Coinciding with East London’s First art Thursday of the month, here is my personal art round-up of January 2015.
I visit many more exhibitions and see more films than I review on my blog, but I sadly don’t have the time to write about all of them. However, since I am a shortlisted finalist for the UK Blog Awards 2015 in the category Arts & Culture, I feel I ought to share more of my cultural adventures with you. So, as of this year, I will be giving you a monthly overview of all the films I’ve seen (both new and old), art exhibitions I visited, music events I attended, books I read and also my travel destinations. And though food & drink doesn’t strictly fall under the category arts & culture, food is very important to me so that’s why I’ll be also sharing new restaurants with you 🙂
The categories and entries are in no particular order of preference, just in alphabetical order.
Late Turner: Paintings Set Free (Tate Britain) Closed 25 January 2015
The first exhibition of late J.M.W. Turner paintings. Interestingly, this exhibition coincided with Mike Leigh’s film Mr Turner (2014) which explores the last part of this brilliant British painter as well.
Richard Serra (Gagosian Gallery) Closes 4 March 2015
Free gallery exhibition showcasing four of Richard Serra’s steel installations. Especially the enormous Backdoor Pipeline and London Cross (two big steel plates hovering in the air merely balancing in the four corners of the room) are very impressive to see in real life.
Terror and Wonder: the Gothic Imagination (British Library) Closed 20 January 2015
Exhibitions at the British Library are always fascinating and very well-researched. This exhibition explored the gothic motif starting from Horace Walpole’s short novel The Castle of Otranto, which was the first piece of Gothic literature, to Alexander McQueen’s haute couture designs and punk music.
Fellow nerds like me would be exciting to learn that Walpole’s former castle and inspirati on for his Gothic stories Strawberry Hill will open to the public from 1 March 2015! Book your tickets here.
The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
Set in 17th-century Amsterdam. Country girl Nella Oortman marries the wealthy merchant Johannes Brandt and moves to the capital. Rather than love, she receives a cabinet house from her husband. As Nella starts to fills it up with miniature furniture and figures. As events develop, the miniaturist seems to know the deepest secrets of the Brandt family and even to predict the future. Can her predictions help save them?
Looking back on the new cinema releases I’ve seen so far this year, they seem to have been predominantly biopics. Would this have to do anything with the upcoming Oscar awards by chance?!?
Two films I would like to recommend are Enemy and The Guest. You can find the descriptions and links below.
American Sniper (2014) Action | Biography | Drama | War
Based on true events and the books by Chris Kyle, the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history.
Director: Clint Eastwood
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Siena Miller, E.R. Ruiz
Big Hero 6 + short film Feast (2014) Adventure | Animation
Young robotics whizz Hiro Hamada and his cute big inflatable robot companion Baymax leap into action when a villain threatens the hi-tech metropolis of San Fransokyo.
Directors: Don Hall, Chris Williams
Cast (voice): Ryan Potter, Scott Adsit, T.J. Miller
Birdman (2014) Comedy | Drama
Former superhero film star attempts a comeback with a Broadway play. A quirky dark comedy which starts off with an energetic repartee but is just about 30 minutes too long to hold the viewer’s attention.
Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Cast: Michael Keaton, Emma Stone, Edward Norton
Dîner de Cons, Le (1998) Comedy
An amusing French film about Pierre and his unsympathetic friends who organise weekly dinner parties for their ‘special’ guests. Who brings the dumbest guy to the party, wins that week’s competition.
Director: Francis Veber
Cast: Thierry Lhermitte, Jacques Villeret, Francis Huster
Dracula Untold (2014) Action | Drama | Fantasy
A new take on the Dracula myth and how Vlad Tepes turned into a bloodthirsty fanged immortal.
Director: Gary Shore
Cast: Luke Evans, Dominic Cooper, Charles Dance
Enemy (2013) Mystery | Thriller
In my humble opinion this little gem deserves much more exposure than it had so far! This dark film features the always brilliant Jake Gyllenhaal in an unsettling doppelgänger role. If you want to set your brains to work while watching a film, this is a definite must-see! I recommend you to watch it at least twice and read this article before your second viewing.
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Mélanie Laurent, Sarah Gaddon
Foxcatcher (2014) Biography | Drama | Sport
A gripping story of a manipulating wrestling ‘coach’, based on true events. Good performances by Steve Carell and Channing Tatum, but it’s Mark Ruffalo who truly excels.
Director: Bennett Miller
Cast: Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo
Golden Child, The (1986) Action | Adventure | Comedy
The last time I saw this film Eddie Murphy didn’t play double roles in family films yet and I had no idea who Charles Dance was. Eddie Murphy plays a private detective specialised in missing children. He is charged with the task of finding a special child before the dark forces succeed in eliminating him.
