There is a lot to look forward to in 2009. The Ben Uri Gallery in London (www.benuri.org.uk) starts the year with an exhibition exploring works by artists who came to this country as refugees from Nazism. It follows that with a show of drawings by leading Jewish sculptor Jacques Lipchitz in May. Both should be well worth visiting. In February, the Wallace Collection (www.wallacecollection.org) will be displaying two hoards of medieval gold and silver jewellery found at Colmar in France and Erfurt in Germany, probably buried by Jewish families who were expelled from those cities. Fans of the Middle Ages will also want to head to the London Jewish Cultural Centre (www.ljcc.org.uk) in May, when it exhibits a selection of medieval Jewish artefacts. But it is not until the autumn that the most anticipated shows of the year will take place — when the Royal Academy (www.royalacademy.org.uk) is devoting exhibitions to two major Jewish sculptors, Anish Kapoor and Jacob Epstein.
One of the things I’m looking forward to is Richard Dreyfus in Complicit at the Old Vic (www.oldvictheatre.com) later this month. An added attraction is that this production of Joe Sutton’s play about Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ben Kritzer and his fight to preserve civil liberties is being directed by the theatre’s artistic director, Kevin Spacey. At the Duke of York’s Theatre (www.ambassadortickets.com) in the West End, Lindsay Posner is directing A View from a Bridge, Arthur Miller’s acclaimed drama about an Italian immigrant family in New York. It opens in January and runs until May. The British immigrant experience is examined at the National Theatre (www.nationaltheatre.org.uk) in Richard Bean’s England People Very Nice, about several generations of migrants to London’s East End, including the wave of Jewish refugees. Nicholas Hytner directs. Those who like their Hamlets played by big-name screen actors will be looking forward to May when Jude Law takes his turn in the role in the Donmar’s West End season (www.donmarwarehouse.com).
This should be a big year for Florence Welch, aka Florence and the Machine. She is a kooky singer-songwriter with a powerful voice — just as strong as Adele and Duffy, but without the retro soul. Expect her to consolidate the success of her debut album. It promises to be a girly year with a lot to come from the CocknbullKid, La Roux, and Little Boots, the stage persona of Brit popster Victoria Hesketh, who has been touted as a Kylie with cred.
I’m looking forward to Gran Torino, directed by and starring Clint Eastwood. Released in February, it’s a dramatic thriller about the attempts of a Korean War veteran to reform a delinquent Asian teenager. Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian will be good because it stars Ben Stiller (pictured left). The original was a great family movie and the sequel will be must-see school holiday viewing this summer. And Isla Fisher — Sacha Baron Cohen’s wife-to-be — struggles with mounting debt in Confessions of a Shopaholic in February. Who says Hollywood doesn’t do topical?