ARTS HIGHLIGHTS 2015

So it’s near the end of the year and an opportunity to offer a big thank  you to everyone who has commented, read and followed the blog. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me! And now  – yes, you’ve guessed it, another arts round up:

BOOKS: Any year that produces a new book by Pat Barker is a very good one as far as I’m concerned. She’s one of my all time favourite writers and Regeneration (the first volume of her First World War trilogy) is the book I’d take to my desert island. This year I read Noonday which is the third one of her Second World War trilogy. She writes so well you can read her very quickly but as with books by Beryl Bainbridge  I find that once I’ve finished I want to turn straight back to the beginning and start all over again. I also read Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Quartet which starts with My Brilliant Friend. I came to these a bit late but loved them. Ferrante is incredibly good at keeping you turning the pages even with protagonists who are not particularly likeable.

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Some of my 2015 Arts Highlights

POETRY: Megan Beech for her book of poetry When I Grow up I want to be Mary Beard (Burning Eye Books) especially for her poem of appreciation to her Dad which contrasts the respect and love she feels for him with the often infantilizing and idiotic depiction of men in many adverts.

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The Art of Flying by Antonio Altarriba and Kim

GRAPHIC NOVEL: The Art of Flying – I’m reading this at the moment and loving it. It’s set during the Spanish Civil War and is part investigation by the author of the circumstances leading up to his father’s suicide. It’s beautifully drawn and fascinating.

THEATRE:   I loved Mr Foote’s Other Leg with Simon Russell Beale playing a one-legged eighteenth century drag queen. What is not to love about that! The whole cast was fantastic in this, especially Jenny Galloway as the put upon stage manager, Mrs Garner. It was tender and funny and intellectually engaging – everything good theatre should be. A complete delight. Ian Kelly has written a wonderful play and performs the role of Prince George himself.

FILM:  I loved Birdman with Michael Keaton. Films on the trauma of creative process are right up my street although I should add I’ve never shot off the end of my nose. And incidentally I loved the ending although I know lots of people who didn’t! Also Wild Tales a film written and directed by the Argentinian Damian Szifron, which tells a number of different stories about revenge. It is incredibly funny. Anyone who has had their car ticketed and towed should definitely go and see it. *SPOILER ALERT*  for the scene where the car pound is bombed! I should also flag up Best of Enemies a brilliant documentary on Gore Vidal and William Buckley and Iris about the wonderful 93 year old New York Style icon Iris Apfel.

TV: Spiral is a fantastic French crime series. The fifth series was shown on BBC4 at the beginning of the year and it is everything good crime drama should be. I particularly enjoy Judge Roban played by the brilliant Philippe Duclos. It is gritty, sexy and beautifully acted. In some ways it reminds me of the crime novels by Dominique Manotti one of my favourite French crime writers.

River: Abi Morgan can do no wrong in my eyes. When I heard they’d cancelled the third series of The Hour I sulked and signed petitions and was then extremely pissed off at hearing that she was going to be writing a crime series.  I wanted something more original than a crime series but I was wrong and this was wonderful. In a sense River was more about mental illness than crime. Morgan writes with a lot of heart and this had a wonderful cast: Stellan Skarsgaard, Nicola Walker (also wonderful in Unforgotten),  Eddie Marsan, Lesley Manville and Adeel Akhtar.  Surely it won’t be long before someone has the good sense to write a series with Akhtar as the main character. Maybe they already have.

RADIO:It would have to be the BBC Radio 4 Zola adaptations. As soon as the thrillingly malign tones of Glenda Jackson playing the terrifying 104 year old Dide, matriarch of the Rougon-Macquart families, drifted out of the radio I knew I was hooked. They’ve only done 9 hours so far and there are going to be 24 hours in total. This is gothic, terrifying, bloody (in both senses of the word) good drama. If all the saccharine stuff about families gets you a little antsy at this time of year this would be a good antidote! Here is a family that would probably poison you at Christmas dinner or if that doesn’t work throw you off a train. Dide herself refers to her family as a pack of wolves!

GUILTY PLEASURE  – Grace and Frankie with Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda. It’s on Netflix and is about two women whose husbands played by Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston leave them for each other. There’s a second series in the pipeline I’m glad to say. My bet is that if you love it you’ll really love it!

So that’s it. What have been your arts highlights of 2015? Or if it comes to that lowlights! Have there been things that the critics have raved about but have left you cold. Do tell! But whether you tell or not a very very Happy New Year to you and yours.

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8 thoughts on “ARTS HIGHLIGHTS 2015

  1. Absolutely loved River and Unforgotten! And have never been interested in Netflix – but when I saw Lily Tomlin interviewed and she described the plot of Grace and Frankie, I immediately wanted to get it.

    One of the highlights in our area was an exhibition at the Turner Contemporary of the work of Grayson Perry, who is one of my heroes for his originality in his art and his fearless courage to be himself.

    I don’t know why, but I am really excited to see Star Wars : The Force Awakens …

    And a very Happy New Year to you too. I look forward to reading more of your fascinating posts in 2016!

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    • Wasn’t River fantastic? I had to immediately buy the ‘I love to dance’ song. I loved just about everything about it. You must watch Grace and Frankie it’s a complete scream. I’ve loved Lily Tomlin ever since 9 to 5 and All of Me which she was in with Steve Martin. I’ve just come back from seeing Grandma which she’s also in and is excellent. We’re set to see Star Wars next week and I can’t wait.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Agreed to all of the above!
    Earlier this year, when under A Level purdah owing to a struggling daughter, I watched The West Wing tv series in its entirety(!) – and who joins the cast half way through but the fabulous Lily! And she was, Fabulous!

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  3. Must jump in here and comment on West Wing too. I’d never seen it (which I blame to my addiction to salsa dancing while it was screened here!). So a friend loaned me the box set. I adored it – great writing, fab performances, well-rounded characters. I was bereft when I finished watching it, so I’m now following a few of the characters on Twitter. Mad.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ooooh which characters are you following – confess, confess!!! I love it apart from anything it gives a pretty good education about the American political process which I find fascinating but almost impossible to retain in my mind in any sort of sensible way. That scene when Bartlet smokes in the cathedral and then throws the cigarette butt on the floor … I think CJ was one of my favourite characters but like you say there were a lot of very well-rounded characters so there are a few to choose from.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The West Wing made me wonder how the US ever got governed and who on earth would want to do it anyway …
    It was all so adversarial, so full of deals on the side.
    But gripping drama nonetheless – Sorkin is a genius.
    I don’t think Sorkin has done anything better tv wise – though I did enjoy Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, which had Bradley Whitford in it again. But I really hated The Newsroom.

    Liked by 1 person

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