sun 17/12/2017

Communism

Storyville: Toffs, Queers and Traitors, BBC Four review - the spy who was a scamp

“There is something odd, I suppose, about anyone who betrays their country.” It’s an excellent opening line, particularly when delivered in director George Carey’s nicely querulous narrative voice, for Toffs, Queers and Traitors (BBC Four). He...

Read more...

The Death of Stalin review - dictatorship as high farce

Like Steptoe and Son with ideological denouncements, Stalin’s Politburo have known each other too long. They’re not only trapped but terrified, a situation whose dark comedy is brought to a head by Uncle Joe’s sudden, soon fatal stroke in 1953. The...

Read more...

Neruda, review - 'poetry and politics'

Chilean director Pablo Larrain has described Neruda as a “false biopic”, and it’s a film that surprises on many levels in its presentation of Pablo Neruda, the great poet who is his country’s best-known cultural figure. It captivates for the scope...

Read more...

DVD: Revolution - New Art for a New World

Revolution - New Art for a New World film starts well: the opening shot (main picture) is of young women painting white letters onto a red banner. “We all knew what to paint,” says the voice-over. “Bread, Work, Vote, but the message was ‘...

Read more...

DVD: The Spring River Flows East

There’s rich irony in the timelining of 1940s Chinese blockbuster The Spring River Flows East. Cai Chusheng and Zheng Junli’s melodrama dates its 14-year timespan – events unroll from 1931 to the end of the war in 1945 – with reference to the...

Read more...

Travesties, Apollo Theatre

Tom Stoppard’s humungously funny play Travesties was born out of a piece of James Joyce doggerel about how a British diplomat sued him for the cost of two pairs of trousers. It’s like this. Joyce was organising an expat amateur production of Wilde’s...

Read more...

theartsdesk in Budapest: Prophecy in the world's best concert hall

August 1914, September 2001, all of 2016: these are the dates Hungary's late, great writer Péter Esterházy served up for the non-linear narrative of his friend Péter Eötvös's Halleluja - Oratorium Balbulum. Its Hungarian premiere in one of the world...

Read more...

DVD: The Lovers & the Despot

What to do if you’re a despotic leader with an underperforming film industry? Hiring better directors and actors wasn’t an option for Kim Jong-il in the late 1970s, so he took drastic action: luring South Korea’s biggest female star Choi Eun-hee to...

Read more...

Travesties, Menier Chocolate Factory

Is this the most dazzling play of a dazzling playwright? First staged in 1974, Travesties is the one which manages to squeeze avant-garde novelist James Joyce, Dada godfather Tristan Tzara and communist revolutionary Lenin into a story which...

Read more...

The Flames of Paris, Bolshoi Ballet, Royal Opera House

The Flames of Paris, in Alexei Ratmansky's 2008 reworking, is a ballet of contrasts. Between the first and second acts, so different in pace and quality, between the naturalistic intimacy of certain pas de deux and the stylised posturing of the...

Read more...

Marx: Genius of the Modern World, BBC Four

An old subversive Soviet joke has Karl Marx coming back from hell, facing enormous crowds of very unhappy people and telling them, "Oh I'm so sorry – it was only an idea." But what an idea and ideas, as Bettany Hughes's film reminded us. She...

Read more...

The Sugar-Coated Bullets of the Bourgeoisie, Arcola Theatre

The playwright Anders Lustgarten has spent a considerable chunk of his life reading and writing and thinking about China, and clearly wants to set a few points straight. Tired of the persistent Western view of that country and its people as...

Read more...
Subscribe to Communism