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The Guardian G2 - March 30, 2018

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Don’t look now!
Arcade Fire wake up
the neighbourhood
Friday 30/03/18
Lost in showbiz
Marina Hyde on royal
wedding chancers
page 3
From Stourbridge to
the stars (and back)
page 6
Isle of Dogs
Bradshaw’s verdict
page 12
Songs that
were No 1
for 10 weeks
Drake’s God’s Plan could
today hit 10 weeks at
No 1 – making him the
first artist to achieve that
with two different songs.
Alexis Petridis charts
the UK’s longest-serving
top of the pops
Bryan Adams
Everything I Do
(I Do It for You)
16 weeks, 1991
Bryan Adams’s
first dance
presided over a
chart liberally
populated with
house pop and
hardcore rave
anthems. Perhaps
it provided the
same function in
1991 as Engelbert
had at the height
of psychedelia:
a comfortingly
familiar escape
from the shock
of the new.
Frankie Laine
I Believe
8 weeks, 1953
The old
shibboleth that
Britain doesn’t
really “get”
country music is
belied by the early
50s charts, which
were packed with
the stuff. Frankie
Laine specialised
in cowboy
themes, although
his biggest hit
was less exotic: a
hymn-like ballad
written in 1952,
and intended
by its authors to
offer American
listeners comfort
in the face of the
Korean war.
Rihanna Umbrella
10 weeks, 2007
If this list teaches us anything,
it’s that a record-setting stay at
No 1 is no guarantee of a single’s
quality. But Rihanna’s Umbrella
is a genuinely exceptional pop
song. Admittedly, it begins with
a rotten guest appearance by
Jay-Z – “Rain man is back,” he
offers at one point, choosing
words that convey something
other than what he meant –
but after he pushes off, it’s
perfect: an arms-aloft power
ballad repurposed as ultramodern R&B, a coolly detached
vocal at odds with the soppy
You’ve Got a Friend sentiment,
a delirious clouds-parting
middle eight, an earworm
of a hook. It might seem an
inappropriate summer smash,
but that’s to forget the summer of
2007, when, in Britain at least,
it tipped it down on a daily
Queen Bohemian
14 weeks,
1975 and 1991
Nudging into
this list on a
technicality – its
two stays at the
top were separated
by 16 years – it’s
easy to forget
what a peculiar
No 1 Bohemian
Rhapsody is:
six-minutes long,
camp, utterly
nonsensical, an
episodic piece of
prog rock released
exactly as prog
rock faltered.
Whitney Houston
I Will Always
Love You
10 weeks, 1992
Dolly Parton’s
understated I Will
Always Love You
with Whitney
blockbusterisation is like
comparing a
sadly resigned
last embrace with
a 3am drunkdialling call from
a hysterical ex
that leaves you
considering a
restraining order.
The Guardian
Friday 30 March 2018
Luis Fonsi
Despacito (feat
Daddy Yankee)
11 weeks, 2017
A quintessential
summer hit,
Despacito proved
the vanguard
of both a
renaissance in
pop and the
smart music
industry trick
of maximising
a track’s global
reach by
repurposing it for
different markets.
But at its core was
an undeniable
pop song.
Slim Whitman
Rose Marie
11 weeks, 1955
Not much
pop from the
pre-Elvis era
stands up today,
but the signature
tune of country
singer Slim
Whitman remains
oddly haunting.
It sounds not
just sparse but
eerie: a wracked
vocal swathed
in reverb, set to
a clanking piano
and ghostly wisps
of pedal steel.
Wet Wet Wet Love
Is All Around
15 weeks, 1994
No 1 the week
Definitely Maybe
was released,
this Troggs cover
possibly offered
a nan-friendly
counterpart to the
parochialism and
60s fetishisation
that fuelled
Drake One Dance
15 weeks, 2017
A little like
Drake’s current
smash God’s Plan
– which may get a
10th week at the
top this week –
One Dance is an
odd candidate for
huge success. It is
by some distance
the subtlest
record in this list.
Sparse, restrained
and infinitely less
hook-laden than,
say, Hotline Bling,
it’s a song that
gradually works
its way under
your skin rather
than slaps you
in the face with
its self-evident
smash-hit quality.
Ed Sheeran
Shape of You
14 weeks, 2017
A Sheeran single
even his loudest
detractor might
struggle to dismiss
as a symptom of
cultural malaise,
Shape of You is a
fantastic piece of
pop songwriting,
TLC “homage”
and all. If it was
by anyone else, it
would have been
lauded: as it is,
he will have to
content himself
with having the
single of 2017
on both sides of
the Atlantic.
Too early for “song of
the summer” whispers?
This is a contender,
with the Danish popstar
mining Drake’s cosy
dancehall but trading
self-aggrandisement for
sweet, empathetic lyrics.
DJ Esco (feat Future &
Schoolboy Q)
Code of Honor
Far-away sirens whoop
as snares get in your face
in DJ Esco’s masterful
production, while
Future’s lofty melodies
sit perfectly next to
Schoolboy Q’s snarling
second verse.
Aimee Mann
A Cars cover from the
soundtrack of The
Assassination of Gianni
Versace. Who better to
make over one of the
loneliest songs of all time
than the songwriter who
does loneliness better
than anyone else?
Stephen Malkmus
and the Jicks
The indie-rock godfather
serves up some of his
finest word salad on a
true return to form from
the Jicks, on sludgy yet
pin-sharp form.
Royce Da 5’9” (feat J Cole)
Boblo Beat
A veteran “MC’s MC” and
early sparring partner
with Eminem, Royce
Da 5’9” returns with a
laidback, nostalgic ode to
losing his virginity in an
amusement park.
Flame 1
Two titans of British dub
culture – dancehall doommonger the Bug and
emo-breakbeat master
Burial – come together for
a rumbling, industrial,
half-stepping beast.
Lucy Railton
The Critical Rush
The dizzying centrepiece
to the avant-garde
composer’s arresting new
album Paradise 94 – cellos
imitate whirring machinery
before a rave-ready electro
melody bursts in.
Lost in Showbiz
A spotters’ guide
to the royal wedding’s
biggest chancers
adies and gentlemen,
we are officially
T-minus about seven
weeks. On 19 May,
Ms Meghan Markle will
marry Prince Harry,
expunging all previous incidents of
casual racism from the record. The
event will take place at St George’s
Chapel, Windsor Castle, and none of
their proper friends has the first clue
it’s Cup Final day. That said, when
the Archbishop of Canterbury asks
if anyone knows any reason they
should not be joined in matrimony, it
is going to go to VAR for two minutes.
Other than that, the day promises to
be one of gaiety for the nation.
Of course, there will always be
stick-in-the-muds who cannot
be even ironically amused by an
event that they have – let’s face
it – partially paid for. Returning
home after William and Kate’s
wedding, which I had been covering,
I learned that my husband had not
seen a single second of the day’s
proceedings, having instead decided
to watch The Sorrow and the Pity,
a four-and-a-half hour documentary
about Nazi collaboration in Vichy
France. What can you say? Having
failed to catch any of the ceremony,
he was unable even to answer my
inquiry as to whether there had been
any crossover between the featured
players in that searing 1969 work and
the royal wedding guestlist. (You’d
have thought at least a couple.)
Anyhow, as veterans of such
fixtures know, a royal wedding
means many things. Glorious
partworks, limited-edition bone
china and the tantalising prospect
of US broadcast contracts for some
of the royal family’s most rococo
ex-servants. Fear not, we will come
to him more fully in a bit. Because
it’s not just about Paul – it’s about
the royal experts, the bookies, the
rogue state dictators and so many
more. In this spirit, Lost in Showbiz
launches a glorious partwork of its
own. Chancers of the Royal Wedding
will celebrate some of the people
for whom the event presents a
fairly lunatic form of commercial
Many of us are chancers, of course
– I myself am writing this article
about it all, and I suspect it won’t
be the last. I count myself as at least
in the third or fourth circle of the
chancer Inferno. In the ninth circle,
we’ll place all the psychics telling us
what Diana thinks about Meghan.
And so to our chancers.
Paul Burrell
Well, there’s no show without
Punch. At this time of year, Princess
Diana’s former butler can reliably
be found on a tour of the southern
hemisphere reality formats, and has
duly just completed a stint on I’m a
Celebrity Australia.
Without the wedding, Paul would
have little to occupy himself, other
than linking Liam Hemsworth with
his role in series five of The Crown.
With it, he has a very busy few weeks
ahead. According to the Mail, Paul
“has hinted he’s not expecting an
invitation” to the wedding, much in
the way I have hinted I am not
expecting a call-up to Gareth
Southgate’s World Cup squad. Paul
explains that this is because Princes
Harry and William have “moved on”
from the time when he “belonged to
their world”. In terms of the precise
moment at which they “moved on”,
I feel it was probably when they
discovered he’d stuffed large amounts
of their mother’s dresses and
personal possessions in his attic “for
safekeeping”. As for the ensuing
trolley dash – the tell-all books, the
TV deals, the teasing of their
mother’s innermost secrets - we may
never be able to put our fingers on
exactly why Paul no longer “belongs
to their world”. But I am pleased to
report he is contracted for a
primetime Fox special entitled
Meghan Markle: An American
Princess, and the US will certainly
want more in the lead-up to the day.
The only question is that of his
billing. I’m not sure Paul will find
“former butler” to his liking any
more. A year ago, he had to deny he
was trying to flog a story about a gay
orgy on the royal yacht, which his
agent said he had told Diana about
“when he worked with her”. If you
enjoyed that “worked with”, as
though the princess and her butler
had been business partners, you may
care to note that Paul has now
upgraded their relationship. “She was
my friend,” he told the Australian
media this month, “and I loved her
very much … Take away the fact she
was a princess – just think of her as a
woman, which is what I thought of
her behind closed doors. … I feel I do
have a responsibility to talk about
my friend, because it may inspire
other people.”
Yup. It has certainly inspired me
to update the succession rankings.
Paul is formally moved to 14th in
line to the throne, bumping down
Peter Phillips’s daughter, Savannah.
Let’s hear much more from him at
his very earliest.
Kim Jong-un
Strange though it may seem, the
current North Korean dictator’s
grandfather, Kim Il-sung, issued
a set of commemorative stamps to
mark the wedding of Prince Charles
and Lady Diana Spencer, and the
next year went on to release two
further sets: one to commemorate
Princess Di’s 21st birthday, and the
other to mark the birth of Prince
William. Might Kim Jong-un be
as susceptible to philately, and
consider a re-run for Harry and
Meghan? Perhaps unlikely. Then
again, issuing collectible stamps is
a way of printing money, plus the
move has the bonkers inscrutability
Kim likes to cultivate. Pencil this one
as “developing”.
The psychics
If we are to believe the psychics,
Princess Diana spends much of
her afterlife speaking to their good
selves. And yet, if only they had
more artful imaginations, their
work would provide so much more
merriment. Take John Edward, the
one who was recently in the I’m a
Celeb jungle with Burrell, and gave
him a “psychic reading” in which
he claimed to be speaking to Diana.
Edward told Paul: “Your friend
wants to tell you that the dream
where she came to you in the royal
blue dress was real.”
Now let’s look at how the
conversation should have gone.
“Hang on – I’m getting someone …
ooh, It’s Diana.” Gasp! What’s she
saying? “She’s saying: ‘Paul, when
you’ve finished taking away the tea
things, can you whizz this jacket to
the dry cleaners so I can wear it when
my actual real friend Elton comes
over later for dinner and a row.’”
One who always delivers is Diana’s
psychic healer, Simone Simmons,
who we last heard from when
Princess Di contacted her to explain
she would have backed Brexit.
During that conversation, Simone
also claimed Di told her “the right
person” was someone other than
Meghan – so make of that what you
will. I’ve a feeling in my waters that
we’re due another intervention from
Simone, but for now we have psychic
twins Terry and Linda Jamison, who
this week revealed Diana had told
them she’d be at the wedding.
The royal experts
To give you a sense of scale, there
are almost more royal experts in
this country then there are minor
royals on the continent. Most of
them are journalists, meaning levels
of intermarriage are thought to be
similar. On the basis that we have to
start somewhere, today’s featured
expert is Ingrid Seward, editor of
royal jazz-mag Majesty, whose
title is believed to be a reference to
its editor as opposed to its subject
matter. “American manners are
different than British manners,”
Ingrid sweetly told the New York
Post when the engagement was
announced. “Meghan can’t walk
down the street eating or chewing
gum.” Anything else? “We hold
our cutlery differently. It’s a whole
different culture.” Majestic. And
I know this tireless scourge of the
non-U will have kicked herself
afterwards for saying “cutlery”
instead of “knives and forks”. We
must hope Ingrid will emerge on the
big day itself, if only to accept a few
posies from wellwishers.
The bookies
Confusingly, royal weddings offer
bookies media opportunities in the
form of announcements that they
have stopped taking bets on things.
