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Monday, December 18, 2017
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A Force for good: why the Last Jedi is the most triumphantly feminist Star Wars movie yet 18 Dec 2017, 12:16pm A Force for good: why the Last Jedi is the most triumphantly feminist Star Wars movie yet
The franchise’s terrific new instalment offers up complex female characters and dialogue that aces the Bechdel test, while still hitting all the classic marks The Last Jedi stormed into cinemas at the weekend as the most triumphantly feminist Star Wars film yet. While The Force Awakens and Rogue One had terrific heroines, they were isolated, and barely spoke to other women. Writer-director Rian Johnson has delivered a film that’s funny, exciting, spiritual and true to the original essence of the series while also having well-rounded female characters who actually interact with one another. Both in terms of women and non-white characters, there’s a celebratory inclusiveness that seems entirely in the Jedi spirit. If you haven’t seen it, very mild spoilers are ahead. Rey (Daisy Ridley) is feeling the first stirrings of the Force and has gone in search of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), who is living as a hermit on a remote island. The dynamic between them is complex and constantly evolving: these are no awe-struck pupil and saintly teacher archetypes. Rey’s character is as developed as any in the series, and bears no relation to her gender. Back at the Resistance HQ, General Leia (the late Carrie Fisher) is calmly calling the shots while her composed Vice Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern) is skeptical of our trigger-happy hero, Poe (Oscar Isaac). There are complex dynamics at work here, and gender seems significant in this case: the different sexes have varying approaches to military strategy, and it’s thought-provoking stuff.
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Tate Modern unveils artworks tackling migration and sexual brutality 18 Dec 2017, 12:02pm Tate Modern unveils artworks tackling migration and sexual brutality
Large installations by Nigeria’s Emeka Ogboh and India’s Amar Kanwar open in gallery’s subterranean Tanks space
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Bach to the future: how the Dunedin Consort keep the baroque rolling 18 Dec 2017, 11:46am Bach to the future: how the Dunedin Consort keep the baroque rolling
In obsessively trying to recreate a mythic past, baroque specialists became militant and intolerant. But guided by John Butt’s pluralistic ethos, this music is becoming inclusive and future-facing Make America Great Again, Put the Great Back Into Britain – today’s populist slogans are obsessed with some imagined past. So, I hear you ask, what does that have to do with baroque Christmas music? In his book Playing With History, John Butt – keyboardist, Bach scholar, Glasgow University’s Gardiner professor of music, director of the Dunedin Consort – considers why we look back. The book was published in 2002 but its prescience is striking. Butt discusses the historically informed performance (HIP) movement – using period instruments and techniques – in the context of populist nationalism, climate change (“As we begin to perceive the limits of the earth’s resources, a culture of recycling becomes vital for our future survival”), and collective trauma (“The burgeoning of authoritative collected editions from 1950 might come in the wake of a war that had threatened to destroy virtually all the manuscript sources of western music”).
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Peter Doig review – sun, sea and savagery in a troubled paradise 18 Dec 2017, 11:37am Peter Doig review – sun, sea and savagery in a troubled paradise
In these grave and noble paintings of our catastrophic age, the Scottish artist uses lurid colours to create bold beach scenes haunted by murders and mangy lions The art of
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Paintings by Chinese artist Qi Baishi sell for record £105m 18 Dec 2017, 10:03am Paintings by Chinese artist Qi Baishi sell for record £105m
Set of ink-brush panels entitled Twelve Landscape Screens painted in 1925 breaks record for Chinese paintings sold at auction A set of ink-brush paintings by the Chinese artist Qi Baishi has sold for 931.5m yuan (£105m), breaking all records for Chinese paintings, a Beijing auction house has said. The group of 12 panels painted in 1925 were sold at auction on Sunday night, Beijing Poly International Auction said.
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Lead singer of South Korean boy band Shinee dies 18 Dec 2017, 9:08am Updated Lead singer of South Korean boy band Shinee dies
News reports say Kim Jong-hyun, 27, was unconscious when taken to hospital and suggest cause of death was suicide Kim Jong-hyun, the lead singer of the hugely popular and influential South Korean boy band Shinee, has died at the age of 27. The star, better known as Jonghyun, was found unconscious at his home in Seoul on Monday evening in an an apparent suicide, South Korean media reported.
