Arts: The Week In Review

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THE FILM SAVING PRIVATE RYAN

Overview:

Steven Spielberg's D-Day epic depicts the efforts of US Captain Tom Hanks and his troops to recover the eponymous soldier, three of whose brothers have been killed in combat.

Crictical View:

"The opening burst of formalist daring [is] only there to lull you into a false sense of insecurity," reckoned our own Ryan Gilbey of the film's initial scenes of carnage. Nevertheless, thought The Daily Telegraph, "the purest, most sustained vision of hell ever committed to screen." "Suspect tub-thumping... decorated in documentary-like bunting,' sniffed The Big Issue in disagreement. "Spielberg refuses to... toe the guilt-ridden pacifist line," roared Christopher `take no prisoners' Tookey in the Daily Mail.

Steel yourself for the film's gruelling vision of the Normandy landing. Thereafter, despite a career-best performance from Hanks, Spielberg reverts to schmaltzy type.

On View:

Saving Private Ryan is out on general release. Certificate 15.

THE EXHIBITION PIETER DE HOOCH

Over View: A contemporary of Vermeer and a major figure in Dutch 17th- century art, de Hooch is only now receiving a one man show of his domestic interiors and society portraits. Crictical View:

"Light is de Hooch's forte. He sees how light scatters and bounces, how it gets everywhere," mused Tom Lubbock. The Guardian was equally enthused: "His paintings are, to pinch a line from Seamus Heaney, very close to the music of what happens." De Hooch's work reveals "benediction even in the least elevated of daily routines," said The Times. The Daily Telegraph concurs: "At his best, he created an art that looks timeless...but as a figure painter, de Hooch is often endearingly

klutzy."

Our View:

Bracketed by generic early pieces and cluttered later paintings, de Hooch's backyard and kitchen scenes are masterpieces of quiet domestic drama.

On View:

Pieter de Hooch: Dulwich Picture Gallery, College Road, London SE21 (0181 693 5254). Admission: pounds 5 (pounds 2.50)

Until 15 November, closed Mondays.

THE PLAY VIA DOLOROSA

OverView:

Appearing on stage for the first time since school, playwright David Hare presents his 12,000 word meditation on Israel, the nation which, like him, celebrates its 50th birthday this year.

Critical View:

Paul Taylor's judgement was unequivocal: "Watching pious pilgrims kneel to kiss a sacred stone whose position is hotly disputed prompts [Hare] to ask what it is they are kissing: a stone or an idea? Hare's excellent script and Stephen Daldry's beautifully modulated production leave such questions resonating powerfully in the mind." "Bar going there to see for yourself, there can be few better ways of visiting Israel with the aim of making sense of its plight" said The Daily Mail of the evening. "In his first professional appearance on stage a nervous Sir David, hands as busy as agitated windmills, manages to hold a theatre audience nicely enthralled," applauded the Evening Standard

Our View:

Few doubted that the monologue itself would demonstrate the writer's customary insight regarding Israel's political and religious crises, but Hare's competence on the boards proves a pleasant surprise. On View:

Via Dolorosa, Royal Court Downstairs at the Duke of York, St Martin's Lane, London WC2 (0171 565 5000). Seats: pounds 5 - pounds 19.50

Until 3 October.

THE GIG MIKE OLDFIELD

Overview:

Twenty-five years after the original launched Richard Branson's Virgin label, the third incarnation of Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells received its live premiere in Horseguards Parade.

Critical View:

"Backed by a 10-piece ensemble, including three percussionists and three vocalists, the bleached-blond, tanned, healthy looking Oldfield doodled away and bent the notes like a virtuoso, soothing the corporate audience," purred The Independent's Pierre Perrone. The Evening Standard admired the composer's metereological stoicism: "Ironically, the easy listening classical pop arpeggios were enhanced by driving drizzle, the imperious composer shrugging ruefully as the audience wiped their noses on pounds 30 tickets," admired the Evening Standard. "No thrills or chills here, just reserved, pretty music played on a prime patch of real estate," observed The Guardian.

Our View:

Bit of damp squib all round. Oldfield may well reside in Ibizas these days, but Tubular Bells 3 struggles to take on board any true dance rhythms of the Nineties. TB4? We can wait a while.

