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2002

2001

 

Plays

Everyman: an Immorality Play at the Riverside Studios, London
Stefanovski turns tradition upside down by confronting a doubting Death with six self-assured, self-absorbed and hedonistic mortals. Death is having an identity crisis due to a lost love and professional difficulties caused by current secular obsessions with youth, eternal life and plastic surgery.
Annette Mees

Black and Blue at BAC, London
It is its examination of human nature that is perhaps the most shocking thing about the production - the audience is made to question our own nature as well as those of the characters.
Amy Matthews

Conflicts of Interest at the Rosemary Branch Theatre, London
'Who can you trust?' Each play cloaks this question in a different outfit; with political backstabbing, existential questioning and, of course, infidelity rearing its head a number of times.
Ruth Sheldon

Love's a Luxury at the Orange Tree, London
I don't know if it is fair to say that the usual stereotypes are here; the put-upon husband, the jealous wife, the pretty parlour maid et al. Perhaps this was the height of originality in 1942.
Mark Tyson

M.A.D. at the Bush Theatre, London
'There's more meaning in my mum smoking than there is in a thousand banners,' John says rather obtusely, but we know what he means.
Dolan Cummings

Hamlet at the Old Vic, London
Hamlet deals with so many themes (death, madness, loss of parental bonds, fear of maturity) that have dominated alternative teen culture over the past decade that it screams out for reinterpretation.
David Bowden

The Man Who at the Pleasance Theatre, London
The production is most engaging when it invites the audience to challenge the 'health' of their own perspective; an ambition suggested by the wastepaper basket that hangs from the wall of an otherwise minimalist set.
Ruth Sheldon

Queer Counsel at the Warehouse Theatre, Croydon
Nick Bamford's intense drama of sexual identity, religious dogmatism, death and redemption sidefoots lazy criticism with passion, depth and a good deal of humour.
David Bowden

Babba Ghanoush and Bagels at the Oval House Theatre, London
Political theatre is often obvious, dull and preaches to the choir. It is amazing to see a physical comedy production which only succeeds when it is political and falters when it abandons its political context.
Annette Mees

The Final Days of Simon Bacon at the Palace Theatre, Southend
Watching the play is an authentic Essex experience, more so even than donning a baseball cap and doing endless laps in a Vauxhall Nova around the seedy amusement arcades on Southend seafront.
Patrick Hayes

The Flats at the Chelsea Theatre, London
Karen is from a more privileged background and offers Nat a serious vision of his future, in a college her 'Daddy' can help him get into. And then there is her sheer sexual allure.
Brendan Rimmer

Badnuff at the Soho Theatre, London
'You're here because you're not normal,' Maggie tells the kids, and she is right. It isn't normal to 'borrow' babies, to flash one's genitals or to beat people up on a whim.
Dolan Cummings

The Sweetest Swing in Baseball at the Royal Court, London
Rebecca Gilman and Gillian Anderson, living up to her star billing, manage to make a sympathetic figure of the egotistical Dana, but they win our sympathy for her as a human being rather than as an artist.
Mark Tyson

The Wooden Frock at BAC, London
Combining fairytale frothiness and physical humour with dark, uneasy undertones, The Wooden Frock turns the Cinderella theme inside out.
Ruth Sheldon

Audience/Protest at the Etcetera Theatre, London
It is pleasing to be reminded that enjoyable theatre and socially-conscious polemic are not mutually exclusive.
David Bowden

Continental Divide at the Barbican, London
It is likely that David Edgar's play will be more studied than performed. It is worth sitting through it, though, not in order to either empathise or sympathise with the characters, but rather to see this effective group portrait of the compromised, alienated, stagnant, frustrated lives of the 'baby boomer' dreamers and to recognise how they fail to understand the world today and lie to themselves in order to cover up this sense of defeat.
Patrick Hayes

Majnoun at the Riverside Studios, London
Language is the clearest barrier to understanding and that is explored here in detail. Many of the jokes are in Arabic, meaning only certain parts of the audience laugh.
Tom Ogg

Dona Rosita, the Spinster at the Orange Tree, Richmond
The play is of its time; even if we are undecided as to whether being single is something to celebrate or something to be angst-ridden about, there no social stigma about being single and the term 'spinster' has become an anachronism.
Mark Tyson

Calico at the Duke of York's Theatre, London
In a world dominated by the attempt to patch up estrangement through therapy, we need more Calicos, more works that show us the social and intellectual mechanisms that force some to act in a manner that has to be described as mad.
Patrick Hayes

