Man Behaving Badly

Just what constitutes a terrible boyfriend? Selfishness? Infidelity? Deceit? Theft? All of the above? In Joanna Hogg’s ‘The Souvenir’ shy film student Julie, played by the very charming Honor Swinton Byrne, has a chance to find out. Her boyfriend Anthony, beautifully played by Tom Burke, is the epitome of old world upper-class charm with his …

Transit

In Christian Petzold’s film ‘Transit’ France has been taken over by a foreign force intent on cleansing the country of its undesirable elements. Georg attempts to escape the crackdown by assuming the identity of a dead author and fleeing to Marseille. From here with the aid of a transit visa he hopes to go to …

Aldous

Hannah Harding otherwise known by her stage name Aldous Harding produced my favorite album of 20017 ‘Party,’ a slow-burning folk gem that is less of a party of more of a wake. Now she is returning with her new album ‘Designer,’ the less stark but equally beautiful follow-up. Above is a track that gives you …

Song by Song

For the last two and a half years Martin Zaltz Austwick and Sam Pay have set themselves the task of doing a podcast on each and every Tom Waits song in chronological order, starting with the songs on his debut album ‘Closing Time.’ This herculean feat cannot be done alone, so during the series Martin …

Robin de Puy

Born in 1986, Robin de Puy grew up in her parents’ family hotel in the small village in South Holland. She graduated from the Fotoacademie Rotterdam in 2009 and in 2013, she received the Dutch Photographic Portrait Prize for a shot of fellow photographer An-Sofie Kesteleyn; in 2015 she took a 10,000km road trip across …

Hilma af Klint

Hilma af Klint was a mystic, spiritualist and an abstract artist who more or less invented the form. Yet it is only in the last few years that her work has started to enter the public consciousness. In part because she never displayed her pictures in her lifetime and when she died in 1944 gave …

Shoplifters of the World Unite

What constitutes a family? That is the question at the heart of that poignant and heartwarming Japanese film ‘Shoplifting.’ As its title suggests, it features a makeshift family who makes ends meet by petty criminality. I say makeshift as the connections between them are not blood ties as such. The grandmother is not actually the …

Love in a Cold Climate

In Pawel Pawlikowski’s film ‘Cold War’ it’s tough being true to yourself as a musician in Communist Poland. Not only do you have to sing Polish folk songs and tributes to the glorious revolution but you also have a hard time living with the one you love. The films two main characters composer and pianist …

Seymour reads the Constitution

Brad Mehldau is one of the greatest exponents of jazz piano in the world and has released a new album ‘Seymour Reads the Constitution’ with his regular trio that shows the power of beautifully played well-interpreted songs, whether they be by Paul McCartney or Frederick Loewe.

Just a Phase

Mildlife are an Australian outfit that produce synth infused jazz/funk that reminds me of something like the Jan Hammer Group at times. Their new EP/mini-album is appropriately enough called ‘Phase II,’ but the one I’m currently listening to is the 2017 release ‘Phase.’ Here’s a sample.

Shiroi

Mansur Brown is guitar player on the jazz label ‘Black Focus’ and his album Shiroi (which apparently means white in Japanese) is a great showcase for his skills. Purely instrumental, the album manages to hold your attention throughout and has been on constant rotation in my home this month. Here’s a sample

Endangered

Tim Flach spent two years photographing animals on the brink of extinction for his book ‘Endangered.’ The results are poignant but hopefully will inspire people to donate to the myriad of animal charities that do great work trying to protect our wildlife.

Under Her Spell

Esperanza Spalding is a jazz/R’n’B/pop singer who doesn’t neatly fit into the typical musical genres of today. Here new album ’12 Little Spells’, was launched a track at a time, though you can hear it in its beautiful entirety on Spotify. The album has been accompanied by a quite magical stage show featuring incredible choreography, …

First Reformed

Written by the man behind the Taxi Driver, Paul Schrader’s First Reformed is a tense look at a man slowly unraveling as his faith comes undone. Reverend Toller ( Ethan Hawke) plays a preacher who is nursing a tragedy, the death of his son and the consequent disintegration of his marriage. When he is called …

Fates & Furies

A poignant collection of western tales courtesy of the Cohen Brothers, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is perhaps the perhaps the most original piece of television Netflix has ever commissioned. Taking the classic western tropes such as gunslingers, wagon trains, Native American tribes, outlaws and gnarly gold prospectors they twist the genre in a way …

The A to B of Andy

Along with Picasso, Andy Warhol is perhaps the most famous artist of the twentieth century. There’s probably not a western human being alive who hasn’t seen one of his screen prints or heard about The Factory. So on one level, it’s hard to have an exhibition that really holds any surprises for an audience. Yet …

Kinfolk

Nate Smith is a jazz drummer of the highest quality. In fact, many consider him to be the best in the world ( something Mark Guiliana might like to dispute) His album ‘Kinfolk: Postcards from Everywhere’ is a superbly accessible album that exists in the land where Pop meets jazz. One of the standout tracks …

