sat 22/02/2020

Communism

Mr Jones review - a timely testament to journalism

While the horrors of Hitler’s rule are well documented, Joseph Stalin’s crimes are less renowned, so much so that in a recent poll in Russia he was voted their greatest ever leader. This chilling fact made acclaimed director Agnieszka Holland feel...

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Filmmaker Agnieszka Holland: 'Without journalism, democracy will not survive'

Agnieszka Holland is one of Europe's leading filmmakers. Growing up in Poland under Soviet rule, her films have often tackled the continent's complex history, including the Academy Award-nominated Europa, Europa, In Darkness and Angry Harvest. In...

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Ravens: Spassky vs. Fischer, Hampstead Theatre review - it's game over for this chess play

We’ve had Chess the musical; now, here’s Chess the play. Tom Morton-Smith, who has experience wrestling recent history into dramatic form with the acclaimed Oppenheimer, turns his attention to the 1972 World Chess Championship in Reykjavík, in which...

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Meeting Gorbachev review - Werner Herzog offers a swansong tribute

You react differently to Meeting Gorbachev knowing that the film’s subject was on occasions brought to its interviews from hospital by ambulance; his interlocutor, Werner Herzog, doesn’t mention that fact, of course, anywhere in the three encounters...

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The Fall of the Berlin Wall with John Simpson, BBC Four review – the future we’ve left behind

John Simpson remains the BBC’s longest serving foreign correspondent. Here, he returns to the biggest moment of his career. This personalised retelling of the collapse of the Berlin wall encompasses fond remembrance, factual detail and the...

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Jung Chang: Big Sister, Little Sister, Red Sister review – China's century in three women's lives

In 1930, a couple of romantically involved Chinese expats in Berlin – both revolutionaries in their own way – went on a farewell date. One of them, Deng Yan-da, was due to return home to continue his clandestine political work. The pair saw Marlene...

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Blu-ray: The Ear

Karel Kachyňa’s The Ear (Ucho) begins innocently enough with an affluent couple’s petty squabbles after a boozy night out. He can’t find the house keys and she’s desperate for the toilet. He’s distracted, and she accuses him of having neglected her...

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DVD/Blu-ray: A Case for a Rookie Hangman

The excellent booklet essay by Michael Brooke that accompanies this Second Run release of Pavel Juráček’s second, and final feature (it’s presented in a fine 4K restoration) tells us much about the director’s importance for the Czech New Wave, that...

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Vasily Grossman: Stalingrad review - a Soviet national epic

Stalingrad is the companion piece to Vasily Grossman’s Life and Fate, which on its (re)publication in English a decade ago was acclaimed as one of the greatest Russian (and not only Russian) novels of the 20th century. For its sense of the sheer...

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The Rubenstein Kiss, Southwark Playhouse review - slick spy drama doesn't quite come together

It's an ideal time to revive James Phillips's debut The Rubenstein Kiss. Since it won the John Whiting Award for new writing in 2005 its story, of ideological differences tearing a family apart, has only become more relevant. Joe Harmston directs a...

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Richard J Evans: Eric Hobsbawm - A Life in History review - mesmerisingly readable

This is an astonishing book: in its breadth, depth and detail and also in its almost palpable, and sometimes unpalatable, admiration of its subject, the controversial, long-lived Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm (1917-2012). But if you want to...

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DVD/Blu-ray: Rosa Luxemburg

Barbara Sukowa won Best Actress at Cannes in 1986 for her title role in Margarethe von Trotta’s Rosa Luxemburg, and the power of her performance looks every bit as engaging and insistent today. A century after Luxemburg’s death (she was...

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