José´s Week in Culture:



‘Edvard Munch: Love and Angst,´ British Museum


The exhibition of Edvard Munch´s printmaking at the British Museum is easy to poke fun at but very much worth seeing. It´s organised too like Bergman themes in a Scandi noir and makes one wonder if the categorisation of the work comes from the work itself or from a received understanding that renders for easy if a bit clichéd structuration, The show is titled Love and Angst with subcategories such as ´Free Love´, ´Despair´, ‘Jealousy’, ´’Loneliness´, ‘Love and Torment’, ´’God and Humanity’ ‘Anguish and Isolation,´ ‘Sickness and Death’ etc. It is ripe for satire: ‘Laugh Along with Munch’! Luckily there are forays to Paris and Berlin. The prints are very striking, there are a few paintings as well and his work as a designer for theatre (for works by Strindberg, Ibsen, Gunnar Heiberg) is well documented.

Ive been going through the publication for the manga exhibit and it is truly excellent. One of the things that fascinates me is all the ´boy love´ manga, written by women for women, a bit like those Kirk/Spock drawings Constance Penley used to write about, though even more fragile and more delicately drawn. There are also various types of manga explicitly addressed to gay men, including a series where a Japanese man falls in love with his Canadian brother in law. And of course a very long tradition of cross-dressing heroes and heroines. For those of you interested i´m posting images from the exhibition and from the catalogue here:´


Kiss My Genders at the Hawyard Gallery: a series of extraordinary images, all of which have the effect of interrogating binary discourses of gender whilst nonetheless often juxtaposing elements associated with binary discussions of masculinity and femininity to demonstrate and argue for a more fluid and more inclusive discourse.

light at the piazza

Light at the Piazza at Queen Elizabeth Hall

Ciinephiles might have heard of this as a 1963 film, one of Arthur Freed´s few forays into drama, the very last film produced by the very greatest producer of musical films. Yvette Mimieux played the young girl who´d been kicked in the head by horse and rendered ´backward´’, George Hamilton is the Italian who falls in love with her, Rosanno Brazzi is the father of the boy who initially sees an opportunity but backtracks. Olivia de Havilland starred as the mother who wants to give her daughter a chance to love. It was not a big hit in 1963. And it´s not been a big hit as a musical remake. Which is a pity. Adam Guettell´s score, particularly when played by a large-ish orchestra is simply gorgeous. And the singing, by Renée Fleming, Dove Cameron, Rob Houchen, Alex Jennings and Celine Shoemaker, is wondrous. A subline evening of musical theatre.

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A further note on Sauvage:

I was watching some of the extras of Camille Vidal-Naquet´s ´Sauvage´. There´s joint interviews with the director, cinematographer and editor where they speak about cuts, choices of lenses, filters etc. And there was a moment where the director is discussing the first scene of the film and says ‘we wanted the moment where Léo opens his eyes and looks up to be a moment akin to the the curtain going up in the theatre´, the beginning of the drama after the overture. And it struck me that part of the problem with current criticism is that filmmakers themselves offer analysis of their own work that are considerably more complex than most film criticism now offers. They also do a fantastic analysis of how they tried to symbolise freedom through money in Leo´s pocket, a moving zoom shot, and Félix Maritaud´s walk. To generalise, when film criticism seeks to unpack complexity they go to theory or philosophy (particular works of cinema don´t seem worthy enough) whereas filmmakers have no problem articulating the dense, the complex, the symbolic, the poetic…at least on the level of intentions. #ducks



Amazing Grace:

The Midlands Arts Centre has the best projection system in town and one of the best sound systems. It was mostly full and the audience was mostly black. Seeing the film was akin to a religious revival. Aretha´s voice would soar, and the audience couldn´t restrain themselves from whooping and clapping. In a cinema. Lots of Wows were heard throughout. That voice, that singer, singing those songs. It´s like all pain and sadness is transmuted into joy and hope. And one really is left agog that a person can do that, with such freedom and such control. Even her father was rolling in his chair in amazement. See it in a cinema if you get a chance. It was a form of communion.


Medici: Master of Florence is the kind of EU transnational production we may not see much more of in the future. The majority of key actors are British; most of the rest of the production people Italian. It´s quite trashy but also sumptuous and glamorous. Richard Madden is very pretty in it. And it was lovely to see Steve Waddington as a horny bishop, Frances Berber, Brian Cox and even Dusting Hoffman in smaller roles. Ostensibly a huge hit in Italy.


Late Night

It was amateurish and inept. All good intentions, feminist rah rah, but terribly done. Not a good laugh in it, and overly sentimental. Worth seeing only for Emma Thompson, who is fabulousl.

black dhalia

I didn´t even know this graphic novel existed. It´s fab.


Everyone´s been saying Dark Phoenix is terrible but I wanted to see for myself. Everyone is right. A director who gets this budget and this cast and comes out with only this movie doesn´t deserve to make another one. Jessica Chastain is the only actor who makes an impression.


José Arroyo




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