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,
One of the most poetic and uplifting of the Belgium filmmakers Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne's works, The Kid With A Bike is brimful of humanity.
Aiming their camera once again at the reality of a working-class kid growing up, they tell Cyril's story. He is 11 and has only one plan - to find his father, who left him in a children's home.
In one of his attempts to run away Cyril turns up at his former home where he meets kind hairdresser Samantha, who lets him stay at her home over the weekend.
With his wild behaviour and his desperate parental search, Cyril risks losing her sympathy. But she gives him the love he needs to calm his rage and she is determined not give up on him.
Again using the Belgian seaport town of Seraing as a location, the camera closely follows the kid's obsessive search. Cyril races up and down the little town's streets on his bicycle, over and over, day and night.
The camera literally looks over Cyril's shoulder before closing in on his face, making the emotions real and extraordinarily true.
The brothers' meticulous approach to storytelling, the authenticity of the actors' performances and the documentary-like sense of place bring out the reality of Cyril's situation to the fullest.
Reality as a way to truth - a Marxist inspiration - is evident throughout this social-realist movie, which not only resembles De Sica's masterpiece Bicycles Thieves but breaks the cinematic conventions.
It's a unique and independent vision which won the Grand Jury prize at Cannes. Moving but unsentimental, it is a film not to be missed by those as yet unfamiliar with the Dardennes' unique voice.
The power of simplicity underscores all their work and this is one of their most compelling.