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Tag Archives: Culture

ABBA’s songs are an escapist treat in melancholy times

THERE is a scene in “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” in which Harry (Colin Firth) is snoozing through contract negotiations. They have been going on for 14 hours and, frankly, there’s somewhere else he would rather be. His interlocutors scold him: this deal could make his unspecified business the biggest in Europe! But Harry cares not. After some cheesy lines about the importance of family, he flees the boardroom and within moments is singing with old chums by the …

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Danny Fields and Seymour Stein, champions of punk, look back

NEITHER Seymour Stein nor Danny Fields can remember when they first met. “It seems like forever,” says Mr Stein, now 76, sitting with his daughter Mandy in the London headquarters of Warner Bros Records. “Was he friends with Mommy first or you first?” asks Mandy. “No, I knew him before your mother,” Mr Stein insists. “No,” Mr Fields, 78, says down the phone from New York. “I was friends with his wife, Linda.” In Mr Fields’s version, it was 1973 …

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Netflix makes a statement in India with “Sacred Games”

SOMEWHERE in Mumbai, a fluffy white Pomeranian is flung from a skyscraper. As it twists and falls towards the pavement, the opening credits roll; it lands with a splat at the feet of uniformed, shrieking schoolgirls. With that, Netflix has landed in the commercial heart of the country and at the centre of the world’s biggest film factory.  “Sacred Games”, Netflix’s first Indian “original” series (the term refers to content produced or distributed by Netflix exclusively), was released on July …

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A grammatical analysis of Donald Trump’s double negatives

FEW grammatical issues in history can have been quite as consequential. In Helsinki, Donald Trump rhetorically sized up the statements of his own director of national intelligence against those of Vladimir Putin, the former KGB spy standing a few feet away. Did Russia interfere with the election of 2016? “My people came to me. They said they think it’s Russia. I have President Putin. He just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why …

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Imagining the “Trump in Europe” opera

AFTER decades of tense relations with China, Richard Nixon in 1972 undertook a pathbreaking visit to the communist country. So historic was the American president’s trip that John Adams was inspired to write an opera about it. The composer was on to something: summits, with their high stakes and larger-than-life personalities, are natural operatic fodder and despite being a modernist work, “Nixon in China” has established itself in the operatic repertoire. A recent diplomatic trip undertaken by the incumbent American …

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“Path of Blood” shows an uncomfortable humanity behind inhumane acts

THE rise of al-Qaeda, and America’s resulting “war on terror”, has been well documented on film. Less known are the domestic efforts of Arab countries to stem jihadism. “Path of Blood”, a documentary released on July 13th in Britain and America, is made up largely of footage gathered by Saudi Arabian security forces from al-Qaeda cells. It depicts a grisly cat-and-mouse game between 2003 and 2009. Much of the footage was shot by the terrorists themselves, and it reveals the …

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Why art exhibitions are returning to domestic settings

IN THE dining room at Kettle’s Yard, a lemon sits on a pewter dish. Replaced every week, it directs viewers’ eyes to the adjacent wall, where the yellow spot in a painting by Joan Miró gleams a little brighter. Illuminated by an everyday object, “Tic Tic” is one of the many artworks in Kettle’s Yard which proves that intimate and domestic spaces are the best places to appreciate art. The Cambridge home of the late Jim Ede—a former curator at …

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Harald Szeemann and the art of exhibition-making

ON THE floor is a black, 1960s-style telephone. “If this telephone rings, you may answer it,” a note reads. “Walter De Maria is on the line and would like to talk to you.” This appealingly quirky piece of art, selected for exhibition in 1969 by Harald Szeemann, does not seem especially odd by today’s standards. That is because current contemporary art shows owe so much to the Swiss curator, who died in 2005. The landmark exhibitions of the previous 100 …

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“Sharp Objects” cuts deeply

A SMALL American town. A pair of brutal murders. A reporter, dogged by a host of demons, returning home to investigate. These are the basic elements of “Sharp Objects”, an eight-part HBO miniseries based on the debut novel by Gillian Flynn, best known as the author of “Gone Girl”. The result in this case, however, is more than the sum of its well-worn parts. Camille Preaker (Amy Adams) has not been much missed in Wind Gap, Missouri, nor is she …

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Is the World Cup really free from doping?

THE FOOTBALL World Cup and the Olympic games have long vied for the title of the world’s biggest sporting event. The marquee competitions for many of the planet’s most popular athletes are watched by nearly half of humanity, and generate more revenue than the annual GDP of one-quarter of the world’s countries (roughly $9bn for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil, and a projected $6bn for the current World Cup in Russia). Yet with so much on the line, there seems …

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