The editors' blog

  • MIKE BARTLETT'S KILLER INSTINCT

    ~ Posted by Isabel Lloyd, January 19th 2015

    Sometimes it’s easier to admire a play than to like it. That was the case with “Bull”, a one-act four-hander by Mike Bartlett (“Cock”, “King Charles III”) that premiered at the Sheffield Crucible Studio in 2013 and opened, with the same excellent cast, at the Young Vic in London last Thursday. The premise is simple—a team of three “Apprentice”-style office workers, head to toe in grim grey businesswear, wait to meet their boss, who is due to “downsize” one of them. None know who it will be, but two of them have a pretty good idea, and will play any sort of destructive psychological game to make sure things go their way. On Soutra Gilmour’s spare, pull-no-punches set, the metaphor is made clear: the three will do verbal battle in a wrestling ring, floored with office carpeting, lit by a harsh square of fluorescent lighting, with a recalcitrant watercooler in one corner. Half the audience stands around the ring; the other half sits in raked seats above, peering claustrophobically down on the three combatants. The game is on: a 55-minute nightmare.

    read more » Isabel LloydTheatre
  • BOYHOOD: SMALL FILM, BIG CHANCE

    ~ Posted by Tom Shone, January 15th 2015

    One hesitates to use the word “egoless” with regard to Hollywood but one of the pleasures turned up by this year’s awards season has been watching the director Richard Linklater’s Capraesque path to and from the winner’s podium. His film "Boyhood", shot over a 12-year period in the life of its teenage hero, played by the newcomer Ellar Coltrane (above), has been the unlikely frontrunner to win the Best Picture Oscar since October. Unlikely because nothing about Linklater’s gently indolent films—from his debut, "Slacker", to "Dazed and Confused" to the "Before Sunrise" trilogy—exactly shouted “Oscar”. They don’t shout much of anything at all, offering up small-scale epiphanies and stoner pensées in a spirit of patient pointillism not a million miles away from the films of Eric Rohmer.

    read more » awardscinemacultureFilmOscarsTom Shone
  • MIGRANTS, THE MED AND BIG MONEY

    ~ Posted by Caroline Moorehead and Stefanie Grant, January 15th 2014

    Since New Year’s Eve two rusting cargo ships overflowing with cold, hungry, desperate people have arrived on Italy’s southern coast. They are a worrying sign that the Mediterranean’s refugee and migrant crisis is becoming a greater catastrophe. We covered this crisis for Intelligent Life last summer, after visiting El Kabariya, a village outside Tunis. We spoke to the families of economic migrants who, four years ago, had escaped impoverished Tunisia for Europe in small boats, never to be seen again. Today, tens of thousands of refugees are fleeing conflict in the Middle East by sea. The majority are Syrians and, unlike on other refugee boats, many on these two enormous ships were middle-class professionals. A UN video of one of the ship’s arrivals shows a young boy and girl standing on the quay clutching a big white toy rabbit—not something very poor children would carry. Another passenger, Mohamed, had been in his final year at the dental school in Aleppo, until it was destroyed.

    read more » Caroline MooreheadcrimeNewsPOLITICSsocietyStefanie Grant
  • SUFFOCATED BY INHERENT VICE

    ~ Posted by Nicholas Barber, January 14th 2015

    Paul Thomas Anderson is probably the most revered writer-director of his generation. He was already loved for “Boogie Nights” and “Magnolia”, but when he made “There Will Be Blood” and “The Master”, he came to be regarded as a major American artist whose grand themes and experimental narratives made his contemporaries seem like lightweights. It’s an assessment I would go along with. But when the trailer for his new film promised that it would be a faster, sillier, sex’n’drug-fuelled detective comedy, I couldn’t stifle a sigh of relief. Anderson, it seemed, had got his sense of humour back.

    read more » cinemacultureFilmNicholas Barber
  • WHATEVER IS FUNNY IS SUBVERSIVE

    ~ Posted by Simon Willis, January 13th 2015

    Our current cover story is about George Orwell, and why, 65 years after his death, he's bigger than ever. With "Animal Farm" and "1984", Robert Butler writes in the piece, Orwell "would change the way we think about our lives". But as well as being one of our most visionary writers, he is also one of our most quotable. Here is a sprinkling of his spikiest, funniest and most relevant maxims.

    read more » BooksLiteratureSimon Willis
  • THE FERMENT ABOUT FERMENTATION

    ~ Posted by Lucy Farmer, January 12th 2015

    Last Friday Noma, the Copenhagen restaurant voted the best in the world for the fourth time last year, relocated to Tokyo for a month. Its head chef René Redzepi and his team can normally be found foraging the Danish countryside for wood sorrel, wild mushrooms, spicy woodruff and the like to create their New Nordic cuisine. But for the Tokyo pop-up they’ll leave their usual ingredients at home and create a new menu using the fruits of the Japanese landscape.

