Arts: The Week in Review

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The Independent Culture


Todd Solondz's second picture is a comedy of loneliness and sexual deviancy. It examines the complex relationships of a middle-class family from suburban New Jersey.

"Hilarious, heart-rending and occasionally horrifying," wrote Anthony Quinn. "Happiness leaves you with a nasty taste in the mouth, but it also leaves you feeling oddly moved, even enlightened," reflected The Guardian. "There has never been a better film about desperation," noted the Financial Times, adding, "If there is a better film this year, we must establish a new Thanksgiving Day." "Poisonous but gripping," remarked The Times. "Exhilarating and illuminating," cried Time Out. "Outstanding... original, funny, humane and disturbing," reflected the Daily Mail.

Both enlightening and distressing, Happiness reaffirms Todd Solondz as a brilliant young writer-director.

Happiness is out on general release, certificate 18, 140 mins



The first British retrospective for the Moscow-born painter Wassily Kandinsky, co-founder of der Blaue Reiter and widely acknowledged as the originator of abstract art.

"I think you have to admit that the pictures are not much good... he simply can't do energy and he can't do tension," opined Tom Lubbock. "A painting by Kandinsky is hard to grasp as a stable mental image, although fragments will stick in your mind," deliberated The Guardian, adding "it is all a bit unconvincing." "The marvellous thing about his best work is that disintegration goes hand in hand with reformation. The orchestration of line, shape and colour is managed with panache. But his last pictures are wet, wet, wet," declared the New Statesman.

Though Kandinsky is important in the evolution of modern art, he looks more imitator than innovator.

Kandinsky is at the Royal Academy, London W1, until 4 July. For bookings and enquiries, call 0171-300 5760



John Caird rescripts and directs Leonard Bernstein's comic operetta Candide with Simon Russell Beale as Voltaire and Daniel Evans as Candide.

"Caird's version is more faithful to Voltaire's ideas and has impressive clarity, but the plodding rhythm of his production means that it fails to take fire," decided David Benedict. "It comes up trumps," cried the Financial Times, adding, "all the energies of those involved carry it along its long journey, until it arrives at a rich blend of wisdom and innocence." "Plenty of Voltaire's sardonic comedy and dry, wry outrage," declared The Times while The Guardian deemed it, "Easily the most coherent [version] I have seen". "As beautiful as anything on the London stage," stated the Daily Telegraph.

Despite being a vivid rendering of Voltaire's ideas, Caird's production is hindered by its lumbering pace.

Candide is at the Olivier, RNT, London SE1. For bookings and enquiries call 0171-452 3000