There is no piece of wedding arcana
so obscure that they would not find
themselves “forced” to suspend
the market on it, or risk their entire
This has already begun. According
to Paddy Power, “our traders have
been inundated” with people betting
that Meghan’s wedding dress will be
designed by house of Alexander
McQueen, to the point that they have
“stopped taking bets”. Please don’t
be so unsporting as to inquire if they
have honestly taken a lot of bets.
Instead, just play along with the idea
that betting shops were so deluged by
gamblers shouting “I’ll have a
monkey on Oscar de la Renta” that
people were unable to use the fixed
odds terminals in peace.
Here concludes the inaugural
Chancers of the Royal Wedding. More
as they emerge in the weeks ahead.
The Guardian
Friday 30 March 2018
Clockwise from
far left, Wreck-it
Ralph, 2012;
Tomb Raider,
2018; Tron,
1982; Street
Fighter, 1994
Tomb Raider is the latest in a long line of
video-game-to-big-screen duds. Can a batch of new
e, asks Keza MacD
releases crack the code,
o other
th fil
film genre
boasts such an
reputation for
dreadfulness as
the video game
adaptation. Some, such as this
year’s Tomb Raider film and the
zombie-themed Resident Evil
efforts, almost achieve mediocrity.
Others are so fascinatingly terrible
that they have become Hollywood
legend – for instance, the baffling
interpretation of Super Mario Bros
proffered by edgy British directors
Annabel Jankel and Rocky Morton
in 1993, in which Nintendo’s bright,
joyful Mushroom Kingdom was
reimagined as a futuristic dystopia
called Dinohattan, where everyone
was dressed in fishnets and black
leather trenchcoats. A quarter of a
century later, it is still impossible
to understand why anyone thought
that was a good idea.
The ever-expanding Marvel
cinematic universe is ample proof
that films can do an excellent job of
exploring geek culture and fleshing
out the paper-thin characters that
dominate it; Black Panther has just
become the fifth highest-grossing
movie ever at the US box office.
Millions have now grown up with
video games, so why is it that studios
have failed to make a single video
game movie that doesn’t stink?
“Big screen video game
adaptations have had perhaps the
most chequered box office past
of any genre, and there has yet to
be a string of hits to qualify it as a
true blockbuster genre,” says Paul
Dergarabedian, senior media analyst
at Comscore. “For every Lara Croft:
Tomb Raider and The Angry Birds
Movie, there have been numerous
big-budget flops. Studios clearly feel
the international box office returns
are enough to justify the investment
[but] they are all hoping to be the
lucky winner to crack the code and
become the next superhero-like
genre to generate billions of dollars
… it just hasn’t happened, yet.”
The most successful video game
movie at the US box office was 2001’s
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, starring
Angelina Jolie, which grossed $131m.
h lleast successful
f l was infamous
director Uwe Boll’s hopelessly
convoluted schlocky horror flick
Alone in the Dark, starring Christian
Slater, which brought in $5.1m.
Most video game movies have
failed to break even domestically,
but they are sometimes saved by
international markets; 2016’s deeply
boring World of Warcraft movie met
with a resounding “meh” at home,
but did so well in China that it ended
up grossing more than $430m.
There’s clearly money to be made
here, which explains why studios
seem so obsessed with pursuing it
despite the critical maulings.
Film critics have often relished
the opportunity to have a pop
at video games as a whole in
their takedowns of awful film
adaptations. “Maybe the only
people who can explain this flick’s
nonsensical plotline are those who
squandered their youth mastering
the Atari video game on which it’s
based,” wrote LA Weekly’s Chuck
Wilson of Alone in the Dark. “Wing
Commander is based on a video
game and has roughly the same
degree of character development.
That is all most moviegoers will need
to know,” said the New York Times’s
Anita Gates in her 2000 review. It
is true that, historically, games’
plots were thin justifications for
whatever action was being depicted
on-screen, but in the past 15 years,
story has become as important a part
of video games as anything else.
Developers such as Naughty Dog,
makers of Uncharted and The Last
of Us, spend millions on teams of
scriptwriters, actors, and lifelike
performance capture to make their
characters more than blank avatars
The Guardian
Friday 30 March 2018
‘Fantastic video
game movies do
exist – it’s just
that none of them
are adaptations’
and their stories resonate with
players emotionally. A good video
game tale these days can rival those
told by film and TV. The problem
is that the strengths of video
game narratives – control, choice,
immersion in the point of view of the
character you play – do not translate
well to film. Instead, video game
adaptations tend to get caught up in
tedious backstory.
“The kinds of games people
want to put on film are often not
very good examples of stories that
have dramatic tension,” says Cara
Ellison, a video game narrative
designer who has also written for
TV and comics. “A good film script is
concise, and big games are not. Bigbrand franchise games, the ones film
studios think they can make brand
recognition money from, are at least
15 hours long. Fitting all the weird
stuff people jam into a game into a
120-minute film is a difficult (and
probably unnecessary) job.”
“The issue with adapting video
games for film is that there’s a lot
of well-known gameplay features
that just don’t translate into filmmaking,” says Lauren O’Callaghan,
entertainment editor at video game
and entertainment site Gamesradar.
“Playing a game and watching a
movie are two hugely different
experiences. One requires the
participant to take an active role
in the story, making choices, while
the other is more passive. Problems
arise when film-makers try to
incorporate key elements of a game
into their film adaptations, because
there’s often no (or at least a very
weak) storyline reason for them
existing within the movie. While
fans of the game might understand
why a shot of a flying eagle (a
recurring symbol in the game’s
mythology) was incorporated into
so many scenes from the Assassin’s
Creed movie, to traditional
moviegoers it felt random.”
Many video game movie scripts
attempt to find a middle ground
between the people who know and
love the game, and moviegoers
who aren’t familiar with it at all.
This, says O’Callaghan, is another
major reason why they don’t work.
“It’s something that book-to-film
adaptations also fall victim to, but
it’s less likely because books and
films at least follow similar storyline
patterns. Film-makers get trapped
trying to make something that
appeals to its gaming fanbase as
well as the more casual filmgoer.
Often they end up missing the
mark for both audiences, creating
dissatisfaction on both sides and a
mediocre movie at best.”
There’s no good reason why
video game movies should stick
slavishly to the meandering plots
of actual games. Film could provide
a great space to explore the hidden
inner lives of their characters, or
play around inside their fictional
universe. There are endless different
stories set in the Star Wars universe,
most of which have nothing to do
with Luke Skywalker. Why shouldn’t
the same be true for, say, Skyrim?
“The least terrible game movies
lean into the core mood of the
source material, and abandon the
requirement of fitting in references
to every damn collectable or
idiosyncrasy of the game,” says
Ellison. “Street Fighter has a funny
script, you get a real sense of the
character personalities, and a JeanClaude Van Damme genre pop-art
martial arts mess is exactly the
tone of the game. The Sean Bean
Silent Hill film has a really good
sense of mood and tension lifted
directly from the games. And the
Resident Evil set of films takes the
outrageous melodrama of the games
and transplants it into an entirely
new character and world of almost
medical-fetish dystopia, which
again is tonally appropriate B-movie
trash that is wildly fun to witness.
Leaning in to a few key tonal notes
with very considered characterbuilding is the way to making a good
video game adaptation.”
Fantastic video game movies do
exist – it’s just that none of them
are adaptations. Video games fare
better as movie-fodder when they
are tackled conceptually – such
as in Tron and War Games – or
part of the cultural backdrop, as
they are in Wreck-it Ralph and
Steven Spielberg’s forthcoming
Ready Player One. Unrestricted
by the narrative constraints of an
individual game’s tedious lore, these
films are free to tackle what is most
about video
games: how
‘For every Angry
Birds Movie,
there have
been numerous
big-budget flops’
they intersect with real life. Wreck-it
Ralph asks what would happen to
famous game characters if, like real
celebrities, they had an internal
life outside of their public persona.
Tron, last year’s Jumanji reboot and
Ready Player One imagine what
being sucked into a virtual world
would be like. In Scott Pilgrim vs the
World, games are just a part of the
cultural backdrop, as they are for
most people under 35. These films
don’t bear the name of some giant,
famous brand; instead they are
about the role that video games play
in our lives.
This is Ready Player One’s great
strength – though having Spielberg
as a director doesn’t hurt. It’s
packed with references to wellknown games alongside other pop
culture, but you don’t have to spend
hundreds of hours with a controller
to enjoy the film.
Nonetheless, in the next few
years, there are films forthcoming
based on the 1986 arcade game
Rampage (starring Dwayne
Johnson), Nintendo’s Super Mario
(this time made by Illumination,
the studio behind Minions), Sonic
the Hedgehog, and giant-dinosaurhunting game Monster Hunter
World. Perhaps one of them will get
to the next level.
Clockwise from
left: The Angry
Birds Movie, 2016;
Resident Evil,
2002; Super Mario
Brothers, 1993
‘This craze
isn’t going
to stop’
more than 550 cinemas across
Britain has fuelled the juggernaut,
drawing fans back to screens to be
whipped into excitement with a precredits warmup, and assisted with
on-screen lyrics. After opening with
£2.58m, The Greatest Showman took
more than £1m on 12 consecutive
weekends, an almost unheard-of
feat. We have to wind back two
decades to find films with such
The Greatest Showman
staying power; in 1997, Titanic took
has just notched up its
at least £1m for 12 weeks, while
The Full Monty achieved that for
12th big week at the box
an unmatched 13 weeks. Only last
office. Simon Usborne
weekend did The Greatest Showman
dip below the £1m mark. Fox is now
looks behind the success
promoting its digital release next
of this circus freak
month; the DVD follows in May.
The film plays to the broadest
eorge Goldspink
audience, from students at
wasn’t sure whether
Newcastle’s Tiger Tiger to pensioners
Tiger Tiger in
at Eastbourne’s Cineworld. Word-ofNewcastle upon Tyne
mouth marketing, catchy songs –
was ready for the
and a lot of repeat viewings – have
“bearded lady” he
outflanked critical derision. The
had hired
to lip-sync to This Is Me,
New York Times dismissed The
the b
biggest number from the biggest
Greatest Showman as “a montage
film ssurprise of the year. The events
sequence that occasionally turns
planner had arranged a student club
into a movie
night with The Greatest Showman
musical”. At the
theme, and wanted to honour its
reviews site
feelgood anthem for outcasts.
Rotten Tomatoes,
“But it’s a bit of a ballad and it’s
the film has a 55%
absolutely rogue for a nightclub to
score among
put o
on a song like that because it
critics – but an
could just kill the atmosphere,” says
88% audience
‘We had 1,500
the 25
2 -year-old former whale trainer
from Norwich. His Goldflake Events
“And it’s all
students at
company puts on weekly “Tiger
the club night genuine,” says
Wednesday” nights for Newcastle
Clare Binns,
– more than
University students.
deputy managing
at freshers’
Goldspink is a big fan of the
director of the
musical film, which stars Hugh
Jackman as the 19th-century
cinema chain,
American circus pioneer PT Barnum,
and a Greatest
and h
has songs by the Oscar winners
behind La La Land. He was confident
superfan. “It’s
people would come to the themed
audiences being aware of what
club night, but the demand stunned
they’re going to see and knowing
him. “We had just over 1,500 students they’re going to have a good time.
in, ou
our biggest night since freshers’
It’s Mamma Mia!, not Birdman.”
week,” he says. “And when we played
Paul Vickery, programming head
that song, it absolutely went off.”
at the Prince Charles cinema, London,
The film, modestly promoted
says sing-along screenings are on
before its UK release last Boxing
track to outperform even Frozen,
Day – and showered with lukewarm
which it sold out for two years after
reviews – has generated a big-tent
the Disney hit’s release in 2013.
appeal that would have astonished
Goldflake Events says it has been
Barnum himself. Three months on,
flooded with inquiries from nonand last weekend it was still among
student fans, and is in talks with
the top
t five grossing films in the UK.
Tiger Tiger to put on a weekend
The soundtrack,
released in early
version of the club night next month.
January, has spent 11 weeks at the top “This craze is not going anywhere,”
of the
th album charts.
says Goldspink. “There is just
Meanwhile, an unprecedented
something about it. It’s become a
run of sing-along screenings at
family classic overnight.”
The Guardian
Friday 30 March 2018
Wise up suckers!
How a Midlands
town rivalled the
might of Britpop
The Wonder Stuff and Ned’s Atomic Dustbin sold millions
of records before Britpop spoiled their party. Now, after
‘personal differences’, they’re back. By Harry Sword
he British indie
timeline is well
established –
documentaries skip
from Madchester to
Britpop swifter than
Keith Allen necking a pint of lager
down the Groucho Club. But this
was never the full story.
During the late-80s, the small
Black Country town of Stourbridge,
just outside Birmingham, became
the unlikely nucleus for a scruffily
anarchic brand of indie that came to
be known as grebo. Three bands – the
Wonder Stuff, Pop Will Eat Itself and
Ned’s Atomic Dustbin – emerged from
the town. They fused ramshackle
punk, folk, electronic and hip-hop
influences with idiosyncratic styles –
dreadlocks, undercuts, army surplus
clothing, baggy shorts, questionable
tartan suits – and instantly identifiable
band logos. Their ascendancy was
swift. Between them, they sold
millions of albums, headlined
festivals, graced the covers of NME
and Melody Maker, sold out tours and
soundtracked the lives of a generation
of pre-Britpop teens. And yet
Stourbridge never took its rightful
place in the indie pantheon.