The Culture of Nauman

  If you like the artist Bruce Nauman and live in New York, you’re in luck. MoMA is doing a massive retrospective of his work that spans not just the Manhattan branch of the Museum but MoMA PS1 as well. If you’re wondering whether it’s worth traipsing out to Long Island City to see one …

All Things are Photographable

  I have very few heroes but one would undoubtedly be Garry Winogrand. For years he roamed the streets of New York photographing the everyday life he came across. People termed what he did street photography, a term he hated, but what ever you call it you gotta love it. Ordinary life is beautiful if …

Fox 8

George Saunders is probably one of the few genuine geniuses writing today. I would be very surprised if many of works aren’t read in thirty years time Part of this down to his humanity and basic human His book Fox 8 is a perfect parable for our troubled times. It is a simple tale of …

Dans Ma Main

Moody, evocative and gossamer light French Canadian, Jean-Michel Blais, writes compostions for a winter evening in. He is described by some as a post-classical composer and during his recent concert at National Sawdust, he explained how he liked to take previously inaccessible modernist works that seemed to be deliberately obtuse and ‘hard’ for the listener, …

Broken Politics

When someone you used to like back in the day comes back with a new album there’s always the worry that they’re going to ruin their legacy with some horror show of a record. Thankfully, Neneh Cherry has emerged with a peach. Her new album ‘Broken Politics’ is superb from first to last. With Four Tet …

Capitan, My Capitan

Let me start by saying that I am afraid of heights. Looking out of a tenth story window can make me feel a little queasy. For that reason, and many others, the idea of climbing a mountain without ropes has never really appealed to me. Alex Honnold is made of sterner stuff. He’s chosen this …

Alex Prager

Alex Prager creates strange and fabulous images that look as if they might have been culled from some cult classic film of the sixties. This year there’s a collection of her work featuring some of her most famous and enduring work.

Evelyn Hofer

Evelyn Hofer is a photographer best known for her work in the fities and sixties including these wonderful images from a reissued collection of her New York photos. As an adopted son of the city, I love her take on Gotham.

Is it Because I’m Black?

  Identity politics marks our age, but what if someone chooses an identity because they ‘feel’ that they belong to a particular group? Sometimes such identification can lead to the support of the liberal world. For example, not too many would decry Catyln Jenner’s desire to identify as female even though she was born to …

Lean on Pete

Harrowing and unforgettable by equal measure, Lean on Pete shows the how fragile our lives are. A young teen, Charley, lives in Oregon with his dad, a man who seems unable to keep a job or sustain a relationship. Charley gets a job, training racehorses and becomes particularly attached to one called ‘Lean on Pete’, …

This is America

Donald Glover them man otherwise known as Childish Gambino has produced the video of the moment at a time when hardly anyone watches videos anymore. His current creation for the song ‘This is America’ scored millions of hits in a matter of hours.

The Assassination of Gianni Versace

It may be called , but the FX series is really about the life and death of his murderer Andrew Cunanan, a boy/man who longs for the trappings of success without doing the work needed to achieve it. Kept by a string of elderly male lovers in the style to which undoubtedly believes he was …

Show Me the Monae

  Janelle Monae is the latest performer to take the mighty legacy of Prince and reuse it for her creative ends. ‘Make You Feel’ is an androgynous, Kiss-like anthem to the noble art of doing what you feel, accompanied by a vibrant video that feels like the arrival of spring.

Annihilation

Based on the first book of the much-praised Southern Reach trilogy, Annihilation is the new film from Alex Garland the screenwriter behind 28 Days Later and the director of Ex Machina. I loved both these and Sunshine, another film written by Garland so I had high hopes of this new work. The story is simple. A …

Singularity

Jon Hopkins latest album ‘Singularity’ breaks in May but you can still get a preview of what you’re in for with the brilliant track ‘Emerald Rush’

Nils Frahm

Seeing Nils Frahm at the Knockdown Center in Queens this week reminded me how everything old is new again. In the seventies, people would pay to see artists like Jean Michel Jarre and Vangelis perform surrounded by banks of keyboards and technology today Nils Frahm occupies a similar space. Obviously, between now and then, house, techno, and …

Basquiat versus The Barbican

When I was back in London over the holidays, I went to see a beautiful Basquiat show at the quite hideous Barbican Center. Even this concrete monstrosity couldn’t hide the vibrancy of Basquiat’s work. Not only is there an extensive selection of drawings and paintings but also a film featuring other featured players in the …

Miami

Starting with the legend ‘I don’t think you realize just how successful I am,’ Baxter Dury ‘Miami’ gives you the worldview of as, we would say in my homeland, a certified tosser. Brilliant and disturbing in turn, the track is just of a number of great songs from an equally fantastic album.  

