Play All by Clive James

CJ

Play All is James’ reflection on binge-watching box sets (yes, he says ‘box sets’).  Perhaps he eats ‘fry rice’ while watching made-for – TV or made-for-box-sets drama series. He differentiates between a television drama in the “old sense” of a network weekly serial which just happens to have been boxed-up (box up?) such as The Good Wife, and a box set drama in the “new sense”, such as Game of Thrones. He adores both and watches 3, 4, 5 episodes of either in one sitting with his daughter. He sees “the main advantage that a long-form tv show has over a movie” as affording “room to search souls”, and…

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More Than Naught

March 25, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Modern Music, MUSIC |
ECsteps

25 March 1977: Stiff Records release Elvis‘ first single, the incendiary Less Than Zero, a bitter snipe at British fascist leader Oswald Mosley. This was the song he famously terminated early on ‘Saturday Night Live’, since it would have gone over American heads at that stage (later he uncorked a ‘Dallas’ version of the song, with lyrics more suitable to U.S. audiences). It was described variously as “a trebly hybrid of ska and garage punk“* and “a crunchy anthem to nothingness.“** Elvis thinks it might have been the song he was playing when he was arrested for obstructing a footpath and ‘causing…

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Béla Bartok

March 25, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | MUSIC, Opera |
Bartok_tablo

Béla Bartok (25 March 1881 – 26 September 1945) only wrote one opera (as did Beethoven) but it was a beaut.  Bluebeard’s Castle (1918) was based on the grim fairy tale by Perrault about the Duke with skeletons in the cupboard (literally). It’s a timeless theme of wiles, deceit and blood-letting that has attracted our interest as a trope previously. In this operetta however, there’s no bloody chamber but a lot of nasty foreboding, atmospherics created almost solely by Bartok’s spiky music.  Instead of being a killer, he’s a collector.  His (apparently complicit) former wives have, according to Bluebeard, “gathered all my riches….

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The Night Manager

March 23, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |
NMdesk

(Dir. Susanne Bier) (2016) Once upon a time, John le Carré wrote an excellent book that was made into an excellent film, The Spy Who came in from the Cold.  Alas for John, the Cold War ended.  Since then, he’s been grumpily looking for an appropriate villain, and railed interminably in vapid fashion against untrammeled capitalism, a crusade revealed in a series of highly lucrative books, films and TV series. In The Night Manager, a 6-part serial adapted from the Carré novel by David Farr, a hotel desk-jockey, Jonathan Pine (the fervently wholesome Tom Hiddleston) decides to take on international armaments dealer Richard…

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Gwen by Goldie Goldbloom

Gwen by Gwen

Gwen by Gwen

(2017) It is difficult to see, from reproductions of Gwen John’s paintings, why her lumpy daubs are thought by many to be better than the skillful if dull portraits painted by her brother, Augustus John.  Goldbloom is at pains in Gwen, her novelised version of Gwen John’s life, to say that it was so, that even Augustus knew it.  Nor is it easy to understand, at this distance, just why women found both Augustus and the sculptor Auguste Rodin to be utterly irresistible, but again, apparently they did – or at least the artistic ones like Gwen and Dorelia (the mistress…

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