Brave New World Solent People's Theatre, Portsmouth
Though Brendon Burns' feverish pace leaves little room for character development, he nonetheless crams the book into an entertaining hour and ten minutes.
David Clements

How I Got That Story at Finborough Theatre, London
Why didn't it make me laugh? It's like watching anything from the past that you may have found funny at the time. That moment has passed and it no longer grips you.
Stephen Nash

Edge at the King's Head Theatre, London
There is a tendency to despise the cult of Sylvia Plath. To show curiosity about her suicide is deemed pornographic and unscholarly. It is an interest only suitable for angsty teenagers clutching copies of The Bell Jar.
Natasha Hulugalle

Waiting for Godot at the Cockpit Theatre, London
The example of Beckett, perhaps more than anyone, rubbishes the notion that to be creative we need to 'free ourselves' from the constraints of the normal, that to be creative we need to be the kind of person who will cut off an ear or be driven to suicide or madness by our passion.
Stuart Simpson

And All the Children Cried at BAC, London
When it was written, And All the Children Cried was an intervention into a national debate about Hindley and whether or not she should be released from prison. The balance of the play can not help but be affected by Hindley's death.
Mark Tyson

The Adding Machine at the Courtyard Theatre, London
Rice's assumption is that once we gain an awareness of our alienated situation we will act to change it. The sad truth is that many today who are aware, having abandoned the project to change things, would envy Zero's memory loss and strive towards his innocence as an ideal.
Patrick Hayes

A Streetcar Named Desire at the Gatehouse Theatre, London
The lack of dramatic commitment by the cast can perhaps be put down to the lack of any definite vision from the director Julie Dark. It just does not seem as though there was any particular reason or dramatic vision behind the staging.
Brendan Rimmer

The Oddest Couple at the Theatre Royal Stratford East, London
Given the actors' talent and writer's experience The Oddest Couple punches below the weight of those behind it, mainly because the format limited the play to something more akin to an end of year review.
Luke Robins-Grace

A Doll's House at the Rosemary Branch Theatre, London
To its credit, the Dale Theater Kompani does not try to show A Doll's House in a contemporary setting, and interestingly we are left with a nineteenth century take on a very modern issue.
Stuart Simpson

Age-sex-location at Riverside Studios, London
Marcus Markou certainly makes a strong case for having brought something new and innovative to the theatre with this production. The strangeness and yet all too human phenomenon of the internet chat room is brought to the stage with some interesting results.
Stephen Nash

Strange Orchestra at the Orange Tree Theatre, London
Ackland is interested in ideas but he does not use his characters as mouthpieces, this preserves the dramatic integrity of the characters but the level of the debate tends to reflect their naivety and youthful idealism.
Mark Tyson

La Pucelle at the Oval House Theatre, London
At the end of La Pucelle I was slaughtered along with the rest of the audience by the cast, and in this review I am tempted to return the favour. But that would be to fail to learn from what happened.
Dolan Cummings

Family Matters at the Bridewell Theatre, London
To talk of the accessiblity or elitism of Family Matters would be to do an injustice to the spirit behind the production. It simply transcends any preconceived definitions of contemporary opera.
Amy Matthews

Allport's Revenge at the Finborough Theatre, London
If one chooses to see Allport's Revenge as a philosophical play, it fails badly. It succeeds, however, if one looks at it instead as an examination of how a family responds to an extreme situation that requires unpleasant action.

Patrick Hayes

Semblance of Madness at the Etcetera Theatre, London
The double whammy here is that the nurse's investigation takes place in a drama therapy session taken by a patient who was once an acclaimed actress. These theatrical types! Crazy, eh?
Shirley Dent

Crave at BAC, London
In this case, the 'concept' that the company gave itself served to do little more than force the text into a straightjacket from which it could not break free.
Chris Wilkinson

King Lear at the Greenwich Playhouse, London
For the most part, the cast handles the language well, although at times things seem a bit forced, like when people suddenly seem angry - a sign that the language is in control and not the actor.
Stephen Doran

Trip's Cinch / Three More Sleepless Nights at the Lion and Unicorn, London
After two hours, and two very different takes on the way men and women behave towards each other, it becomes clear that the two plays share one thing, and it isn't that they both examine the same theme, but that both plays portray the most basic of human relationships as deeply problematic.
Stuart Simpson

