Easter Arts Diary

Exhibitions

Jubilee Park, E14, Anthony Caro, Until 25 May
Reflecting the jutting architecture of Canary Wharf, Caro’s sculpture, in his signature rusted, varnished and painted steel, displays a wide range of form revealing his invention and mastery of his materials. 

Hepworth Wakefield, WF1, Heather & Ivan Morison, Ben Rivers, David Thorpe, Until 10 June 2012
 In the first of a new series of spring exhibitions, Heather and Ivan Morison, Ben Rivers and David Thorpe use film, sculpture, installation and performance to pose questions regarding our relationship with nature and what happens when man-made and natural worlds collide. These exhibitions explore utopian beliefs and practices and an impending sense of apocalypse.

Books

Earls Court, SW5, The London Book Fair, 16th - 18th April 2012.
In its 41st year, The London Book Fair is back at Earl’s Court.

The Old Abbey Inn, Manchester, M15, Eléna Rivera: A Preview, 19th April.
Author of Suggestions at Every Turn, Unknowne Land and Remembrance of Things Plastic, Mistakes, Accidents and the Want of Liberty amongst others and winner of the Robert Fagles prize in translation from the National Poetry Series, Eléna Rivera will read from her latest collection the The Perforated Map.

Films

Bradford, BD1, National Media Museum, Jamon, Jamon, Friday 8 April
Starring Penélope Cruz, Javier Bardem, Jordi Mollà and  Armando del Rio this international Spanish hit launched Penélope Cruz’s career in 1992. Jamón, Jamón presents an intriguing exploration of class, sex and food.

Nationwide, This Must be the Place, Friday 6 April
Already hotly tipped for an Oscar, the film deals with middle-aged wealthy rock star, Cheyenne, (Sean Penn), who, having become jaded and bored with his retirement in Dublin, sets out on a quest to find his father's tormentor, SS Officer Aloise Lange, a Nazi war criminal who is a refugee in the United States. Harvey Weinstein, reflecting on Penn’s performance asserts, “Sean proves once again that he is one of the finest actors of our time.”

Music

Royal Festival Hall, SE1, Peter and the Wolf, April 8 & 9
A family friendly event wherein actor Mackenzie Crook narrates Prokofiev’s guide to the orchestra over a film with live performance from the Aurora Orchestra.

Royal Albert Hall, SW7, Messiah, April 6
Handel’s sacred oratorio is given its correct season by the Royal Choral society, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and guests.

Theatre

Royal Opera House, WC2E, Polyphonia/ Sweet Violets/ Carbon Life, April 5- 23
In an “explosion of today’s brightest talents”, two of the most talented contemporary choreographers of the day, the fast-rising star of the fashion world Gareth Pugh and pop producer Mark Ronson, amongst other guest artists are brought together to create  a dazzling display of physical and aural mastery.

West Yorkshire Playhouse, Love’s, Labour’s, Lost, 03 April- 14 AprilIn a celebration of the company’s 20th anniversary, Barrie Rutter directs Northern Broadsides cast of multi-talented northern actors in an entertaining and delightful comedy in this fast-paced battle of the sexes. Romantic, mischievous and filled with youthful exuberance, Love's Labour's Lost fizzes with song and dance, scintillating performances, jaw-dropping comic timing and hilarious 'steal-the-show' scenes.

Home Alone 2: Lost in New York
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The best film soundtracks to help you pretend you live in a magical Christmas world

It’s December. You no longer have an excuse.

It’s December, which means it’s officially time to crack out the Christmas music. But while Mariah Carey and Slade have their everlasting charms, I find the best way to slip into the seasonal spirit is to use a film score to soundtrack your boring daily activities: sitting at your desk at work, doing some Christmas shopping, getting the tube. So here are the best soundtracks and scores to get you feeling festive this month.

