tue 04/08/2015

Tom Birchenough

tom.birchenough

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Bio
Tom has been based largely in Moscow since 1991, from where he has written for a range of publications. He has contributed to Variety since 1993, and was for many years the film critic for the main English-language publication in Russia, The Moscow Times. He has been associate producer on a number of television documentaries on Russian subjects.

Articles by Tom Birchenough

Hard to Be a God

Don’t on any account be late for the first couple of minutes of the wooly mammoth that is Russian director Alexei German’s final film, Hard to Be a God, since the opening narrative voiceover gives a...

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DVD: War and Peace

Indian documentarist Anand Patwardhan is far less known outside his native country than he deserves to be, and his 2002 film about nuclear proliferation on the subcontinent War and Peace (Jang aur...

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Dispatches: Hunted - Gay and Afraid, Channel 4

There can’t be many American public figures who are welcome on Russian television these days, but Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage is one of them. In Hunted: Gay and Afraid we...

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The Legend of Barney Thomson

Its title may hint at exotic worlds – a Western, even – but Robert Carlyle’s directorial debut is anything but. Carlyle himself plays the title character, one of life’s losers (“haunted tree” being...

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Britain's Forgotten Slave Owners, BBC Two

If Britain has created a national myth about slavery, it’s surely been centred on the pioneering abolitionists whose actions in the early 19th century led first to the ending of the slave trade...

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Lesere, Jermyn Street Theatre

There’s a clear territorial divide in the small space of the Jermyn Street Theatre at the opening of Ashley G Holloway’s new drama Lesere. At the centre of Ellan Parry’s persuasive design there’s a...

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P'tit Quinquin

When least expected, comedy has come stumbling into the work of French auteur Bruno Dumont. In his seven films to date, from the Cannes-winning Humanité of 1999 through to the stark Camille Claudel...

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DVD: Story of My Death

Since his debut Honour of the Knights back in 2006 Catalan director Albert Serra has carved out a niche for himself, creating cinema that is frequently oblique and visually engrossing. Story of My...

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theartsdesk in Moscow: Free thought vs cultural politics

Last year’s Moscow International Film Festival (MIFF) played out in the shadow of conflict in Ukraine and Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and a year on you could be forgiven for wondering if anything’...

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West

As its title might suggest, Christian Schwochow’s West (Westen) takes us back to the time of Germany divided. It's almost a chamber piece, catching the very particular experiences of a woman and her...

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Black Coal, Thin Ice

A riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. Winston Churchill’s famous words on Russia serve as a very apt verdict on Black Coal, Thin Ice (Bai ri yan huo), the third film from Chinese director...

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1945: The Savage Peace, BBC Two

“Enjoy the war, for the peace will be savage,” was apparently a macabre joke circulating in the German military towards the end of World War Two. Peter Molloy’s searing documentary, 1945: The Savage...

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The Tribe

In The Tribe, his feature debut, Ukrainian director Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy has created something totally unexpected, and viscerally powerful to boot. This dark tale of life among inmates of a Kyiv...

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Stray Dogs

Whatever you make of Taiwanese director Tsai Ming-liang’s Stray Dogs (Jiao you), it’ll likely have you looking at your watch. If you’re hypnotized by its almost narrative-free, stretched naturalism...

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DVD: Turned Towards the Sun

The phrase “improbable life” crops up more than once in Greg Olliver’s highly engaging documentary Turned Towards the Sun about the poet Micky Burn (its title is that of the writer’s autobiography)....

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The Game, BBC Two

Rum old business, espionage – at least in the way we Brits are still pursuing it. For all the reality that the existential threat has long moved locations, in its television incarnations we remain...

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Prom 24: BBCSSO, Runnicles

James MacMillan's new symphony holds a candle to Mahler's Fifth a...

Dear Lupin, Apollo Theatre

Roger Mortimer's waspish letters are transposed into cosy semi-drama

DVD: War and Peace

Nuclear weapons in India and Pakistan, and wider issues, in insightful docu...

Prom 23: Verdi's Requiem, BBCSSO, Runnicles

A masterpiece of sacred intensity and secular drama

The Gift

Far-from-formulaic thriller from actor-director Joel Edgerton, with Rebecca...

Southrepps Sinfonia and Soloists, Southrepps Festival

Some of the world's best young string players gather in a Norfolk vill...

CD: Frank Turner: Positive Songs for Negative People

Positive mental anthems from folk-punk troubadour

Cilla Black, 1943-2015

From cloakroom attendant at The Cavern club to national treasure

theartsdesk in Tuscany: Musical landscapes

Encounters of the classical kind in Tuscany's loveliest garden

Reissue CDs Weekly: Cocteau Twins

Superb-sounding vinyl editions which put their CD counterparts in the shade