Singin' in the Rain at the Richmond Theatre, London
Although Bryan Cardus acquits himself fairly well with the singin', his dancin' inevitably appears arthritic compared to the athleticism of Gene Kelly.
Graham Lee

Sweeney Todd at the Royal Opera House, London
This whole process, the publicity and hype preceding the opening, smacked of a smug, self-satisfied suggestion that,
in some abstract way, the musical work (and perhaps Sondheim himself) ought to be grateful for this marvellous opportunity.
Amy Matthews

Pugilist Specialist at Soho Theatre, London
With one 'Big Stache' newly in custody and another 'Bearded Lady' still at large, Pugilist Specialist is as timely now as it was last summer, and the war on terror shows no signs of letting up this side of Armageddon.
Dolan Cummings

UP4AMEET at the Oval House Theatre, London
Underneath all the comic misunderstandings and the gratuitous nudity of the evening's entertainment, there is a hard-hitting comment about the blasé use of the internet.
Stephen Doran

Film Club at the Riverside Studios, London
Film Club combines words, video, music and dance. It is visually stimulating and enjoyable as a piece of escapism, but I think it is aiming higher than that.
Mark Tyson

The Alchemist at the Courtyard, London
This Alchemist attacks the job in hand with gusto, bringing an almost pantomime quality to the proceedings. Subtle it is not.
Shirley Dent

Five Gold Rings at the Almeida, London
Yes, Laurens' use of language is interesting. But does that mean all other aspects of the theatrical are somehow jettisoned?
Ursula Strauss

Jason and the Argonauts at BAC, London
The name of the game is imagination, and the use of minimal set, props and costume is brilliantly intuitive.
Sophie Carmichael

The Man Who Would Be Sting at BAC, London
If Ben Elton is the stadium rocker of the new musical theatre scene, Niall Ashdown is the soulful indie band.
Mark Tyson

Young Emma at the Finborough Theatre, London
The play manages to create a workable blend of innocence and humour within an otherwise unsettling environment, reflecting the life of WH Davies himself and so many of our iconic figures.
Stephen Doran

Kismet at the Arcola Theatre, London
This is no ground-breaking piece of musical theatre, but what is done is done well.
Amy Matthews

All Fall Away at the Latchmere Theatre, London
'Tis the season to be jolly...unless you're a single mother about to be thrown out on your ear by an evil landlord.
Stuart Simpson

I Just Broke Up! at the White Bear Theatre, London
Billed as a modern farce, there is very little original humour in this production to offer anything other than a cheap thrill.
Stephen Doran

The Slab Boys at the Traverse, Edinburgh
The audience of a certain age seems to be content to be amused for a couple of hours, and this I am afraid to say, is all that The Slab Boys has to offer.
Sean Cannon

An Evening with the Critics: Play in a Day at the Soho Theatre, London
Do theatre critics know what they're talking about? Are they just failed playwrights? It is childish to insist that 'you shouldn't criticise unless you could do better', but you don't have to think like that to be intrigued by a project like this.
Dolan Cummings

Sleeping Around / Separate Tables at the Gateway Theatre, Edinburgh
How often can you say that on two consecutive visits to a theatre you enjoyed two excellent shows at very reasonable prices in a wonderfully presented environment?
Sean Cannon

The Master and Margarita at the Menier Theatre, London
What in the name of Jehovah did Cherub think they were doing turning the lynch-pin character of the book - Satan or Woland - into some terrible pastiche of a Moulin Rouge rapper?
Shirley Dent

Gilt at the Traverse, Edinburgh
It is a play full of the darker side of humanity, but a play that forces you to look at yourself and be aware of your humanity and the need to monitor constantly your own actions, as far too often we act without thought in the desperate need to satisfy ourselves.
Sean Cannon

Camarilla at the Old Red Lion, London
For the bemused leftie trying to get a grip on post 9/11 imperialism, terrorism and spin-cycle democracy, Van Badham's latest play is Nu-Politics 101.
Luke Robins-Grace

Squint at Chelsea Theatre, London
I was hoping for an exciting, original, innovative play, but this felt more like something a sixth former would have thought up, given the theme 'addiction and its true nature'.
Sophie Carmichael

The People Next Door at Theatre Royal Stratford East, London
Who are the people in your neighbourhood? In a post 9/11 world with terrorists supposedly hidden in our midst, a new type of 'stranger danger' has captured the Western imagination. The People Next Door explores our current paranoia about those we do not know and, with great humour, shows us why we should not assume the worst of the strangers around us.
Munira Mirza

