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BBC - Culture - The week’s best film, TV, books and art



Classic film – Airplane (1980)

The first film from Jim Abrahams, David Zucker and Jerry Zucker is one of the purest comedies ever made, dedicated as it is to nothing but jokes, jokes and more jokes. The trio lifted the plot – and the exclamation mark – from Zero Hour!, a disaster movie released in 1957, and then packed it with an unrivalled number of gags-per-second. Robert Hays and Julie Hagerty are adorable as the traumatised Air Force pilot and Bambi-eyed flight attendant who have to land a jumbo jet when the crew gets food poisoning. But it was Leslie Nielsen who became a superstar, delivering every ridiculous line as if he was in a heavyweight drama. All together now: “Surely you can’t be serious.” “I am serious. And don’t call me Shirley.” Streaming on Prime Video, Starzplay, Now TV and more (NB)

Books – The Big Book Weekend 

Literature lovers should look no further than The Big Book Weekend, an online literary festival founded by authors Kit de Waal and Molly Flatt and supported by BBC Arts and the Arts Council England. Running from Friday 8 – Sunday 10 May, it aims to capture the flavour of a host of now-cancelled UK literary festivals, with events broadcast as-live over the three days. Highlights include an interview with 2019 Booker Prize winner Bernardine Evaristo, Neil Gaiman on 100 years since the birth of sci-fi legend Ray Bradbury, Luke Jennings on the inspiration for the characters that inspired the hit TV series Killing Eve, and a conversation between Maggie O’Farrell and Damian Barr on the joy of book festivals. There are several events for children, plus sessions on crime fiction, politics and history and the 200th anniversary of Anne Brontë’s birth. (RL)

New TV – A Secret Love

Netflix’s latest talking-point documentary is less sensationalist than many of its others – and that’s all for the good. Telling the story of a Canadian lesbian couple who were forced to keep their relationship hidden from society for many decades, before finally coming out, it is a true three-hanky tearjerker. Available on Netflix (HM)

Classic TV – Schitt’s Creek (2015)

This gentle, feel-good Canadian sitcom written by Dan and his father Eugene Levy (Best in Show), follows the ostentatious Rose family whose lavish lifestyle comes to an end when their business manager is convicted of fraud. Faced with the fallout, video-store magnate Johnny (Eugene Levy) and former soap star Moira Rose (Catherine O’Hara) along with their spoiled adult son David (Dan Levy) and socialite daughter Alexis (Annie Murphy), are forced to up sticks to the titular town purchased as a joke present. Here, the Roses get a dose of reality – and eventually, redemption – when they take up residence in a rundown motel run by sarcastic clerk Stevie Budd (Emily Hampshire). Largely overlooked during its early series run, its following has grown over 80 bingeable episodes, thanks to a Netflix deal and word-of-mouth – as well as masterful comic moments from Chris Elliott as the yokel town mayor Roland Schitt, and O’Hara in the role of a lifetime as matriarch Moria Rose, the flamboyant mother with an unidentifiable accent. Available on Netflix, Pop TV and CBC (EM)

New film – Onward

Pixar’s latest cartoon is set in a parallel world where unicorns, dragons, fairies and other mythical creatures are alive and well in modern-day America. No one bothers with magic any more, though, because it’s so much easier to use an electronic gadget than it is to cast a spell. But when two teenage elves (voiced by Chris Pratt and Tom Holland) learn that some witchcraft and wizardry could bring their father back from the dead for 24 hours, they set off in search of an enchanted crystal. Onward may not be as inspired as a top-tier Pixar film, but it’s sweet and funny, and its heartfelt treatment of bereavement and brotherly love brings real magic to the screen. Available on Prime Video, Apple TV and Sky Store (NB)

Art – Art recreations at SFMOMA

Recreating famous works of art has become a popular lockdown pastime, with innovative art aficionados using whatever items are at hand to interpret seminal works. The results are then being posted on social media, with a #BetweenArtandQuarantine hashtag. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art has gathered together some of its favourites, “from the impressive to the purposefully comical” on its website. Proving that you can find inspiration from a museum’s collection – but from a distance –  the recreations include a reworking by Natalie Campbell of Matisse’s famous 1905 painting Woman with a Hat (pictured). You can also learn more about each original artwork on the gallery’s Artwork Guides.

Sculpture lovers, meanwhile, may be interested in a major exhibition at the UK’s Salisbury Cathedral, which can currently be viewed online. The show includes works by Antony Gormley, Henry Moore and Shirazeh Houshiary, among other big names. Stairway, a monumental glass sculpture by US artist Danny Lane (pictured) is a highlight. The exhibition comes eight centuries after the first foundation stones of the cathedral were laid. (LB)

Design – Digital Design Calendar

Design fans can enjoy a new series of online content being offered by London’s Design Museum. Digital Design Calendar enables the audience to explore design history, virtually visit the studios of designers, and also join learning sessions, including fashion starter packs and lunch-time sketching with leading architects. Among the designers who can be seen in conversation with the museum’s Tim Marlow are Stella McCartney and Anya Hindmarch. Also offered are articles and activities for children and young adults, including design projects to create at home, activity worksheets, the graphic-design story behind children’s animation Hey Duggee (pictured), and a product-design mini challenge. (LB)

Photography – Deutsche Börse Prize

While London’s Photographers’ Gallery remains closed, the work of four nominees for this year’s Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize can be viewed online. The winner was originally set to be announced next week, but that has now been moved to September – in the meantime, videos and photos reveal the range of approaches. Made over three years with the farming community in Brittany, France, Mark Neville’s project Parade (pictured) looks at new models and ways of being with animals, and is accompanied by a call to action urging for a kind of ‘ecotopia’ and an end to factory farming. Algerian photographer Mohamed Bourouissa’s images subvert common stereotypes of youths living in Parisian banlieues, while Clare Strand explores a 1936 study of how we might transmit images via telegraphic communication. And 1,078 polaroid photos by Anton Kusters show an upward view of a blue sky shot at the last known location of every former Nazi-run concentration or extermination camp across Europe during World War Two. (FM)

Theatre – Antony and Cleopatra

The latest archive offering from the National Theatre is the most irresistible yet: Simon Godwin’s 2018 production of the Shakespeare tragedy boasts, in Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo, a central pairing of both heat and light, as well as a spectacular design from Hildegard Bechtler. And then best of all, there’s a crucial cameo from a live snake. To 14 May. (HM)

As chosen by Lindsay Baker, Nicholas Barber, Rebecca Laurence, Fiona Macdonald, Hugh Montgomery and Eddie Mullan

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