Five things to do or see this month

Issue section: 


Modern Couples

Ordinary Giants: A Life and Times 1918–2018
by Robb Johnson, out now on CD
Ordinary Giants is a song suite by Robb Johnson about the life and times of his father, Ron Johnson, who served in the Second World War. It follows his acclaimed 1997 album Gentle Men, which looked at his grandfathers and the First World War. The many contributors on Ordinary Giants include the late Roy Bailey, Maddy Carty, Phil Odgers, Tom Robinson, Steve White, and even Dennis Skinner.

Modern Couples: Art, Intimacy and the Avant-garde
Barbican Art Gallery, London, until 27 January
Modern Couples explores creative relationships across painting, sculpture, photography, design and literature. The exhibition illuminates these creative and personal relationships, from the obsessional and fleeting to the life-long. Including Dora Maar and Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí and Federico García Lorca, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, Emilie Flöge and Gustav Klimt.

Out now on Netflix
This intriguing documentary is made by Sandi Tan who, as a teenager in 1992 Hong Kong, set about making a surreal horror-road trip movie with her similarly cinema-obsessed friends. By the end of the summer their odd, self-styled svengali of a director (twice their age) had disappeared — and taken all the footage with him. Quarter of a century later Tan feels able to revisit this strange and devastating experience.The energy and drive of the young filmmakers is palpable in the flashbacks and interviews, making the cruelty of the older man’s act all the more painful.

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Out now on Netflix
The Coen Brothers’ latest project is this anthology of Wild West tales, conceived as a TV series and then condensed into a feature film. Tim Blake Nelson plays Scruggs. Tom Waits, Liam Neeson, James Franco and Zoe Kazan also appear in stories along the way. Violent, over the top, funny and beautiful to look at. Certainly worth a watch on Netflix if you missed it in cinemas.

Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms
British Library, London, until 19 February
The people of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms tell their story, in their own words. Explore the beginnings of the English language. Read some of the earliest-surviving words inscribed in English on objects. Brings together items from the library’s collection with finds from Sutton Hoo and the Staffordshire Hoard.