2018 Guide for Cultural Philistines – February

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culture guide

We may already be halfway through February, but there’s plenty of cultural events still to take place this month. Join us on a journey to culture Valhalla:

Music

Remember watching La La Land and thinking: ‘this music is kinda OK.’ That music was, in fact, jazz and there’s plenty of it to be found in London. There’s nothing better than seeing an unassuming, introvert pick up an instrument and appear suddenly able to express his or her feeling. For this reason, we recommend strolling down to the Vortex Jazz Club this Saturday to see Stan Sulzmann – described by the Guardian as “ravishing, delicious, powerful and direct.”

Film

It’s that time of the year; with awards season in full swing, film fans get to gorge themselves on visual feasts for a couple of months. All of this makes picking a film for February challenging, so we’ll go off-centre and choose Black Panther.

It’s unlikely to win any Oscars, but perhaps Black Panther will be one of the defining films of this period in cultural history. This subversive addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe offers viewers a rare treat: a big-budget production which speaks almost exclusively about Africa (although it was filmed mostly in South Korea). The film subverts the idea of a ‘wild’ Africa by using the cliches as a way to prevent intervention from politicians and companies with malevolent intentions – citizens of the fictional nation of Wakanda (home of Black Panther) hide their uber-modern civilisation behind an ideological smokescreen. Oh, and did we mention Kendrick Lamar curated the soundtrack?

Honorable mentions for cinema this month go to Phantom Thread and The Shape of Water.

Theatre

In its astonishing 60th year, Harold Pinter’s The Birthday Party welcomes some big hitters in the form of Zoe Wanamaker, Stephen Mangan and Toby Jones for this production at the Harold Pinter Theatre. After 60 years, you’d think the critics would have a good idea of Pinter’s intentions with this play; alas, the playwright created the text with enough ambiguity to allow directors the space to add their creative reflections. This tale plays with time, character and even meaning itself; a must-see for theatre buffs and an excellent introduction to those new to the art form.

TV

Binge watchers rejoice! You’re newest streaming obsession has arrived: a new series from Netflix is now available: Altered Carbon tells the story of humanity’s future (300 years in the future to be precise). In the series, we’ve managed to upload our consciousness to a type of RAM chip, and we can avoid death through advancements in tech, but it’s not all fun. This sci-fi-cyberpunk show blends elements of the Matrix, Blade Runner and Hercule Poirot (if he had mad combat skills).

Art

One of the main problems with being beheaded while King is that you don’t have time to arrange who takes your art collection. Thankfully, the Royal Academy of Arts is attempting to rectify this faux pas enacted on Renaissance Monarch Charles I by bringing together his once enviable collection for an exhibition. Time Out called the show “art as proof of riches,” so expect little subtlety and plenty of gaudy paintings. It’s perhaps the finest example of how money can make the owning of art seem far more important than the pieces themselves. Less fine art exhibition, more exposition of one dead monarch’s ego.   

What did we miss? Is there a cathode ray tube TV exhibit that everyone’s talking about? Comment below, and see you in March for the next culture guide.

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