On View:

This show was a one-off.

Tubular Bells 3 is in the record shops now, priced pounds 12.99

THE PROGRAMME LIVERPOOL ONE

Overview:

Samantha Janus, men's magazine doyenne, stars as psychologist Detective Constable Isobel De Pauli, drafted in to the Merseyside police force in ITV's new cop drama series.

Critical View:

Jasper Rees detected an age-old preconception in the first episode: "De Pauli is from Essex, and suffers the same prejudice that all bottle-blondes from the locality encounter: her creators just won't take her seriously." The Times responded in kind: "We were probably all on the edge of our seats trying to work out the exact same thing: how long will it take for this convoluted plot to unfold in a way that allows Janus to take off her clothes." The Sun maintained its critical distance, though: "It was tense stuff, written with delicious black humour and acted with great energy.

Our View:

Liverpool One gamely casts Janus against type - her boyfriend's gone off her - but the ghost of Cracker haunted the opening episode's clumsy attempt to paper over its plot with pop psychology.

On View:

Liverpool One continues on ITV, Mondays at 9pm.

THE ALBUM MANIC STREET PREACHERS

Overview:

Two years after the million-selling Everything Must Go, the Welsh rockers are back with 1998's most eagerly anticipated album, This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours their fifth LP.

Critical View:

"For a band which had made copious mileage out of projecting an image of rebellious intelligence and sensitivity, there are some desperately embarrassing moments here," cringed Andy Gill. NME was a more generous: "Awesome in scope, perpetually fascinating in content, but somewhat lacking in cohesion." , the lyrics, written by bassist Nicky Wire, continue to flow from a seemingly bottomless well of teenage art-student angst," concluded The Times.

Our View:

The Manics are back with their first post-Brit Pop effort... and it's not what it's cracked up to be. Everything that was there on their last album is here by the spadeful, but that's the problem. Cheer up, lads!

On View:

This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours will be in the record shops from Monday pricedpounds 16.49. The Manic Street Preachers are touring throughout the U.K. this autumn.

THE FILM COUSIN BETTE

OverView:

In Des McAnuff's adaptation of Balzac's La Comedie Humaine, Jessica Lange stars as the titular repressed spinster and Elizabeth Shue as Jenny, a greedy cabaret singer.

Critical View:

"The film doesn't exploit more than the usual trappings of costume drama, but then there is still a lot to be said for heaving bosoms, ostentatious embroidery and the sight of British character actors twiddling stringy moustaches and being crisply bitchy to one another," quipped Ryan Gilbey. The Guardian said it should have been fluffier still: "It's played as a bitter romp, but feels short on both viciousness and laughter, prompting the thought that it would have been more fun as an episode of Blackadder." About the right level for women's mag, Eva, then: "Jessica Lange underplays to perfection the title's butter-wouldn't-melt bitch in this tongue in cheek comic romp."

Our View: McAnuff's frothy film is a long way from 19th-century French, literature, but the presence of a fine cast, Lange and Hugh Laurie particularly, render Cousin Bette's malevolent goings-on almost seductive.

On View:

Cousin Bette is out on general release. Certificate 15.

YOUR VIEW...

... ON VIA DOLOROSA

ANTON ARONSTAN, 27, Teacher, London

"It was absolutely brilliant. The acting is very sincere and very emotional, especially for anyone who has been to Israel and understands the emotions. I think he was right not to offer any solutions."

MADHUCCHANDA SEN, 31, PhD student, London

"Very captivating and very intelligently made. It was very well-edited and very real."

GAYATHIR CHIDAMBI, 26, Student, London

"I liked it very much. I thought the anecdotes he [David Hare] had were quite amusing, but the issues, of course, were very serious ones. I really enjoyed it. Usually the political issues are hard to do but the anecdotes were an interesting and unique way of exploring them. It gave it a lightheartedness."

KARAMAH ONEDAH, 30, unemployed, Dubai

"It included a lot of facts. He was saying how the situation is really in Palestine, or as some people might call it, Israel. It was more than an opinion; more stating facts. Some might say he was against the Israeli Jews or against the Arabs, but I think he was telling it as it really is."

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