While the bands commanded a
fierce tribal
loyalty among
fans, they
eschewed the
egotism and
excess that was
to run rampant
during the Cool
Britannia era.
“The Black
Country sense of
humour is hugely
explains Miles Hunt, the Wonder
Stuff ’s frontman, looking around the
cosy back room of the town’s Duke
William pub. “They’ll demolish you
here. In the early 90s, we had flats in
London, were selling loads of records,
doing Top of the Pops, the whole
thing. But we’d come back and had
to be very careful down the pub –
this pub, in particular, actually.”
Tonight, however, it is full of
friendly fans awaiting an invitationonly acoustic performance from
Hunt and Ned’s Atomic Dustbin lead
singer Jonn Penney. The undercuts
and crimped fringes are long gone,
but ancient tour T-shirts are everywhere and everybody seems to
know each other.
“It was never about similar
musical influences,” says Penney.
“We all sounded really different.
There was never a ‘Stourbridge
sound’. What we shared was
determination. We were all
determined to plough our own
furrow.” Mid-80s Stourbridge was a
solidly working-class town with a
thriving music scene, galvanised by
the local arts school. Hunt recalls
friends in Birmingham getting
involved in drugs while those in
Stourbridge were more likely to be
found “obsessively discussing the
latest Bauhaus 12-inch than whether
their dealer had turned up yet”.
The first of the Stourbridge bands
to break was Pop Will Eat Itself
(PWEI), whose early singles Wise Up!
Sucker and Can U Dig It? dented the
Top 40 in 1988. With their DayGlo
cacophony of looped beats, distorted
guitars, film samples and a trademark
double-pronged rap attack from
frontmen Clint Mansell (now a
respected Hollywood soundtrack
producer) and Graham Crabb, PWEI
were an anomaly on the indie circuit.
“Public Enemy really blew us away,
they were a huge
influence,” says
Crabb. “We’d
grab stuff from
everywhere –
it was a real
patchwork. We’d
be in the studio
‘There was never
a Stourbridge
sound. What
we shared was
Ned’s Atomic
Dustbin in
Chicago in
The Guardian
Friday 30 March 2018
for 18 hours a day on the samplers,
twisting up sounds.”
It was also PWEI who were
responsible for the scene acquiring
the “grebo” tag. They namechecked
the term in early songs, but Crabb
insists it was an in-joke that got out
of hand. “Grebo is basically mid-70s
Midlands slang for some scruffy
layabout who doesn’t want to go to
work,” he says. Seized on by NME, it
quickly became shorthand for all the
bands coming out of Stourbridge –
despite them having wildly different
sounds. “We never took it seriously,”
laughs Hunt. “None of us did. We
were happy to be lumped in if it got
us more column inches in the
weeklies, though.”
Between 1989 and 1993, the three
leading Stourbridge bands released
their most important work. The
Wonder Stuff fused soaring
Waterboys-esque melodies to acidic
lyrical witticism on 1989’s Hup and
1991’s Never Loved Elvis. Ned’s
Atomic Dustbin channelled punky
velocity with youthful wistfulness
on 1990’s Godfodder and 1992’s Are
You Normal?, while PWEI continued
to take rudimentary synths and
samplers to the limit on 1989’s This
is the Day ... This is the Hour ... This
is This! and 1992’s The Looks or the
Lifestyle? The town became an
unlikely place of pilgrimage in the
90s, with busloads of fans turning
up expecting to see Hunt, Penney
and Mansell having a pint. In
reality, they were hardly ever in
Stourbridge due to punishing
tour schedules.
As record sales became serious,
record label meddling became a
tiresome reality and pressure began
to mount. “There’s no ceiling to a
major label,” says Hunt. “I remember
a conversation with someone from
our label who said: ‘We have to get
Simply Red numbers. You have to be
hitting a million-plus.’ The head of
the label came to rehearsals. He
stopped us and said: ‘You just sound
like you. Why don’t you get a sax
player, some girly backing vocalists?’
I said: ‘What the fuck do you mean?’,
and he said: ‘I don’t know, just do
something different!’”
While labels could market
Britpop and Manchester bands as
part of distinct scenes, the motley
Stourbridge crew left them
scratching their heads. Not only was
Stourbridge tricky to package, some
of the band members struggled with
their success, Penney in particular.
After relentlessly touring, he
suffered a period of anxiety and
checked into a Harley Street clinic,
completely unable to sing. “The
doctor said there was nothing
physically wrong with my voice,”
he recalls. “It was psychosomatic.
A feeling of, ‘You know what? I don’t
deserve all this. How did I get here?’
That’s why we called our second
album Are You Normal? Because,
by then, we didn’t feel normal any
more. We’d toured the world twice.
People would always say: ‘Oh, all
the Stourbridge lot are exactly the
same as their crowd,’ but by that
point, we weren’t.”
It was a perception that quickly
became a double-edged sword.
While the bands fostered a strong
link to fans, there was precious little
in the way of rock’n’roll mystique.
“We belonged to the fans and not
the press,” continues Penney. “If I’d
have been a journo at NME, I would
have been frustrated with us, too.
‘Come on lads, throw a telly out of
the window!’” he laughs.
By the mid-90s, disillusionment
was setting in. The Wonder Stuff,
despite huge popularity, were
imploding under the strain of
“personal differences”, according to
Hunt. “We had spent eight years on a
bus with each other and we couldn’t
be in the same room together any
The Wonder
Stuff in Bescot
stadium in 1991,
and (below) Jonn
Penney and
Miles Hunt in
Techno, soukous, abstract electronics – the Nyege Nyege collective
draws from the melting pot of Kampala’s music scene. But unlike
other European visitors, it gives something back. By Gareth Main
A Ugandan affair
more.” PWEI, meanwhile, were
moving in a harsher industrial
direction, touring the US with Nine
Inch Nails; Ned’s Atomic Dustbin
were unceremoniously dropped by
Sony the day before an eight-week
US tour.
The imminent arrival of Britpop
didn’t sound the death knell – but it
certainly didn’t help. “We didn’t
want that ego stroke,” says Hunt.
“Brett Anderson from Suede was
like: ‘I want to be treated like David
Bowie. Where’s my limo?’ To us, that
was laughable. I remember seeing
Suede at an early gig at the Forum
and pissing myself laughing. He
was doing the moves, but it was
like Leonard Rossiter on a bad day.
I couldn’t see the sex in it at all. But
the press just fell into line. I would
have hated to have been in
competition, though – the Britpop
guys really were hitting the Simply
Red sales figures.”
Hunt also points to the incoming
blizzard of cocaine as a turning point
in the indie scene of the mid-90s.
“During the Britpop years, cocaine
was everywhere. That was a gift to
the media. When I noticed a couple
of close friends start doing it, I was
like: ‘Who the fuck do you think you
are, Rod Stewart?’ It seemed like a
ridiculous drug for anyone in our
circle to do. Dinosaur rock-star
behaviour. I hated it.”
There is no love lost for Britpop
or Manchester among most fans
tonight, either. Phil Burchill, 43,
expresses the sentiments of many:
‘Brett Anderson
was like:
Where’s my limo?
To us, that was
“The Stourbridge bands have been
forgotten. I don’t know why. There’s
a sniffiness. It’s weird – on the radio
now you’ll still hear, say, Primal
Scream. But they were nowhere
near as big as the Wonder Stuff ! The
Stuffies headlined Reading, they did
three nights on the trot at Brixton. In
fact, the only reason they didn’t do
the fourth is because they didn’t
want to break the Clash’s record.” He
laughs. “That sums it up for me – it’s
not like Manchester here. We don’t
shout about things.”
The Wonder Stuff and Ned’s Atomic
Dustbin are touring the UK now.
he southern outskirts
of Kampala are
teeming with life, but
head off the main strip
leading to Ggaba beach
and you will find a
mixture of homespun shacks, open
dried-up storm drains, and recently
constructed villas. It’s the home of
Derek Debru, co-founder of Nyege
Nyege, a collective of musicians
from around the world who are
turning the music scene in the
Ugandan capital on its head.
“We want to showcase sounds
from across the continent into one
experience,” says Belgium-born
Debru, a chain-smoking idealist with
a wild, unkempt beard, who, along
with Arlen Dilsizian – a GreekArmenian academic with an
encyclopaedic knowledge of musical
ethnography – was attracted to the
city by “the energy, the freedom and
the easiness of the people”. Together,
they have created a community with
little precedent in Africa.
Debru’s home is the heart of what
Nyege Nyege – also a label, Nyege
Nyege Tapes – is about. A temporary
space while they move between
studios, it provides room for a
revolving cast of musicians (and three
stray dogs). The house is always
filled with music, and the sound
shifts constantly from soukous – a
traditional music born out of
Congolese musicians’ interpretation
of rumba – to blistering techno, hiphop, tribal music, contemplative
abstract electronics and beyond.
The space that Nyege Nyege
provides is a breeding ground for
innovation, and it would be difficult
to replicate the marriage of different
backgrounds outside Kampala. But
many of the musicians have
harrowing stories: Otim Alpha and
Leeo P-Layeng Kenna come from
Gulu, in northern Uganda, an area
with a history of violence. Alpha, a
former kickboxer who has updated
traditional music of the Acholi
people into insatiably upbeat
electro, protected the people of Gulu
against repeat attacks. Other
musicians, such as hip-hop duo
Kongoloko, from Congo, talk of seeing
friends being shot in the street.
“In my country, you just see
people dying for nothing,” says Rey,
a Congolese artist who produces
music as Sapiens. “When you get
home from school, you find that
your friend is dead.” He fled Congo
aged 10 with his father during the
war there in 2000, and came to
Kampala four years ago. He learned
to use production software six
months ago and is pursuing a dream
to produce a new sound he calls
“Congo techno” – an amalgam of
soukous and 4/4 beats.
A prominent artist in the villa is
Kasakwi Samuel, a softly spoken,
dreadlocked man who makes music as
Zilla. “This is the only place in Uganda
that gives hospitality to artists,” he
says. “There’s going to be something
great that comes out of this place.”
“What was on offer in Kampala
wasn’t reflective of the diversity of
music in the country, and that was
problematic,” says Dilsizian. The
continent’s music is evolving rapidly,
from electro chaabi – complex, socalike Egyptian dance music inspired
by north African folk – to singeli, the
fast and furious sound coming out of
Dar es Salaam that Nyege captured
on its Sounds of Sisso compilation.
“You wouldn’t get an electro chaabi
producer being booked for a Kampala
club, even though you know that
sound will rocket,” Dilsizian
continues. “We’re trying to address
these inhibitors. If you don’t have a
scene to perform in, it becomes
challenging for a scene to survive.”
Another problem is the long
history of western musicians going
to African countries to find new
sounds, only to leave local artists
feeling used and scammed. Nyege
Nyege is wary of this exploitation.
Debru and Dilsizian have tried to
turn it into something positive with
Nihiloxica, a project formed by
British artists Spooky J and PQ
collaborating with Kampala’s
Nihlotica Drum Ensemble. After
coming to sample the music, Jacob
Maskell-Key, AKA Spooky J, returned
to live in Kampala.
“Collaboration excites us,” says
Dilsizian. “We have no problem
re from abroad. It’s
artists coming here
just that the terms of the
d to be fairer.”
collaboration need
When Debru is asked about his
ture he says:
dreams for the future
“No dreams, only plans. We’re
going to just go as hard as we can
and see how far we can take this
nning, it was
thing. In the beginning,
about swimming in the ocean.
Now, it’s about steering
the ship.”
Nyege Nyege tourss
the UK with the
musicians on the
Sounds of Sisso
5-14 April.
The Guardian
Friday 30 March 2018
A Nyege Nyege
Tapes show in
Le Bon, one
half of the
hip-hop duo
Considine: ‘I
did everything I
could not to act
in Journeyman’
‘Let’s just say
I was cut a little
differently from
my brothers and
Interview Paddy Considine
‘I never wanted
to sell my soul
for this’
In his second film as director, the actor stars as an
ageing boxer. He tells Cath Clarke why he auditioned
himself for the role and why he’s stayed loyal to Burton
addy Considine is
suffering. He put his
back out the other
day, lifting a basket of
groceries at the Co-op
down the road from
his house in Burton upon Trent.
He is clearly in a bit of pain but is
seeing the funny side. “A lovely lady
carried my shopping to the car for
me because I was in such a bad way.
I think she was in her 70s,” he says,
grinning. “Not that age matters.” As
she loaded up his bags, Considine,
bent double, thanked her. “She
hurled my shopping into the boot
and said: ‘I’m a tough northern
woman.’” That cracks him up.
