Art

Album reviews, art house films and the latest exhibitions
  1. Here’s a novelty: a love story that’s about food. Viewers who are sweet of tooth, as well as those who enjoy a potentially cloying romantic drama, will lap up Chocolate on Netflix, the first series of which promises 16 poignant instalments kicked off by a powerful pull on the heartstrings. It’s 1992 on scenic Wando Island, South Korea, where cheerful, diligent single mother Jung Su-hui (played by Lee Un-jung) runs a simple but popular harbourfront eatery. Sharing his mother’s happiness is Lee…
  2. Bruce Lee is praised for his martial arts skills in both the East and the West, but his popularity in Hong Kong is also rooted in his nationalism, in the sense that his characters stood up for Chinese people and the Chinese race. Fist of Fury (1972), Lee’s second martial arts film, is literal in that respect, telling the story of a young Chinese kung fu expert who takes revenge on the members of a Japanese karate school that murdered his sifu (master). When the film opened in Hong Kong, a scene…
  3. The reopening of the Hong Kong Museum of Art, in Tsim Sha Tsui, puts an end to a long spell of art-history deprivation in a culturally rich city of 7.4 million people. There were plenty of art shows on while the museum went through a four-year refurbishment, but they were piecemeal and dominated by contemporary works.The museum, where most exhibitions are free, has been so popular since it reopened recently that visitors are being asked to book a time slot online. It’s worth it, though, if you…
  4. There’s no doubting the credentials of Britain’s Oxford University.Dating back to 1096, it is one of the oldest universities in the world, with a long list of notable alumni, including 72 Nobel Prize laureates and 160 Olympic medallists. It has also churned out 28 British prime ministers, making it something of a training camp for leadership. Bill Clinton and Aung San Suu Kyi have spent time wandering its halls.As for famous Oxonians in the arts world, there are too many to name. But start with…
  5. Famous fathers: My father, Oleg Prokofiev, was a Russian abstract painter. In the 1950s and 60s, abstract art was forbidden in the Soviet Union, so he couldn’t exhibit his work or live as an artist. His second wife was Camilla Gray (a British art historian), who he met in Moscow but had to wait seven years for permission (from the Soviet government) to marry. She moved to Russia and they had a daughter, Anastasia, but a year later Gray fell ill with hepatitis and died.My father came to England…
  6. China’s consumer class is always looking for the latest, most cutting-edge smartphone app or the most talked-about viral video. Who would have predicted, then, that a 21-year-old movie would take Chinese cinema by storm over the past few weeks?What’s incredible is that The Legend of 1900 was hardly a classic in the first place. Revolving around a piano prodigy (played by Tim Roth) who has spent his entire life on board an ocean liner, the movie received mixed reviews on its release in 1998,…
  7. Gosh, aren’t detectives looking so young these days? Take Jo Tae-sik (played by Korean actor, singer and model Lee Min-ki), lead sleuth on the case in The Lies Within, a Netflix tale of political skulduggery, kidnapping and murder.That unholy trinity make for easy bedfellows, so no surprises there, but there’s something about this mystery-thriller, now streaming in its 16-part, first-season entirety on Netflix, that is appealingly off-kilter.A young woman takes an apparently suicidal dive off a…
  8. Ghost in the Shell, directed by Japanese filmmaker Mamoru Oshii and released in 1995, is not only one of the greatest anime movies ever made, it is also one of the best science-fiction films of all time. What’s more, the story of an artificial intelligence that evolves to such an extent that it demands to be treated as a new life form is more relevant today than when the film was made. Although it is pinned to an action-oriented storyline, Ghost in the Shell features many philosophical scenes…
  9. “Provenance, provenance, provenance”. That’s the advice auction houses have for buyers. Go for something with a proven history of transactions and ownership and you are more likely to buy an authentic work of art that has long-term value. (The small print of any auction house’s warranty shows how hard it is to get reimbursed if a painting turns out to be a fake.) Value is also increased by public stamps of approval, such as a spell in the collection of a connois­seur, or having been included in…
  10. More Lord of the Flies than Love Island, less Robinson Crusoe than Castaway 2007, the first original Thai series made by Netflix comes with enough suspense, supernatural twists and cliffhangers to keep viewers rooting for characters who are, mostly, just tiresome teenagers. That they turn out to be much more engaging human beings is testament to the screenwriters on the The Stranded, a rite-of-passage adventure yarn about the pupils of a prestigious island school. Just as they are about to…