The Illustrious Corpse at Soho Theatre, London
Ali the intellectual would, one hopes, never be so crass as to explain the end of Old Labour and the rise of New Labour as no more that the loss of youthful idealism...
Stuart Simpson

Animal at Soho Theatre, London
The writer's (Kay Adshead) key strength is characterisation and human interaction. While the political and thematic side of things is good, it is not quite good enough.
Tom Ogg

Nine Parts of Desire at Bush Theatre, London
Written and performed by Raffo, a self proclaimed Halfsy (the daughter of an American mother and Iraqi father) Nine Parts of Desire is truthful in its portrayal of individual women, both Iraqi and America. You can see this and hear this.
Shirley Dent

Musicals

Is Musical Theatre Alive and Well and Living in London? Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris at the Landor Theatre,
and Passion at the Bridewell Theatre

Lack of innovation in musical theatre leads to the real danger of lack of variety in the performance and production of this genre as a whole, and that includes opera as well.

Amy Matthews

The Wizard of Pop at the Jack Kane Centre, Craigmillar, Edinburgh
Lucy then finds herself on a Musical Road that leads to Craigmillar Castle. There lurks Simon Cowell, the Wizard of Pop himself. To return home Lucy has to reach the castle and become Britney Spears for the day.

Shaun Hadnett

 

Films

Monsieur N Antoine de Caunes
Despite the comic potential of this tale of hubris and noble descent, de Caunes plays it alarmingly straight, weaving a detective mystery around the central drama.
David Haviland

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Michel Gondry
It sounds confusing, and it is at first, but the chronology is quite clear once you grasp the film's logic. The screenplay is another triumph from Charlie Kaufman, displaying all the craft and ingenuity of his previous work, but with a new level of emotional depth.
David Haviland

Wondrous Oblivion Paul Morrison
The script feels at times like a checklist of racial stereotypes, but the film is so liberal, so obviously without malice, that these quibbles are easily overlooked.
David Haviland

Wonderland James Cox
Director James Cox employs a range of tricks to turn in an undeniably stylish feature, but the fractured narrative and grainy desaturation feel like genre staples, and as a result the film is directionless.
David Haviland

Capturing the Friedmans Andrew Jarecki
The film succeeds in making us doubt the veracity of the specific allegations, but presents the Friedmans nonetheless as a damaged, dysfunctional family.
David Haviland

Monster Patty Jenkins
In this account, poverty, unhappy childhood, dysfunctional family, and dubious sexual status all add up to a disturbed, easily swayed individual who, when shown a bit of affection, is prepared to murder in order for that affection to last.
Nathalie Rothschild

The Passion of the Christ Mel Gibson
For some, it seems, Gibson's audio-visual approach has succeeded where the mere Word of God fails.
Dolan Cummings

Gothika Mathieu Kassovitz
Gothika will at least help us to re-evaluate the suspenseful What Lies Beneath - as it's not good for much else.
David Haviland

The Girl Next Door Luke Greenfield
It's a fair point; porn is a deeply unpleasant industry, but it seems hypocritical and self-defeating to preach this way in a film that's pretty close to soft porn itself.
David Haviland

Mambo Italiano Émile Gaudreault
The film is shot in bright primary colours and pastels, to give a wonderfully bright, tacky feel, and the story moves with fluidity and pace.
David Haviland

Woyzeck (DVD) Werner Herzog
Kinski gives an electrifying performance, and the cinematography and soundtrack are beautifully simple, with the timeless quality of fairy tale.
David Haviland

Le Souffle (DVD) Damien Odoul
Le Souffle is a film that some will praise, but few will see twice.
David Haviland

Dawn of the Dead Zack Snyder
Feature debutant Snyder's crew inherit a mall that seems to have been constructed more for zombie resistance than retail, as if written into the building regulations.
Graham Barnfield

Ford Transit Hany Abu-Assad
The preoccupation, near-to obsession, with the Palestinian cause and the Israeli occupation is rarely mentioned or explained, but is a complex and important issue that calls for debate.
Nathalie Rothschild

Principles of Lust Penny Woolcock
Isn't the devil supposed to be seductive? The diabolical creature at the heart of this film has to be one of the least likeable characters I've ever encountered in any story.
Dolan Cummings

