Culture

Five things to do or see this month

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Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
In cinemas 12 January
Frances McDormand is in storming form as Mildred Hayes, a woman whose daughter was murdered a year ago and whose killer the police have failed to track down, since, as Mildred puts it, they are “too busy torturing black folks.” She rents three billboards to shame the police into action, stirring up ire in the small community. A violent black comedy from the director of In Bruges.

Surrealism in Egypt: Art et Liberté 1938-48

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Surrealism grew out of the Dada movement and the carnage of the First World War. Since then it has been associated with Europe. This, the first comprehensive UK exhibition of African surrealists, seeks to address this imbalance and places Egyptian artists firmly at the heart of surrealism.

Many Egyptian artists were influenced by or had studied in Europe, but the art that evolved throughout the period covered here deals with both universal and profoundly African issues.

Queens of Industry

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Queens of Industry is a small but fascinating exhibition focusing on the women chosen to represent the industries of coal, wool, cotton and the railways as “queens” between the 1920s and 1980s. It would be easy to dismiss the whole concept as merely a sexist anachronism, but that would be to miss a more complex picture and dismiss the experiences of the women themselves.

Last Flag Flying

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The American humiliation in Iraq has caused Hollywood no end of trouble. There have now been close to 50 movies about the Iraq war and almost all of them have been critical failures with just one (the odiously Trump-ette American Sniper) a major box-office hit. In fact Variety has decided that Iraq movies are a “toxic genre”.

The Battle of Algiers

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The Battle of Algiers is a war film based on the Algerian War of national liberation (1954–62) against French colonial rule.

Directed by Gillo Pontecorvo, a star of the Italian neorealist cinema, in 1966, it is shot using newsreel-style footage mainly with amateur actors. One of the central characters, Ali la Pointe, was spotted in an Algiers market. Many of the French soldiers were played by Europeans who were on holiday in North Africa.

Hannah Ryggen: Woven Histories

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Representing Norway at the Paris World Fair in 1937, where Pablo Picasso first showed “Guernica”, was the artist Hannah Ryggen, with her 1935 tapestry “Ethiopia”. The two works were exhibited next to each other in the pavilion of the Spanish Republic — Picasso’s cry of anguish against the Nazi bombing of the city in the Spanish Civil War, Ryggen’s epic heartfelt response to fascist Italy’s invasion of Ethiopia, with a bullet-headed Mussolini speared by an African fighter (folded over by the fair’s organisers to avoid offending the Italian government).

Art Riot: Post-Soviet Actionism

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Art that attacks the establishment is not new. The Dadaists in Berlin from 1919 held a series of events aimed at the ruling class — they hung from the ceiling carcasses of dead pigs dressed in the uniforms of generals of the German Imperial army; they released a herd of cows among the critics at one of their openings.

Just as the horror at the First World War led to Dada so the current state of Russia has given rise to an art fuelled by anger, Pussy Riot being the most famous.

Menashe

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Deep in the heart of New York’s ultra-orthodox Hasidic Jewish community, we follow Menashe — a bumbling, gentle giant of a man who, after the death of his wife, is struggling to keep custody of his 11 year old son Rieven.

How does Russia remember its revolution?

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When a group of us visited St Petersburg and Moscow last month to mark the centenary of the Russian Revolution we were not expecting much by way of official commemoration. We were pleasantly surprised to find lots of exhibitions marking the anniversary and even more gratified to discover that many portray the revolution sympathetically.

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