The editors' blog


    ~ Posted by Hazel Sheffield, November 5th 2014

    It's a good week for Bob Dylan completists. On Tuesday, volume 11 of the bootleg series was released, comprising a six-disc collection of the so-called "Basement Tapes", recorded during Dylan's 1967 sessions with The Band in upstate New York. This Friday, a hardback collection called “The Lyrics” is published. For the princely sum of £125, collectors can get hold of one of only 3,000 copies of this 6kg, gold-embossed treasure, which has been compiled by Sir Christopher Ricks, a former professor of poetry at Oxford whose 2003 book "Dylan's Visions of Sin" examined the lyrics with the same critical eye he's applied to Keats and T.S. Eliot. The publishers, Simon & Schuster, were not sending out review copies, so I had to go and visit the book at their office. One of the publishers told me they thought the 500 copies that will make it across the Atlantic to Britain might be gone on presales alone.

    read more » BooksHazel SheffieldMusicPoetry

    ~ Posted by Simon Willis, November 3rd 2014

    Dean Belcher's photo essay for our November/December issue captures a special relationship—the one people have with their first record. His subjects range from a 13-year-old girl who got a record player for her birthday and dashed out to buy Pulp's "Different Class" on vinyl, to a 95-year-old retired dressmaker clutching a Vera Lynn 78 bought for a sixpence when she was courting with her husband. In this behind-the-scenes video from the photo shoot, Belcher talks about finding his participants, being nosey, and the influence music has had on him.

    read more » MusicPhoto EssayPhotographySimon WillisVideo

    ~ Posted by Hazel Sheffield, October 30th 2014

    read more » awardsHazel SheffieldHip-hopMusicRock

    ~ Posted by Tom Shone, October 27th 2014

    Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar” can only really be approached by a series of paradoxes similar to those chalked up on a blackboard near its start. Just as the theory of relativity dictates that space and time are functions of one another, so the film welds commercial blockbuster and auteurist cinema into a single, stunning ribbon of celluloid—movie as Möbius strip—with obvious debts to both Spielberg and Tarkovsky. It’s both the most boffinish of Nolan’s films and the most boldly open-hearted, a hymn to human connection that mows you down, turns you inside out and deposits you on the pavement afterwards, blinking. And yet if someone were to ask you what it was about you would probably mumble something about black holes, or wormholes, and the like. The film is its own astrophysical anomaly. There have to be 99m alternative universes in which “Interstellar” is a bad movie and another couple of hundred in which it is a terrible one. And yet, Nolan has finagled his way to the single universe in which it is a good, and maybe even great one.

    read more » cinemaFilmTom Shone

    ~ Posted by George Pendle, October 27th 2014

    Discovering a new exhibition of platinum photographs tucked away in the sprawling National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC is akin to discovering tiny deposits of the precious metal itself in the alluvial sands of some jungle river—it’s small but valuable.

    “A Subtle Beauty” consists of barely two dozen portrait, landscape and architectural photographs from the late-19th and early-20th centuries. What unites them is their printing technique. Platinum prints, or platinotypes, were created by using photographic paper with very fine platinum crystals embedded in the uppermost fibres. This was in contrast to the more popular albumen or gelatin prints of the time, in which silver salts were suspended in an emulsion that was then coated onto the paper. A technicality, you may well think, but the platinum process not only gave photographs a luminosity and a wide tonal scale that other methods couldn’t match (as well as a slight three-dimensional appearance), but it was also responsible for establishing photography as a fine art.

    read more » Exhibitionsgeorge pendlePhotographywashington DC

    ~ Posted by Jasper Rees, October 24th, 2014

    Actors adore playing a powerful real-life villain. It’s where all the fun is. More than 20 actresses have played Margaret Thatcher, and Michael Sheen got such a buzz from playing Tony Blair that he did it three times. But there’s one role of this type for which no bargepole seems quite long enough. The name Rupert Murdoch is sending shivers down actors' spines. 

    read more » FilmJasper ReesMediaTheatre

    ~ Posted by Lucy Farmer, October 24th 2014

    At Frieze art fair last week, I spent an afternoon browsing the galleries and snapping photos of artworks on my iPhone. I didn’t think twice about it, and nobody stopped me. Some of the photos I shared on social media, some I showed to friends, and I’ll keep them all for reference. But this prompts a few questions: in our digital age, who has ownership of art? Is it OK to share images of art, or is this an act of piracy against which artists should be protected, as musicians and film-makers are? And how can you police it anyway?

    This was the sticky subject of a Frieze-week debate hosted by Sculpture in the City, an organisation that brightens up London’s corporate Square Mile with works of contemporary art. On the panel were a sculptor, a museum director, an arts journalist, an expert in art law and the head of an artists’ copyright society. I was anticipating “artistic differences”.

    read more » ArtExhibitionsLucy FarmerMedia

    ~ Posted by Samantha Weinberg, October 24th 2014

    read more » ConservationKenyaSamantha WeinbergWildlife

    ~ Posted by Samantha Weinberg, October 21st 2014

    The news that Lonely Planet picked Salisbury as number seven on its list of top ten cities to visit in 2015 provoked derisive snorts in the Intelligent Life offices today—particularly from those of us who hail from Wiltshire. Salisbury cathedral is undeniably majestic and the sight of its spire from a distance, peering above the trees, never fails to lift the spirits. But away from the area immediately surrounding the cathedral—the Close—Salisbury is indistinguishable from all the other mid-ranking, Greggs- and Costa-filled city centres across England.

    Lonely Planet chose Salisbury because it holds an original copy of the Magna Carta, which celebrates its 800th birthday next year. While there will be a special exhibition and lectures, the only thing that'll be different about the Magna Carta itself will be the number of tourists mobbing it. The city that tops the list is Washington, DC—chosen for the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. Wow. Even the Washingtonian in the office, who is avowedly passionate about DC (as those who know it call it), laughed at the thought that it is the world’s best city to visit: “It’s just not.” The other eight were: Milan (“one big car park”), Zermatt (“full of flashy skiers”), El Chaltén (“where?”), Toronto, Valletta, Plovdiv, Chennai and Vienna.

    read more » placesSamantha WeinbergTravel

    ~ Posted by Tom Shone, October 20th 2014

    Bennett Miller’s “Foxcatcher” gets under your skin. You have no idea where it is heading, only a vague but increasing sense that something is badly wrong, and when a gun is finally pulled and fired into someone’s gut you think: but of course. Did Miller get in training for this film by making “Capote”, his 2005 movie about the writing of “In Cold Blood”? There, the psychopathology was dirt-poor, rough-neck, as flat as the Kansas skyline. Here it comes from the poisonous mixture of wealth, power and thwarted dynasticism that grew like nightshade on the estate of John du Pont, the real-life heir of the du Pont business dynasty and a self-styled patriot. In the late 1980s, he built a state-of-the-art training facility for two brother wrestlers with whom he had become obsessed. We first see the brothers wrestling during training: Mark (Channing Tatum, above right) draws blood from his elder brother Dave (Mark Ruffalo), only to be put firmly in his place. The entire sequence—wordless but for the squeaks of sneakers and slaps of flesh—is a piece of silent, brutal ballet that tells you everything you need to know about the fierce fraternal bond that is about to be corrupted.

    read more » cinemaFilmTom Shone