Reviews
The Manchester Review

Araf, dir. Didem Pekün, reviewed by Dr. Clara Dawson

Stills from ‘Araf’, courtesy of artist, 2018. Araf | Berlinale Film Festival | Forum Expanded For the 13th year of its running, the Forum Expanded of Berlinale (14-26 February) took the title ‘A Mechanism Capable of Changing itself’, inviting expressions and explorations from documentary filmmakers of the specific agency of cinema. The curatorial team consisted […]

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The Manchester Review

Miss Saigon at Palace Theatre

Miss Saigon / The Palace Theatre / Manchester Miss Saigon is well known for its gigantic set-pieces and Manchester’s Palace Theatre stage does not disappoint in delivering a large dose of razzle dazzle for this revival tour production. Big numbers. Great songs. Fantastic costumes. Impressive lighting and set design. Miss Saigon has a lot to […]

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Ian Pople

Carl Phillips, Wild is the Wind, reviewed by Ian Pople

Carl Phillips, Wild is the Wind, FSG $23.00 ‘Wild is the Wind’ is one of the great songs from the American Songbook. Originally recorded by Johnny Mathis for the film of the same name, it has picked up a range of interpreters from Nina Simone and David Bowie, to Bat For Lashes, Esperanza Spalding and […]

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The Manchester Review

Embrace at Manchester Ritz

Embrace / Manchester Ritz / 31 March 2018 You stay around long enough, someone will call you a survivor, as if you’ve made it through something and come out the other side, scarred and battleworn and all the more impressive for it. Embrace formed in 1990 – if you can believe that – although they […]

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Ian Pople

Layli Long Soldier, Whereas, Graywolf Press

Layli Long Soldier, Whereas, Graywolf Press $16.00 The OED defines ‘whereas’ in a number of ways, including ‘Taking into consideration the fact that; seeing that, considering that. Chiefly & now only introducing a preamble in a legal or other formal document’. It also defines it as ‘Introducing a statement of fact in contrast or opposition […]

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The Manchester Review

Opera North’s Un Ballo in Maschera

Un Ballo in Maschera at The Lowry, Salford Saturday, March 10th I had first seen Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera (A Masked Ball) during the hedonistic days of my Erasmus year in France, spookily almost exactly five years ago to the day. For a student, the cost of a night of culture in the faded […]

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Ian Pople

Memorial to the Future, by Volker von Törne, trans. Jean Boase-Beier

Volker von Törne, Memorial to the Future, trans. Jean Boase-Beier, Arc £10.99 Volker von Törne was clearly a very interesting man. The son of an SS unit commander, he dedicated his life to reconciliation, particularly with camp survivors, and became a director of Aktion Sühnezeichen Friedensdienste (AS) (Action Reconciliation-Service for Peace) and befriended a number […]

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The Manchester Review

Opera North’s Don Giovanni

Don Giovanni at the Lowry, Salford Wednesday, 7 March 2018 Opera North’s staging of Mozart’s Don Giovanni is a charged mixture of moving parts, pared down scenery with dramatic lighting and comic puppetry. Madeleine Boyd’s set plays with stages within stages and frames within frames that create movement, depth, and distance that leaves just enough […]

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Chad Campbell

Opera North’s Madame Butterfly

Madame Butterfly at the Lowry, Salford Tuesday, March 6th Opera north staged Madame Butterfly at the Lowry Theatre this Tuesday as part of their ‘Fatal Passions’ season. The award-winning company has been performing Madame Butterfly since 2007, and Tuesday’s performance saw the return of Annie Sophie Duprels in the titular role of Cio-Cio-San, Peter Savage […]

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Ian Pople

Simulacra, Airea D. Matthews, reviewed by Ian Pople

Airea D. Matthews, Simulacra, Yale University Press: £14.99 Airea D. Matthews is the 2016 winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets; the 111th such of a series whose previous winners have included Adrienne Rich, John Ashbery and Jack Gilbert. Matthews was chosen by Carl Phillips and his introduction comments that Matthews’ ‘use of wide-ranging […]

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David Hartley

Get Out, dir. Jordan Peele, reviewed by David Hartley

What makes Jordan Peele’s Get Out such a curiosity is the strangeness that comes of its organic genre blending. The film feels like it began life as a comedy, evolved into a dark comedy, then evolved again into a horror thriller with a kitschy edge of comedy constantly echoing in. It feels cultivated rather than […]

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David Hartley

Call Me By Your Name, dir. Luca Guadagnino, reviewed by David Hartley

I’ve often thought that if the Academy wanted to expand their award categories, a statuette for Best Scene would make for an intriguing accolade. Sometimes a film offers up a moment so exquisite and affecting it can feel as if it is embedding itself deep inside within you, never to be shaken. My case-in-point last […]

