Sydney Pollack, 1934 – 2008

It’s not immediately clear quite where Sydney Pollack fits into the scheme of things. As one of the generation of film-makers who flourished in the Sixties and Seventies, there’s nothing on his CV as canonical as, say, Taxi Driver or The Godfather, no real sense of him breaking the same kind of ground as his peers. Even the Evening Standard’s film critic Derek Malcolm, interviewed this morning on Radio 4’s Today programme, admitted the movies which most people would associate with Pollack – Out Of Africa and Tootsie – were ultimately rather “bland”.

James Blackshaw: “Litany Of Echoes”

I was writing, not for the first time, about Howlin Rain the other week, and admitted that my preoccupation with the band had a certain stalkerish intensity. As I begin yet another blog about James Blackshaw, a London-based guitarist and so on, it strikes me that my prosletyzing on his behalf might be somehow detrimental to his career: a random google of his name would probably bring up this great weight of waffle from me, so hyperbolic that some might suspect we must be related.

Latitude Festival: Yet More Additions!

The cultural extravaganza that is Latitude revealed another barrowload of new additions today. The excellent comedian Mark Steel will be delivering a "lecture" in the Literary Arena, while over in the Comedy Arena, the festival will be illuminated by performances from The Fast Show's Simon Day, Scott Capurro, Hans Teeuwen and Milton Jones.

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band – Dublin RDS, May 22, 2008

Bono looks tired. There are creases round his eyes when he removes his tinted glasses, creases that weren't there three decades ago. Tonight is an auspicious anniversary in the U2 camp. On May 18, 1978, Paul McGuinness became U2's manager and de facto fifth member, laying a crucial foundation for U2's - and indeed Bono's - world domination plans.

Cannes Film Festival — final report

Though it lacked a clear favourite in the official competition selection, and offered some weaker entries in the rival Critics Week and Directors Fortnight sections, this year's Cannes Film Festival still delivered some interesting movies. Nothing blew anyone away, mind -- which would have been tricky after last year's amazing 60th anniversary celebrations. But there was confirmation that the newer wave of Cannes discoveries were following up on early promise (Belgium's Dardenne brothers and Turkey's Nuri Bilge Ceylan both scored on awards night, with script and directing gongs respectively). Indeed, the field was so wide open that even the favourite to win, the Israeli animated doc Waltz With Bashir, didn't drop too many jaws when it not only failed to win the Palme D'Or but anything at all. Instead, top-dog honours went to The Class by Laurence Cantet, a superb fly-on-the-wall drama about a teacher coming to terms with his downtrodden students.

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