A revival of David Hare’s 1993 play, The Absence of War, seemed an enticing prospect. A drama portraying the Labour Party as lost in ideological confusion, drained of vitality, and unable to mobilise public support or present a vision or values in any compelling way promised to be highly relevant in present circumstances. But at the Liverpool Playhouse the other night I … Continue reading The Absence of War: parliamentary socialism, anybody?
Leviathan, the latest film from Russian director Andrey Zvyagintsev, opens with waves beating upon a barren shore where rocks as old as the earth face an implacable, slate-grey sea. Tracking inland across barren wastes to an insistent Phillip Glass score, the camera encounters signs of human imprint on this unforgiving landscape: power lines, the hulks of wrecked and abandoned … Continue reading Leviathan: politics, religion, and vodka (lots)
There was a rather silly documentary hidden away on BBC4 on night last week all about the crisis facing Europe. Called The Great European Disaster Movie and set in a not too-distant future after the collapse of the EU, it featured an archaeologist (played by Angus Deayton) on a flight to Berlin beset by a menacing storm, explaining to … Continue reading The eurozone: ‘this machine from hell’
V.E Day celebrations I’ve embarked upon the history of my time. David Kynaston’s Austerity Britain is the first in a planned history of post-war Britain that begins on VE Day in 1945 and will finally close in 1979 with the election of Margaret Thatcher. I was born in 1948, so Kynaston’s remarkable project almost exactly mirrors the years of … Continue reading Austerity Britain: the way we were
Jeanette Winterson She began with Dorothy Wordsworth walking the Lakeland fells in May 1800 and continued by way of Karl Marx, prehistoric cave painting, James Hargreaves’ spinning jenny, Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century, John Maynard Keynes, Degas and the Arts Council, to arrive at the First World War and Wilfred Owen. All this in the space of … Continue reading ‘The heartbeat of who we are': Jeanette Winterson on war, wealth and creativity
Editor Bob Silvers in the NYRB office A 60-minute film about a literary journal celebrating half a century of publishing seems highly improbable, a less than enticing prospect. Yet The New York Review of Books: A 50 Year Argument, directed by Martin Scorsese and shown on BBC4 last night was a rich and enthralling account of America’s leading journal … Continue reading A 50 Year Argument: Scorsese’s take on The New York Review Of Books
‘Iron tree’ by Ai Weiwei outside the chapel at Yorkshire Sculpture Park At Yorkshire Sculpture Park they recently completed the renovation of a sandstone chapel built in 1744 for the owners of Bretton Hall, the Palladian mansion that stands at the heart of the estate now devoted to art. The chapel was a place of worship for … Continue reading Ai Weiwei in the chapel at YSP: ‘The art always wins’