Director: Michael Ritchie
Cast: Eddie Murphy, J.L. Reate, Charles Dance
Guest, The (2014) Action | Mystery | Thriller
Like Enemy, The Guest is a good film that should have been on more people’s radar. A soldier introduces himself to the Peterson family, claiming to be a friend of their son who died in action. After his arrival, people mysteriously die.
Director: Adam Wingard
Cast: Dan Stevens, Lance Reddick, Maika Monroe
Hard Eight (1996) Crime | Drama
Paul Thomas Anderson’s first feature film. Sydney picks up John from a diner one day and takes him to Reno where he shows John how to make money by gambling. When they meet again a few years later, John has become a successful gambler. While the film starts off as an average gambling film, it takes a nerve-wrecking turn towards the end.
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Cast: Philip Baker Hall, John C. Reilly, Gwyneth Paltrow
Most Violent Year, A (2014) Action | Crime | Drama
In New York City 1981, an ambitious immigrant fights to protect his business and family during the most dangerous year in the city’s history.
Director: J.C. Chandor
Cast: Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain, David Oyelowo
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) Action | Adventure | Comedy
Pizza-eating teenage mutant turtles trained as ninjas by a giant rat take on a New York City villain.
Director: Jonathan Liebesman
Cast: Megan Fox, Will Arnett, William Fichtner
Testament of Youth (2014) Biography | Drama | War
World War I drama based on the autobiography written by Vera Brittain. This film shows us once again how devastating war is and how awful those trenches in WWI were. Interesting take is however that the audience sees the battlefields through Vera’s imagination and her reconstruction of how it would have been.
Director: James Kent
Cast: Alicia Vikander, Kit Harington, Taron Egerton
The Theory of Everything (2014) Biography | Drama | Romance
Biopic of legendary scientist Stephen Hawking
Director: James Marsh
Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Tom Prior
Whiplash (2014) Drama | Music
Someone described it to me as the Black Sawn of music films, I found it quite a striking resemblance. Warning: contains many drum solos and jazz music.
Director: Damien Chazelle
Cast: Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons, Paul Reiser
FOOD & DRINK
ETHOS 48 Eastcastle Street, London W1W 8DX
Hiding away safely from famished tourists just behind the busy shopping streets of the West End, you find vegetarian restaurant ETHOS. There are just too many delicious dishes to choose from, but the good thing here is, is that you don’t have to choose! ETHOS is a self-service restaurant, so YOU decide what food you want to sample and how much you put on your plate. Prices for meals vary as you pay by weight.
Wolfgang Flür (Hoxton Square Bar and Kitchen)
Focus point of the show was the fact that Wolfgang Flür is a former Kraftwerk member. He constantly reminded the audience of this with his slideshow of old Kraftwerk photos and film footage. The highlight of this evening was to see my friend Anni Hogan who opened the night with a funky DJ set.
Gazelle Twin & Carla MacKinnon: Out of Body (live vocal soundtrack to visuals) at the ICA as part of the London Short Film Festival.
Carla MacKinnon’s animation film explores the changes taking place in your body and state of mind in puberty, using organic elements and staging them in a style reminiscent of the work of Jan Švankmajer.
Gazelle Twin performed a live soundtrack to this film. These two artists were a perfect match for this project as Gazelle Twin’s latest album UNFLESH deals exactly with the physical and emotional discomfort of the changing flesh during puberty.
ROOM40 15 (Cafe Oto)
2015 marks the 15th anniversary of Australian label Room40. They celebrate this with a series of curated evenings across the globe. Their London show in Cafe Oto featured three artists from the label: American ambient artist Rafael Anton Irisarri, modular synthesist John Chantler, and Room40 label founder and composer Lawrence English.
Scanner (Kings Place)
Finally, but definitely not the least, two live performances of Mr Dutch Girl, otherwise known as Scanner.
Scanner premiered two impressive new works this January, coincidentally both in the same weekend for the year-long music festival Minimalism Unwrapped at Kings Place.
The first piece, Unsleeping, is ‘a dreamlike piece that imagined hearing Terry Riley’s In C as a baby, a playful but fun idea.’ You have till 9 February to listen back to this beautiful piece on BBC Radio via this link.
The second piece, Tavener Deconstructed/Reconstructed, is inspired by the music of composer John Tavener. In his hour-long performance Scanner did exactly what the title suggests: he took Tavener’s music, deconstructed it and reconstruced it again adding his own voice and transforming it all into a mesmerising piece. I was very proud as the crowd went quite wild afterwards (in so far a classical audience goes wild) and my hubby’s work received some raving reviews, including in The Times magazine.
January started off on my parents’ sofa in the Netherlands. I happily let my mum spoil me with her delicious food while we watched films, lots of them! One day I managed to get back on my feet and wobbled my big tummy out of the door to see this beautiful Dutch sight.