Culture

Love and Friendship

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Love and Friendship is based on an unfinished novella by Jane Austen. Called Lady Susan, it is written as a series of letters and is thought to be one of her earlier works, although only posthumously published.

The film, adapted by Whit Stillman (Metropolitan, The Last Days of Disco), is a beautifully shot period piece that you wish was longer than its 90-some minutes.

Lady Susan, played by Kate Beckinsale, is recently widowed, short on funds and increasingly frowned upon for her affair with a married man.

Son of Saul

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Son of Saul

It is a truism for revolutionaries that people make their own history but not in circumstances of their own choosing. But what of the men, women and children who have history thrust upon them, with cataclysmic consequences for their own personal circumstances?

Son of Saul tells the story of a man’s struggle to hold on to family and personal relationships and obligations in the hideous organised chaos of the Nazi gas chambers.

Five things to see or do this month

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Ran
Dir: Akira Kurosawa
Out: 1 April

Kurosawa’s late masterpiece reimagines King Lear as a historical epic set in 16th-century Japan. This dazzling 4K restoration gets an extended run at BFI Southbank as well as a UK-wide release and comes out on DVD/Blu-ray on 2 May. BFI is also showing three films from director Vishal Bhardwaj: Maqbool (2003), Omkara (2006) and Haider (2014), based on Macbeth, Othello and Hamlet respectively (29-30 April).

Sherpa

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Sherpa is the fascinating story of an inspiring labour dispute, set against the breathtaking scenery of the world’s highest mountain.

Film-maker Jennifer Peedom and her team were on Everest in 2014 to document the climbing season from the point of view of the Sherpas — a term used interchangeably for a Nepalese ethnic group and for all those employed to assist Western climbers.

Undercover

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Legal dramas are invariably bedevilled by overacting and wild scenarios which bear little comparison with what really goes on in the criminal justice system. These misgivings aside, I was attracted by the presence of two talented black actors, Sophie Okonedo and Adrian Lester in the lead roles as Maya and Nick.

Episode 1 begins with a flourish. A juggernaut bears down on Maya’s car as she struggles to answer a crucial phone call. She is racing to Louisiana where her client Rudy Jones is waiting to be executed.

The Divide

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You’ll have heard the facts. The UK’s 1,000 richest individuals own more than the poorest 40 percent. In the US 0.1 percent own as much as the bottom 90 percent. This film, a documentary inspired by the 2009 book The Spirit Level, puts flesh on the bones of the data.

The book’s authors argued that what determines the health of any society is less the overall wealth than how the wealth is distributed. The more inequality, the sicker the society. The Divide introduces us to seven US and UK people living in societies with massive gaps between rich and poor.

Eisenstein in Guanajuato

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In December 1930 the great Soviet film-maker, Sergei Eistenstein, arrived in Mexico.

He had already made three extraordinary films, Strike (1924), Battleship Potemkin (1925) and October (1927). All three were revolutionary in terms of subject matter — the masses in collective struggle. They were also revolutionary in form. With his experimental use of editing (montage), Eisenstein built on and radically transformed the way in which film worked.

I Am The Greatest

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Muhammad Ali is one of the greatest boxers of all time. He won the world heavyweight championship four times — a record he still holds. This exhibition takes you through his life, centring on his fights, but it also celebrates his resistance to the war in Vietnam and racism in society.

After a short film a maze of corridors leads us from Ali’s Louisiana childhood in the 1940s through to his comeback in the 70s. He grew up as Cassius Clay and changed his name in 1964 to X before being given the name Muhammad Ali by Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad.

East London Group: Out of the City

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The core of the East London Group of artists were East End workers — “a warehouseman, a house decorator, three deck hands waiting for a ship, and a haddock smoker”. They met in classes at the Bethnal Green Men’s Institute and exhibited their paintings from the late 1920s to the late 1930s.

They were best known for their landscapes of the East End, painting the streets and buildings of Bethnal Green, Bow and Stratford, the canals and bridges around the Thames and some of the big workplaces such as the Bryant and May match factory.

Stories from the street

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John Godber’s plays about working class people have been popular for many years. After attending a secondary modern school and becoming a drama teacher, he ran Hull Truck Theatre Company for 20 years. He spoke to Dave Gilchrist about his new play, Shafted, which deals with the continued fallout from the Great Miners’ Strike of 1984-85.

Why produce a play about the Miners’ Strike 30 years after the dispute?

I’m from a mining family and it was too raw at the time to write about the strike. My dad is 85 and still whenever we talk about the strike he starts banging the table and wanting to punch somebody.

We often hear about the “Northern Powerhouse”. I’ve not worked out where that is yet. I try to live in the real world and what I see are zero hours contracts, containerisation, large distribution warehouses and the demise of industry.

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