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A favourite from early in the year ... the video of Jake Gyllenhaal singing "Finishing The Hat" from Sondheim's "Sunday In The Park With George". Beautifully sung, exquisitely filmed, and JG is so clearly loving it. Also it is one of the great songs about artistic focus, obsession, and what gets missed whilst you are mapping out the sky... If you love this, look for Sondheim's 80th Birthday concert, and Mandy Patinkin revisiting the role he originated more than 25 years earlier.
Apparently, when not making great television, VW's favourite clip was the first 4 minutes of Highway from Ipswich 1987 - she watched it every Christmas. Best television clip EVER. Also 6m45s and the intro and start of the song. ""...from a vantage point over a shopping precinct..." (After you've seen it once, rewatch 2m38 and "the stumble". I can't breathe). Thank you, David Benedict...
The greatest theatre, live/encored in a cinema near you, wherever you live. [Scene: 2004, National Theatre, Interior] N. Hytner: "Do we think broadasting shows around the world is a great idea?" E. Exceptme: "Absolutely, if we do it well!" J. Holloway: "I think it will diminish the brand and lose audiences." Cut forward 13 years, millions of people and packed National Theatre later... Sometimes being wrong is good. See Angels In America. See Billie Piper in Yerma. Hell, see it all!
Film director and writer Janicza Bravo is going to be the name on everyone's lips in a couple of years' time. Fact. You heard it here first. Well no, you heard it in film magazines, at Sundance, from Indiewire BUT... ... her debut feature "Lemon" is absurd, exciting, hyperbolic, different. If it appears in your arthouse cinema, go see it. If she speaks in public, go listen. She is an unusual and compelling talent.
Jules et Jim, Lift to the Scaffold, Chimes at Midnight. They defined student filmgoing, and encouraged generations of young men to learn French, just in case they should ever meet Jeanne Moreau. I had the honour of spending an evening with her when I was 27 and she was almost 70. By turns funny, fierce and brittle, with an incredible radiance, she was vivacious and flirtatious, truly leaving me breathless. Perfect excuse to binge on French cinematic nouvelle vague, starting with Viva Maria!
Allow me an indulgence. We’ve launched the Melbourne Festival for 2017 and, as a totally impartial observer, I can honestly say that it is a beaut. 65 world-class events, 200+ visiting artists, 550+ professional Melbourne artists. Here’s a quick 2x4: The epic: Taylor Mac’s 24 Decades ... Magnetic Fields' 50 Song Memoir ... Requiem For Cambodia ... Tree Of Codes The intimate: Tanderrum ... In Plan ... Path Of Miracles ... We Love Arabs Check it out, see you here!
Venice (biennial), Documenta (quinquennial) and Skulptur Project Munster (decennial) have all lined up this year in a rare coincidence. Venice is always fabulous, especially in the later months when the crowds have thinned out, and there is space to balance art and Aperol Spritz. Documenta's Athens jaunt may have ended, but Kassel must go on, so don that light summer black polo-neck and go get you some art. For great conversations, don’t miss Damien Hirst’s pavilion, or Clauda Fontes’ Horse.
Two decades after “The God of Small Things”, Arundhati Roy’s second novel “The Ministry of Utmost Happiness” is out. “To me, there is nothing higher than fiction. Nothing. It is fundamentally who I am. I am a teller of stories. For me, that’s the only way I can make sense of the world, with all the dance that it involves”. Of course her non-fiction writing and campaigning have changed the world. When asked why it took so long: “Well, I was having this long chat with Harper Lee…”. (not true)
Thrilled to see two personal favourites from two hemispheres topping the Gramophone “Best new classical albums – August 2017” list. Jonathan Dove composes music that is always compelling, communicative and full of life. Richard Tognetti injects exactly that into everything he plays with Australian Chamber Orchestra. My two worlds. Yay.
Constantly ahead of the sound of thundering hooves from around the world, Edinburgh remains the world’s festival city, and THE place to be this month. Whether you love books, fringes, visual arts, tattoos, or a little bit of international, Edinburgh is the place. Eleven things I can’t wait for: Room 29 ... Wild Bore ... Josette Bushell-Mingo ... Ontroerend Goed ... Jess Thom ... Paul Auster ... Hannah Gadsby ... Djuki Mala ... La Bohème ... Vuelos ... Herbie Treehead. And possibly snow.
