Monocolumn

A daily bulletin of news & opinion

26 June 2015

FILM: Slow West

“We still enjoy watching Western films, no matter what we think about them, no matter how many we’ve seen, and this is a very good example of that”

Cassam Looch, film critic

First-time director John Maclean was a member of British psychedelic odd-pop act The Beta Band and his take on that classic American staple, the Western, gives the genre a much-needed new perspective. Slow West follows leads Michael Fassbender and Kodi Smit-McPhee on a journey through the heart of the US psyche that often flits from mild comedy to violent realism while taking an unflinching view of the darker side of how the West was won. Maclean looks to have won a legion of new fans, too.

MUSIC: Kurt Elling

“Kurt Elling is absolutely my top jazz vocalist of the past few years, he’s amazing – such a talented guy – he will blow you away: he’s great”

Jan Willem Luyken, director of the North Sea Jazz Festival

The Monocle Arts Review welcomed the director of the Netherlands’ North Sea Jazz Festival this week and top of his picks for listeners to check out was US singer Kurt Elling. The Chicago-born vocalist embodies classic jazz style (and sharp suits) and at the same time pushes a more contemporary, almost modern R’n’B-influenced vocal style that gives latest release Passion World widespread appeal while making it all look so easy.

ART: The Deste Prize 2015, Museum of Cycladic Art, Athens

“Socrates Socratous has taken leaves and branches and made a beautiful floor sculpture that covers an entire room. It is absolutely gorgeous – perhaps taking trouble and making something good out if it, it might be a metaphor on the Greek condition at the moment”

Kimberly Bradley, Monocle’s Berlin correspondent

The Deste Prize has been giving awards to Greek and Cypriot artists every two years since being established in 1999. This year the nominees to win the €10,000 prize include Natali Yiaxi, Angelo Plessas, Maria Hassabi, Petros Moris, Yiannis Papadopoulos and Socratis Socratous, whose work “Stolen Goods” can be seen above. Visit Athens’ Museum of Cycladic Art to see some of Greece and Cyprus’s finest young talent and get a different perspective from the recent news headlines on a region still with much to offer the world.

BOOK: A Fortunate Age

“One of the things I found fascinating about it is that I think it’s probably the last portrait of young people growing up in New York without social media – such a short time ago and yet it feels so different”

Cathy Rentzenbrink, associate editor at The Bookseller

After the success last year of New York-based Joanna Rakoff’s My Salinger Year, telling her account of working with the eponymous literary great, the world is looking for more of her writing. And a good place to start is A Fortunate Age, first published in 2009 (before My Salinger Year) but now being given the attention it deserves with a full UK release. It tells the story of six friends who graduate from Ohio’s Oberlin College and start to find their way in life in 1990s New York. Though the period is still fresh in many peoples’ memories, its idiosyncrasies are evocative of a time just before technology consumed our lives and are the real pleasure of a look back at a possibly more innocent time.

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