Friday, 13 January 2017

Seen and heard: December 2016

Colour: the art and science of illuminated manuscripts – exhibition at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. Both beautiful and fascinating, in its tracing the development of the techniques of painting and the trade routes which supplied the ingredients of the paints. Images of many of the manuscripts displayed are available online.

A United Kingdom – powerful, moving and very timely film, in its reminder of the racial prejudices which prevailed not so long ago, with tremendous performances from Rosamund Pike and David Oyelowo.

Carol of the Bells – one of the nation’s top ten favourite carols (according to the ClassicFM poll), thanks surely to this superb arrangement performed by the boy choir Libera (with just a few additional musicians), and resonating in my head continuously throughout the festive season.

Saving Mr Banks – nice if romanticised account of the childhood of P.L. Travers and Walt Disney’s efforts to get her to assign him the film rights to Mary Poppins, suggesting one of the reasons why people tell stories.

Doctor Who, series 9 – my birthday box set, watched while ill at Christmas. At his best, Peter Capaldi is excellent as The Doctor: witty, ascerbic, with a really powerful screen presence. I particularly enjoyed the fact that in the Viking episode he wears checked trousers, recalling the original Doctor William Hartnell. Not many of the other Doctors in recent times could sustain an entire episode in which they’re the only character, as Capaldi does in Heaven Sent.

Sherlock Junior, by Buster Keaton– one of the truly great silent films, with massively inventive visual gags and a great postmodern key concept as Keaton enters the action of the film playing at the cinema where he is a projectionist.

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