Weekend highlights

Apologies for blog silence lately, I’ve been caught up with a good deal of other stuff. I will soon post some sort of highlights of 2011 cultural list, but in the meantime, here’s three great things from last weekend:

 

1) On Friday we saw The Artist. Now, I hardly need to add my name to the veritable chorus singing its praises, but I’m going to anyway. While it’s not *quite* the epoch-making piece some are making it out to be – I feel it is too specific a pastiche to be anything more than a curiosity, albeit an excellent one – it is still a wonderful cinematic experience. Bursting with joy of an almost prelapsarian variety, there is both genuine warmth and craft in this film, something which can’t often be said. And with dancing, high drama and a performing dog, there is something for everyone.

 

2) On Sunday it was off to Covent Garden for Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. Though there was the slight disruption always caused by a cast illness, this jolly behemoth nonetheless rolled along in most entertaining fashion. Of course there are some unsavoury aspects – the auctioning of a daughter, some fairly bald nationalist supremacism – but it’s a piece of its time which itself is harking back further. It’s about as unlikely a place to lodge modern sympathies as there is in the operatic canon, but that’s a decent enough excuse to set them aside and enjoy the wonderful music. On top of some beautiful singing from the principals, there were a couple of outstanding set-pieces: the riot at the end of act two was raucously hilarious (with some neat aesthetic games) and the pageant which closes the opera was a real feast for the senses. Well, for two of them anyway.

 

3) Finally, on Monday night we got around to seeing The Riots at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre. It had transferred there from the Tricycle Theatre, Kilburn for a limited run and is only on for a couple more nights but I would strongly urge anyone to see it. Given the rapid disappearance of last summer’s riots from the political agenda (and the media more generally), the performance of this series of testimonies is timely and important. It includes recollections from participants, police, politicians and other commentators, crucially laid out in chronological order giving the close reading of the events which the glib media coverage at the time utterly failed to do. Beyond the richness (and depressing bleakness, in truth) of the testimonies, the subsequent Q&A session gave an opportunity for the audience to contribute their own memories and opinions. Much of the discussion focussed on what had gone wrong – social issues, the police etc – but sadly there wasn’t enough time to look for solutions. The lingering anger and upset in the Tottenham community was palpable, however, and most agreed that it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see similar scenes before too long.

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Published in: on January 11, 2012 at 9:16 am  Leave a Comment  

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