Starksy and Hutch Todd Phillips
Stiller and Wilson make a classic double act, in this their sixth film together, and while we may have seen their schtick before, it's still very funny - people will be saying 'Do it' for months.
David Haviland

Suddenly Diego Lerman
Though Lenin and Mao seem to be mostly interested in stealing and having sex, they are neither a kleptomaniacs nor nymphomaniacs. According to themselves, they are not even lesbians.
Nathalie Rothschild

The Missing Ron Howard
Native Americans are central to the plot, but the film has no interest in politics or history, instead using the setting to dramatise a contemporary story about the duties of parenthood.
David Haviland

Mona Lisa Smile Andrew Lau, Alan Mak
Julia Roberts is a fine and versatile actress, but she wouldn't be my first choice to play a woman left on the shelf.
David Haviland

21 Grams Alejandro Gonzáles Iñárritu
They say, 'life goes on', even after a tragedy. But how? And where does it go on to? Spurning a chronological narrative, Alejandro Gonzáles Iñárritu's new film presents the human condition through a tale of zigzags and cruel miracles.
Emilie Bickerton

Infernal Affairs Andrew Lau, Alan Mak
This is a psychological thriller, with little violence, and no martial arts. Instead we study the complex characters, and the difficult choices they face.
David Haviland

Lost in Translation Sofia Coppola
This film stands out for its humane depiction of the experience of alienation. These themes are often addressed in a harsh and relentless manner, so that you wind up feeling both depressed and bored. Instead, Coppola uses humour, compassion and a lightness of touch to show the characters' individual lives, and brief union.
Josie Appleton

Kitchen Stories (Salmer fra Kjøkkenet)
Bent Hamer
This no-frills, dry-humoured film turns out to be a complex story about scientific research, friendship and understanding (or the lack of it) and about Norwegian-Swedish relations.
Nathalie Rothschild and Patrick Hayes

School of Rock
Richard Linklater
Catch that school bus on time because today’s lesson can’t be missed! This fantastic film will please rockers of all ages thanks to Jack Black’s all-round humour.
Abi Hatton

Suzie Gold
Ric Cantor
Suzie Gold might as well have been called Bridget Jones' Big Fat Jewish Wedding And A Funeral, as it cuts and pastes from a range of romantic comedies without matching the charm of any of them.
David Haviland

Elephant Gus Van Sant
The question of whether or not the characters and their behaviours are stereotypical or easily recognisable is repeatedly turned on its head. On the one hand, we think they are predictable, on the other hand their actions are incredible.
Nathalie Rothschild

Something's Gotta Give Nancy Meyers
It's refreshing to a December to December romance onscreen, even if the leads are unfeasibly attractive.
David Haviland

Essay: From dystopia to myopia: Metropolis to Blade Runner
From the late nineties on, there has been a marked retreat into the inner world, into childhood and away from dirty, complicated reality.
David Clements

The Haunted Mansion Rob Minkoff
The Haunted Mansion is based on a Disney ride, but this is a creaky merry-go-round compared with the thrilling rollercoaster that was Pirates Of The Caribbean.
David Haviland

Tooth Edouard Nammour
Imagine the worst children's TV programme you've ever seen. Now remove any residual plot sense, replace the professional crew with children, and halve the effects budget.
David Haviland

The Station Agent Thomas McCarthy
Fin loves trains, and sees himself as a simple, boring man. Unfortunately everyone else sees him as an object of fascination.
David Haviland

Valentin Alejandro Agresti
Valentin is a celebration of innocence; a film which argues that no parent has a more important role in life than the care of their children.
David Haviland

Black and White Craig Lahiff
This film has many merits, but it is perhaps most notable for featuring the young Rupert Murdoch in an uncharacteristically heroic role.
Dolan Cummings

Cold Mountain Anthony Minghella
The film asks three questions: Is there a point to war? Can a hero be a killer too? Is there any idea worth dying for? Its answer to all three questions is a resounding 'No'.
Munira Mirza

American Splendor Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini
Everyday existence contains drama and complexity and it can be made interesting depending on in whose hands its dramatisation lies, and also on where we ourselves choose to lead it.
Nathalie Rothschild

Touching the Void Kevin Macdonald
It is an exciting story, but does not go into the complexities of why people put themselves in situations that require enormous strength, critical decision-making and moral choices in extreme conditions, and of what makes a hero.
Nathalie Rothschild

