Culture

When an Oasis Becomes a Blur

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Review of 'Live Forever', director John Dower

'Live Forever' documents, in the words of writer and director John Dower, 'the rise and fall of one of the most visible movements in [contemporary] British music, Britpop', largely through interviews with some of the principal participants in the 'movement'--Damon Albarn of Blur, Noel Gallagher of Oasis and Jarvis Cocker of Pulp. Narration is kept to a minimum in an attempt to let the story flow.

The Media Moguls

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Review of 'Victory at the Dirt Palace' by Adriano Shaplin, Riverside Studios, London, and touring

A terrorist attack has just occurred in the US, and father and daughter are live on air as rival network newsreaders. At stake are their reputations and careers--all is dependent on the television rating figures. This is merely the public face of a deep and bitter private rift that has long estranged the pair, and provided material for the tabloid newspapers.

The Shining Star

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Review of 'Midnight's Children' by Salman Rushdie, Barbican, London, and touring

'Midnight's Children' is the novel that brought international acclaim to Salman Rushdie 20 years ago. Its literary style, playful use of language and multilayered storyline introduced magical realism to a new audience. Thanks to the Royal Shakespeare Company we can now enjoy this on stage. This is the story of Saleem, a young man who was exchanged at birth by a nurse in order to give a new life to a boy born on the wrong side of the tracks. Saleem is the play's narrator, born at the hour of midnight of India's independence.

Massive Counter-Attack

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Review of 'Peace Not War' CD, Various, £15

Fusing art and politics has never been so easy. The growing global anti-war movement means that great anthems of hope and inspiration, which celebrate the joy of mass resistance, can be recorded. This fundraising CD, which is available from major retailers as well as activists, does just that. For me there was only one choice for best song--'The Unpeople', which brillantly samples John Pilger, edges it over Asian Dub Foundation's use of Tariq Ali's melodious tones.

Set Menu

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Review of 'Dinner' by Moira Buffini, National Theatre, London

'Dinner' is brought to us by the sisters Moira (writer) and Fiona (director) Buffini and features a number of familiar faces from the stage and screen. Nicholas Farrell plays Lars, who has given up on his career in the city to pursue life as a writer of philosophical tomes. The success of his latest book 'Beyond Belief' is being celebrated by his wife Paige (Harriet Walter), who plans to hold a dinner party in his honour. At least, that is the apparent reason for the dinner party.

Blood Sacrifice

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Review of exhibition 'Aztecs', Royal Academy, London

The Aztecs exhibition will stun and perplex many people who see it. There are displays of magnificent sculptures from pre-Hispanic Mexico. There is a beautiful filmed reconstruction of the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan, one of the biggest and most magnificent cities in the world before the Spanish conquistadors tore it down to build Mexico City. But there are also written descriptions of how many of the sculptures and buildings were used for gruesome religious rites.

One Moment in Time

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Review of '11.09.01', various directors

'11.09.01' is a movie I expected to like. After all, it is an interesting idea. Eleven directors from around the world were given a budget of $400,000 and asked to make a short film (each a symbolic 11 minutes 9 seconds and one frame long) about 11 September.

It's also a film that our enemies actively hate. It has been mercilessly attacked in the right wing press of the world, usually for being 'anti-American propaganda'. The film has been effectively banned in the US. On the other hand Indian director Mira Nair has acclaimed the movie a 'rebirth of cinema's conscience'. If only.

Counterpoint

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Review of 'The Pianist', director Roman Polanski

When the Nazis invaded Warsaw in September 1939, 360,000 of the city's 1 million inhabitants were Jewish. By the time the Nazis retreated in January 1945 there were only 20 Jews left alive. 'The Pianist' is the story of Wladyslaw Szpilman, one of those survivors.

Poetry in Palestine

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Review of 'Divine Intervention', director Elia Suleiman

What do we learn of the real lives of Palestinian men, women and children from the press? Not much. 'Divine Intervention' is a highly successful attempt to challenge this censorship by omission. Its form is reminiscent of 1980s Latin American magical realism. This is not accidental. In order for those voices to be heard, director Elia Suleiman has created an allegory, a pastiche of the sufferings of the Palestinian people which contains sublime moments of pathos, humour and love.

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