wed 23/09/2020

Italy

Pinocchio review - wooden heart

This seems a perfect project for Matteo Garrone, a director who has found new ways to conjure old Italian dreams, and invests even his most grimly realistic films with fairy tale logic and wonder. Carlo Collodi’s 1883 story is here returned to its...

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Blu-ray: Story of a Love Affair

The tortuous drama of James M Cain’s 1940’s thriller The Postman Always Rings Twice has inspired many films: the slow-burning mix of erotic desire, temptation, murder and guilt was ideally suited to American film noir, so it’s in some ways...

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Ennio Morricone 1928-2020: A lost afternoon in his apartment in Rome

Ennio Morricone was a genius, or as close to that description as makes no odds. If we mean someone who created a unique body of work, one that changed culture, had a distincive style and was massively influential, then Morricone fitted the bill....

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Classical music/Opera direct to home 16 - putting freelancers first

The latest wave of musicians to make their voices heard comes from the freelancers who haven't been able to claim anything so far for their loss of income and of the ability to work together. As a group of top players putting out their plea observes...

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Shutdown: The Virus That Changed Our World, Sky Documentaries review - a chaotic response and an uncertain future

It’s too early for a definitive account of the Covid-19 pandemic, and this was very much a Sky News version of what we’ve been through so far. Although it seems the virus has peaked and we’re entering a tentative stage of partial de-lockdown, the...

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Nathalie Léger: The White Dress review – masterfully introverted

Nathalie Léger’s The White Dress brings personal and public tragedy together in a narrative as absorbingly melancholic as its subject is shocking. The story described by Léger’s narrator – a scarcely fictional version of herself – is of the...

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The Revenger's Tragedy, Piccolo Teatro di Milano/Cheek by Jowl, Barbican review - fun, but not enough

Vendetta, morte: what a lark to find those tools of 19th century Italian opera taken back to their mother tongue in a Milanese take on Jacobean so-called tragedy, where the overriding obsession is on mortalità. It would take a composer of savage wit...

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Blu-ray: 8 ½

8 ½ is one of the classic films about the art of cinema. There is something about the make-believe of movies, and our buying into the dreams they foster, which suggests reflection and self-referencing, as if films offered a mirror to our inner lives...

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Les vêpres siciliennes, Welsh National Opera review - spectacular, silly, but some great music

It’s not hard to see why The Sicilian Vespers has struggled since its surprisingly successful opening run at the Paris Opéra in 1855. Verdi had composed it reluctantly, despised the librettist, Eugène Scribe, who he regarded as a well-named cynical...

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Beatrice Rana, Wigmore Hall review - fantasy and sonority writ large

Not even the unengaged or terminally weary could have dozed through this. Pianists have often commented how the Wigmore Steinway is too big for the hall, and most adjust accordingly. Not 27-year-old Italian Beatrice Rana, but not in the bad way of...

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Shock of the Nude with Mary Beard, BBC Two review - when does art become erotica?

Are you a fan of oysters or Marmite? Mary Beard is not to everybody’s taste, but love her or loathe her she is not only a distinguished academic but a ubiquitous writer and presenter of classical histories, connected travels, and ruminations on...

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Blu-ray: A Fistful of Dynamite

A Fistful of Dynamite and Once Upon a Time in America are Sergio Leone’s films with the most explicit political underpinning. Indeed, given recent events, A Fistful of Dynamite is a thoroughly pertinent film, asking how we might achieve social...

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