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David Hartley

Dunkirk, dir. Christopher Nolan, reviewed by David Hartley

It has now been six months since the release of Dunkirk but its nomination for the Best Picture Oscar gives us a chance to return to it for a reconsideration, with a little pocket of distance as a cushion. At the time of release, the film was, for the most part, very warmly received – […]

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David Hartley

Lady Bird, dir. Greta Gerwig, reviewed by David Hartley

There is much that is familiar in Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird. It is a coming-of-age tale about a high school teenager which hits many of the expected narrative beats; there are arguments with parents, deep-talk with teachers, intensely felt loves and devastating break-ups. There’s a school play, a prom dance, a boozy party. But Lady […]

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David Hartley

The Shape of Water, dir Guillermo Del Toro, reviewed by David Hartley

To be swept up in the current of Guillermo Del Toro’s The Shape of Water is to be bathed in the peculiar comfort afforded by the dark fairy-tale genre: there will be horrors, there will be monsters, but there will also be a magic which is on our side and will carry us safely back […]

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The Manchester Review

Feel Free, Zadie Smith, reviewed by Gurnaik Johal

Feel Free, Zadie Smith, Pengiun Random House In her second collection of essays, Feel Free, Zadie Smith proves once again to be an essential writer of our times. The wide-ranging subject matter of the book shows Smith as an acute observer of the world and an astute critic of culture and art. Each piece, whether […]

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David Hartley

Phantom Thread, dir. Paul Thomas Anderson, reviewed by David Hartley

I entered the world of Phantom Thread on very scant details and I would recommend the same approach for everyone else. Despite it’s subject matter, this is a film with no bluster or pretensions; it simply wants to pin you in place and tell you its story while it soaks you in its variations of […]

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The Manchester Review

The Final Year, dir. Greg Barker, reviewed by James Chonglong Gu

Aired at HOME MCR, the on-the-fly documentary The Final Year, directed by Greg Barker, provides us with an unprecedentedly intimate insider’s look at the inner workings of the Obama administration in its last months; the not-so-distant past that gave way to the new Trump-era. In 2008, when the exhilarating news broke that Barack Hussein Obama […]

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The Manchester Review

The Post, dir. Steven Spielberg, reviewed by David Hartley

With the current political pressures being exerted on news media in the US, cinematic comfort-blanket Steven Spielberg seems super-delighted to have emerged with such a timely film. In interviews, he’s pitched The Post as a rallying cry for the embattled news media of today; the posters shouting STREEP and HANKS like they are totemic warriors […]

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The Manchester Review

Glass Mountain at Jimmy’s, reviewed by Tessa Harris

Glass Mountain, at Jimmy’s, February 11th, Manchester Sunday night at Jimmy’s was unmistakably northern. Classy acts with interesting sounds, all four bands were worth braving the sleet for. Headliners Glass Mountain (Bradford they told us) were preceded by Shallow Waters from Wigan, Violet Contours from York, and Dakota Avenue from Salford. While Jimmy’s wasn’t packed, […]

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The Manchester Review

#Me Too Anthology, edited by Deborah Alma, reviewed by Ken Evans

#MeToo Anthology: A Women’s Poetry Anthology, editor Deborah Alma, (Fairacre Press). In Bernard MacLaverty’s novel, Midwinter Break, the author describes a tour bus ride to Buchenwald concentration camp. A wasp buzzes down the hot bus with shut windows. None of the tourists – pensive, afraid even – dare raise a hand to swat it, sensitised […]

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The Manchester Review

Darkest Hour, dir. Joe Wright, reviewed by David Hartley

Joe Wright’s biopic of Winston Churchill comes along at a sticky moment for this troubled isle as we slip slowly but assuredly towards the uncertain shadows of our post-Brexit landscape. Our national identity, such as it is, feels thrillingly buoyant for some, and never more soulless or hollow for many others. So, how might our […]

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The Manchester Review

Robert Desnos, Surrealist, Lover, Resistant, reviewed by Edmund Prestwich

Robert Desnos, Surrealist, Lover, Resistant, translated and introduced by Timothy Adѐs (Arc Publications, 2018) £19.99 pbk Others will review this sumptuous volume in the light of a knowledge of Desnos’s poetry. I can only comment on how it strikes someone almost completely new to his writing. What you want from a translation will partly depend […]

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The Manchester Review

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri dir. Martin McDonagh, reviewed by David Hartley

With the proclamation of its title and the weathered defiance of Frances McDormand’s thousand-yard stare, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a film which demands attention. And it has garnered it, both from the critics and the Academy, as it edges ahead as the Oscars’ frontrunner, and deservedly so, perhaps. It’s by no means an […]