Actors talk a lot about keeping
it real, but I don’t suppose many
of them do their weekly shop at
the Co-op in Burton. Considine’s
realness is perhaps the essence of
his quality as a performer. He is not
the most famous British actor, or
the richest, but he is one of the most
respected. “The thing about Paddy is
that he can’t lie,” said Olivia Colman,
who starred in his 2011 directing
debut Tyrannosaur, talking to the
Guardian last year. Watching his
films back-to-back I actually find the
rawness of some of his performances
almost unwatchable. He doesn’t
scrimp, putting all of himself into
every part, dragging it up from
The funny thing about his
supermarket injury is that Considine
has never been in better shape,
physically or mentally. Six or so
years ago, he was diagnosed with
mild Asperger syndrome, which he
says made sense of behaviours he
The Guardian
Friday 30 March 2018
had been struggling with for years:
difficulty with eye contact; intrusive
thoughts that something bad was
going to happen to his wife and kids;
hypersensitivity to light. Back then,
he hated doing interviews (and had
a reputation for being angry and
difficult). Today, he is relaxed and
funny. And he is in great shape, lean
and chiselled, having just played a
boxer in his new film, Journeyman,
which he also wrote and directed.
If you didn’t know better, you
might think that with this buff new
physique, he is angling to get in the
door of Hollywood. (Considine had
roles in Cinderella Man and as an
ill-fated Guardian reporter in The
Bourne Ultimatum, but says he has
never actively gone looking for work
in the US.)
It was never part of his plan
to appear in Journeyman. “I did
everything I possibly could not to
act in it,” he says with a grimace. The
film follows a middleweight boxer at
the end of his career, defending his
title against a cocky, trash-talking
young upstart. Considine has a
difficult relationship with acting.
“When I directed Tyrannosaur, I
thought in my head: ‘If this works,
I’m probably never going to act
again. I just want to be a director, I
don’t want to act.’”
Had he fallen out of love with
it? Considine shakes his head, and
takes his time. “I think that what
happened to me was that I never
fully believed that I was any good
at it,” he says earnestly. “I still don’t
really know. That tortured me for a
long, long time.”
Considine more or less fell
into acting, after his friend from
Burton College, the director Shane
Meadows, cast him in 1999’s A
Room for Romeo Brass. For years
he resisted any kind of professional
training, anxious he would lose his
edge. “I think it’s something that a
lot of working-class kids who come
into acting are afraid of. They’re
afraid they’re going to lose a bit of
themselves, that they’re going to
look stupid. But if you’re good at
something, learning a few techniques
isn’t going to make you any worse.
It’s going to make you stronger.”
What keeps him coming back to
acting, I wonder? “There’s a part of
me that’s going: ‘I haven’t touched it
yet.’ I haven’t touched that exquisite
thing, a really great performance. I
don’t think I’ve done it, yet. What
I’m looking for is that bit when it
transcends acting. Where you feel
like you’re literally looking through a
window at someone else’s life.”
Last year, at 43, he made his
stage debut in Jez Butterworth’s
play The Ferryman as a soulful
County Armagh farmer impossibly
in love with his sister-in-law. He
was bricking it, says Considine.
What scared him most? “Looking
ridiculous. In theatre, you’ve got
nowhere to hide. And all kinds of
little demons [come out]: you’re
going to mess it up. You’re going to
forget your lines. My ego gave me
every reason not to be there. But I
did it.” He didn’t miss a show, eight
shows a week, six days a week.
Moreover, Considine suggests
that, subconsciously, he was
always planning to play the lead in
Journeyman. He has been a boxing
nut since he was a kid watching
Barry McGuigan fights on telly. In his
teens, he studied photography and
started hanging around boxing rings,
snapping fighters. After considering
other actors for the role of Matty,
who suffers a brain injury in his last
fight, Considine finally came to the
conclusion that the part was for him.
First, he called his producer to ask if
he thought he was right for the part.
Like, yeah, said the producer. His
next worry was that the financiers
would say the film wasn’t bankable
with him starring in it. “It could
have been embarrassing, if I couldn’t
get cast in my own film.” Next he
auditioned himself. Come again?
“Well, I got a camera set up and I got
Paul Popplewell in with me, who’s in
the film, and I did a little workshop
with him. It seemed OK.”
The most challenging scenes to
shoot weren’t the boxing ones, he
says, but filming in a brain injury
rehabilitation unit. “There were
As Journeyman’s
Matty Burton
Books and
Banita Sandhu, the Welsh actor and star of October, is
becoming a big name in India, writes Alia Waheed.
In the meantime, she has a degree to finish
As Morell in
A Room for
Romeo Brass
(left) and (above)
as Quinn Carney
in The Ferryman
real people there who’d suffered
brain injuries. I felt weird because I
was pretending to be one of them.
I couldn’t even look at anybody on
that day. That was the worst. I felt
like an impostor. I just thought: what
are you trying to achieve here?”
onsidine lives in
Burton with his wife
Shelley – they have
been together since he
was 18 and have three
children. Although
he works in London all the time,
Considine has never felt the need to
leave the Midlands. He wanted to
raise the kids close to his in-laws and
his family. And part of him thinks it’s
important to keep a foot in the real
world. “When your group of friends
are just people in the industry, it’s
dangerous. I’ve met very successful
people and they start to exist in the
stratosphere. I find that strange. I
think you’ve still got to get out on
the street and have a sniff around. I
live a pretty quiet existence.”
But it does surprise people,
doesn’t it, that he still lives in
Burton? Considine shrugs. “I never
wanted to sell my soul for this. And
maybe I’m very lucky. From the off I
just lived up there. It never seemed
to affect me getting work.”
For years his kids didn’t know
what he did for a living – they
thought he was in a band. Considine
grins at the thought. He is in a band,
Riding the Low; they make the
odd album and play at festivals. “I
wouldn’t earn enough money to buy
a can of beans from my band, never
mind a holiday.” Does he ever take
the brooding intensity about work
home with him? The question makes
him laugh. “No, I’m a total wally at
home. I’m the fourth kid.”
The irony of Considine living in
Burton is that as a teenager, all he
wanted was to get out. At school he
would look out of the windows at the
factories in town. “I remember sitting
there at around 14 thinking: is that it?
Is that what I’ve got to look forward
to? Because as far as I knew, people
left school and went to work in
factories, or they got labouring jobs.
That was what I was facing. I just kind
of knew that this wasn’t everything.
It’s no disrespect to my hometown to
say this because I still live there.”
For most of his childhood, neither
of his parents worked: “We were the
benefits kids.” One of six siblings, he
describes himself as a dreamer and a
natural born performer. “There was
definitely something within me. I
think I wanted to be seen. I wasn’t a
show-off, but I wanted to be seen.”
After school, he would run home
and blast Adam and the Ants on the
record player and dance in front of
the window as the other kids and
parents walked past.
What did his own parents make
of him? Another shrug. “I could’ve
done anything. We had nothing
to lose. I was never judged by my
parents. They never, ever told me:
‘Get a job.’ There was always this air
about me. Let’s just say that I was cut
a little differently from my brothers
and sisters.”
Funnily enough, it was teachers
and later, lecturers who told him
he would never amount to much.
“People think you’re talking out of
your hole when you say you want to
be in films, make films. I was like:
‘You’re supposed to be inspiring me
here and you’re telling me I can’t be
anything.’ That kind of shit.” He is
rubbish at badgering his own kids to
get on with their homework. “The
one thing I tell them is not to dumb
down. Don’t sell yourself short.
Have self-sovereignty. Nobody owns
you. You are who you are. I just try
to instil that in them, to use their
creativity. To not be ashamed or
afraid of it.”
What life and work has taught
him is that you just have to get on
with it, he says. He is just about to
start writing a new film – he won’t
tell me what it’s about. The fear of
falling on his face never goes away.
“Everything in me is telling me that
it’s going to be terrible. I find myself
in trench after trench buried under
this doubt. The way out is always
the same way out, just to let go. The
tighter you hold on to the ride, the
more terrifying it is. But when you
let go and just throw your arms in
the air, it’s like: this isn’t half as bad.”
Journeyman is released on 30 March
hile many
drama students
will be
their income
by stacking
shelves in a supermarket, and
perhaps treading the boards in
their local faculty production, one
student from a small town in Wales
will be swapping Shakespearean
plays for the glitz and glamour of the
world’s biggest film industry when
she makes her debut in a high-profile
Bollywood release.
Banita Sandhu, who is studying
English literature at Kings College
London, is in the unique position
of balancing coursework deadlines
with hitting the headlines after being
plucked from obscurity to star in the
film October opposite Bollywood
heartthrob Varun Dhawan.
Sandhu’s journey from student
to potential star could have been
taken from the plot of a Bollywood
film itself. She was brought up by her
second-generation, British Indian
parents in Caerleon, on the outskirts
of Newport in south Wales, before
moving to London at 18 to start her
degree. Her big break came during
her first year, when she was offered
a high-profile ad campaign for
Vodafone India.
“My parents were 100%
supportive of my acting on the
condition that I got an education,”
says Sandhu. “I figured if I study in
London, I can also go to castings. At
first I was reluctant to do the advert
because I wanted to be a serious
Banita Sandhu:
‘I struggled to fit
into their version
of what a British
Asian girl is’
actor, but when you’re a student and
you see the pay and travel, I couldn’t
say no.”
Her acting potential was spotted
by the acclaimed director Shoojit
Sircar, known for female-centric
films such as the courtroom drama
Pink. It won rave reviews for its
exploration of Indian rape culture.
After working with Sircar on a
chewing-gum advert, Sandhu was
offered the lead role in October, an
unconventional love story about
a group of carefree students on
a hotel-management placement
forced to reevaluate their lives.
“Bollywood is a massively
patriarchal industry and I did have
a few offers, but they either wanted
me in a bikini or to play the love
interest,” she says. “In this role, my
character has her own dilemmas and
issues separate from the hero.”
While Bollywood is traditionally
perceived as less progressive than
western cinema, Sandhu expresses
frustration with the lack of threedimensional roles for Asian women
in the UK. “I struggled to fit into their
version of what a British Asian girl
is,” she says. “As a third-generation
British Indian, I’m not affected by
problems like arranged marriages.
That stereotype is from 30 years ago.
I went to India because, despite the
challenges, I was being offered the
kind of roles that I wasn’t getting
The lack of representation on
screen not only had a profound
effect on her acting ambitions, but
also in coming to terms with her
cultural identity, as one of only a
handful of Asian girls in her small,
predominantly white town. “I used
to hate my skin colour and wished I
was the blond girl all the boys liked.
If I had people who looked like me
on TV, I wouldn’t have felt like that.
There was Bend It Like Beckham and
East is East, but that was it.”
In preparation for her Bollywood
debut, Sandhu, who only spoke
rudimentary Punjabi, faced the
additional challenge of learning
a new language. She took lessons
in Hindi for a year before filming.
“I’m still not fluent and I get pretty
nervous speaking. Luckily most of
my lines were a hybrid of English
and Hindi. That wasn’t just to
accommodate me; it is the way most
young people speak in India, so it
was an accurate representation.”
Balancing her Bollywood career
with her studies has become
increasingly fraught. “There is a lot
of time management involved,” she
laughs. “If I am on a 10-hour flight, I
will study, then get off the plane and
go straight to an interview, or come
back from a day’s filming and hit the
books. In one way, it works out well
because I have my life in India which
is crazy, but here, nobody knows
who I am, so I can just be normal
and that keeps me grounded. On my
English literature course, I am one
of only three Asian girls and a few
Middle Eastern girls and they are
all super excited, but all my white
friends were all: ‘Whatever.’ They
didn’t get it until the trailer hit and
when it got the response it did …
then they realised.”
October is in cinemas from 13 April
The Guardian
Friday 30 March 2018
Interview Arcade Fire
‘We’re a
physical band.
We always seek
The indie rockers’ last album was panned for its heavyhandedness, but frontman Win Butler is sanguine.
‘If that’s our worst, I’m at peace,’ he tells Laura Barton
n a corner booth, Win
Butler sits beaming in a
broad-brimmed black hat,
at his elbow a large martini
glass garnished with three
fat olives. It is Thursday
evening in Manhattan’s theatre
district and Butler has chosen a
steakhouse once recommended to
him by his late grandfather, guitarist
and swing bandleader Alvino Rey.
When he began travelling the world
as a teenager, Butler says, Rey would
furnish him with tips. “The first time
I went to London he sent me to this
place that had been around for 100
years, to have the lamb chops.”
Tonight, Butler is fresh from a
rehearsal for Arcade Fire’s appearance
on Saturday Night Live. The day
has seen several run-throughs of
their song, Put Your Money on Me,
plus a skit referencing the band’s
Canadian roots (though Butler and
his brother Will, are from Texas). It
will be their fifth performance on
the show, including the time they
performed as Mick Jagger’s backing
band, and Butler describes the series’
appeal. “Monty Python and SNL were
punk bands,” he says, his voice high
and giddy. “They were part of that
movement, they just got on TV.”
It is surprising to find Butler in
such open spirits. Last July, Arcade
Fire released their fifth studio
album, Everything Now, and while
it debuted at No 1 on the US and UK
charts – their third album to do so
– and has helped sell lots of tickets
for their upcoming arena tour, the
critical response was more muted.