    I met Redzepi in late 2013. In person he’s warm, animated and fervent about food. When he talks about flavours he uses words like “insane”, “amazing” and “crazy good”. A lot. One area that really gets his superlatives going is fermentation—a process used in much Japanese cuisine (think soy sauce and miso). Noma has been fermenting anything and everything in its experimental test kitchen over the last couple of years, discovering flavours and liquids that can add new dimensions to a dish, like adding a dash of the juice from fermented wild berries to a broth to give it both more depth and tang. Redzepi told me when we met that fermentation would be the future of cooking because “the potential for exploring new flavours is insanely huge.” (Superlative? Check.) And he was right. Every food-trend report for 2015 predicts that this is the year when fermented foods will have their moment.

    read more » cookingFoodJapanLucy FarmerRestaurants
  • ELVIS AT 80: MORE CLOWN THAN HERO

    ~ Posted by Hazel Sheffield, January 8th 2015

    Elvis Presley would have been 80 today. A string of parties around the world are being held to celebrate. One travel agency has arranged an 11-night tour of Tupelo and Vegas, landing in Memphis in time to see his widow Priscilla Presley cut a birthday cake on Graceland’s front lawn—a snip at £1,899, or available to stream live from home. In Sydney, 18,000 people are expected to descend on an annual Elvis festival where the main attraction is 2010’s top Elvis impersonator. In London, his life is being celebrated with an exhibition at the O2 arena.

    read more » Hazel SheffieldMusicRock
  • STEVE CARELL, WITH ADDED SCHNOZ

    ~ Posted by Nicholas Barber, January 7th 2015

    Bennett Miller’s new film, “Foxcatcher”, is bound to catch a few Oscar nominations, and I’ll be amazed if it doesn’t bag one for Best Makeup and Hairstyling. A sombre true-crime tragicomedy, “Foxcatcher” features Steve Carell as John du Pont, a delusional Pennsylvania billionaire who uses his Citizen Kane-level wealth to set himself up as an Olympic wrestling coach. But you would be forgiven for not realising that Carell was in the film at all. In an effort to help us forget his lighter comic roles in “Anchorman” and “The 40-Year-Old Virgin”, he has been given a broad, pale, puffy face with an overhanging brow and heavy-lidded eyes. More significantly, he has been given the nose to end all noses. Carell’s own smelling apparatus, sans make-up, isn’t exactly discreet, but in “Foxcatcher” he has a conk like a walrus’s flipper. As more than one critic has noted, the arrow-shaped schnoz his animated character has in “Despicable Me” is only marginally smaller.

    read more » cinemacultureFilmNicholas Barber
  • THE ELUSIVE LIVES OF PAINTINGS

    ~ Posted by Simon Willis, January 6th 2015

    Frederick Wiseman's absorbing new documentary about the National Gallery in London is an access-all-areas look at the gallery's inner workings. For several weeks in 2012, when Leonardo had people sleeping outside in Trafalgar Square to get a ticket to his blockbuster show, Wiseman—who has now made 40 documentaries about institutions—floated around the gallery observing and eavesdropping on restorers cleaning and retouching paintings, and curators discussing and hanging them; budgets being decided and marketing being reviewed; tours being guided and frames being carved. He also filmed quiet montages of masterpieces by Velázquez, Veronese, Rubens and van Eyck, and visitors wandering the rooms peering closely or looking bored, texting or canoodling. It’s a slow, meditative look at the bustle and chatter and craft that goes on around those quiet canvases. But its most interesting theme is the elusive lives of the paintings themselves.

    read more » ArtDocumentaryFilmSimon Willis
  • VIDEO: CAPTURING THE SUMMIT

    ~ Posted by Simon Willis, January 2nd 2015

    Charles Emerson's photographs of mountains, which you can see in our latest photo essay, are not one-click wonders. As he explained when I interviewed him about his pictures—shot in Scotland, Romania and Jordan—each is made from several different exposures which he then merges and layers to produce his final photograph. Very early one morning last month, I went to the Brecon Beacons in Wales with Emerson and the cameraman Tom Rowland to watch Emerson shoot Pen y Fan, one of Britain's highest peaks. 

    read more » PhotographySimon Willis

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