Arts Reviews, page 1

Film, theatre, book and general arts reviews plus cultural commentary by Anna Chen, page 1.

Wednesday 2 September 2009
The Shock Doctrine and Enron: nightmare TV review

Last night I watched The Shock Doctrine followed by Enron, The Smartest Guys in the Room on More 4 in a truly wrist-slitting binge of disaster telly from which I am only now recovering with a mug of Earl Grey. …
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CHANNEL 4 TELEVISION

Thursday 6 August 2009
All’s Well That Ends Well

There follows a comedy of mistaken identity and subterfuge wherein men are revealed to be treacherous snakes in the grass, cowardly liars and deeply closeted. It leaves you wondering why any fabulous woman would spend so much time and suffering in order to lock themselves into a lifelong relationship with them. …
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NATIONAL THEATRE

Sunday 5 July 2009
Jeff Beck at the Royal Albert Hall last night with David Gilmour

This being the sedate Kensington Gore and the audience being mostly over fifty, the volume does not go up to eleven but is loud enough to give maximum pleasure, Jeff being the ribbed condom of the rock world, without shredding your eardrums. …
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ROYAL ALBERT HALL, MUSIC

Wednesday, 24 June 2009
The King & I review: go you Orientals!

Royal Albert Hall.
Starring Daniel Dae Kim and David Yip
Here’s one show you can’t accuse of yellowface. Last night’s Rodgers & Hammerstein 1951 musical The King & I, revived at the Royal Albert Hall, had so many Asian actors they must have emptied out every Chinatown in Britain. About thirteen kids and 20 or so women swamped the handful of white actors on the stage in something out of Margaret Thatcher’s worst nightmare. …
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ROYAL ALBERT HALL, THEATRE

Friday, 22 May 2009
Yellowface back from the grave: the state of UK theatre – More Light

Yellowface is alive and thriving in deepest Dalston with More Light at the Arcola Theatre, written by Bryony Lavery and directed by Catrina Lear. Imagine, if you will, a return to ye olden days of the almost complete absence of actors of colour from TV, when white entertainers blacked up and sang songs about their dear old mammy and grinning piccaninnies chowed down on watermelon. …
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ARCOLA THEATRE

Sunday 19 April 2009
Dr Who’s Army Recruitment role in Planet of the Dead

Trust me. I’m a Doctor! Maybe I’m being a sensitive flower, but just as our armed forces ratchet up horror after horror in illegal wars, and our police are revealed to relish stormtrooper tactics in matters of democratic protest, it seems our media are ushering us into an era where we are militarised drones. We are all Morlocks and Eloi now. …
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BBC1 TELEVISION

Sunday, 29 March 2009
Priscilla, Queen of the Desert reviews: homophobia bad, racist misogyny invisible

Has anyone noticed the misogyny? Does anyone care that east asians are dissed in a way that would have the blogosphere yelling “homophobia” had it been gays who were the hate figures? Are frocks and Abba the new bread and circuses? Will the producers fuck for spangles? …
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THEATRE

Saturday, 21 March 2009
Priscilla Queen of the Desert review: looks pretty, tastes foul

I saw the original film when it opened at the 1994 Edinburgh Film Festival. … Imagine my surprise to see the all-white troupe of drag queens at the centre of the story looking after their own interests as a minority; cast as heroes, not against their enemies in the real world, but against Cynthia, an evil East Asian woman who is a Filipino import bride with a manic compulsion for firing ping-pong balls from her vagina.
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FILM

Friday, 27 February 2009
Burnt By The Sun, National Theatre review: bum-aching torture but don’t blame Stalin

Unfortunately, the end product looks like the outline before it was fleshed out and turned into a proper script, a disappointment considering this was written by the author of one of the best British TV dramas ever, Our Friends In The North.
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NATIONAL THEATRE

Wednesday 25 February 2009
Battlestar Galactica Ep 6, 4.5 review: Deadlock

(Spoiler alert.) Written by Buffy veteran Jane Espenson, Deadlock, Episode 6 of 10, brings Ellen Tigh back to Galactica’s crippled fleet, now carrying 39,556 surviving humans with no prospect of sanctuary. …
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TELEVISION

Tuesday 3 February 2009
Battlestar Galactica 4.5 Review: Ep 3 The Oath

(Spoler alert.) You’re in a pressure cooker with disaster staring you in the face, your dreams dashed, no future, social meltdown. The foreigners in your midst who were once your friends, partners, workmates are now the enemy and have to be destroyed. It’s us or them. Yup, that’s either us on Planet Earth 2009 or the 39,643 survivors of the human race in the Battlestar Galactica fleet who have started killing each other. …
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TELEVISION

Tuesday 20 January 2009
Battlestar Galactica Season 4.5 Review: Frakk to the Future

(Spoiler alert.) Now we know. It’s us in the future. The long-hoped-for return to their origins in ashes — a dead Mother Earth. Irradiated. Nuked two millennia back, its great cities felled. Nothing left to fall back on, just a dream of how it once was and will never be again. A bit like Iggy Pop in the Swiftcover sponsor commercials topping and tailing each segment. …
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TELEVISION

Tuesday, 30 December 2008
The Good Earth review: Anna May Wong and Chinese in Hollywood

I finally got to see The Good Earth, of which I’d been vaguely aware all my life but which surfaced again during my research into my BBC Radio 4 profile of the Hollywood screen-legend, Anna May Wong (broadcast 13th January 2009). This was the black & white MGM spectacular made in 1937, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning bestseller by Pearl S Buck about the turbulent fortunes of farmer Wang Lung’s family — a sort of Chinese Grapes of Wrath meets Gone With The Wind. …
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FILM

Sunday, 30 November 2008
The Devil’s Whore review: politics and sex

With a title like The Devil’s Whore, you just knew Channel 4’s latest costume drama set during the English Revolution (yes, we had one of those) was going to be a bodice-ripping bonkathon. So it was a bit of a shock to see popular TV tackling the politics of one of the most exciting periods in English history, one that usually gets wiped from our collective memory just because the democrats bumped off a despotic king. …
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CHANNEL 4 TELEVISION

Friday, 4 April 2008
Torchwood review: Wahey! My cock’s on fire!

So. This was it. The final episode of the second season of Torchwood, execrable spin-off of the hysterical Dr Who, reinvented and revitalised by Russell T Grant, the world’s most desperate Joss Whedon wannabe. …
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TELEVISION

Sunday 16 March 2008
How to read a film: No Country For Old Men

This is a bit late but, due to some surprisingly hostile reactions to the Coen Brothers’ latest feature film, No Country For Old Men, I’ve decided to expand my comments at Louis P’s. Bloggers have been vitriolic about the movie, accusing it of a range of crimes from harbouring right-wing politics to cinematic ineptitude. I’ve now seen it twice and I have to take issue with both these charges. The story about the deadly pursuit of drug money across the Mexican US border is framed by the narration of Sheriff Lamarr, Tommy Lee Jones’s ageing police officer, one of the “old men” of a bygone age who realises there is no place left for him in the ugly new soulless world shaping up around him. …
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Sunday, 3 February 2008
Movie watch: 55 Days At Peking

55 Days At Peking, directed by Nicholas Ray who should’ve known better and was sacked from the job for his pains. Set in 1900, 55 Days purports to tell the story of the Boxer Rebellion, when indiginous Chinese made a last effort to get the rapacious foreign powers out of their own country. …
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FILM

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