Some were unconvinced by the
songs. Others took issue with the
album’s promotional campaign, an
elaborate construct in which the
band had become contractually
bound to the Everything Now Corp,
and were now obliged to promote
marshmallows and fizzy drinks as
well as their music. Simultaneously,
they posted a glut of fake news
stories about themselves online,
from pretend album reviews to
parodic lifestyle blogs.
Both album and campaign
nodded to the times, but they also
suggested disdain for the media;
I expected to find Butler defensive
and perhaps a little sullen over
dinner with a journalist. Instead,
he is forthright and enlivened, and
close to defiant. Over oysters, crab
meat and steak tartare, he discusses
an array of subjects including satire,
gun control and Angolan dance
music, as well as the response
to Everything Now. “Part of me
hopes this record is our stinker, our
horrible record,” he says. “Because
if it is, then we may be the greatest
band of all time. It’s pretty funny to
me,” he adds, laughing. “If that’s the
worst thing we can possibly do then
I’m at peace.”
He seems genuinely concerned
that people did not get the joke
of the promotional campaign,
co-created by “really clever people”
from the New Yorker and spoof
news site the Onion. Had any of
it simply appeared on the latter,
he argues, its humour would not
have been questioned. “That was
what was interesting about it,” he
says. “By changing the masthead
to something real, it changes the
context of what the joke is.”
Perhaps, in the era of Donald
Trump and fake news, the joke
becomes a little less funny. “Some
of the critical response to the
themes that we were talking about
was: ‘We know this already!’” he
concedes. “‘You’re worried about
corporations? Boring!’ But I look at
the moment we’re in. We’ve got a
reality star in charge of the United
States, and everything that we love
and care about is filtered through
this incredible corporate structure.”
He gestures at my iPhone sitting
The Guardian
Friday 30 March 2018
You Win again … (left
to right) Richard Reed
Parry, Tim Kingsbury,
Will Butler, Régine
Chassagne, Jeremy
Gara and Win Butler
on the table. There is something
distorted, he says, in the suggestion
that a corporation such as Apple
could be so widely regarded as
benign. “Like: ‘Hey, we’re not
Exxon, we’re the good guys!’ We’ve
all just accepted it.”
If SNL was the punk band of
television, perhaps with Everything
Now Arcade Fire made a stab at
being the daring comedy troupe
of rock. “We felt very inspired by
that golden era of [satirical 1970s
magazine] National Lampoon,”
Butler says. “By modern standards,
some of that stuff does not fly: the
photo spread saying they’d found
Hitler in paradise. It’s so offensive,
but so perfectly executed. You’re
probably not doing it right if it’s not
on that edge. A lot of comedians
now say the same thing: they won’t
play colleges because you can’t tell
a joke. People have lost the ability to
even know what a joke is. It’s very
Orwellian, it’s the canary in the coal
mine. Comedians have always been
at the frontline of what people have
been scared to talk about, and as
soon as you stop being able to do
that it’s a downward slope.”
The evening prior to our chat,
Arcade Fire appeared at Manhattan’s
Gramercy Theatre before 600
fans, conducting a short Q&A with
the director Spike Jonze, before
unveiling their new David Wilsondirected video, Money + Love,
starring Toni Collette. After the
closing credits, the screen suddenly
dropped to reveal the band ready to
play a surprise show. For fans, it was
a dream setlist, including Keep the
Car Running, Afterlife, (Antichrist
Television Blues), Rebellion (Lies),
plus a cover of John Lennon’s 1973
hit Mind Games and a whisper of
Radiohead’s Karma Police.
It was a reminder that Arcade
Fire remain one of the most
extraordinary, visceral live bands
in the world. In songs from
Neighbourhood to Sprawl II and
Everything Now, they encourage
the listener to live a life that is
gutsy, physical and heartfelt; to
resist the slow drift into numbed
existence. It is a feeling they have
always embodied live: from their
first London shows at King’s College
student union and ULU in March
2005 where the band marched off
through the crowd, still playing; to
more recent gigs, where they repeat
the trick using a central stage like a
boxing ring, exposed at the sides.
“We’re trying to connect, trying
to get people in the back to engage,”
Butler explains. “With the Reflektor
tour one of the reasons for asking
people to dress up was that we were
then able to wear masks and be in
the crowd and hang out and have
a vibe of what’s going on. There’s
a certain power in the rock star:
they’re bigger than life and you can’t
touch them. Being in the audience
breaks that wall.”
In a social media age when that
wall is constantly broken, returning
purely to the music has, Butler feels,
become an increasingly difficult yet
vital task. He tells two stories. The
first involves the parade they put
on in New Orleans following the
death of David Bowie, a friend and
Jazzing for Blue
Jean … (right)
Arcade Fire’s
Bowie tribute;
(below) outside
the Gramercy
Caption here
please caption
here plese
supporter of the band: announced at
24 hours’ notice, it attracted 10,000
people, turning the city into a joyous
musical wake. “It shut down the
entire downtown,” he remembers.
“People in full makeup, little kids,
dogs with the [Bowie] lightning bolt.
It was the most beautiful, profound
thing: all these people needed to
mourn. We had to make a noise for
this man. It gives me chills thinking
about it.” The second involves a
musician friend who plays with the
city’s Preservation Hall brass band
and made a documentary about the
musical relationship between New
Orleans and Cuba. When the friend
had his tuba stolen, the story was
reported widely, Butler says, but no
one wrote a word about his film. “And
when we made a T-shirt with Kylie
Jenner on it [as part of the Everything
Now campaign], it got more press
than if we made the most beautiful
thing. It’s a weird, weird moment.”
ackstage before the
Gramercy Theatre
show, I sit with
three more members
of the band – multiinstrumentalists
Will Butler, Richard Reed Parry
and Tim Kingsbury – discussing
being musicians in the age of
online entertainment.
“I think the online world has
gotten a lot more brutal,” says Will,
who is a steadier presence than his
older brother. “Both commercially
and artistically, the way you get
chewed up is so raw and radical.
We were always a physical band,
an in-the-room band, we always
sought eye-to-eye connection.
But as Netflix has come along, and
people have come to watch 30 years’
worth of work in a weekend and be,
like, ‘Cool! B-minus!’, we’ve learned
to appreciate being in a room and
seeing the whites of people’s eyes.”
“We also got popular at the
moment people were starting to
talk positively about things on the
internet,” says Reed Parry. “People
were paying attention to that positive
talk and that fed into us becoming a
known entity. But it’s now such an
insane horrible dragon chasing itself.”
Will loves Twitter,but sees it
as “a place to shut up and listen”,
where he can follow political
activists and “a lot of radical Native
‘People have lost
the ability to
know what a joke
is. It’s the canary
in the coal mine’
American voices that you don’t get
access to unless you’re online.”
Back at the steakhouse, Win
Butler is talking about the home that
he and the band’s Régine Chassagne
bought in New Orleans to live with
their son, Eddie. “If you told me
I’d be living in the American south
again, where the prison system,
healthcare and education is so crazy,
a system set up to screw over poor
people …” he shakes his head. “That
part is really hard to get used to.
“But I think the American left
are crazy, too,” he says. “I’m an
independent, I’ve never been
a registered Democrat. I voted
for Obama, I’ve only voted for
Democrats, but I have no horse in
that race, no one I have any affiliation
to. My heroes are Martin Luther
King and Gandhi. I’m way more on
the side of MLK than I am Occupy
Wall Street in terms of my personal
philosophy. The thing about the civil
rights movement was it was about
something very specific, and I find
that the left is just devouring itself.
Concerning itself with things that
are not particularly healthy; not
focusing on accomplishing actual
things, just surface things.”
When Obama ran in the
Democratic party primaries, Arcade
Fire got in their van and drove to
Ohio to play shows in support. “And
then the second he got elected it was
like: ‘We did it!’” He smugly claps his
hands. “He was like: ‘OK, I want to
work on healthcare’, but everyone
was just like: ‘Cool, we did it! You’re
the first black president!’ I don’t
even count it as Obama’s failure.
It’s our failure as a people.”
At the close of the Gramercy
show, he encourages the audience to
join the March for Our Lives protests
against gun violence, but during our
conversation he has a more muted
take. “I grew up going to birthday
parties in fifth grade where we shot
guns. It’s fine. I know that seems
weird to a British person, but it is
what it is. Shotguns,” he points
out, “are quite different to semiautomatic weapons.” He is a little
pessimistic about how much can
change. “There was a mass shooting
at a country music festival that
didn’t even move the needle on gun
control; I don’t know if we’re up to
the challenge as a people.
“Just putting in a hashtag is not
enough,” he continues. “It does
feel satisfying, and it’s a useful tool,
but it’s really not affecting the thing
itself, which is physical, completely
human and not even political,
really. It has to transcend politics.
We’ll see if it can break through
that noise ceiling.”
Butler ultimately finds a lack of
patience in contemporary America.
“I got Radiohead’s The Bends when
I was 14, and it was my favourite
record. But I never listened to the
second half of it for a long time,” he
says. “It took me a year, easily, to
understand it. I don’t know if people
have the patience to do that now,
to listen to records like that now. It’s
not a value judgment,” he adds.
Any exasperation fades when
Butler talks about his son: how
he loves Michael Jackson and the
Clash; how he just learned to sing
Mr Tambourine Man in French at
school; how he heard the theme
tune to Harry Potter just once but
can nevertheless still sing it in its
entirety, “all the movements and the
boring part in the middle”. Eddie
loved Everything Now. “We were
recording it literally underneath
his bedroom in our house in New
Orleans; he remembered songs from
going to sleep and hearing them
through the floorboards.”
He smiles, a world away from
promotional campaigns, hashtags
and negative reviews. “I can’t
remember reading a critique of
anything I liked listening to,” he says.
“You like what you like, in the air,
when you hear it. I was lucky enough
to hear the Cure and Radiohead and
Björk and I feel like my life’s course
was changed because I happened to
be in that physical airspace. Because
I accidentally heard something
that made me question: ‘Maybe I
don’t have to live in the suburbs of
Houston!’ And even though I don’t
see anyone around me caring about
this, maybe me caring about it is
enough to make a life out of it, to
make a family, to make shit real.
Maybe that’s good enough.”
Arcade Fire play seven dates
across the UK and Ireland from
Friday 6 April to Monday 16 April,
beginning at 3Arena, Dublin.
The Guardian
Friday 30 March 2018
Review Film
Crammed with
visual invention
… Isle of Dogs
Dir Paddy Considine
Starring Paddy Considine, Jodie
Whittaker, Paul Popplewell
Length 92 mins Cert 15
Isle of Dogs
Dir Wes Anderson
Length 101 mins
Cert PG
Voices Bryan Cranston, Koyu Rankin, Edward Norton
Wes Anderson unleashes
a cracking canine caper
t’s set in Japan, though
east London’s Isle of Dogs
just happens to be a short
drive from 3 Mills Studios,
which did a lot of the work
on this film. So maybe our
Isle of Dogs influenced the director,
Wes Anderson. Or maybe he chose
the title because it sounds like
“I love dogs.”
Isle of Dogs is another utterly
distinctive, formally brilliant
exercise in innocence from
Anderson, somewhere between arch
naivety and inspired sophistication.
I laughed a lot, not really at jokes,
but at its hyperintelligent stabs
of visual invention. It’s a stopmotion animation – like his Roald
Dahl adaptation Fantastic Mr Fox
(2009) – visually controlled to its
every analogue micro-particle,
a complete handmade world.
The screenplay is by Anderson,
along with Roman Coppola, Jason
Schwartzman and the Japanese
The Guardian
Friday 30 March 2018
actor and writer Kunichi Nomura,
who was also casting director and
voices the villain of the piece – the
dog-hating Mayor Kobayashi.
We find ourselves in a dystopian
Japan of the future, where all dogs
are exiled to an offshore island
trash dump. One of the interned
beasts is Spots (voiced by Liev
Schreiber) whose devoted master is
the 12-year-old Atari (Koyu Rankin),
nephew of the dog-hating Mayor
himself. This remarkable boy flies
to the isle in a stolen plane on a
sensational mission to rescue Spots.
And in this he is helped by the ragtag
crew of heroic outlaw pooches he
meets: Chief (Bryan Cranston),
Rex (Edward Norton), King (Bob
Balaban), Boss (Bill Murray) and
Duke (Jeff Goldblum).
Isle of Dogs has run into
controversy. Anderson’s postmodern japonaiserie, its filmic
references to Japanese movies,
art and music are all presented
in what seems to me joyous good
faith. But the heroic dogs speak in
American English, and the mostly
villainous, dramatically subordinate
humans speak in often unsubtitled
Japanese, leading to suggestions of
insensitivity, cliche, othering and
cultural appropriation, although this
debate has so far passed over the
question of what Japanese people
themselves actually think of this
film. I would agree that getting Yoko
Ono to voice one of the characters
maybe takes us coyly close to the
laugh-with/laugh-at borderline.