So, that moment when two of your favourite people hook up, and it is just PERFECT! You know, one is sexy and aloof and cool and sophisticated. The other is brilliant and deep and sensitive and erudite. Alice Lee Holland, a superb choreographer who has just returned from touring the world with the wonderful Circa!, said "shut up and listen" and played me this... Debbie Harry & Philip Glass. Blondie’s Heart Of Glass & Glass Violin Concerto II. Thank you Alice. Thank you Jonas Crabtree.
The most exciting music I’ve discovered in the past year is by British poet and musician Benjamin Clementine... Named as one of the 28 geniuses who defined culture in 2016 by the New York Times, his story is amazing, but his album, At Least for Now, is even more stunning. The musical love-child of Anohni and Nina Simone, it is at once timeless and insanely now. Clementine is now on a world tour, so whether you are in New York, London, Paris or Munich, THIS is the gig of the year in my book.
In 1974 Georges Perec spent a weekend at Café De La Mairie, writing what he saw… An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris explores nothing happening: no drama, no Godot, an existential precursor to reality television without voicovers. Sat here now I see the appeal, though it has been pretty exciting so far: six people have tripped on the same tree root, a man’s palette almost rolled away and police with machine guns are surrounding a parked car and talking into their radios. Plus ça change.
For some reason, my mind has recently been drifting nostalgically back to that great time when Martin Sheen was President... In my view still the greatest television drama ever ever, it stands up to the test of time, and I think American television could do us all a service by running it on every channel from 10pm to 4am.
On my desk I have a shotgun blank bullet casing... It is like a tiny shrine to health and safety, that I kept after it bounced off my face during an event... If you are prepared to turn a blind eye to H&S, people in black face, stereotyping of religious conflict and, well, fifty other things, DON'T MISS a chance to see the Moors and Christians battle reenactment in Pollença, Mallorca, in early August. Wear soft shoes and perhaps, if you have it, body armour?
This week Ohad Naharin, the Artistic Director of Israel's Batsheva Dance Company, announced he is stepping down after 27 years. Before we all sink into despair (though less impressively than if he choreographed us doing it), two great facts: 1. He is staying on as house choreographer... 2. Mr Gaga, the fabulous film about his work, is (probably) on screens near us... Difficult to find, but worth the effort, it is a masterclass in dedication and brilliance...
So that read better on the page than when I said it in my head, BUT… MAPSTR is a nifty travel app for your smart device. Connect Foursquare, Facebook, Instagram, calendar etc., and it uploads the places onto a map. You add places you want to visit or return to sometime. Then, when you are next in that ‘hood, PING, it tells you that you are near somewhere you fancy going. You can also share MAPSTR links, so friends can visit your favourite places, like Matt Damon in The Talented Mr Ripley.
Comedian Tommy Cooper told of finding a Stradivarius and a Rembrandt in his attic “Unfortunately…Stradivarius was a terrible painter…and Rembrandt made rotten violins”. Next June Canadian Ballet’s world premiere is Frame by Frame, a staging/dance collaboration between the brilliant Robert Lepage and choreographer Guillaume Côté. Not sure who is doing which bit, but I wouldn’t miss it for the world. I was going to post a link to the ballet, but you can google it, here’s a link to Tommy Cooper…
Galway International Arts Festival’s 40th edition is a belter, and opens on the 17th July... From the world premiere of Woyzeck in Winter, with a heavyweight team headed up by fabulous performers Patrick O'Kane and Camille O'Sullivan, to classic unmissables like Dublin by Lamplight, by way of every artform known to humankind, Paul Fahy’s festival promises to truly nail it. Jump on a plane now (though not one of the planes that has a “jumping surcharge”, if you … ahem … get what I mean).
Whilst I’ve only heard the soundtrack (ok, about 550 times), the music and lyrics of “Hamilton” are, quite frankly, miraculous. However, I’m here to barrack for Moana, the fabulous animated musical, with Lin-Manuel Miranda’s music. It has a “young girl coming of age” montage to bring tears to the eyes of any father of daughters. It is funny and exciting, and all through the lens of the language and lore of the Pacific Islands. THIS is why I love the people of Fiji, Tonga and NZ so much...