Culture

A Revolution in the Making

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Review of 'To Kill a King', director Mike Barker

This film is set against the background of the English Civil War after the parliamentary rebel armies have decisively defeated the Royalist forces of King Charles I at Naseby in 1645. A film covering the period to Charles I's public execution and beyond has many devolopmental options - a history of the 17th century, the causes of the Civil War, the nature of the social revolution of which it was an expression, the religious cloaks, the main dramatis personae of the action, and more.

A Symbol of the New World Order

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Review of 'Lilya 4-Ever', director Lukas Moodysson

This dark, sobering film, the latest by acclaimed Swedish director Lukas Moodysson, is all at once a profoundly moving story, a protest against misogyny, a damning indictment of the new world order and a longing for something better. It is, in short, a tale for our times. Set in the bleak housing schemes of the former USSR, it charts the descent of an abandoned Russian teenager into prostitution, rape and finally suicide.

When Art and Politics Don't Mix

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Review of 'Max', director Menno Meyers

Max' is set in Munich after the defeat of Germany in the First World War. One of the two main protagonists is Max Rothman (John Cusack), a Jewish artist who lost an arm in the war. Now he runs an art gallery and shows the new art that exploded in Germany as a result of the turmoil of defeat. He meets another veteran who, unlike him, is penniless. He too has an interest in art - and reactionary politics. It is struggling artist Adolf Hitler.

Band of Warring Brothers

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Review of 'Henry V', director Nicholas Hytner, National Theatre, London

No other Shakespeare play has been so shamelessly harnessed to the chariot of imperialist war than 'Henry V'. In the 1944 film version Laurence Olivier turned it into a patriotic wartime epic by cutting out those bits of the text that didn't conform to this political objective. From the Falklands to the first Gulf War, and most recently in the war on Iraq, the propagandists and the ideologues have appropriated Henry's famous rallying cry in order to provide a noble justification for squalid adventures.

Peeping Toms and Jerry

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Review of 'Jerry Springer: The Opera', director Stewart Lee, National Theatre, London

Jerry Springer: The Opera' is a highly original and exhilarating show that is both a satire on the successful US TV show and a serious modern opera. In the TV show, conflictual couples are invited by Springer to air their disputes in public and to submit to criticism or mediation by him and members of the studio audience. The results are orgies of brash self revelation in which the participants expose their innermost secrets to a gawping and at times mocking but invariably fascinated national audience.

Hitting the Right Notes

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Review of 'Werckmeister Harmonies', director Bela Tarr

This film is directed by an acclaimed Hungarian film-maker, Bela Tarr, whose work was recently celebrated with a retrospective at the National Film Theatre in London and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. A more appropriate title would be the name of the novel it is based on, 'The Melancholy of Resistance' by Laszlo Krasaznahorkai, as that is what the film is about.

What the Tourists' Eyes Don't See

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Review of 'Life and Debt', director Stephanie Black

Get a taste of anti-capitalism Caribbean style. 'No money, no job. Borrowing money to lend. Too much foreign debt'--these are the words of the Jamaican reggae artist Mutabarka in the powerful documentary 'Life and Debt'.

This film exposes the harm capitalism inflicts on a nation and its people by looking at Jamaica, where the IMF has had its claws into the country for over 25 years.

Crossing the Divide

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Review of 'Crossing Jerusalem', by Julia Pascal, Tricycle Theatre, London

It's possible to interpret this riveting drama in various ways. Playwright Julia Pascal has created a fiction rooted in 'the everyday lives of Israelis and Arabs during the second Intifada' set in Jerusalem in March 2002, before the mass killings by Israeli occupying forces in Jenin. Specifically, she aims to examine the perspective of a generation of Israelis critical of their parents' Zionism and questioning Israeli government policy.

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