Culture

Mark E Smith: proletarian individualist

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Mark Brown appreciates the contribution of The Fall’s irascible lead singer, who died in January.

Mark E Smith, enigmatic, unruly founder, frontman and driving force of the influential rock group The Fall died, aged 60, in late January. He was an often inspired, regularly drunk, sometimes awkward and, more often than not, brilliant musical artist.

Windrush: Movement of the People

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Racist Tory politician Enoch Powell is well and truly nailed for his “politics of the gutter” in this triumphant celebration of Caribbean migration.

It comes as we hear words from Powell’s vile “rivers of blood” speech made in 1968 which whipped up hatred up over immigration, predicting that black people will gain the “whiphand”. Ten years before Powell was the minister who had initiated such migration to solve Britain’s post-Second World War labour shortage.

Jean-Luc Godard + Jean Pierre Gorin: Five Films, 1968-1971

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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.

A Fantastic Woman

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As the words “A Fantastic Woman” appear on the screen we are looking, somewhat jarringly, at a man’s body. For several minutes we follow middle aged Orlando as he goes about his business in Santiago, getting a massage, heading back to work, then out to meet his lover, Marina, who he is taking out for her birthday. Their relationship is easy and comfortable, but also passionate.

Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story

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Bombshell tells the extraordinary story of the film actor and scientist Hedy Lamarr, Hollywood’s “most beautiful woman in the world”, who starred in films from the late 1930s to the 1950s opposite icons such as Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy.

Journalists have tended to focus on digging out details of her early nude appearance in an erotic arthouse film, her turbulent journey through six marriages, her plastic surgery, drug addiction and reclusive later years.

House of Saud: A Family at War

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The British ruling class has for many years made a habit of grovelling to the Saudi royal family. The reason for this is clear: huge amounts of money. The Saudis have spent billions on British weapons. This trade has been recently given a great boost by the Saudi war on Yemen.

Consequently one was entitled to expect that the BBC4 three-part series, House of Saud: A Family at War, would be very much an apology for the Saudis, celebrating the supposed huge strides that have been made in liberalising the regime in recent years.

Revolt and Revolutions

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This year marks 50 years since the great French general strike when 800,000 students, teachers and workers marched through Paris; the explosion of the peace movement; the rise of an international student movement of revolt; anti-racist riots in US cities; and the Prague Spring.

This exhibition, mostly drawn from the Arts Council Collection, is of work by artists who have wanted to make a difference. It aims to capture aspects of counter-culture and resistance and to stimulate a sense of solidarity with past and present struggles.

Why I won’t be joining in with Bergmania

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If you follow the world of the movies to any great degree you will know that 2018 is the centenary of the birth of Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman. You will also know that this is a Big Deal in the High Culture circles. The British Film Institute is holding a two-month festival showing all his movies. There are any number of commemorative books and at least two feature length documentaries to come.

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