Weekend Reccos: In the Mood for Art

Stories of generation-defining writers, a comedic account of an art thief or passion tales of classical musicians—team NGTI cherry-picks pop culture recommendations on art and artists.

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A still from Manto

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How to Steal a Million (1966)

This William Wyler classic comedy sees Nicole Bonnet (Audrey Hepburn) try to protect her art-forging father, Charles Bonnet (Hugh Griffith), from being discovered by the police. While Charles, a master painter, is adept in forging the greats and duping collectors, his recent loan of a million-dollar statue to a museum—a fake created by his late father, also an art forger—is about to be checked for authenticity by a specialist at the gallery. In the throes of desperation, Nicole teams up with Simon Dermott (Peter O’Toole), an art thief she recently found trying to burgle her manor, to help her steal the statue. Along with plenty of laughs, pretty Parisian scenes pop out at every corner, from the idyllic Avenue Gabriel to the mesmerising Musée Carnavalet and the ever-classy Hôtel Ritz.

—Julian Manning

 

The Square (2017)

Ruben Östlund’s film won numerous awards including the Palm d’Or at Cannes Film Festival and the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. The film’s story was inspired by an art installation that Östlund and producer Kalle Boman entered into the Vandalorum Museum in Varnamo, and portrays a critical point in the life of a curator at a Stockholm museum. Aside from providing the audience with a peek into the machinations of campaigns surrounding artists’ works, the film also examines concepts such as freedom of expression, censorship and political correctness. It also depicts several scenes that were inspired by real-life incidents involving artists, most notably one with actor Terry Notary (Planet of the Apes) that was inspired by performance artist Oleg Kulik who had performed as a dog and attacked people at an event in Stockholm in 1996. A Swedish production with support from France, Denmark and Germany, the film was shot in Gothenburg, Stockholm and Berlin.

—Samarpan Bhowmik

 

Bright Star (2009)

Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard are sweeter, and Jane Campion’s gloomy Bright Star—standing softly in chronological middle of her career’s highlights (The Piano, her best-known feature, and the recent magnum opus The Power of the Dog)—testifies this.

In the final years of his short life, struggling poet John Keats (Ben Whishaw)—penniless and aloof—hesitantly begins a love affair with strong-willed sartorialist Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish). Together, they take endless walks and have sunny picnics in lovely Hampstead Heath; he composes poems for her and she rears butterflies for him. They make admissions of love sprawled deep inside misty thickets, and express the impossibilities of love in letters exchanged by still wintry lakes. It rains, it snows, it’s autumn, and then it’s winter again. Feverish, hopelessly hopeful and unacademic—this one will cause the most jaded ones to saunter into a bookstore and ask for a copy of Endymion.

—Prannay Pathak

 

Weekend Reccos: In the Mood for Art 2

Mozart In The Jungle (top); Bright Star (bottom)

 

Manto (2018)

A 1940s post-Independence India was riddled with sweeping changes. It was a time for revolution and unrest. It was also a time when the country was introduced to the genius of writer Saddat Hasan Manto, whose penchant for unconventional storytelling landed him in trouble across the border.

Nandita Das’s biographical drama portrays a very trying four years of the Urdu author’s life as he half-heartedly traded his beloved home in Bombay for a new one in Lahore amidst sectarian turbulence between two emerging nations. In the former, he found close-knit friends and acceptance for his writing. In the latter, he faced condemnation and no takers for his work. But Manto persevered through the chasms and stayed true to his art. The Nawazuddin Siddiqui-starrer tells the tale of a man who refused to lower his voice even when it was attempted to be silenced and his struggle to make sense of the two cities that he inhabited.

—Pooja Naik

 

Mozart In The Jungle (2014-18)

Amazon’s eponymous four-season drama portrays a dreamy, behind-the-scenes of the New York Philharmonic, telling tales of love, blinding passion, money and music. The quick-witted show follows a flamboyant parrot-owning maestro, Rodrigo de Souza (Gael García Bernal), on his journey to revive classical music at the fictional New York Symphony orchestra and an upcoming oboeist, Hailey Rutledge (Lola Kirke) climbing the showbiz ladder. Cruising through New York, Havana, Mexico City, Venice and Tokyo, the drama adds depth with characters like Gloria Winsor (Bernadette Peters), the bossy Symphony director and the retired conductor and composer, Thomas Pembridge (Malcolm McDowell).

Tickling your musical sensibilities, this charming musical ensemble weaves entertaining outdoor orchestra practices, extravagant Manhattan fundraisers, fun takes on Beethoven and Tchaikovsky and hallucinating conversations with Wolfgang A. for a seamless weekend binge.

—Muskaan Gupta

 

Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010)

This Banksy-directed documentary—about Thierry Guetta, an overzealous, odd Frenchman from Los Angeles, who bumbles his way into filming some of the most seminal street artists of the aughts—is now an essential text, for anyone trying to fathom the flattened conformity of global metropolises, the spirit of true rebellion or unchecked materialism. Armed with a camcorder in the dead of the night, Thierry bears witness as the likes of Shepherd Fairy, Space Invader and, of course, Banksy, dodge cops and streak walls, storefronts or pillars across London, Paris, New York and L.A. with conceptual provocateur art that transfixes regular folks and ignites a new street zeitgeist around the world. The final sting in its tail, however, is Thierry’s own evolution. Sardonic and smart, in retrospect Exit Through the Gift Shop feels like both a parody and parable of not just art and creativity but modern, urban life.

—Lakshmi Sankaran

 

 

To read more stories on travel, cities, food, nature, and adventure, head to our web forum here or our new National Geographic Traveller India app here.

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