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The Manchester Review

Conor O’Callaghan, Live Streaming, reviewed by Joe Carrick-Varty

Conor O’Callaghan, Live Streaming (Loughcrew: The Gallery Press, 2017) Live Streaming (2017), O’Callaghan’s fifth collection of poems comes off the back of a six-year poetic absence in which he published a novel, Nothing on Earth (2016). Moving away from the self-reflexively metaphorical poems in Fiction (2005) such as ‘Coventry’ and ‘Gloves’, this book is more […]

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Ian Pople

Andrew McCulloch, Gradual, reviewed by Ian Pople

Andrew McCulloch, Gradual, (Melos Press) £5.00 The centre piece, literally, of Andrew McCulloch’s new pamphlet, Gradual, is a translation of six ‘Holy Sonnets’ attributed to the French playwright, Jean Racine. In a lengthy note at the back of the pamphlet, McCulloch acknowledges the disputed attribution of the poems. The poems also have a somewhat obscure […]

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Ian Pople

Beatrice Garland, The Drum, reviewed by Ian Pople

Beatrice Garland, The Drum Templar Poetry £10.00 A key note in Beatrice Garland’s debut collection, The Invention of Fireworks, was the tension between stability and change. In that first book, Garland reconciles that tension technically by using an adroit combination of lyric and narrative, working between epiphany and process. Garland’s new book, The Drum, also […]

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Ian Pople

Douglas Crase, The Astropastorals, reviewed by Ian Pople

Douglas Crase, The Astropastorals, (Pressed Wafer $10.00) Douglas Crase’s The Astropastorals is a slim pamphlet of the ten poems Crase has chosen to publish since he published The Revisionist in 1981. The Revisionist gained immediate praise; its dustjacket had puffs from John Ashbery and James Merrill. David Kalstone introduced a reading by Ashbery and Crase […]

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The Manchester Review

Lachlan Mackinnon, Doves, reviewed by Maryam Hessavi

Lachlan Mackinnon, Doves (Faber, £14.99). Doves is Mackinnon’s fifth collection of poetry. Following on from his last collection Small Hours, shortlisted in 2010 for the Forward Prize for Poetry, his new work marks a departure from a previously more delicate style. Doves is more forthright. In its style it is concerned most noticeably with form […]

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Ian Pople

Adrian Buckner, Downshifting, reviewed by Ian Pople

Adrian Buckner, Downshifting (Five Leaves Publications, £9.99). The OED defines ‘downshifting’ as ‘The action of downshift; an instance of this; spec. (orig. U.S.), the practice of changing a financially rewarding but stressful career or lifestyle for one less pressured and highly paid, but more fulfilling.’ The title poem of Adrian Buckner’s third book of poems paints an idealistic […]

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Ian Pople

John Matthias, At Large: Essays, Memoirs, Interviews, reviewed by Ian Pople

John Matthias, At Large: Essays, Memoirs, Interviews (Shearsman, £16.95). John Matthias, Complayntes for Doctor Neuro & other poems (Shearsman, £9.95). John Matthias, Jean Dibble, and Robert Archambeau, Revolutions: a Collaboration (Dos Madres, $20.00). John Matthias’ At Large is a compendious and welcome collection of Matthias’ essays, memoir and interviews. Very welcome because Matthias is a […]

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The Manchester Review

Samuel Lee, A Field Guide to Supermarkets in Singapore, reviewed by Natasha Stallard

Samuel Lee, A Field Guide to Supermarkets in Singapore (Math Paper Press, $16.00). What’s the difference between a supermarket in Singapore and New Haven, Connecticut? In Samuel Lee’s debut collection ‘A Field Guide to Supermarkets in Singapore’, the Singaporean poet and Yale student wanders the aisles of his native city along with the organic stores […]

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The Manchester Review

Ishion Hutchinson, House of Lord and Commons, reviewed by Chad Campbell

Ishion Hutchinson, House of Lord and Commons, (Faber & Faber, £12.99). Ishion Hutchinson’s second book, House of Lords and Commons, was published by FSG in America, and released here, in the U.K., by Faber & Faber in November. The book’s reputation precedes it: winner of a National Book Critic Circle Award and top of sever […]

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The Manchester Review

Collabro, The Bridgewater Hall, reviewed by Simon Haworth

Collabro, with support from Phillipa Hanna & special guest Carly Paoli), The Bridgewater Hall, 30 November 2017. Collabro arrive at the Bridgewater Hall towards the end of their third long UK tour. Since wining Britain’s Got Talent in 2014 the group have toured internationally and released three highly successful albums (Stars (2014), Act Two (2015) […]

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The Manchester Review

BBC Philharmonic at the Bridgewater Hal, reviewed by Simon Haworth

BBC Philharmonic, conducted by Ludovic Morlot; The Bridgewater Hall, 25 November 2017. The world premiere of Arlene Sierra’s Nature Symphony tonight offers the audience a rare opportunity to hear the composer’s work performed in the UK. Brought up in Miami and New York but now resident in London, Sierra has collaborated with Ludovic Morlot and […]

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