wed 13/12/2017

Africa

Blue Planet II, BBC One review - just how fragile?

The eel is dying. Its body flits through a series of complicated knots which become increasingly grotesque torques. Immersed in a pool of brine — concentrated salt water five times denser than seawater — it is succumbing to toxic shock. As biomatter...

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Human Flow review - two hours of human misery

Soaring over an expanse of blue sea, a white bird traverses the screen diagonally. Gliding unhindered through the air, it is the embodiment of freedom; by contrast, the movement of people down below is constrained by border crossings and passport...

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The Best of AA Gill review - posthumous words collected

Word wizard. Grammar bully. Sentence shark. AA Gill didn’t play fair by syntax: he pounced on it, surprising it into splendid shapes. And who cared when he wooed readers with anarchy and aplomb? Hardly uncontroversial, let alone inoffensive (he...

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Breathe review - heroic but airbrushed struggle against disability

It’s a challenge to review this film without resorting to adjectives like “plucky” and “well-meaning”, and its mainstream comfiness made it a strangely cautious choice for the opening night of the recent London Film Festival. Breathe is not only...

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WOMAD 2017, Charlton Park review 2 - utopian globalist festival dances through the rain

Arriving on Thursday for the opening act Orchestra Baobab’s instantly recognisable mellifluous tones spreading out from the main stage over the Wiltshire countryside, it was clear that a high standard had been set for the rest of WOMAD. Whether it's...

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WOMAD 2017, Charlton Park review - multicultural nirvana transcends mud-bath conditions

Now in its 35 year, Womad is embedded into British festival culture, flying the flags of a musical multiculturalism that is about breaking down barriers and building new relationships. It’s not something you want to lose.Aside from pleasurable...

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Teju Cole: Blind Spot review - haunting hybrid of words and images

As a photographer, Teju Cole has a penchant for the scuffed and distressed surfaces, materials and tools that form rectilinear patterns on construction sites. Opposite a shot of scaffolding, ladders and shadows – all favourite motifs – on the island...

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CD: Jupiter & Okwess - Kin Sonic

Staff Benda Bilili and Kasai Allstars redefined the sound of Congolese dance music: the supremacy of the Rumba popularised by Franco and others, with its cascading guitar solos and instantly recognisable beats, was replaced by a host of other...

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DVD/Blu-ray: Daughters of the Dust

Julie Dash’s remarkable 1991 film tells the story of the Peazant family, the descendants of freed slaves who live on the Georgia Sea Islands, an isolated community on the South-Eastern seaboard of the USA, more in touch with African traditions than...

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Sudan: The Last of the Rhinos, BBC Two review - requiem for disappearing wildlife

“The northern white rhinos are just a symbol of what we do to the natural world,” as one of the contributors to this haunting documentary put it. “We witness them disappearing in front of our eyes.” The programme ended with names of endangered...

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Reissue CDs Weekly: Pop Makossa

In Summer 1973, Manu Dibango’s “Soul Makossa” peaked at 35 on the American charts. Originally the A-side of a France-only single issued in 1972, the song had been discovered by New York DJ David Mancusso. After Mancusso repeatedly played it, “Soul...

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CD: Vieux Farka Touré - Samba

The river of sound from Mali never stops flowing. War in the Sahara and the constant threat of Jihadists haven’t stopped the ceaseless wave of creativity that surges through the West African country.The Malians speak of music giving courage, of song...

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