Live links 2

10th February 2017

Sunday is a big day for live/as-live performance online, with the release of Opera North’s Ring Cycle plus a stream at 3pm from the Barbican of the Complicite and Schaubühne Berlin show at the Barbican, Beware of Pity (above). Links to those below, plus other elements in my second (roughly) fortnightly round-up of news and releases relating to theatre, dance and opera performance being broadcast to cinema, television and online. The first post, from 25 January 2017, is here.

(Incidentally, we are still plagued by glitches and gremlins across the site – which is in part why I have not been posting as regularly as I would like to. But individual posts and direct links seem fine – and we hope to be back to full functionality very soon.) read more »

Sunday links

29th January 2017

The past week has been even worse for the world than the one before, but here is a list of links not totally dominated by the hideousness across the Atlantic, the hideousness at home, and the hideousness of the two together on Friday. My continuing thanks to all those who alert me to these – and my apologies for not acknowledging that individually.

The schedule and the stream: Matt Locke is essential on media and public space.

Mary Tyler Moore was one of the most important auteurs in TV history: Matt Zoller Seitz on the much-lamented actor and executive, who died this week.

How La La Land is made: David Bordwell offers real insight – and a few spoilers.

• Arthouse roccoco: Close-up on two films by Catherine Breillat: Michael Pattison on two films currently playing in the UK on (which I am coming to like more and more): Romance, 1999, and Anatomy of Hell, 2004; article, by the way, is probably NSFW.

• Asghar Farhadi: Matthew Eng at Reverse Shot has an interview with the Iranian director currently banned from attending the Oscars ceremony for which his feature The Salesman is nominated for Best Foreign Language Film; Sean O’Neal at The A.V. Club has background on the story. There is also a fine Tony Pipolo review for Artforum; and here’s the trailer:

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Live links 1

25th January 2017

As my production interests and my academic concerns are both focussed, albeit not exclusively, on live events for the cinema, I am acutely aware of how rapidly the field is developing. To help myself, if no-one else, keep up to date with what is happening, every fortnight I am going to gather together a group of links about recent and forthcoming live cinema events, including reviews, previews, industry news and trailers. I also intend to keep these pages developing, so I’ll be adding additional links about the subjects below as I come across them. read more »


24th January 2017

Although it was published just over a fortnight ago I don’t want to let pass without comment a slightly thoughtless Sunday Times article about John Berger and arts television by Waldemar Januszczak. In ‘A murky way of seeing’ (free registration required) the predictably contrarian critic took issue with the idea that Ways of Seeing (1972) made by Berger and producer-director Mike Dibb (who doesn’t rate a mention) was a significantly influential television series. Rather, Januszczak argues, it was Kenneth Clark’s Civilisation, which preceded Ways of Seeing by three years, and to which the later series was in some ways a riposte, that shaped much of television’s subsequent engagement with the arts, including the scribe’s own humble efforts. read more »

Forgotten TV dramas remembered

23rd January 2017

Let’s for a moment forget the woes of the world and look forward to some television treats coming up at BFI Southbank during February. A second season of Forgotten Dramas (the first was in 2015) features a number of fascinating titles that have mostly remained unseen since they were first broadcast. The season is curated by those exemplary scholars Lez Cooke, John Hill and Billy Smart, and it is associated with the History of Forgotten Television Drama research project based at Royal Holloway, University of London, which runs a very good blog here.

I intend to write about several of the below, but for the moment I urge you to book your tickets – apart that is for the first event which is already sold-out (although some tickets may become available later). I have included the listings information below, which ought to be enough to convince you that there are wonderful things in prospect here, including the brace of experimental pieces on Wednesday 22 and Loyalties on Sunday 26. I should also metnion that I am contributing to the Archives, Access and Research conference on Wednesday 22, about which I’ll post further details in a future post. read more »

Sunday links

22nd January 2017

After a break through the early weeks of January, in part prompted by technical troubles here, let’s return once more to posting. In a dark, dark week for the world, the first links are more or less loosely engaged by ways of resisting – and the later ones are more general. My continuing thanks to all those who alert me to these – and my apologies for not acknowledging that individually.

• Why I cannot fall in line behind Trump: by Peter Wehner, a Republican aide and speechwriter.

• At his inauguration, Trump signals no break from his politics of fear and loathing: there has been much excellent reporting over the past few days – David Corn’s opening paragraph for Mother Jones is close to the top.

