The editors' blog


    ~ Posted by Tom Shone, February 21st 2015

    To start with, the most hotly contested categories. Best Picture is as close a race as can be between "Birdman" (above) and "Boyhood", two Davids in a field with no Goliaths. "Birdman" won all the guild awards; "Boyhood" the BAFTAs. The Academy’s preferential ballot would seem to favour Linklater's more mild-mannered "Boyhood", but its slightly fey, gentle spirit has always struck me as unlikely to close the deal with the steak-eaters—the set-builders and effects guys—who vote for films like "Braveheart". Gun to head, I’m going to go with "Birdman" riding the same you-don’t-have-to-be-mad-to-work-here spirit that helped Bob Fosse’s "All That Jazz" to its wins, making this the third Best Picture winner in a row set in the world of show business, after "Argo" and "The Artist". "Birdman" is out there for the Academy, no question, but in the absence of any film addressing the state of the nation or the way we live now, maybe they’ll settle for a baring of the showbiz soul.

    read more » awardscinemacultureFilmOscarsTom Shone

    ~ Posted by Tim de Lisle, February 20th 2015

    Here's our pick of the best new tunes. You can listen to them on the player below, or find the playlist on Spotify by searching for IntLifeMag. All songs are available on iTunes, unless otherwise stated.

    read more » intelligent tunesmarch/april 2015MusicRockTim de Lisle

    ~ Posted by Irving Wardle, February 18th 2015

    It is no surprise to see a political figure spotlit by the theatre, but rare to see theatre spotlit by a political figure. Such is the good fortune of “Antigone”, a new production of which opens at the Barbican in March starring Juliette Binoche (above). Last month Alexis Tsipras, the new Greek prime minister, launched his government with a vote of thanks to the Sophoclean heroine, who "has taught us that there are moments when the supreme law is justice.”

    read more » cultureIrving WardleTheatre

    ~ Posted by Charlie McCann, February 14th 2015

    Christian Marclay’s exhibition at the Bermondsey branch of White Cube reverberates with sound even when it doesn’t. That’s because it turns noises—paint splashing on canvas, a pen tapping a glass—into images. Only one work, “Pub Crawl”, composed of 11 videos projected onto the walls of a long corridor, makes a sound: you watch Marclay stomping on beer cans and you hear the corresponding crunch. But walk into the next room and you are greeted with a silent cacophony. On the walls is a series of canvases on which Marclay has overlaid vibrantly coloured spatters of paint with screen-printed words from comic books: “splat”, “squish”, “plop”, “plof”, “ploosh”, “blub”. And in the other two rooms, you continue to see sound, rather than hear it.

    read more » ArtCharlie McCanncontemporary artExhibitionsLondonMusic

    ~ Posted by Caroline Carter, February 13th 2015

    At the end of January I attended a vigil for a cyclist who was killed by a lorry on a street close to where I live in north London. Stephanie Turner was an enthusiastic sportswoman who cycled regularly to appointments for her job as a physiotherapist. She was 29 years old and the first cyclist to be killed on London’s roads this year. Part memorial, part protest, the gathering culminated in a "die-in", a two-minute silence held as hundreds of cyclists lay down in the road where she was hit on her way to work. A small line of policemen waved vehicles away from us but I felt intensely exposed as traffic rumbled past. Our silence heightened the sounds around us: the drone of cars was accompanied by the horns of irritated drivers beeping out their resentment towards us for disrupting their journeys. It was a reminder of how vulnerable cyclists are.

    read more » Caroline CarterCyclingLondontransport

    ~ Posted by Alix Christie, February 13th 2015

    Peering inside 14 different artists' studios and marvelling at the objects they collect is a fine idea for a show. "Magnificent Obsessions", at the Barbican in London, appears to promise a satisfying gawk at the cabinets of curiosities assembled by both the world-famous (Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst) and the less well known (Dr Lakra, Jim Shaw). What it turns out to be is its own kind of curiosity. Like any collection, the show contains both gems and duds. It is entrancing in many small ways, but doesn’t always hit the larger goal of illuminating an artist's work by "spelunking through [their] consciousnesses", in Shaw's memorable phrase.