Into the Light

Up until about 3 months ago James Turrell was unknown to me. Quite how I managed to miss one of the major artists of the 21st century is beyond me but I admit I did. Only when reading the excellent collection of essays on artists by Calvin Tomkins did I discover about the Light and …

Tess

I understand Roman Polanski is top of many people’s shit list right now. A serial rapist is not exactly the sort of person you want to be praising. Yet on seeing the movie ‘Tess’ again recently I have to do just that. But remember I praise the work not the man. It’s hard actually to …

Naomi Klein

How do fight back in the age of Trump? I looked to Naomi Klein to give me some tips. She was being interviewed by Jia Tolentino as part of the ‘New Yorker Festival’, a long weekend of interviews with a series of famous and/or expert people. Klein did not disappoint. She said something, which stayed …

Dunkirk v Detroit

Like a flotilla of small craft carrying soldiers, Dunkirk was met with rapture on its arrival in England a few months ago. Apart from the usually dissenting voices who you always suspect are more interesting in being contrary than being honest, the reviews were gushing. Then something unfortunate happened. The leader of the anti-immigration right-wing …

I Called Him Morgan

‘I Called Him Morgan’ is a new documentary about the brilliant jazz trumpeter Lee Morgan and his untimely demise at the hands of his wife Helen. Filled with great footage of jazz greats like Art Blakey and Warner Shorter performing with Morgan, as well as classic behind the scenes photos it reminds us a beautiful …

Ghost in the Shell

The imminent arrival of Ghost in the Shell starring Scarlett Johansson led to Metrograph cinema in the Lower East Side running the anime original. Primarily known as the influence for ‘The Matrix’, it is actually quite a bit different from the Wachowski’s film and years ahead of its time. For a start it has one …

Sexual Dependency

Nan Goldin’s famed series ‘The Ballad of Sexual Dependency’ is showing at MOMA. There a few selected images from the book on the gallery walls but when you step into the darkness of an additional room you see a series of Goldin’s images appearing one after the other to an imaginative soundtrack that goes from …

Manhattan’s Babe

Frederic Beigbeder is not a name familiar to many but in France he’s a big deal. I discovered him accidentally wondering around Shakespeare & Co in Paris where I found his book ‘A French Novel’. It’s fun, irreverent and highly readable so when I heard about his novel ‘Manhattan’s Babe’ I was in. The story …

A Pen of all Work

Southern Californian Raymond Pettibon has been a counter culture artist since his days playing bass, albeit briefly, in his big brother’s punk band ‘Black Flag’. But it was with a pen rather than a guitar that he found the tool that would unleash his creativity His comic like drawings in black and white and color …

Citizen Kitty

‘Kedi’ has been  called the Citizen Kane of cat documentaries but rather than the life of one Charles Foster Kane, we have the lives of nine very distinctive Istanbul street cats and their effect on the humans who care for them. Beautifully shot with a massive amount of cats throughout, this is a must-see for …

Red Turtle

The latest work by the Studio Ghibli is a beautiful understated tale of a man shipwrecked on a desolate island, which he constantly tries to escape only to be thwarted by a giant Red Turtle that smashes his flimsy bamboo raft time after time. In his fury he takes his revenge on one turtle he …

Love Trumps Hate

I like Michael Kiwanuka debut album ‘Home Again’ but I find I’m playing his follow up ‘Love and Hate’ far more. It is unlike anything else out there at the moment, a sort of modern take on singer songwriters like Terry Callier.

Ape and Essence

As I get older and more cynical it’s often hard to find books that will engage me. Everything seems tired and done before (or maybe I’m just tired and done before) So it was with no little pleasure that I discovered Yann Martel’s new novel ‘The High Mountains of Portugal’. The Canadian author is responsible …

Something Wicked

Like to be scared out of your wits? Then the brooding period piece horror ‘The Witch’ is for you. The plot is simple. A religious man breaks with his Puritan community and goes to live with his family on the edge of a spooky looking wood. Pretty soon that family starts to disappear. The film …

The Folk Sound

The late Terry Callier is a difficult singer to define. You could describe his style as soul or maybe as blues, and if you go back far enough, folk. Once fiendishly difficult to get hold off and recently reissued The Folk Sound fo Terry Callier is an accomplished piece of work which pulls off the …

Hope Downs

Released last year the Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever album ‘Hope Downs’ has an upbeat but raggedy feel, which I hope to be repeated when I see them at the end of the month Coming in at around 37 minutes it’s also short and sharp and eschews the current trend to create albums that last several …

Broadsword Calling Danny Boy

To British men of a certain age, the Second World War looms large in their consciousness, even though they were born a long time after it ended. Brought up on a diet of seventies comics like Warlord and Battle that replayed the conflict, every one of us was given the opportunity to revel in one …

A Trawl through Past Time

In 2003 Prefab Sprout frontman Paddy McAloon released an album under his own name. Titled ‘I Trawl the Megahertz’ this beautiful and poignant album was made at a time when McAloon was going through a particularly difficult time. Detached retinas had left him facing blindness and increasingly isolated he spent his nights listening to short …

Women on the Verge

French author Leila Slimane brings new life to the literary thriller with a distinctly feminist take on the genre. In her novel ‘Adele’ there are echos of much older French novels such as ‘Madame Bovary’ and ‘Therese Desqueyroux’ in her depiction of an unhappily married woman who can not quite understand the source of her …