fri 19/04/2019

1940s

Blu-ray: Detour

“Whichever way you turn, fate sticks out a foot to trip you,” Al Roberts (Tom Neal) says in Detour (1945), as if his native pessimism and self-destructive choices had nothing to do with his inexorable descent into hell.Edgar G Ulmer’s minimalist...

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The Aftermath review - it looks great but it lacks bite

Is it time for the rebirth of the old-fashioned wartime weepie? If so, this time next year The Aftermath will be dragging a clanking heap of statuettes round Hollywood, attached to the rear bumper of its 1940s army staff car. If not…A cynical person...

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Traitors, Channel 4 review - Cold War thriller fails to reach room temperature

It’s 1945 and World War Two is nearly over. Somewhere in England, Fiona Symonds (“Feef” to her friends) is training to be a spy and be dropped behind enemy lines. Her training involves such amusements as being woken in the night by having a bucket...

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The Good Person of Szechwan, Pushkin Drama Theatre, Barbican review - slick Russian Brecht

"In our country the capable man needs luck," belts out Shen Te, the Good Person of Szechwan in the most powerful song of Brecht's epic "parable play" of 1941. "Only if he has powerful backers can he prove his capacity." Never was that more true than...

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Damrau, BRSO, Jansons, Barbican review - broad and passionate Strauss

There is no doubting Diana Damrau’s star power. She is not a demonstrative performer, and her voice is small, but the sheer character of her tone, and the passion she invests, make every line special. She is not one to over-sentimentalise either, so...

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Magda Szabó: Katalin Street review - love after life

This is a love story and a ghost story. The year is 1934 and the Held family have moved from the countryside to an elegant house on Katalin Street in Budapest. Their new neighbours are the Major (with whom Mr Held fought in the Great War) and his...

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The Sound of Movie Musicals with Neil Brand, BBC Four review - genius of song and dance

The movie musical: money making or true art – or both? This was a programme to sing along to, in the company of Judy Garland and Gene Kelly, Elvis Presley and Cliff Richard. In this second instalment of Neil Brand’s brilliant three-part history, he...

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Mrs Wilson, BBC One review - real-life secrets and lies

In which the titular Mrs Wilson is played by her real-life granddaughter Ruth Wilson, in an intriguing tale of subterfuge both personal and professional. The curtain rose over suburban west London in the 1960s, where Alison Wilson was married to...

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Dietrich: Natural Duty, Wilton's Music Hall review - elegy for one

Getting the look right is half the battle: in that, Peter Groom's one-time-Captain Marlene Dietrich is a winner from the start. The looks at the audience nail it too, heavy-lidded and lashed but transfixing, charismatic, winning instant complicity....

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Overlord review - nightmares in Normandy

The trailer for Overlord promises havoc, horror, evil, madness, terror and rage, and to be fair it delivers on most of those. From the fantasy factory of producer JJ Abrams, it’s the ghastly story of an alternative D-Day, in which American...

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DVD/Blu-ray: Hitler's Hollywood

Apart from Leni Riefenstahl’s insidiously seductive celebrations of Nazism and the propaganda excesses of Veit Harlan’s Jud Süß (1940), the films that were made in Germany during the Hitler period have been air-brushed out of cinema history, almost...

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The Rake's Progress, LPO, Jurowski, RFH review - supreme fluency from Eden to Bedlam

Lightness and gravity in perfect equilibrium have always graced Vladimir Jurowski's Stravinsky. From his first London Rake's Progress at English National Opera, proving that he could do the delicate and translucent after his Royal Opera debut...

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