Arts & Culture

Review | Winter Solstice | The Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh

“Yet it doesn’t seem to accomplish that here; in fact, it’s a struggle to see what the staging brings to the play other than a few cheap laughs. The cast gamely try to bring their characters to life, and Kirsty Besterman’s Bettina alongside Davin Beames’ Rudolph are particular standouts, skilfully evoking a bitter, wry frustration and an insidious, polite extremism respectively. But the staging is effectively working against them. As the narration describes the house or a character in great detail, all we want to do is see it, to watch it unfold instead of constantly being told what it is. The characters are neither truly believable as individuals or as symbols of some wider concept.” (Read More)

Books

Review | ‘The Case for Impeachment’

Distinguished Professor of History at the American University in Washington DC, Allan J. Lichtman has produced my favourite book of 2017. Renowned as the man who predicted Donald Trump’s election to the White House, Lichtman turns his attention to how and why President Trump should be impeached. (Read More)

Film & TV

Review | ‘Dunkirk’

“There are several leading characters in the film but there is nobody around which the entire story revolves. Not even Kenneth Branagh’s Commander who stands on the pier attempting to direct the evacuation is master of his own fate. All rely on the other interlinking perspectives of the story. The perspective of Mark Rylance’s retired veteran’s pleasure boat crossing the channel to a war zone is fuelled by the duty to do his bit.  As is Tom Hardy’s endless dogfights in the air knowing he might lack the fuel to get himself home.” (Read More)

Reviews

Review | ‘The Broken Journey: A Life of Scotland 1976-99’ by Kenneth Roy

That’s extremely important given today’s politics. So much of Scotland’s past is used as a resource to fuel arguments, on both sides, of the constitutional debate that it’s rare to find a rhizomatic reading of history concerned with how well the system worked. How the Scottish justice, health, education systems operated with and through the Scotland Office; its ministers and its instruments and scope of its power in Scotland make for a fascinating read and serves an accessible index of political parties and policies still asking for your vote today. (Read More)

'The Grand Tour' / Amazon Prime Video
Arts & Culture

Review | ‘The Grand Tour’

“The problem here is that the mystery of Top Gear has evaporated. Part of the magical charm of Clarkson, Hammond and May was that no one knew how close they were. By resigning to be with a disgraced comrade, the audience got exposed to either a gratuitously mercantile vein or genuine affection that runs counter to the on-screen tension that was so funny.” (Read More)

Arts & Culture

Review | ‘Logan’

“The result is an astonishing swansong and something of an unexpected triumph for a genre most thought was in decline. Yet this is where the film succeeds: it knows that at their best, superhero films have to be a timeless tale and less contingent on effects and dated context. It’s an obvious lesson, but given the immortal quality of the comic source material, it’s remarkable that most filmmakers eclipse this point in favour of utilising the latest technologies to produce something that will, eventually, age beyond relevance. ” (Read More)

Arts & Culture

Review | ‘Sikunder Burnes’ by Craig Murray

“Does he vent, passive aggressively, about a subject not dissimilar to himself? No, but even in the expose which made his name, ‘Murder in Samarkand’, there was never frothing bile save for an honest representation of the facts. To the contrary, Murray’s prose is self-aware enough to do justice beyond hagiography and he never lets any slight against him prejudice his assessment, both critical and admiring, of his subject.” (Read More)

Photograph: Pexels
Arts & Culture

Revisiting The Man Who Would Be King

When I first met a man, who is now one of my closest friends, he told me I would love three things: The Picture of Dorian Gray, Withnail and I and The Man Who Would Be King. He recommended a fourth, eight years later, but I’ll tell you that at the end. (Read More)