But Anderson’s omnivorous
appropriation is always cut with
his own saline quirk, a willed and
almost pedantic superimposition
of his sensibility – that of a western
artist. And appropriation is what
an imagination does. Doesn’t it
venture outside its identity and
attempt to master something else –
in various serious or comic registers?
Anderson is arguably no more or less
insensitive or chauvinist here than
in his treatment of central European
culture in The Grand Budapest
Hotel or indeed dear old Blighty in
Fantastic Mr Fox. Why should our
progressive opinion be nettled now?
Why should Japanese culture be
assigned the status of underdog?
Actually, the chief Japanese
influence on Anderson is one
I have been noticing since the
days of his 2001 film The Royal
Tenenbaums, and that is Yasujirō
Ozu, specifically his habit of setting
up direct sightlines into camera,
a mannerism that will get you hit
over the knuckles with a ruler at film
school, but which Ozu made part
of his filmic language. And it is part
of Anderson’s deadpan rectilinear
compositions, huge panoramas and
intricate tableaux, often alternating
with droll diagrams or layouts.
There’s a difference now. Isle
of Dogs is bleaker and blanker
than Anderson’s habitual visual
confectionery. The landscape of
garbage canyons is grim, which
makes individual details the more
notable. Looking out over the
mountains of detritus, you can
see cable cars on the horizon, tiny
blobs on distant threads. Their
movement is hypnotic.
And there are the dogs
themselves, gazing at us square-on
with their black-pebble eyes,
or in profile at each other. Their
expressive clarity of movement is
somehow very funny. I mean it as
the highest possible compliment
in saying they remind me of Jim
Henson’s Muppets. Cranston’s
Chief is the star of this film, a stray,
a maverick, a badass who is the
subject of a plot twist and countertwist. Chief broods about the
inevitability of species destiny:
he once bit a human’s hand, a hand
that was actually trying to feed him,
and there is something strangely
moving about Chief’s burden of
moral self-criticism.
Hosting the Golden Globes in
2015, Amy Poehler got a big laugh
by saying that Anderson had arrived
at the ceremony on “a bicycle made
of antique tuba parts”. Actually, the
tuba, the bicycle and everything else
are all made of thousands of intricate
parts that he has designed and built
himself. What a creator.
Paddy Considine presents his second
feature as writer-director, a powerful
and sincerely intended personal
project about a championship
boxer who must confront a terrible
personal crisis. The performances
are strong and committed, and
Considine’s instincts as actor and
director are towards self-scrutiny
without narcissism. Yet the
audience’s buttons are not just
pushed, they get hammered with
uppercuts and there is a mile-wide
streak of Hollywood emotion and
some macho-sentimentalism.
Matty Burton (Considine, below) is
a boxer who is approaching the end
of his career, a mature and likable
guy, devoted to his beautiful wife,
Emma (Jodie Whittaker), and their
baby daughter. Nonetheless, he is
preparing to defend his title one
last time. The fight is a fierce grudge
match, but Matty has taken terrible
blows to the head. He collapses at
home, and the real struggle now
begins. The succeeding scenes with
Considine and Whittaker are the
very best of the film: intimately
painful, agonising, moving and
scary. He has become a second child,
with halting movements, clouded
memory, impaired speech, and a
change of personality involving
a terrifying new temper that he
cannot understand. Whittaker’s
performance is outstanding: showing
her undiminished love, her need
to understand and readjust, and
showing a moving willingness
to make sacrifices. Considine is
focused and yet unselfish in his
scenes opposite her. However, the
plot progresses in such a way as to
give Matty a melodramatic and not
wholly credible crisis on a bridge
over a fast-flowing river. It also takes
Whittaker out of the story for a long
period, and it becomes more about
Matty’s reconciliation with the guys.
I regretted Whittaker’s absence,
and would have liked more about
what Emma was going through on
her own. Journeyman is flawed, but
intelligent and heartfelt. PB
Ready Player One
masses. Tye Sheridan is Wade Watts,
a lonely teen. His only interest is in
strapping on the VR headset and
entering the alternative universe of
the Oasis, as a mythic avatar named
Parzifal. The game’s creator is the
late James Halliday, played by Mark
Rylance, an uber-nerd genius who
is a cross between Willy Wonka,
Steve Jobs and Tim Berners-Lee.
Before he died, Halliday hid three
clues in his world for an “Easter egg”
that would allow the discoverer
complete control of this fabulous
spectral kingdom. So Wade is an
egg hunter or “gunter” along with
some friends, including supercool
Samantha (avatar: Art3mis), played
by Olivia Cooke, on whom he has
a painful cybercrush. But creepy
corporate goon Nolan Sorrento,
played by Ben Mendelsohn, wants
to grab the egg, and crush all these
creative individuals for whom the
Oasis is a wonderful playground.
The Oasis sure is a weird setup: we
are invited to believe in Halliday,
but he has created what amounts
to a horrible Matrix blue pill of
global addiction. It’s a film in
which Spielberg’s reverence for the
wonder and idealism of youth has
had to compromise with wised-up
survivalist toughness of the new
YA mode. But what extraordinary
visuals this film conjures up, with
images that appear and disappear
like quicksilver memes. PB
friends. As the years go by, the trio
drift apart but reunite in a spirit of
parental crisis when their girls hit
their teen years. To these grownups’
collective menopausal horror, Julie
(Kathryn Newton), Kayla (Geraldine
Viswanathan) and Sam (Gideon
Adlon) have made a pact to lose
their virginities on prom night. So as
the limo heads off with their loved
ones on board, accompanied by the
dates their parents loathe, the three
notional adults spring into action
in a desperate mission to stop their
teenage children from having sex.
They will be what the title promises
(to underline this, the poster
precedes it with an outline of what
might also be called a rooster). It’s an
entirely daft comedy, but its goofy
rollercoaster energy and genial
good humour keep it barrelling
along, with many a bad-taste fiasco
as our middleaged sex-obstructing
adventurers experience quasi-teen
nightmares of their own and come to
terms with their imminent emptynest sadness. Cena is especially
poignant, with his great big slab of
a head and what a young person
cruelly describes as a “cop haircut”,
which looks as if he had it done in
the back of a squad car. PB
Dir Steven Spielberg
Starring Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke,
Mark Rylance, Ben Mendelsohn
Length 140 mins Cert 12A
Virtual reality is the air-guitar solo of
modern cinema: a frenetic imagined
activity in a made-up world that
exists one level below the already
made-up world of the story. Steven
Spielberg’s Ready Player One takes
us on a freakily spectacular VR
gaming ride through an infinitely
malleable universe involving a
frantic splurge of 70s and 80s pop
culture references, including cheeky
bits of Spielberg’s own creation.
There’s loads of geek upmanship –
though real geeks won’t be happy
about the holy hand grenade of
Antioch being deployed without
counting to three. But, as with all
VR on film, from Tron in 1982 to
the new Jumanji of 2017, I found a
weightless, frictionless quality to
this inner zone of digitally rendered
experience. It’s a close encounter
of the pixelated kind. Where’s the
beef? The film is set in 2045. Cities
are massive scuzzy slums and
ual reality is the opium of the
Dir Kay Cannon
Starring Leslie Mann, John Cena,
Ike Barinholtz
Length 102 mins Cert 15
Some really good gags about
American Beauty and the Fast and
Furious franchise are part of what’s
enjoyable about this extremely
likable generation-gap comedy
from screenwriting brothers Jim
and Brian Kehoe. It’s a script
that has been on the blacklist for
a while, under previous titles
Cherries and The Pact. Kay Cannon
(writer of Pitch Perfect) makes her
directing debut. Leslie Mann, Ike
Barinholtz and former wrestling
star John Cena play Lisa, Mitchell
The Bachelors
Dir Kurt Voelker
Starring Odeya Rush, JK Simmons,
Jean Louisa Kelly
Length 97 mins Cert 15
Writer-director Kurt Voelker has
confected a dramedy heartwarmer
about a middle-aged widower who,
along with his son, makes a fresh
start in a new city and finds himself
starting on the painful process of
dating at exactly the same time as
his teenage boy – who is grieving his
lost mom. It’s the sort of story that
might have worked over the longer
lifespan of series television, but here
it’s hugely syrupy and contrived with
some borderline-ridiculous cathartic
confrontations and outrageous
flashback images of that departed
mother who is basically pretty hot,
a saint and a talented artist. JK
Simmons plays the single dad, Bill,
and Hunter – overprotective
single mom, supercompetitive
coach figure and louche slackerboozehound respectively. They get
to know each other at the school
gates when they realise that their
tiny daughters have become best
and Josh Wiggins plays his son,
Wes, with a hopeless crush on his
study partner Lacy (Odeya Rush),
who despite her Instagram princess
image is secretly self-harming and
in dire need of the kind of gentle
sympathy that Wes can provide, if
she did but know it. Fortunately she
comes to know it quickly enough.
These two were put together by their
French teacher, Carine (Julie Delpy),
who is in turn beguiled by Bill, that
adorable lonely bear of a man. The
moments of enforced intimacy
are handled competently enough
and Voelker’s script hits all the
accepted beats. But this is the sort of
material that is left very exposed by
something like Greta Gerwig’s Lady
Bird, which also brought the comingof-age trope into parallel with the
parent/child relationship and did so
with wit and flair. She pulled off the
trick of convincing you that what
happened in the film might actually
happen to human beings in the
real world, as opposed to carefully
relatable characters cultivated in
a screenplay lab. Simmons brings
a certain ballast to the film. PB
Look Back in Anger
Dir Tony Richardson
Starring Richard Burton, Claire
Bloom, Mary Ure
Length 98 mins. Cert PG
John Osborne’s theatre of cruelty
and misery exploded on to the
English stage in 1956; Look Back in
Anger was adapted for the screen
three years later by veteran writer
and Quatermass creator Nigel Kneale
and directed by Tony Richardson.
It now has a cinema rerelease, and
perhaps what it reminded me of
right away was Robert Hamer’s It
Always Rains on Sunday. In this
film, it always seems to be Sunday,
and it’s raining. The sheer choking
depression of the postwar British
Sabbath is what comes across here
most immediately — its meteorology
of gloom. There’s no doubt that
Richard Burton gives some firepower
to those famous ranted speeches,
arias of self-loathing and rage that
might otherwise be overpoweringly
shrill and petulant. He is Jimmy
Porter, a brooding malcontent who
lives in a cramped attic flat with
his upper-class wife Alison, played
by a somewhat frozen Mary Ure.
The third wheel is their lodger
Cliff (Gary Raymond). As their
desolate rainy Sunday stretches
ahead and Alison placidly does the
ironing, enraging Jimmy with her
martyred silence, their tiny room
becomes the scene of explosive
and despairing outbursts. He is a
university graduate and now all he
does in life is run a sweets stall with
Cliff, an intense humiliation. When
Alison announces that her actress
friend Helena (Claire Bloom) is
coming to stay, Jimmy is predictably
chippy but the stage is set for some
Kowalskian steam heat. Burton’s
Jimmy is a nasty piece of work, and
what is still so subversive about him
is his simple, endless, directionless
and almost motiveless rudeness: in
some ways, he’s a hero for the socialmedia trolls of the 21st century. PB
Far Cry 5
Xbox One, PC
In rural Montana, an
extreme Christian cult has
been slowly eroding the
power of the state. Sent
in to arrest its charismatic
leader, you can feel the
tension as you walk
through crowds of his
jeering followers and into
his church. Before you can
even get into the air with
your handcuffed prisoner,
his followers have shot
your helicopter down in
flames. After a doomed
car chase through the
night, you’re rescued by
a crotchety old survivalist,
handed a gun, and told
that you are now part
of the resistance.
The opening is a high
point for Far Cry 5. It
introduces a great villain,
the rather timely premise
of saving forgotten
America from the brink
of disaster, and it has
the seat-of-your-pants
action that video games
are made for. Afterwards,
the sense of purpose
quickly dissipates in a
meandering journey to
liberate the country from
gun-toting cultists, and
the game soon reveals that
it is very tonally confused.
The story is disquieting
and extremely violent,
with graphic scenes of
torture, indoctrination
and religious frenzy.
Meanwhile, when you’re
roaming free in Hope
County, you’re clinking
beers with hillbillies or
tearing down a mountain
on a quad bike.
Far Cry 5 is most
enjoyable when it
embraces the chaos that
ensues when a player
is left on an island full
of hostile cultists with
enough guns to embarrass
John McClane. Blowing up
cultist shrines, liberating
farms and factories from
their grasp and making
yourself a flamethrowertoting nuisance is
great fun. Glitches and
confusing moments
crop up, but the wildly
vacillating tone is the
bigger issue.
Keza MacDonald
The Guardian
Friday 30 March 2018
Total FIlm
Time Out
Review Film
The Islands and
the Whales
Dir Mike Day
Starring Pál Weihe, Jens-Kjeld
Jensen, Bjarti Petersen
Length 81 mins. Cert 12A
“In the past, nature was a giant, and
humans were so small. Now it’s the
other way around.” The speaker is a
Faroe Islander in Mike Day’s poignant
film about a growing crisis on that
wild and beautiful archipelago 200
miles off the coast of Scotland. With
farming almost impossible, the
islanders are reliant on fishing,
whale-hunting and hunting seabirds
for food. Yet rising levels of mercury
in fish and whales are causing
Dir Asim Abbasi
Starring Sanam Saeed, Aamina
Sheikh, Adnan Malik, Beo Zafar
Length 125 mins Cert 12A
Pakistani cinema has long
struggled to match its Indian
cousin’s commercial reach, but
this impressive debut from Asim
Abbasi feels like a sound bet, even
quietly revolutionary in places.
