Burch, Dagaare Xylophone-Maker

Percussionist explains how the unique craft and culture of a north-Ghanaian people shapes her music

film

The Theory of Everything

Eddie Redmayne shines as scientist Stephen Hawking, refusing to call time on himself, in this moving biopic

DVD: Lucy

Luc Besson makes Johansson divine in a loopy action epic

Birdman

Michael Keaton rises to the challenge in Alejandro González Iñárritu's dark comedy

tv

Top Gear Patagonia Special, BBC Two

Men in sheds provoke diplomatic incident

Last Tango in Halifax, Series 3, BBC One / Homeland, Series 4 Finale, Channel 4

The past bites back in Halifax, and there's still trouble ahead in 'Homeland'

Listed: The Facts about Factual TV in 2014

This year's documentaries climbed high and swung low on Britain's social ladder

new music

Album of the Year: Beck - Morning Phase

The erstwhile slacker-rocker discovers his Zen

Best of 2014: Gigs

Tour veterans, comebacks and stars on the rise: we share the year's musical highs

Album of the year - Band of Brothers by Willie Nelson

New wine from an age-old source - and it's a vintage

classical

Best of 2014: Classical CDs

Ten of the year's most scintillating classical releases

Bach B minor Mass, Trinity College Choir, OAE, Layton, St John's Smith Square

Choral and trumpeter angels from the realms of glory in Bach's panoply of invention

Classical CDs Weekly: Jean Barraqué, Haydn, Mozart, Michael Tilson Thomas

French modernism, classical piano concertos and a delectable collection of orchestral miniatures

opera

Best of 2014: Opera

A vintage year as our reviewers struggle to narrow it down to a Top 10

Un Ballo in Maschera, Royal Opera

Shining moments and star voices in mostly drab Verdi

The Way Back Home, ENO, Young Vic

A colourful children's show that's got Christmas written all over it

theatre

Best of 2014: Theatre

It was ladies' night across the London stage this year

Widowers' Houses, Orange Tree Theatre

A timely revival of a timeless satire

Eric and Little Ern, St James Theatre

Affectionate tribute to a great double act

visual arts

DVD: Hockney

An affectionate but not entirely satisfactory portrait of the artist

The Great Museum

From politicians to polar bears, unexpected insights behind the scenes

Maggi Hambling, National Gallery

A recent body of work tells of the painter's craft and the stormy Suffolk coast

dance

The Nutcracker, Scottish Ballet, Edinburgh Festival Theatre

Sumptuous redesign transforms old favourite into a safe new classic

The Nutcracker, English National Ballet, London Coliseum

Wayne Eagling's production returns for another bout of rodent control

Edward Scissorhands, New Adventures, Sadler's Wells

A hearty dose of cheer, with just a little weirdness, from master storyteller Matthew Bourne

comedy

Best of 2014: Comedy

A reunion, reliability and star quality were the highlights

Dara Ó Bríain, Touring

Irish comic is on cracking form on home turf

Noel Fielding, Eventim Apollo

Surreal fun from a delightfully playful comic

gaming

Best of 2014: "Indie" Videogames

theartsdesk's videogames writers pick the independent, quirky plays of the year

Game of Thrones Episode 1: Iron From Ice

Lashings of intrigue but poor pacing mars this pilot episode

Beeswing

Cerebral wandering through the memories of a wonderfully strange games developer

latest comments

Left-wing humorists, of course, never employ self...

Let's also celebrate Juliet Stevenson as Winnie...

Thank you for your kind review on willie's album...

The exhibition underlines the fact that Constable...

I found the choir took a while to wake up and get...

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