Preserve, protect and defend: as so often David Remnick for The New Yorker is essential, here on the inauguration; the magazine’s writing in the past weeks has been just tremendous.

The image above, incidentally, which comes courtesy of the Architect of the Capitol, is from the first inauguration of Franklin D. Roosevelt on 4 March 1933, when he famously spoke of

my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is…fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.

‘This land is your land’: the Boss in 1985 sings Woody Guthrie:

America, America: Jonathan Kirshner for LA Review of Books:

Having spent three-quarters of a century fretting about enemies abroad, we have never fully processed a lesson of history: that great civilizations almost invariably collapse from within. We are Athens, we are Rome — we are, more than anything, Paris in the 1930s, another society divided against itself, living in what one historian described as “the age of unreason.”

The real story of 2016: Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight continues the vital work of trying to understand America today.

• How statistics lost their power – and why we should fear what comes next: a really exceptional Guardian Long Read by the astute commentator Will Davies.

From lying to leering: Rebecca Solnit is brilliant on Trump’s fear of women, from London Review of Books

The threat of moral authority: … and Masha Gessen from New York Review of Books is equally good on Trump and John Lewis.

How jokes won the election: Emily Nussbaum on Trump and television humour, for The New Yorker.

A reading list for the new America: lots of great recommendations here, from artists, performers and others invited to submit to the Walker Art Centre blog.

The shining: Michelle Kuo for Artforum:

In another delirious moment, facing another rise of nationalism, autocracy, and a new world order, Siegfried Kracauer wrote that the artist’s “tasks multiply in proportion to the world’s loss of reality.” The artist must ultimately take on the role of “the observer who not only sees but also prophetically foresees.” Art can and must foresee other pictures, other worlds—to which we can look, and for which we must fight.

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The (Peter) Wright stuff

3rd January 2017

Catching up with television’s Christmas treats I have been watching BBCFour’s The Ballet Master: Sir Peter Wright at 90. (The 60-minute documentary is on iPlayer for another 22 days.) This is an enjoyably warm celebration of the dancer, choreographer and founding director of Birmingham Royal Ballet, with appropriately gushing tributes from the ballet world’s great and good, and with a wealth of terrific archive. The ever-reliable producer-director David Thompson tells a clear story and assembles the conventional elements immaculately. He elicits engaging anecdotes from Wright himself and interviewees, even if for most of the time discretion wins out over gossip. Only when speaking of Sylvie Guillem, with whom he clearly had an uneasy relationship, does Peter Wright’s politesse slip. read more »

New year links

2nd January 2017

Links to take us forwards into 2017. With no reason beyond me finding them interesting or stimulating. Thanks to those who drew my attention to many of them on Twitter and elsewhere, and apologies for not crediting every one of you.

• The new reality of TV: all Trump, all the time: a brilliant piece by New York Times television critic James Poniwozik.

• Two bubbles of unrealism – learning from the tragedy of Trump: Bruno Latour in translation, courtesy of LA Review of Books.

• Winter is coming: prospects for the American press under Trump: from Jay Rosen – part 1 here; and part two.

World War Three, by mistake: don’t read this just before trying to go to sleep – by Eric Schlosser for The New Yorker.

The best journalism of 2016: you need to read all of these; courtesy of David Uberti at the Columbia Journalism Review (which has had a great Twitter feed this year). read more »

5 x 5 No 4: John’s list

30th December 2016

For the end of the annus horribilis of 2016, here is our fourth list of five cultural highlights from the past year. Each of the five of us at Illuminations has chosen five things, whether movies, television series, books, exhibitions or whatever, that have meant something significant to us during the year. This third selection is mine.

National Treasure

It’s hardly original to observe that this really is a golden age of television drama – or at least of a certain kind of genre-based serial television drama. The BBC’s passionate commitment to work of this kind is a key factor, as are the continuing strengths of network and subscription channels in the States, including now Amazon and Netflix, plus our ever-increasing awareness of series from elsewhere in the world. This year I have admired and enjoyed – among a good many others – from the BBC, Line of Duty, The Night Manager and the second series of both Happy Valley and The Missing – exceptional all, as well as the final series of The Good Wife, the second season of The Affair (and I still have to catch up with the third), Showtime’s Billions – and of course the great guilty pleasure that is Netflix’s The Crown. But perhaps the most challenging – as well as the most visually original – series was Channel 4’s National Treasure, Jack Thorne’s remarkable study of a comedian, brilliantly portrayed by Robbie Coltrane, facing a historic charge of rape.

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