Abbasi revitalises a trope beloved
of Bollywood melodrama – two
thirtysomething sisters, reunited
around their father’s sickbed – by
addressing the fallout with deft,
novelistic realism. Alert to small,
telling details yet expansive in
its attitudes, the result proves far
richer than anything previously
observed coming down the Khyber
Pass. The fresh approach becomes
apparent the minute younger sis
Zara (Sanam Saeed), who fled to
Midnight Sun
Dir Scott Speer
Starring Bella Thorne, Patrick
Schwarzenegger, Rob Riggle
Length 91 mins. Cert 12A
There’ll be hardly an uncurled toe in
the house for this teen-abstinence
illness weepie, earnestly acted by
performers playing alleged human
beings who never at any time
resemble carbon-based lifeforms.
Katie (Bella Thorne) is a superhot
high-school graduate with the
(genuine) condition of XP, or
Xeroderma Pigmentosum, which
means she can’t go out in sunlight.
Katie likes nothing more than going
out late and busking her keening,
anxiety. Are they now dependent on
poisoned food? An older generation
attributes it all to the encroachment
of modernity, and wistfully talk
about the tradition of the Huldufólk,
fairies or sprites driven away by the
crude modern world. And this
modern world now disapproves of
their whale-hunting. A protest group
led by Pamela Anderson arrives.
In reply to Anderson’s advice to
embrace vegetarianism, the islanders
say that vegetables must be airfreighted to them – which has its
own environmental implications.
There is a tiny undercurrent of anger
elsewhere, a feeling that warnings
about mercury levels are disloyal.
The local doctor advising families
on this points out an airgun bullet
hole in his car. I wonder if a narrative
voiceover could have made the
issues at stake clearer, and given an
informative guide to the community
festival at the end. It’s a very good
looking film, with lovely images. PB
Between Land and Sea
Dir Ross Whitaker
Length 87 mins
I have to admit there is footage
in this Irish surfing documentary
that gave me a major attack of the
collywobbles. One aerial shot of a
wetsuit-clad doodle paddling into an
Atlantic wave as tall as a cliff had the
same effect on my guts as a decent
horror film. Ross Whitaker’s film
charts a year in the life of Lahinch,
a surfers’ paradise town on the coast
of County Clare. About a decade ago,
big-wave surfers discovered the west
coast of Ireland. Lahinch’s waves are
particularly ferocious and bring out
the poetic streak in surfers. “If you’re
in the right spot it feels as still, as
calm and as right as anything else,”
murmurs one guy. The film follows a
handful of characters. There’s Fergal
Smith (above), a hippy-ish, ex-pro
who got sick of chasing energy drink
sponsors and is now having a crack
at organic farming. “I’m mad about
growing spuds,” he says cheerfully.
Then there are the guys who run
surf schools, whose precarious
livelihoods depend on the 10-week
summer season not being rained off.
I would like to have heard more from
Lahinch’s non-surfers, who talk
about the influx of “big hairy devils”
with suntans and surfboards. But
the big draw here is the phenomenal
surfing footage, which captures the
brutal beauty of the landscape and
surfers gliding through waves so
powerful they look as if they could
snap a person in half. Cath Clarke
London when the going was easier,
is overheard calculating her annual
paid leave allowance. The scenario
she returns to – that terrible wait for
the prognosis to improve, or not –
grants Abbasi time to excavate the
tensions between Zara and elder
Zareen (Aamina Sheikh), who’s had
to forsake her patisserie ambitions to
empty catheters, but also between
worldviews shaped by time spent
in different hemispheres. VHS
tapes, Archie comics: the past stalks
these characters hard, so it feels
natural when it gets close enough
to bite them in the rear. An eventful
anniversary party threatens to topple
backwards into the domain of movie
activity rather than real life, but
Abbasi casts wisely. Economically
conveying a shared history of joy
and pain, the excellent Sheikh and
Saeed rank first among equals in
an assured ensemble. Abbasi is an
accomplished image-maker, too:
Mo Azmi’s attentive cinematography
helps outline a vivid sense of
Karachi as a place where people live
their lives, make choices, muddle
through – and still the lights go
out sometimes. Mike McCahill
insightful songs with the acoustic
guitar that naturally belonged to
her late mother. She does this at
the, erm, strangely dark and mostly
deserted railway station, where
hunkily sensitive young Charlie
(Patrick Schwarzenegger, son of
Arnold) happens to be ambling along
by the tracks and is entranced by
her music. They get to talking. He
too has problems: a shoulder injury
has put him out of the swim team
and ruined his chances of a sports
scholarship. But he did that while he
was drunk, so the fault was totally
in his stars. Katie can’t bear to tell
him about her condition or why
they can only meet in the evening
for all activities up to and including
kissing, but one night Charlie takes
her on a wild late-night trip to
Seattle. It’ll be all right as long as
they keep an eye on the time! Gulp! It
is a sobfest, in which terminal illness
is just another Instagram filter. PB
The Guardian
Friday 30 March 2018
Reviews Music
This is built
for crossover
… Kacey
Kacey Musgraves
Golden Hour
Label Mercury Nashville
Genre Country
Drugs, futurism, sex
– it’s another country
s pre-publicity for
albums by country
stars go, the stuff
that accompanies
Kacey Musgraves’
Golden Hour is pretty
diverting. She has talked about
the influence of Sade, of “futurism
… space country, galactic cosmic
country” and of how the album’s
closing track Rainbow is intended
to speak to “LGBTQ youth”. There
is also mention of a song called
Mother, which you might reasonably
describe as part of a grand country
tradition of lachrymose songs about
momma, or the absence thereof –
“I’m just sitting here thinking about
the time that’s slipping, and missing
my mother,” she sings – albeit with
a distinctive twist. It was written
after Musgraves’ mum sent her a text
with a photo of her hands, which the
singer-songwriter received while she
was tripping on LSD, an experience
the song describes: “Bursting with
The Guardian
Friday 30 March 2018
empathy, I’m feeling everything …
It’s the music in me and all of the
Acid, futurism, LGTBQ rights: you
don’t have to be a dedicated student
of Nashville’s history to know that
this is not the usual fare dished up by
Music City’s mainstream stars. But
then, as was established the moment
her debut, Same Trailer Different
Park, appeared in 2013, Musgraves
is not your usual Nashville star. It
was released just as bro country’s
lunkheaded restatement of some
of the genre’s core values – macho
songs about boozing, babes,
trucks and guns – was reaching its
commercial zenith, and signalled
the arrival of an artist not bent on
iconoclasm so much as gently but
firmly pushing at the boundaries.
Her single Follow Your Arrow caused
consternation among country radio
programmers for advocating samesex relationships and occasionally
smoking a joint “if that’s what you’re
into”. The critical acclaim was off
the scale – here, claimed one writer,
was the woman “who could save
country music from itself” – but
her sales were solid rather than
spectacular. Nevertheless, when
even bro country’s bantzmeisterin-chief starts writing songs about
tolerance – “I believe you love who
you love – ain’t nothing you should
ever be ashamed of,” sang Luke
Bryan on last year’s Most People Are
Good – it’s hard to argue that things
haven’t shifted a little in her wake.
In brief
Musgraves’ 2015 follow-up,
Pageant Material, was more
consolidation than progression,
but Golden Hour is something else
entirely: an album built for crossover
success. The lyrics dial down her
trademark sardonic vignettes of
small-town life in favour of more
universal themes. She’s very good
at knowingly playing with country
cliches while writing about love:
“I wanna show you off every
evening,” she sings on Velvet Elvis,
“go out with you in powder blue and
tease my hair up high.” The music,
meanwhile, draws not just on classic
rock – it’s not a stretch to imagine
Rainbow as a cut from an early 70s
Elton John album, while the title
track carries a distinct hint of Comes
a Time-era Neil Young – but also on
hazy psychedelia and Daft Punkinfluenced disco-house.
The former works to impressive
effect on the drowsy, vocoderassisted Oh What a World, while
the latter represents a very bold
move, not least because attempts
to meld country with dancefloor
beats have frequently yielded some
of the least disarming music in
history, from Rednex’s Cotton Eye
Joe to the terrifying ordeal that is
Billie Jo Spears’ assault on I Will
Survive. But High Horse works with
a casual elan: the song is beautifully
turned, nothing about its sound
feels ungainly or cobbled together
and there’s a lovely up-yours quality
to its vocal hook, which any Top
40 pop artist would feel impelled
to slather in Auto-Tune, but
Musgraves sings straight.
The success of High Horse is
indicative of the ease and confidence
that courses through Golden Hour.
Regardless of genre, you’ll be hard
pushed to find a better collection
of pop songs this year. Everything
clicks perfectly, but the writing has
an effortless air; it never sounds
as if it’s trying too hard to make a
commercial impact, it never cloys,
and the influences never swallow
the character of the artist who made
it. In recent years, there have been
plenty of artists who’ve clumsily
tried to graft the sound of Fleetwood
Mac’s Rumours on to their own. On
Lonely Weekend, possibly the best
track here, Musgraves succeeds
in capturing some of that album’s
dreamy atmosphere without giving
the impression that she’s striving
to sound like Fleetwood Mac. It’s
an album that imagines a world in
which its author is the mainstream,
rather than an influential outlier.
It says something about its quality
that, by the time it’s finished, that
doesn’t seem a fanciful notion at all.
Glamour Shots
Try-hard Fat
White Family
rip-offs mistake
wordy song titles
for incisive social
Dire. LS
I Need to Start
a Garden
debut starts with
her fluting voice
before spinning
off in unexpected
directions: the
soundscape of
Show You a
Body; Oom Sha
La La’s gentle
early rock’n’roll.
She’s a talent to
follow. MH
Daphne &
Daphne &
Celeste Save
the World
A more
version of the
bratty pop that
won them scorn
in the 90s, the US
duo’s belated
second album
isn’t engrossing
enough. RA
Reviews by
Laura Snapes,
Michael Hann,
Rachel Aroesti
Chris Carter
modular synth
with warped
voices and
swarming tones.
album of
the week
Artist SCO/Ticciati
Album Brahms: The Symphonies
Artist Kate Nash
Album Yesterday Was Forever
Label Girl Gang Records
“I want a takeaway
with you / I don’t
care if it’s Chinese
food,” sings Kate
Nash on her fourth
album. It’s a lyric
that could easily belong on her first,
2007’s Made of Bricks, a collection
of gauche kitchen-sink pop that
topped the charts and established
Nash as the heir apparent to her
early champion Lily Allen. But
while the latter has continued
to pump out attention-grabbing
and occasionally brilliant pop,
Nash’s career has floundered. Her
new album demonstrates why.
Since her zeitgeist-bullseye of a
debut, Nash has made it clear she
has little interest in remaining
sonically relevant – 2013’s Girl Talk,
for example, consisted purely of
riot grrrl-related reminiscence.
She’s retained some of the 90s
rock references here, and those
conspicuous retro flavours provide
the album’s highlights – Life in
Pink’s raucous pop-punk bridge;
California Poppies’s cheesily
industrial chorus – though less
charmingly, Nash’s voice routinely
descends into a ridiculously
abrasive squawk in pursuit of rock
vibes, which makes her sound like
a duck. It’s a more nebulous strain
of nostalgia that means her songs
feel slightly stale, with tunes either
recalling twee noughties indie or
chart pop from half a decade ago. On
Made of Bricks, Nash established a
naive, deliberately artless lyricism
that was ridiculed at the time
(most amusingly by Adam & Joe’s
Song Wars). But it was also fun
and refreshing in its portrayal of
modern female adolescence.
On Yesterday Was Forever, Nash
time travels back to those years
(she’s described the record as “an
excerpt from a teenage diary” and
it’s full of references to hating people
and feeling “so dark”), yet appears
to have misplaced her talent for
writing distinctive – never mind
intelligible – songs along the way.
Her lyrics seem to be either dictated
by the rhyme scheme, like a 10-yearold’s poetry, or self-contradicting
nonsense – what once came across
as bracingly inelegant now just
feels lazy. Musicians often try to
recapture the slippery magic of their
initial successes – but few attempt
it as explicitly as Nash does here.
By doing so, she’s proven the vitality
and raggedy charm of her early
work is long gone.
Rachel Aroesti
biker gang. There is also plenty of
straightforward melodic English
punk underpinned by a rhythm
section in fifth gear – indeed, it’s
only when the energy drops, on
Young American, that your attention
does too. That they totally get
away with all this pilfering is proof
that nostalgia, even outright theft,
only needs a great melody to be
forgiven – the band make it all their
own with inveterate, instinctive
pop toplines. The cluttered digital
production of previous album
English Graffiti has been simplified
and softly scorched by Ross Orton,
who worked on Arctic Monkeys’
AM (another touchstone).