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High-concept satire Downsizing is dwarfed by its white saviour narrative 18 Dec 2017, 7:00am High-concept satire Downsizing is dwarfed by its white saviour narrative
Alexander Payne’s ambitious new comic fantasy has ideas to spare but a condescending tone and a disastrous racial caricature leave a bitter taste in the mouth There was a time when Alexander Payne was, as far as the critical majority was concerned, close to unassailable in the ranks of modern American auteurs. His 1996 debut, Citizen Ruth, earned only a niche following, but the five features that followed, from 1999’s sourball classroom satire Election through to 2013’s mournful father-son comedy Nebraska, earned him a reputation as a kind of jaundiced observational poet of sad-sack America, a body of work bound by grim-faced humour, mundane tragedy and white male heroes with scarcely any heroic virtues at all. It’s a run that has netted him two Oscars, a flood of other honours, and repeated critical comparisons to Billy Wilder, Preston Sturges and even John Updike. David Thomson himself gushed: “Payne is one of America’s quiet and persistent treasures, like maple syrup, the St Louis Cardinals or the apparent tranquility of our deserts.”
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The Apprentice final: an almighty, unforgivable anticlimax 18 Dec 2017, 6:55am The Apprentice final: an almighty, unforgivable anticlimax
The infants-school everybody-wins cop-out of last night’s final might qualify as the worst thing the programme has ever given us – surely, its time is up
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Star Wars: The Last Jedi scores second-biggest film opening ever 18 Dec 2017, 6:52am Star Wars: The Last Jedi scores second-biggest film opening ever
Rian Johnson’s sequel earns $450m in just three days, according to Disney, placing it behind predecessor The Force Awakens in the all-time charts T
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The 10 best music videos of 2017, from Kendrick Lamar to Haim 18 Dec 2017, 6:00am The 10 best music videos of 2017, from Kendrick Lamar to Haim
The year provided a range of visually daring, often audacious videos that were also able to provide powerful social commentary. Here’s our pick of the 10 best “Videos now provide a consciousness and a need to stand out, where in the past they didn’t as much,” said
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Hugh Jackman’s new film celebrates PT Barnum – but let’s not airbrush history 18 Dec 2017, 4:59am Hugh Jackman’s new film celebrates PT Barnum – but let’s not airbrush history
The actor has painted the protagonist of The Greatest Showman as a cheerleader for outsiders, but the 19th-century impresario found fame by exploiting circus ‘freaks’ Everyone loves a good circus movie, and everyone loves Hugh Jackman. His forthcoming PT Barnum musical, The Greatest Showman, looks to be a timely celebration of outsiderness and inclusivity, with its bearded women, tattooed men, little people and conjoined twins. “His belief was what makes you different makes you special,”
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Mo meta blues: why self-referential comedies are starting to grate 18 Dec 2017, 4:00am Mo meta blues: why self-referential comedies are starting to grate
Louis CK used his to hide in plain sight, while Jean-Claude Van Damme is back to play a version of himself for a third time – does the form need to be rejigged? In Amazon’s
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Collusion by Luke Harding review – did Russia help Trump become US president? 18 Dec 2017, 2:30am Collusion by Luke Harding review – did Russia help Trump become US president?
A fascinating account of the alleged links between Trump and Russia tracks the story back to its origins and separates the evidence from the fake news When I was a boy, I liked to listen while my parents and their friends discussed when they had first heard about various significant events: the murder of John Lennon, the assassination of JFK, the Cuban missile crisis. Although the events were grim, there was something comforting about the conversations. Yes, all these terrible things had happened, but here we all were, sitting around, having a cup of tea. Trump is a man so ill-suited to the presidency that he can’t even hate-tweet the right Theresa May
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With Bach to the Baltic: a hike through German history 18 Dec 2017, 1:30am With Bach to the Baltic: a hike through German history
In 1705, JS Bach walked 250 miles from Arnstadt to Lübeck in search of inspiration. Follow in his footsteps now and there are mountains, beech woods and curious relics of the cold war to discover There is no better way to come close to a country than walking across it, for at some point in your journey there will be a moment when the place seems suddenly and wonderfully exposed. It happened to me in Germany, on a freezing winter dusk high on the summit of Brocken, the peak of the Harz mountains between Lower Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt. The mountains were adrift in mist. Steam trains hooted like mournful ghosts and the pines were coldly sombre, deserted but for ravens. The Harz are deeply haunted. During the second world war,
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The 50 top films of 2017 in the UK: No 5 Get Out 18 Dec 2017, 1:00am The 50 top films of 2017 in the UK: No 5 Get Out
Jordan Peele’s sleeper hit was a note-perfect dismantling of white American liberalism – but it was also chilling, hilarious and relentlessly entertaining
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The best albums of 2017, No 5: Perfume Genius – No Shape 18 Dec 2017, 1:00am The best albums of 2017, No 5: Perfume Genius – No Shape
Mike Hadreas’ genre-switching fourth album was breathtakingly original, his lyrics of personal pain spiking a shimmeringly sublime score
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