Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 December 2014

The best arts events

Argo
Ben Affleck, who proved to be an adroit director with the entertaining heist thriller The Town and the excellent Gone Baby Gone, helms and stars in this peculiar true story about the 1979 Iran hostage crisis. Affleck, sporting an impressive beard, plays a CIA operative with a particularly bold scheme to free the six US diplomats being held hostage at their embassy in Iran. Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston and John Goodman also star.
Due out 9 November
Argo Ben Affleck, who proved to be an adroit director with the entertaining heist thriller The Town and the excellent Gone Baby Gone, helms and stars in this peculiar true story about the 1979 Iran hostage crisis. Affleck, sporting an impressive beard, plays a CIA operative with a particularly bold scheme to free the six US diplomats being held hostage at their embassy in Iran. Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston and John Goodman also star. Due out 9 November
The Campaign "My hair could lift a car off a baby if it had to," says Will Ferrell's preening Republican Congressman in his latest slice of puerile comedy. Feral Ferrell plays a North Carolina politician with presidential aspirations who comes up against a ridiculous and idealistic rival (Zach Galifianakis). They end up trading insults and grappling with each other. Silly. Due out 28 September
Mademoiselle Julie The Barbican is on a bit of a roll. First it brought us Cate Blanchett in Sydney Theatre Company's Gross und Klein, now, fresh from the Avignon Festival, comes Juliette Binoche as the heroine of Strindberg's tense domestic drama. Director Frederic Fisbach has given the 19th-century classic a contemporary setting with Mlle Julie, dressed in gold Lanvin sequins, playing out her doomed dalliance with her father's valet on a stark, bright white set. In French, with subtitles. Barbican Theatre, London, 20 to 29 September (barbican.org.uk)
Twelfth Night Mark Rylance as Olivia, reprising the role he first played at the Globe in 2002, is the main draw of this all-male production. Although it's hard to choose a stand-out attraction in a cast which also includes Stephen Fry as Malvolio (his first stage role since his notorious walk-out on Cell Mates 17 years ago), Roger Lloyd Pack as Andrew Aguecheek, Johnny Flynn as Viola and Samuel Barnett as Sebastian. Tim Carroll directs. And, as soon as the nights draw in, it transfers from the riverside outdoors to the warmer West End. Shakespeare's Globe, London, 22 September to 14 October (shakespearesglobe.com); then Apollo Theatre, London, 2 November to 3 February 2013 (0844 482 9671)
Schubert: A celebration For chamber musicians from all over the world, the Wigmore is Mecca – if you haven't performed there, you haven't arrived. And the line-up for its long and varied Schubert season is very impressive, starting with pianist Elisabeth Leonskaya, then bringing in singers like Christian Gerhaher, Angelika Kirchschlager, Ian Bostridge, and Christopher Maltman. Wigmore Hall, from 18 September (wigmore-hall.org.uk)
The Magic Flute After 25 glorious years, this will be positively the last revival of Nicholas Hytner's charming take on Mozart's perennially mysterious opera. Duncan Rock sings "Papageno" and "Rhian Lois Papagena", with Robert McPherson as Tamino and Elena Xanthoudakis as Pamina. And I look forward to seeing its well-trained resident doves just one more time. English National Opera, until 13 October (eno.org)
Benjamin Grosvenor There's no stopping this brilliant young pianist, and this will be his Southbank debut, with a typically varied programme including Bach, Chopin, Scriabin, Granados, and a fanciful elaboration of "Blue Danube" in which he will deploy all his skills as a light entertainer. Queen Elizabeth Hall, 31 October (southbankcentre.co.uk)
San Francisco Ballet Choreographers love San Francisco Ballet, a company with a high reputation and an adventurous approach to new work. This London season features eight ballets created for the company, by choreographers Mark Morris, Christopher Wheeldon, Ashley Page, Yuri Possokhov, Edwaard Liang, Yuri Possokhov and artistic director Helgi Tomasson. There's also the chance to see Balanchine's tutu classic Divertimento No 15. Sadler's Wells, London EC1, 15 to 23 September (sadlerswells.com)
Swan Lake This Royal Ballet revival will include guest performances by Natalia Osipova, a wildly charismatic Russian ballerina with explosive technique and a burning sense of drama. Making her debut with the company, she'll be partnered by the Cuban star Carlos Acosta. Other ballerinas dancing the role this season including Marianela Nuñez and Alina Cojocaru. Royal Opera House, London WC2, 8 October to 24 November (roh.org.uk)
Everything Was Moving: Photography from the 60s and 70s The Barbican kicks off the season with a show of the decades when photography defined the world as it changed. Over 400 works from photographers around the world, East and West. Capturing the moments and the moods of everything from the Cold War to the student revolts. Barbican Art Gallery, London, 13 September to 13 January 2013 (barbican.org.uk)
John Bellany: A Passion for Life A welcome and deserved tribute to Scotland's finest figurative artist on his 70th birthday. Through half a century he has sketched, painted and engraved people and himself through light and dark, including his own liver transplant and the emotions of a visit to Belsen. As his pleasure has returned so his brush has freed. A major retrospective of a formidable artist. Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh, 17 November to 27 January 2013 (nationalgalleries.org)
Ghostpoet and Soap & Skin A winning double bill: Ghostpoet plays tracks from his moody, intense 2011 Mercury Prize-nominated album Peanut Butter Blues & Melancholy Jam, while the 22-year-old Soap & Skin returns to the UK with her rhythmic, piano-led arrangements. Royal Festival Hall, London, 6 October, from £12.50 (southbankcentre.co.uk)
Bon Iver It will be something special to see the rapidly risen Bon Iver take their unlikely falsetto folk-rock to the heady heights of Wembley Arena and other giant UK venues. Justin Vernon and co's captivating live show is always spellbinding. UK tour 8 to 10 November, from £25 (boniver.org)
Girls HBO's realistically grungy, lo-fi antidote to Sex and the City follows four impoverished (no Jimmy Choo-fest this) 20-something females adrift in Manhattan. Produced by Judd Apatow (Bridesmaids), the Emmy-nominated comedy drama was created by the 26-year-old Lena Dunham, who also stars as an aspiring writer suddenly cut off from the bank of mum and dad. (Sky Atlantic, October)

In search of a cultural fix? From a celebration of Schubert to Will Ferrell's latest puerile-comedy instalment, our team of critics selects the season's hottest tickets

Review panel:

Film: Ben Walsh is a DVD reviewer for The Independent

Theatre: Alice Jones is deputy arts editor of The Independent

Classical: Micheal Church is a classical music critic and reviewer for The Independent

Dance: Zoe Anderson is a dance critic for The Independent

Visual arts: Adrian Hamilton is a columnist and art critic for The Independent

Rock & Pop: Elisa Bray is music editor of The Independent

Television: Gerard Gilbert is a TV critic for The Independent



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Beware of spending beyond your means. Sticking to a budget will help you survive the festive season relatively unscathed. It will be easier than you think to let your grip on the purse strings slip especially as the big day draws near. Let Christmas be about loving, sharing and giving. Spend quality time preparing food, making decorations and playing games together. If you haven't sent all your cards or round robin emails give some thought about what you will be sharing with others this year.More