A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

Although this is a children’s film, it’s the most grown-up soundtrack on the list. Think smooth jazz with a Christmas twist, the kind of tunes Ryan Gosling is playing at the fancy restaurant in La La Land, plus the occasional choir of precocious kids. Imagine yourself sat in a cocktail chair. You’re drinking an elaborate cocktail. Perhaps there is a cocktail sausage involved also. Either way, you’re dressed head-to-toe in silk and half-heartedly unwrapping Christmas presents as though you’ve already received every gift under the sun. You are so luxurious you are bored to tears of luxury – until a tiny voice comes along and reminds you of the true meaning of Christmas. This is the kind of life the A Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack can give you. Take it with both hands.

Elf (2003)

There is a moment in Elf when Buddy pours maple syrup over his spaghetti, washing it all down with a bottle of Coca Cola. “We elves like to stick to the four main food groups,” he explains, “candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup.” This soundtrack is the audio equivalent – sickly sweet, sugary to an almost cloying degree, as it comes peppered with cute little flutes, squeaky elf voices and sleigh bells. The album Elf: Music from the Motion Picture offers a more durable selection of classics used in the movie, including some of the greatest 1950s Christmas songs – from Louis Prima’s 1957 recording of “Pennies from Heaven”, two versions of “Sleigh Ride”, Eddy Arnold’s “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and Eartha Kitt’s 1953 “Santa Baby”. But if a sweet orchestral score is more your thing, the Elf OST of course finishes things off with the track “Spaghetti and Syrup”. Just watch out for the sugar-rush headache.

Harry Potter (2001-2011)

There are some Christmas-specific songs hidden in each of the iconic Harry Potter scores, from “Christmas at Hogwarts” to “The Whomping Willow and The Snowball Fight” to “The Kiss” (“Mistletoe!” “Probably full of knargles”), but all the magical tinkling music from these films has a Christmassy vibe. Specifically concentrate on the first three films, when John Williams was still on board and things were still mostly wonderful and mystical for Harry, Ron and Hermione. Perfect listening for that moment just before the snow starts to fall, and you can pretend you’re as magical as the Hogwarts enchanted ceiling (or Ron, that one time).

Carol (2015)

Perhaps you’re just a little too sophisticated for the commercial terror of Christmas, but, like Cate Blanchett, you still want to feel gorgeously seasonal when buying that perfect wooden train set. Then the subtly festive leanings of the Carol soundtrack is for you. Let your eyes meet a stranger’s across the department store floor, or stare longingly out of the window as your lover buys the perfect Christmas tree from the side of the road. Just do it while listening to this score, which is pleasingly interspersed with songs of longing like “Smoke Rings” and “No Other Love”.

Holiday Inn (1942)

There’s more to this soundtrack than just “White Christmas”, from Bing Crosby singing “Let’s Start The New Year Off Right” to Fred Astaire’s “You’re Easy To Dance With” to the pair’s duet on “I’ll Capture Your Heart”. The score is perfect frosty walk music, too: nostalgic, dreamy, unapologetically merry all at once.

The Tailor of Gloucester (1993)

Okay, I’m being a little self-indulgent here, but bear with me. “The Tailor of Gloucester”, adapted from the Beatrix Potter story, was an episode of the BBC series The World of Peter Rabbit and Friends and aired in 1993. A Christmastime story set in Gloucester, the place I was born, was always going to be right up my street, and our tatty VHS came out at least once a year throughout my childhood. But the music from this is something special: songs “The Tailor of Gloucester”, “Songs From Gloucester” and “Silent Falls the Winter Snow” are melancholy and very strange, and feature the singing voices of drunk rats, smug mice and a very bitter cat. It also showcases what is in my view one of the best Christmas carols, “Sussex Carol.” If you’re the kind of person who likes traditional wreaths and period dramas, and plans to watch Victorian Baking at Christmas when it airs this December 25th, this is the soundtrack for you.

Home Alone (1990-1992)

The greatest, the original, the godfather of all Christmas film soundtracks is, of course, John William’s Home Alone score. This is for everyone who likes or even merely tolerates Christmas, no exceptions. It’s simply not Christmas until you’ve listened to “Somewhere in My Memory” 80,000 times whilst staring enviously into the perfect Christmassy homes of strangers or sung “White Christmas” to the mirror. I’m sorry, I don’t make the rules. Go listen to it now—and don't forget Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, which is as good as the first.

Anna Leszkiewicz is a pop culture writer at the New Statesman.