    Go for the opportunity to see things you'd otherwise never get close to. These include: the hare with amber eyes, a netsuke made famous by the potter Edmund de Waal's eponymous memoir; Warhol's kitschy array of ceramic cookie jars; surreal postcards and Soviet space-dog memorabilia assembled by the photographer Martin Parr; and a riot of puppets, masks, freaky creatures and elephant figurines amassed by the self-described "collecting junkie" Peter Blake, best known for designing the album cover for the Beatles’ "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band".

    read more » Alix ChristieArtExhibitionsLondon

    ~ Posted by Ed Smith, February 12th 2015

    The Australian Open final, between Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic, was an ill-tempered match. The handshake at the net afterwards was brisk and cold, which is unusual for a Grand Slam men’s final these days, when the behaviour so often matches the brilliance of the play. The animosity this time, people have assumed, centered on Djokovic’s apparent injury and exhaustion early in the third set. Was he faking it? Murray appeared confused, then distracted, then angry. Djokovic stormed back into the lead and trounced Murray 6-0 in the fourth set to take the title.

    Many pundits have argued that Murray was hoodwinked by Djokovic’s gamesmanship, causing Murray to “melt down” and squander the title. I am much less confident that the injury incident altered the result. But I am certain that it changed—and diminished—the event. The coldness and disappointment of each player at the end was partly self-directed. Djokovic knew he could have won better. Murray knew he could have lost better. That’s why, for all its early promise, the match did not have the same uplifting effect as the other epic duels in this exceptional era of men’s tennis. It was not quite a shared victory, as so many finals have been.

    read more » Ed SmithIDEASintelligenceSPORTtennis

    ~ Posted by Tom Shone, February 11th 2015

    “I’ve always been good at people,” declares Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan, pictured) at the start of “Fifty Shades of Grey”. Audiences will have to decide for themselves whether he qualifies as one himself. Businessman, multibillionaire, philanthropist, he sits behind his desk at the top of a sleek skyscraper, named after himself like Trump Tower, except that everything here is not gold but tasteful graphite. Even the bodyguards have designer stubble. “I exercise control in all things,” he tells Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson), who has come to interview him for her student newspaper, although the talk soon turns to personal matters. “I don’t do romance,” he tells her, staring hard at her through his eyebrows, his usual expression, narrowing his eyes still tighter when she tells a joke. He doesn't really “do” humour. He doesn't do much, in fact. “I don’t do the girlfriend thing,” he says. “I don’t do the dating and movies.” As Adam Ant might have interjected at this point, “Don't drink, don't smoke…what do you do?”

    read more » cinemacultureFilmTom Shone

    ~ Posted by Tim de Lisle, February 11th 2015

    Our cover breaks new ground in two ways. It’s the first time we have had two people on it, and the first time we have featured a lawyer. Lawyers have something in common with journalists: outsiders, when they think of them, tend to picture the bad ones—the vultures preying on the vulnerable, the sophists twisting the truth. But you will find public-spirited people lurking in both camps. Our cover stars, Parvais Jabbar and Saul Lehrfreund, grew up in Britain, which had closed the gallows before they were born. They could easily have avoided ever having to step onto the minefield—moral, legal, emotional, bureaucratic—that is Death Row. Instead they have devoted their careers to it, and not just to working on it, but dismantling it.

    read more » crimeLawmarch/april 2015Tim de Lisle

    ~ Posted by Tom Shone, February 9th 2015

    Even before the detection of Lou Gehrig’s disease while studying cosmology at Cambridge, Eddie Redmayne (above, centre) makes us acutely conscious of Stephen Hawking’s body in “The Theory of Everything”. He inhabits it the same way small boys operate remote-controlled toys—with a mixture of offhandedness and feral concentration. His gangly frame is there to do his bidding, if he thinks about it at all. Shambling, shy and slouched of posture, hands shoved in pockets, he peers out from behind an unruly mop of hair, enunciating his words in a soft tumble, his mouth caught up in a crooked Cheshire-cat grin, as if faintly abashed by his own brilliance. Just how much of himself Redmayne brings to the role was evident from his graceful turns on the podium at the Screen Actors Guild awards (SAGs) and, last night, the BAFTAs, where he picked up Best Actor.

    read more » awardscinemacultureFilmOscarsTom Shone