Master and Commander Peter Weir
Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin are men of their time and Patrick O'Brian's great achievement has been to portray that world without looking through the prism of the present.
Stephen Nash

Cinema Extreme Four new short films at Curzon Soho
Considering the proud declarations of artistic freedom, these shorts were a strangely conservative bunch.
Emilie Bickerton

Dans Ma Peau by Marina de Van (Raindance Film Festival)
Body fetishisation gets autophagous in a new French film about self-harm.
Emilie Bickerton

Phone by Byeong-Ki Ahn (Raindance Film Festival)
All the tropes for a horror movie are here: the bright young reporter in an empty house, the dark corridors lined with mirrors and portraits that follow you with their eyes.
Emilie Bickerton

Aileen: the Life and Death of a Serial Killer by Nick Broomfield
Aileen wants the documentary to be about the media circus and about the cops who, she claims, let murderers kill so that they can be turned into subjects of high-profile films and books.
Nathalie Rothschild

Spun by Jonas Akerlund
The release of Spun marks a new low in the ‘drugs are a mixed blessing’ cycle of recent movies.
Graham Barnfield

Miranda by Marc Munden (Raindance Film Festival)
Miranda is a rather odd romantic comedy, as it seems unwilling to give itself over completely to the genre.
Emilie Bickerton

TCM Classic Shorts Awards 2003 at the London International Film Festival
At first sight, it seemed that the judges had short-listed films with only brevity in common, and declared the shortest film the winner.
Michael Caines

Bodysong by Simon Pummell
The music that accompanies Bodysong is written by Jonny Greenwood, part of the Grammy award-winning band Radiohead. This alone is likely to attract much attention to the film itself, but there is certainly enough in the soundtrack to justify this interest.
Amy Matthews

Uzak (Distant) by Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Distant is a detached, slow moving and sporadically compelling examination of rural and urban identities in contemporary Turkey.
Toby Marshall

Barbarian Invasions by Denys Arcand
Arcand has created a wonderfully human film, which stands on its own two feet.
Alan Docherty

The Shape of Things by Neil LaBute
This is yet another firecracker script from LaBute, which questions the modern obsession with surface beauty.
Alan Docherty

Touching the Void by Kevin Macdonald
Trying to explain his enthusiasm for mountaineering in Touching the Void, one climber says: 'There's not enough risk in the real world', and he has a point.
Alan Docherty

Lost in Translation by Sophia Coppola
In Sophia Coppola's critically acclaimed romantic comedy two tired Americans have a limp liaison.
Toby Marshall

Dallas 362 by Scott Caan
Another buddy movie with a clichéd ending. Is this really what the world needs?
Alan Docherty

Small Town (Mestecko) by Jan Kraus
Set in the Czech Republic pre and post Velvet Revolution, Small Town is as nasty a film as you are likely to see.
Alan Docherty

Milwaukee, Minnesota by Allen Mindel
It is also organised around an increasingly common cinematic archetype. No, not the hit-man having a mid-life crisis, but the idiot savant, a man-boy whose euphemistically described disabilities conceal hidden depths.
Graham Barnfield

Mister V by Emilie Deleuze
The focus is on the battle between the horse and its bewildered new owner (whose tap-dancing can't distract from his growing obsession), and the elemental conflict between man and nature occupies centre stage.
Graham Barnfield

Seabiscuit by Gary Ross
The PBS-style voiceover and the heavy-handed soundtrack - 'blub now please' - all give this gorgeous-looking movie a hectoring undertone.
Graham Barnfield

The Fog of War by Errol Morris
What is most striking is that although former US Secretary of State for Defence Robert McNamara has regrets and acknowledges mistakes, he takes the collective responsibility of office seriously. McNamara's performance is not an apology, nor does he abdicate blame.
Alan Docherty

In the Cut by Jane Campion
Ultimately there is an almost unwitting affirmation of the need for articulation (to live out of your subconscious through words as well as actions), when In the Cut seems otherwise intent on disrupting the negotiation of fantasy, desire and reality.
Emilie Bickerton

Spellbound by Jeffrey Blitz
It is all too easy to laugh at Americans with their naive aspirations - a cynical position which itself has become a stereotype. Spellbound is a documentary that reveals a refreshing and upflifting side to the American dream and what it still means to a vast number of people.
Munira Mirza

