The Week In Arts: PERFORMANCE NOTES

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The Film

Ocean's Twelve

Certificate 12a

General Release

Overview

Steven Soderbergh is back at the helm for this sequel to the 2001 heist blockbuster Ocean's Eleven, a film which was itself adapted from the 1960 Rat Pack flick of the same name. The all-star cast of George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon return, along with Catherine Zeta-Jones, for another crime caper.

Our View

"It's hard not to feel slightly insulted when movie stars, some of them supposedly proud of their craft, take to celebrating their part in self- consciously third-rate material and then expect to be rewarded for it... Like Ocean's Eleven, the film is essentially about the great time that you can have being a movie star." Anthony Quinn

Critical View

"Soderbergh clearly believes that by cramming enough stars into a film, he can turn any old garbage into a hit. He may be right - which is more depressing still." Daily Mail

"It's this follow-up, with its lazy, thrown-together plot and insufferably complacent Hollywood in-jokery, which keeps faith with the rotten Rat Pack original." The Guardian

"An episode of Ground Force has more against-the-clock drama. And, unlike Mission: Impossible, there are no torso-bulging, frenzied dashes here; the characters are too busy trying to be cool." The Daily Telegraph

"Ignore the critics who've called this film a dud - this is top-notch entertainment." Daily Mirror

The Play

A Life in the Theatre

Apollo Theatre

To 23 April

Overview

David Mamet's 1977 two-hander about life backstage is revived in a new production at the Apollo. Lindsay Posner, who has directed numerous Mamet plays before, steers the Hollywood talent in this brisk performance. Patrick Stewart plays the ageing luvvie, passing on his wisdom to Joshua Jackson, once a denizen of Dawson's Creek.

Our View

"Patrick Stewart is wonderful now in Lindsay Posner's highly adroit production of David Mamet's A Life in the Theatre... Unfortunately, neither the excellence of the directing nor the slow-burn drollness of Joshua Jackson's performance can disguise the anorexic dramaturgy that is on offer here." Paul Taylor

Critical View

"What makes A Life in the Theatre such a joy is its constant mix of acid satire and overwhelming sympathy... There have been many plays and movies about the backstage life, but I cannot think of one which so briskly and brilliantly raises all the right questions about actors at their very best and worst." Daily Express

"I have never seen Patrick Stewart give a better performance than he does here as the ageing thesp... Stewart memorably nails his character's preening vanity, creepy homosexual advances and hypersensitivity to criticism. Mamet has undoubtedly written more powerful plays than this, but none I think so touching." The Daily Telegraph

The Gig

Gang of Four

Shepherd's Bush Empire

Tour ended Saturday

Overview

With current bands such as Franz Ferdinand and The Futureheads citing Gang of Four as major influences on their music, the time seems ripe for more GO4. Right on cue, the foursome of Andy Gill, Jon King, Dave Allen and Hugo Burnham reform for the first time since 1981 to embark on a UK tour culminating in a gig at the Empire.

Our View

"Their influence stretches back two decades, yet there was still shock that Gang of Four could roll back the years with such ease... If the rumours that the band are set to re-record their old numbers are true, this is one challenge they should take on... Bands may have picked up Gang's pieces, but no one has remade the mould." Chris Mugan

Critical View

"There's a fine tension here, with bass and drums locked into formidable grooves and Jon King searching for space to sing, declaim or whisper." The Observer

"Back on stage, the Gang quickly establish their credentials: lead singer Jon King is tall and commanding, Gill's guitar is still the most jagged in the business, Allen's bass is pretty fly for a white guy, and Hugo Burnham's drumming has a visceral power." The Mail on Sunday

"Never ones knowingly to confuse hard-Left principles with self-interest, the original line-up have taken the shilling, regrouped and, consequently, shattered their formidable mystique. And for what?" Evening Standard

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