wed 23/01/2019

history

Mary Queen of Scots review - Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie excel

Very much a woman of today, the Catholic Stuart heroine (Saoirse Ronan) of Mary Queen of Scots frequently hacks her way out of a thicket of power-hungry males, enjoys it when her English suitor Lord Darnley (Jack Lowden) goes down on her, and is...

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DVD/Blu-ray: Alpha

Keda’s already in trouble for not living up to his father’s expectations. And then there’s an unfortunate clash with an angry bison which sends him careering down a steep cliff face and left for dead. Welcome to Upper Paleolithic Europe. Albert...

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Boris Akunin: Black City review - a novel to sharpen the wits

It is 1914 – a fateful year for assassinations, war and revolution. The fictional Erast Petrovich Fandorin, the protagonist of Boris Akunin’s series of historical thrillers, is an elegant, eccentric sometime government servant, spy and diplomat, as...

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The Last Kingdom, Series 3, Netflix review - idylls of the king

Destiny is all. The first two series of The Last Kingdom debuted on BBC Two, but for series three it has been fully embraced by Netflix. Global domination surely looms, since these latest exploits of Uhtred, the warrior who was born a Saxon but...

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The Ballads of Child Migration, St James's Church, Clerkenwell review - into the heart of darkness

What adjectives best describe a performance of The Ballads of Child Migration? None of those you’d normally expect to see applied to an evening of superlative music-making, for the song cycle chronicles the deprivations suffered by child migrants...

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Dramatic Exchanges review - a brilliant slice of theatre history

Dramatic Exchanges is a dazzling array of correspondence, stretching over more than a century, between National Theatre people. It’s a chronologically arranged anthology that acts as a history of the institution, from its appearance as an idea...

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Peterloo review - Mike Leigh's angry historical drama

Considering how the UK prides itself on having created the "Mother of Parliaments" and its citizens having once chopped off a king's head for thwarting its will, remarkably little is taught in our schools about one of the seminal events on the way...

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DVD/Blu-ray: The Blood of Hussain

Jamil Dehlavi is a filmmaker whose work straddles two worlds. His native Pakistan is certainly the key element in the two early films on this BFI dual-format release – it follows on from the director’s August South Bank retrospective, the first...

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Simon Sebag Montefiore: Written in History review - epistolary high points

Humdinger! This is a totally brilliant idea for an amazing anthology, although the subtitle “Letters that Changed the World” is slightly misleading. All or any of these letters might substantially or subtly change your view of grandees of all sorts...

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Black 47 review - a gripping and unusual drama

Even for those with only a passing acquaintance with Irish history, the Famine – or the Great Hunger – looms large, when British indifference to the failed potato crop in large parts of Ireland resulted in the deaths or emigration of nearly a...

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DVD/Blu-ray: Iceman

Much has been made of Iceman’s characters speaking the ancient Rhaetic dialect, unsubtitled, but that’s never a problem: Felix Randau’s no-frills revenge thriller doesn’t need any words. The juiciest bits of dialogue are the various grunts and...

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Lavinia Greenlaw: In the City of Love’s Sleep review - curated lives

Iris is a museum conservator with a pair of pre-adolescent daughters and a failing marriage. Raif is a widower and an academic who, since writing a book on curiosity cabinets a decade ago, has quietly sunk into a kind of irrelevance. Both have...

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