The shipyard painter, political activist and razor-sharp cartoonist Bob Starrett has just written a new book The Way I See It on his eventful life and times. Below we reprint one of his stories and review an essential read
ENO's production of La Boheme is a triumph,
French director Bonello's film explores life in the Paris brothel L'Apollonide at the dawn of the 20th century.
It's a "house of tolerance" for the rich with a stunning salon, velvet bedrooms, crystal chandeliers and champagne flowing.
In this closed world, where the madam runs the chic establishment with a rod of iron, some men fall in love and others become vicious abusers.
The girls share their secrets, tears, joys and pains.
There's Julie, who accepts the attention and the money of an older gentleman, an Arab mistress who is the "novelty" attraction and Madeleine, the intelligent beauty.
Slavery and personal tragic dramas unfold.
One prostitute is addicted to opium, another dies of syphilis and, in a dramatic moment, one of the women has her face sliced by a client.
The remarkable performances make it real and Bonello creates a credible social portrait of what life was like for a prostitute at that time.
It's obviously based on a considerable amount of research to create a historically accurate ambience.
But after the first hour Bonello makes a serious bungle. The narrative is ferociously disrupted as horror takes over.
Struggling to connect the threads of the story the ending seems like a desperate afterthought, played for spectacle rather than dramatic truth.
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