sun 04/12/2016

Paris

Francofonia

The Russian director Alexander Sokurov has never been afraid of tackling weighty, often philosophical issues head on, and his latest film Francofonia is as pioneering – and, some might say, unnecessarily uncompromising – as ever. It’s nothing less...

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DVD/Blu-ray: Paris Blues

The original 1961 poster for Paris Blues trumpeted it as “a love-spectacular so personally exciting you feel it’s happening to you”. Would it were actually thus. Instead, it’s ponderous and features a cast so obviously “acting” that any verve...

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Stravinsky: Myths and Rituals 4, Philharmonia, Salonen, RFH

Stravinsky's music, chameleonic yet always itself, offers so many lines of thought. One struck me immediately with the descending, even harp notes and tender, veiled strings at the start of his 1947 ballet Orpheus last night: the inexorable beat of...

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Things to Come

One of the many astonishing things in Mia Hansen-Løve’s fifth film is watching Isabelle Huppert hold back tears. In one scene they smear almost involuntarily down her face, in another she transforms them into a bark of nervous laughter. Huppert...

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Summertime

Set at the beginning of the 1970s, Catherine Corsini’s Summertime (La belle saison) is a story of love in a political climate, one in which the post-1968 assertions of a changing society have infused the public context in theory but do not...

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Ariane/Alexandre Bis, Guildhall School

Common wisdom has it that the prolific output of 20th century Czech genius Bohuslav Martinů is very uneven, a judgment surely made without a complete hearing. Some listeners shrink from his fidgety polystylism. Many of us on the fringes of the...

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Our Kind of Traitor

John Le Carré made it quite clear what he thinks of the new world order in The Night Manager. All together now: a nexus of corrupt money and sinister establishment interests make for cynical realpolitik. It’s a persuasive weltanschauung that plays...

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Bastille Day

This Paris-set thriller was one of several films which had its release date postponed in the wake of the terrorist attacks in the French capital last November, giving the impression that it might be shockingly violent or provocatively political. In...

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Maigret, ITV

If you were expecting Rowan Atkinson to say "bibble" or make those Mr Bean gurgling noises, you came to the wrong classic detective drama. To play George Simenon's timeless French detective in a story subtitled "Maigret Sets a Trap", a melancholy,...

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Marguerite

You may never have heard of Florence Foster Jenkins, although she has definitely earned a certain renown among music-lovers. For all the wrong reasons: the American soprano, who performed at private recitals in the early decades of the last century...

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Wheeldon Triple Bill, Royal Ballet

Christopher Wheeldon's new ballet Strapless scores a first on a number of counts. It’s the first co-production between the Royal Ballet and the Bolshoi (London gets first dibs – Moscow doesn’t get the goods for another 12 months). It forms part of...

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L'Étoile, Royal Opera

Why have all attempts to make French comic opera funny to British audiences fallen so flat, at least since ENO's 1980s Orpheus in the Underworld? That company's La belle Hélène simply curled the toes, while Opera North managed to make a pig's-ear "...

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