Mini Reviews

Film Review: The BFG

Roald Dahl’s children’s fantasy stories have been enjoyed by children and adults alike. Several of them have been made into successful films, regarded as cinema classics. Now The BFG, written by Dahl in 1982, has been adapted for the big screen by Steven Spielberg. The pressure is on Spielberg to make a convincing interpretation of this much-loved book. Does his film carry the story’s essence and…

Tate Modern Switch House

The opening of the Switch House at the Tate Modern Extension took place in June. Switch House is designed by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron, also responsible for the existing Tate Modern construction, now known as Boiler House.

Tate Modern Gallery is a hugely popular visitor attraction. It was designed to take 2 million visitors a year when it first opened in 2000. Visitor numbers had…

Exhibition Review: Dutch Flowers

'Dutch Flowers' in Room 1 at the National Gallery marks the onset of spring; the flowering season. But there’s a discomforting undercurrent to these pretty floral compositions of caterpillars, birds nests, insects, fallen petals and withered stems.

The twenty two still life paintings come from the National Gallery’s collection, from 1700s to 1800s and developed out of an increasing interest…

Vogue 100: A Century of Style

Vogue fashion magazine is well known for its excellent and often whimsical photography, providing a portal to escape from the everyday and mundane. This display at the National Portrait Gallery celebrates the centenary of British Vogue (1916-2016), taking a journey through the best of these photographs, present and past, sourced from Condé Nast archives.

Well there’s certainly lots to see.…

The Big Short (out nationwide)

Festooned with sub-prime mortgages and credit-default swops, director Adam McKay’s take on the 2008 economic crash makes heroes of the outsiders who saw it coming, bet against the market and made a killing. At over 2 hours of tightly scripted didacticism it should be a feat of sheer will to sit through the arcane terminology that helped shield the financial wizards who hoodwinked the west. But McKay’s approach is ordered and direct with enough waspish humour to make a decent sized fist of it all. Some good bits of over-wrought acting from Christian Bale and Steve Carrell, with able support from Gosling and Pitt. As sure footed and able as can be, but hardly transparent, as modern terminology would put it. Using other people’s money to bet against the ‘safe as houses’ mortgage market, these greedy fellas helped bring the whole thing down even quicker and with more painfully than might otherwise have been the case. And back in 2016 all is bubbling away quite nicely again.

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Alicante: Beaches and Bonfires - The Festival of St John

Wandering around Alicante at the height of festivities for the Bonfires of St John is not for the nervous as an astonishing array of noises, thundering drums and the cracks and bangs of firecrackers seemingly erupt from nowhere.  Sulphurous clouds and the smoky smell of brimstone fill the air as boys dressed as devils lob fireworks at each other.

The Bonfires (Hogueras in Spanish…

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom at the National Theatre

August Wilson set out to tell the world about the African American experience. His series, Pittsburgh Cycle, focuses serially on each decade in the 20th century, and is mostly set in the Hill district of Pittsburgh in which Wilson grew up.  The exception is Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom set in Chicago and currently playing at the National Theatre.

 

For Wilson plays weren’t about…

Exhibition review: The Encounter: Drawings from Leonardo to Rembrandt at the National Portrait Gallery

This modest but occasionally dazzling exhibition, just 49 pictures in all, focuses on the relationship between artist and sitter. Both Renaissance and Baroque artists, including one each by Leonardo Da Vinci and Rembrandt are on show, but it’s the work of German born Holbein which stands out.

In The Encounter we see an astonishingly lifelike series of drawings by him on loan from…

Review: The Visitors by Ragnar Kjartansson (November 2015)

Brewer Street Car Park in sanitised Soho is the newly modish venue showing Ragnar Kjartansson’s video installation The Visitors. Now decked out in black cloth and giant screens the old place is spot on for this ecstatic spectacle of decay and communion. It certainly fits its internet raised audience like a glove, giving them space to lounge gracefully, to stare up at the screens and immerse themselves in dreams of living the bohemian life in the vast and prettily decaying house on Rokeby Estate in upstate New York.