I have long been wary of approaching the work of celebrity philosopher Alain Badiou. When even admirers of his work describe his prose as “turgid”, alarm bells ring instantly. But down the rabbit hole I ventured, and what a long, strange adventure — or event, as Badiou might put it — it was.
What does cinema know that we don’t? That is the intriguing question posed by two powerful documentaries about the cinematic legacy of the Nazi era and the Weimar Republic respectively.
Inspired by the work of critical theorist and film critic Siegfried Kracauer, Hitler’s Hollywood investigates Nazi cinema as a style unto itself, completely under the control of the Minister of Propaganda, Josef Goebbels.
The bicentenary of Karl Marx’s birth has been commemorated in various ways this year and this colossal new biography by Swedish academic Sven-Eric Liedman is the latest addition to the Marx bibliography.
At over 600 pages, Liedman’s book aims “to present Marx’s work in all its breadth”, giving equal weight to both his life and his work. Everything from Marx’s university thesis and love letters to Jenny Von Westphalen to unpublished responses intended for Russian revolutionary Vera Zasulich are considered worthy of evaluation alongside The Communist Manifesto and Capital.
There has been no shortage of new music released so far this year, but little to lift the heart and soul. Thankfully Cocoa Sugar, the new album by Young Fathers, has answered the call.
It is the third album from an Edinburgh trio comprising Alloysious Massaquoi, Kayus Bankole and Graham “G” Hastings, who won the Mercury Music Prize in 2014 with their debut album Dead.
In this age of multimedia saturation, the history of revolutionary cinema still has many secrets left to be unearthed. Among them are the series of films made by Jean-Luc Godard and Jean Pierre Gorin under the collective name Dziga-Vertov Group.
Greatly influenced by Maoist politics in the immediate aftermath of the May 1968 uprisings, Godard, Gorin and company sought not just to make “political films” but to make films politically.
And this collection of radical cinema spectacles still makes for startling and confrontational viewing half a century on.
The centenary of the Russian Revolution has seen some excellent publications on the subject, but very little of it from Russia itself. Conceived as the first anthology of Russian art writing outside of Russia, Cosmic Shift is, in the words of curator Elena Zaytseva, “a collection that explores the aesthetic and moral legacy of the Russian Revolution in the field of contemporary art”, bringing together a vast array of artists, curators, writers and the philosophers in a shared task on an epic scale. The results are discursive and idiosyncratic in their treatment of the subject.
Metal as a genre of contemporary music is still derided across the world, despite being one of the most commercially successful styles of popular music since its birth in the late 1960s.
Orlando Crowcroft details what this most demeaned style of music continues to mean to fans in six of the most war-ravaged and hostile countries: Lebanon, Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Palestine, and Syria.
Activist/journalist Zeynep Tufecki investigates what the positive and negative attributes of the “digitally networked public sphere” are by studying various forms of connectivity within protest groups of both the left (Zapatistas in Mexico, the Occupy movement) and the right (The Tea Party).
Since her untimely death in 1992 there has never been a full length biography of the English writer, feminist and socialist Angela Carter. Thankfully this first foray into biography by author Edmund Gordon manifestly rights that wrong.
Carter famously described herself as “a born fabulist”, and Gordon takes that as his cue to deconstruct many of the myths that have sprung up around his subject, delineating Carter’s deliberate reinventions of herself with unprecedented access to her diaries, letters and manuscripts.