Mr In-Between by Paul Sarossy
To date the film has come unstuck thanks to the mouldering dungheap of gangster Brit-flicks to which it would inevitably be compared. Yet compared to The Matrix Reloaded this is intellectually serious stuff.
Graham Barnfield

Eroica by Simon Cellan Jones
It's a fascinating idea. Eroica sets out to recreate the excitement and bewilderment at the first ever rehearsal of Beethoven's third symphony.
Dolan Cummings

I'll Sleep When I'm Dead by Mike Hodges
22 years after Get Carter, director Mike Hodges has made another film with a very similar plot. Clive Owen plays the Michael Caine part, this time returning to London from the wilderness to discover that his younger brother has killed himself after being raped.
Dolan Cummings

Young Adam by David Mackenzie
Young Adam is a portrait of the artist as a parasite. Joe, a failed writer, drifts through other people's lives, having sex with other men's wives, and ultimately letting another man suffer for his own mistake.
Dolan Cummings

El Bonaerense by Pablo Trapero
Given Argentina's dire economic straits at the moment, it is understandable that its latest film to make an impact on these shores is a low-budget affair. The style of El Bonaerense is described by critics as 'gritty realism' - these days a well-worn passport to critical acclaim.
Munira Mirza

Cypher by Vincenzo Natali
A rather dull and nervous man gets a job at a mega-corporation to spy on their competitors. All he has to do is pretend to be someone else and surreptitiously record a few conference speeches. Easy enough.
Rob Lyons

 

 

Books/Interviews/Events and ideas/Exhibitions etc.

Non Fiction

Essay review: The Imperfect Gardener
The Imperfect Garden: the legacy of humanism, by Tsvetan Todorov
At its heart, Todorov's humanism refuses to trust humanity. Give man greater power, and his brutish inner nature will come to the fore.

Philip Cunliffe

Off With Their Wigs: Judicial Revolution in Modern Britain by Charles Banner and Alexander Deane
Unfortunately, Messrs Banner and Deane have recited the modern day orthodox view that the judiciary must be independent of politics as if it were self evidently true.

Jon Holbrook

Rocket Dreams: How the Space Age Shaped Our Vision of a World Beyond by Marina Benjamin
While Benjamin makes a good case that much of the desire to reach into space was a reflection of a narrowly technical conception of the solution to earthly problems, she makes rather too much of the difficulties inherent in space travel.

Martin Earnshaw

Gods, Mongrels and Demons by Angus Calder
Angus Calder and his notable father are oddballs in their own right, products of the twentieth century, its wars and its collaborations.

Dave Hallsworth

Experiment: Conversations in art and science edited by Bergit Arends and Davina Thackara
The high production values are those of an art book, while at times it adopts the style and conventions of a scientific paper. Unfortunately the format is difficult for both art and science.

Joe Kaplinsky

David Cotterrell: the Impossible Project by Caryn Faure Walker et al
Many of the essays that accompany Cotterrell’s art in The Impossible Project sympathise with this standpoint of plumping up subjective trivia as the world’s cure-all – except for one.

Aidan Campbell

Tomorrow's People: how 21st century technology is changing the way we think and feel by Susan Greenfield
In Tomorrow's People, Greenfield, renowned neuroscientist and director of the Royal Institution, indulges her literary ambitions to create a speculative dystopia owing much to Huxley.

David Clements

Therapy Culture: Cultivating Vulnerability in an Uncertain Age by Frank Furedi
Furedi illustrates the way that therapeutic values have come to inform political debate, taking the example of Bill Clinton's claim 'I feel your pain' as emblematic of the substitution of counselling for political representation.

James Heartfield

Therapy Culture and the Therapistas
Therapy Culture is neither an attack on the counselling profession nor on what they dismiss as 'self-help' culture.
Dolan Cummings

No Cheers for Democracy The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad by Fareed Zakaria, The Case Against the Democratic State: an Essay in Cultural Criticism by Gordon Graham, and Democracy: the God that Failed by Hans-Hermann Hoppe
By daring to tackle the sacred cow that democracy has become, these three books are extremely timely.
Peter Rossi

Israel and Palestine: Why They Fight and Can They Stop? by Bernard Wasserstein
The simplest way for Israeli Jews to live wherever they want would be to abandon the Jewishness of the state.
Dolan Cummings

Judaism and Enlightenment by Adam Sutcliffe
Intellectual freedom certainly includes the right to oppose intellectual freedom. This is only a paradox if toleration is taken further to imply validation. It needn't.
Dolan Cummings

