The editors' blog

  • 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
  • TOP FIVE BLOG POSTS OF 2014

    ~ Posted by Simon Willis, December 31st 2014

    The Editors' Blog began 2014 at Stonehenge and ended it in a dolls' house. In between we covered festivals in Jaipur, New YorkGlastonbury and Edinburgh; food from Peru, South Korea, the 1980s and our deputy editor's kitchen; writers including Homer, Robert Browning, Ali Smith and P.D. James; the rise of Future Islands and the fall of the Berlin Wall. But our five most popular blog posts took us from a south London club into outer space, to Hay-on-Wye and beyond. Here they are, in reverse order:

    read more » 2014Simon Willis
  • LIVES LIVED IN MINIATURE

    ~ Posted by Kassia St Clair, December 29th 2014

    For her seventh birthday earlier this year my niece asked for a box that only she could open. It would come to contain, she explained, all her secrets. This may be familiar from your own childhood: you begin to close off physical and interior spaces from your parents and siblings. You begin to yearn for privacy.

    This intimate idea is explored in a new exhibition of twelve dolls' houses at the V&A Museum of Childhood in East London. Although here they stand slack-doored, open and illuminated, so that visitors can peer inside, their recesses capture the impulse to craft personal space and write your own narrative. A stranger looking in might only spot that the lady of the house is propped upstairs by the bed, dwarfed by a wooden dresser that nearly reaches the ceiling. The setter of the scene would understand why the lady was up there: she might be waiting for someone, or perhaps hiding from the sinister footman with shapely ankles stalking through the drawing room below. The bigger the house, the more elaborate the décor, and the more convoluted the plot. Betty Pinney's house (slide 2), built in the 1890s and renovated in the 1970s, is a daedal structure decorated with extreme care and teeming with eccentric dolls and shrunken everyday objects: a rocking horse, a tiny set of tin soldiers, a working lift, a drunken man slumped in the living room next to a set of decanters.

    read more » childhoodExhibitionsinteriorsKassia St ClairLondon
  • A BLANC CHRISTMAS

    ~ Posted by Julie Kavanagh, December 28th 2014

    In the early 1980s we used to spend Christmas with the chef Raymond Blanc and his family. I was newly married, and Raymond and his first wife Jenny had just acquired the Oxfordshire pile that became Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons. It wasn’t as swanky as it is today—more of a restaurant with rooms—and Christmas dinner was traditional English fare with not even a French twist. I first got to know Raymond when the original Quat’Saisons was in an unprepossessing row of shops in the Oxford suburb of Summertown. From being regulars, we became friends (he and I are pictured above), and when Raymond began writing his first cookery book he asked me to be one of his recipe testers.

    read more » ChristmascookingFoodJulie KavanaghMemoir

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