Democracy, Fascism and the New World Order by Ivo Mosley
Mosley's most basic point, that democracy is not necessarily a good thing, deserves more coherent discussion than it receives here.
Peter Rossi

Shakespeare Is Hard, But So Is Life Fintan O'Toole
It is a sign of the greatness of Shakespeare that every time a critic sits down to write a definitive review of his work it is always the critic who appears to be ignorant and vulnerable to attack.
Munira Mirza

Climate Alarmism Reconsidered by Robert L Bradley Jr
The name given to the debate, 'Climate Change', is deeply misleading because it suggests that the right policies can stop change and promote stasis. However, there has never been a time when the climate has not changed.
Peter Rossi

Fiction

The Man Booker Prize 2003:

Turn Again Home by Carol Birch
Nicky Charlish

The Light of Day by Graham Swift
Dave Hallsworth

The Nick of Time by Francis King
Nicky Charlish

The Romantic by Barbara Gowdy
Matt Warman

The Good Doctor by Damon Galgut
Natasha Hulugalle

Something Might Happen by Julie Myerson
Adrian Baker

Orxy and Crake by Margaret Atwood
Shirley Dent

The Taxi Driver's Daughter by Julia Darling
Dave Clements

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
Munira Mirza

Notes on a Scandal by Zoe Heller
Chris Wilkinson

A Distant Shore by Caryl Phillips
Mark Tyson

Teen Fiction

Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo
It is told from the point of view of Tommy Peaceful, and is very cleverly written, as he is looking back from the trenches at his life before that point.
Martha Williams

The Fire-Eaters by David Almond
Bobby Burns moves to a new school and finds that it is full of cruel teachers. But when Bobby meets a fire-eater called McNulty, his life turns upside-down.
Martha Williams

Interviews

Rachel Jordan artist
Whatever I align myself with at the time, I always totally believe in. But I’m not going to stay stuck for ever. I think I’ve had my moment with being with the Stuckists. It’s carried me into a relationship. It’s almost served its purpose, but I don’t think that’s where my future lies.
Aidan Campbell

Ramesh Meyyappan visual storyteller
Ramesh Meyyappan brought a unique one-man show to the Edinburgh Fringe this year (2003)- A Visual Adaptation of Dario Fo's 'Mistero Buffo'. This mimed piece is a funny, warm and intelligent example of the potential of visual storytelling.
Munira Mirza

Events

AC Grayling at the Edinburgh International Book Festival
The long-haired and softly-spoken philosopher's aim in 'What is Good?' is to provide a general introduction to philosophy, and the wider issues of what we as a society and as individuals should value.
Tom Ogg

AC Grayling at the Edinburgh International Book Festival
The long-haired and softly-spoken philosopher's aim in 'What is Good?' is to provide a general introduction to philosophy, and the wider issues of what we as a society and as individuals should value.
Tom Ogg

Ariel Dorfman at the Edinburgh International Book Festival
Dorfman's Amnesty Interational Lecture was certainly poignant and moving, and the parallel between the victims of state terror and stateless terror is evidently interesting. However, I didn't think that it was the most brilliant use of our time, or the most informative.
Tom Ogg

Robert Hutchinson and Andrew Sinclair at the Edinburgh International Book Festival
Robert Hutchinson believes that everything that instils fear is terror (The Blair Witch Project?), and Andrew Sinclair is bit of toff who has done a little research into weapons of mass destruction.
Tom Ogg

Exhibitions

Forgetting to Forgive 'The F Word: Images of Forgiveness'
Sorry, the song goes, seems to be the hardest word. But today it appears that words of forgiveness more than those of apology are the ones farthest from our lips.
Hannah Knowles

Saved! Hayward Gallery, London
This is an exhibition that does not have highlights, but rather is all highlights.
Matt Warman

Damien Hirst - romance in the age of uncertainty at the White Cube, London
It's a cynical comment on a secular age, where a dumbed-down plasticated version of charity is all that remains of the traditional Christian ethic of forgiveness and altruism.
Chris Wilkinson

Television

Disunited Kingdom Channel 4, 29 October 2003
For Malik, the remnants of pre-multicultural Britain have taken on the appearance of a 'white end-of-the-pier freak show'.

Dave Clements

The Simpsons' Greatest Hits
The thing about the Simpsons is they don't change. Not only does nobody age visibly, but nobody ever changes or learns in any way.

Dolan Cummings