Lyrically, there is the occasional
lapse into the cocaine philosophy
of Britpop bands (“how many
lightbulbs does it take to change
the mood?”) but there is also some
surprising, funny imagery when
frontman Justin Young turns back
toward Dylan: “In the restaurant
at the top of your ivory tower /
where the room stopped turning
just to save on power.” On the
aforementioned Maybe, Young gets
a lot of mileage out of unknotting his
metaphors, stating simply: “Maybe
I want to spend my life with you /
I want to feel like other people do.”
It all adds up to their best album yet.
Ben Beaumont-Thomas
Artist The Vaccines
Album Combat Sports
Label Columbia
The Vaccines were
apparently due to
be on the cover of
the NME the week
it ceased its print
version. Bad luck,
given their energetic garage rock
makes them as close to a perfect
NME band as there currently is.
But the extremely high quality
songwriting on their fourth album
means that their church will surely
broaden beyond the indie faithful.
There’s a huge waft of Dylan in the
entreaties and imagery (“If I climb
the mountain now / in my patent
leather shoes”) of opening track Put
It on a T-Shirt, paired with a 1960s
girl-group shimmy; the maximal
sensuality of Take It Easy sees them
shamelessly ape Virginia Plain. Later
on, they copy the Strokes copying
the Cars (the beautiful Maybe,
and Your Love Is My Favourite
Band), while Nightclub is like The
Clapping Song done by a pissed-off
Label Linn
wouldn’t usually recommend listening to all
four Brahms symphonies back to back: too much
of a good thing – and, in too many conductors’
interpretations, too much that sounds the same.
In the case of this new cycle from Robin Ticciati
and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, however,
I’d say gorge away.
There is nothing here that sounds like bog-standard
Brahms, nothing that hasn’t been meticulously thought
through, barely a bar that doesn’t say something. If that
sounds exhausting to listen to, it’s not; Ticciati’s care
for keeping the music airborne, coupled with the lucent
transparency of the playing, mean that the longest
movements fly by. It equals and perhaps even exceeds
the benchmark Brahms cycle the SCO recorded with
Charles Mackerras, 20 years ago.
This isn’t a period performance, yet it nods to
authenticity in the use of small-bore trombones and
19th-century horns, and the way in which the violins
season their melodies with subtle but noticeable
slides. The orchestra is smaller than
we have become used to for Brahms,
but less is most definitely more –
there are only fleeting moments when
one is aware of any thinness.
What stands out is the sheer range
of sound and colour Ticciati has at
his disposal – something he uses to
The dramatic
ensure that each symphony has its
moments in
own distinct sound world. In the
the Symphony
1876 Symphony No 1, for example,
No 3 finale
the orchestra’s sound ranges from a
come at you
haunting, straight tone that gives an
almost medieval air to the opening
like a fist
of the finale, right up to an unbridled
lusciousness when the big tune takes
hold. The playing is unfailingly vivid.
The slow movement of No 3 features
some ravishing duetting from the SCO’s oboe and
bassoon; the dramatic moments in the ensuing finale
come at you like a fist. It’s in No 2 that the leanness of
the forces makes the most revealing difference, letting
us hear interweaving threads with rewarding clarity.
Ticciati leaves the SCO this summer after nine years as
principal conductor. This release captures the strength
of their connection and preserves it at its peak.
Also out this week
This week is also an unusually good one for keyboard
releases. Rising star Julien Brocal pairs Ravel with the
gauzy, contemplative creations of Federico Mompou on
Reflections: Mompou & Ravel. Meanwhile, Paul Lewis
begins a new Haydn series, Haydn: Piano Sonatas Nos 32,
40, 49, 50, in lively but tellingly refined style; and Pavel
Kolesnikov finds unexpectedly profound depths on
Louis Couperin: Dances from the Bauyn Manuscript.
Erica Jeal
The Guardian
Friday 30 March 2018
Reviews Music
album of
the month
Artist Czarface & MF Doom
Artist The Voidz
Album Czarface Meets Metal Face
Album Virtue
Label Get on Down
Label RCA
The undergroup
hip-hop group
Czarface – made
up of Wu-Tang
Clan member
Inspectah Deck,
MC Esoteric and producer 7L – get
more super still, with the addition
of metal-masked rapper MF Doom.
This Avengers-style squad, already
nerdily fixated on comic books
and prone to supervillainous
pronouncements regarding their
prowess – be it lyrical, sexual or
pharmaceutical – are given very free
rein, and there are some ponderous
skits for guys to giggle at alone with
their vinyl figurines. But when
the MCs are actually on the mic,
backed by 7L’s super-rugged boom
bap production, there is much to
love. Esoteric’s free association
on Captain Crunch, imagining “a
group text with Steely Dan, Groot,
Baby Groot, the ghost of Dave
Brubeck, Alex Trebek and Boba
Fett” is brilliant, and a weirdly neat
summation of the group’s fixations;
Doom, his distinctive blocked-nose
burr always welcome, matches him
for stoner surrealism with “barf krill
on masses and rose-gold pavilions”.
Inspectah Deck is typically sturdy
and scornful, withering foes with
barely a lift in intonation: “Blog
about it, naysayer”, “Stared death in
the face, left him with a sore neck”.
But it’s Esoteric’s grin-inducing,
gorgeously symmetrical metaphors
that linger longest: “Poppin’ shit
with the politics of Gregg Popovich”,
“Check for the double-cross like
2Chainz at Sunday mass”, “The way
I kick bars and darts, you’d think
I mixed Marshall’s art with mixed
martial arts”. He will also go down
as the only rapper to ever reference
Ben Mendelsohn and Sufjan Stevens
in a single verse. BBT
Julian Casablancas
warmed up for the
release of the second
album by the Voidz –
they’ve dropped
their frontman’s
name as part of the band identity
since their 2013 debut, Tyranny –
with a wildly entertaining and
enormously confused interview,
during the course of which he
asserted that the world had not
appreciated Jimi Hendrix or David
Bowie during their lifetimes, and
that the internet had killed truth
but people are also much more
informed than they were in 2004.
Virtue is just as confused, but rarely
so entertaining. It is, apparently,
Artist Laurence Pike
Album Distant Early Warning
Label The Leaf Label
The ultimate
drum solos?
aurence Pike is an
Australian drummer
who has appeared in
a variety of settings
over the past 20 years
– making ambient
jazz with Triosk; working with his
brother Richard in the jerky math
rock outfit Pivot; duetting with the
one-time ECM pianist Mike Nock;
and exploring tantric music with
electronic artist Luke Abbott and
Portico Quartet saxophonist Jack
Wyllie in Szun Waves.
His debut solo album,
however, sounds very little like
any of those lineups. It’s basically
minimalism – drones, pulses,
hypnotic arpeggios that alter very
gradually – but with drums rumbling
over the top. Drum kits are rarely
invited into the
pristine world
of minimalism,
a world of clean
spaces and right
angles. The only
percussion you’re
likely to hear in
Pike’s drums
the music of, say,
grind, flutter
Steve Reich or
and growl,
Philip Glass will
be the mintypleasing
fresh plonk of
scuffed layers
a vibraphone
or marimba.
Distant Early
however, Pike’s drums grind, flutter
and growl, adding several pleasing
layers of scuffed texture to the
smooth surfaces.
Much of it sounds as if it was
painstakingly arranged, but Pike
recorded it all in a single day, often
playing entirely live. He triggers
samples (frequently sampling
himself, in real time) while
playing his kit, a methodology
similar to that employed by Four
Tet’s Kieran Hebden in his duets
with drummer Steve Reid, and
tracks like Cyber Bully – a mix of
tight syncopated drum solos and
programmed beats – certainly recall
those Hebden/Reid collaborations.
On the opening track, Life Hacks,
glistening broken chords spray
out from synths while Pike plays
fluttering textures on the tom-toms.
On the title track, electronic effects
whirr and click and low-pitched
synth sounds throb ominously,
while Pike’s cymbals provide a
running commentary. It sounds
tremendous at top volume.
a political album, but you’d only
know that from searching the lyrics
out online. Casablancas’s exquisite
drawl – one of the most appealing
sounds in rock – is at times here
somewhere at the level of Leslie
Phillips after an especially heavy
night on the martinis, rendering
whatever he’s actually singing into
a warm and smoky “nyurrgh,
rrrruuuurrrr, hrrrrrrr”. You tell ’em,
Julian! Musically, Casablancas has
said Virtue is “futuristic prison jazz”,
whatever that’s supposed to mean.
It’s certainly neither futuristic nor
jazz; if anything it’s a less finessed
version of the way 80s mainstream
pop has been twisted and reshaped
by groups like the 1975. There are
great moments: the opening
Leave It in My Dreams is the kind
of streamlined, insidiously melodic
new wave that was once
Casablancas’s default position;
QYURRYUS – complete with
scratching, screeching guitars,
Auto-Tuned voices and a Middle
Eastern modal melody – ought to be
a mess, but is genuinely fantastic.
When you can hear the words,
things get more troublesome:
Think Before You Drink is an
acoustic protest ballad of such
horrific obviousness – in which
39-year-old Casablancas complains
about the poison he was fed by
teachers – that you want to check it’s
not actually Reeves and Mortimer
offering the world The Freewheelin’
Mulligan and O’Hare. There’s
enough about Virtue to keep it
interesting. There’s not enough
to make it genuinely good.
Michael Hann
Also out this month
Norway’s Slagr feature a Nordic
hardanger fiddler, a cellist and
a third player who doubles up
on vibraphone and the lovely,
wheezing sound of a glass
harmonica. DIRR mixes heartrending folk melodies with glassy,
slow-burning, Steve Reich-style
repetition. For more adventures
in minimalism, check out Earth
Loop, the debut album by William
Young’s Moon Gangs: it sounds
like a series of bombastic Bach
fugues played by Jean-Michel Jarre
on unstable analogue synths and
8-bit computer game soundcards.
Finally the fourth album by Kansas
City-born, Belgium-based Christina
Vantzou, No 4, barely qualifies as
music but works as an appealing
series of discrete, drone-laden
sound sculptures. One track is a
glistening riot of tuned percussion;
one is a slo-mo ambient epic;
another features groaning strings
that sound like a dying aircraft.
John Lewis
The Guardian
Friday 30 March 2018
ST MARTIN’S 020 7836 1443
66th year of Agatha Christie’s
Mon-Sat 7.30, Tues & Thu 3, Sat 4
Entertainment Classified
Live reviews
Edward Plectrum-hands …
Jack White at the Garage, London
Jack White
The Garage, London
A Streetcar
Named Desire
NST City, Southampton
Until 16 June
Box office: 023-8067 1771
ome mischaracterise
Jack White as a dad-rock
revivalist in deadening
thrall to tradition and
craft, but this does a
disservice to just how
electric, wilful and weird an artist he
truly is. This is a man who effected a
rock revolution armed with limited
musical elements, a monochromatic
wardrobe and an ex-wife he
pretended was his sister, and who
tonight risks the ire of millennials
by banning smartphones, to have
the crowd’s full attention. Doing
things straight has never been a part
of the plan.
This explains his gonzo new
album Boarding House Reach,
which adds wild funk, offbeat gospel
and, most unexpectedly, hip-hop
to his palette and which, against
fierce odds, mostly works. One of
a handful of intimate gigs White is
playing this week in Los Angeles,
New York and London to celebrate
the album’s release, tonight sees him
don’t want realism.
I want magic!” cries
Blanche Dubois, a
drama queen who
can’t stop pretending
that she’s something
she’s not. Everyone pretends in
Tennessee Williams’s 1947 play,
because the realities of their lives
constantly remind them that they
are not who they want, or claim,
to be.
In director Chelsea Walker’s
intriguing take, set in present-day
New Orleans, Stanley (Patrick
Knowles) is a violent loser who
insists he’s a king, and Stella
(Amber James) can’t see past the
sex to the truth of her abusive
marriage. In Walker’s production,
Blanche’s arrival reveals what
everyone is acting hard to avoid
This Blanche – played by Kelly
Gough with fragile yet steely
intensity – is like a stage manager,
trying to maintain the illusions
she has spun. Then, as they
debut a number of Boarding House
Reach tunes, along with highlights
from his back catalogue, adapted for
his new band.
Pale enough to be wearing corpse
paint and with a mop of thick black
hair, he’s a Tim Burton-esque vision
of a guitar hero: Edward Plectrumhands. His soloing, of which there
is plenty, is less about flash and
technique, more about emotion,
all sweat, spite and vinegar. He
plays some of his earlier numbers
completely straight – Dead Leaves
and the Dirty Ground is archetypal
White, and brought alive by the
venom and savagery with which
he delivers it, stinging like a fresh
wound. Inevitable closer and
occasional terrace chant Seven
Nation Army provokes a wallshaking mosh stampede.
Other older songs are twisted
into unexpected new shapes:
keyboardist Neal Evans couches
We’re Going to Be Friends in Vince
Clarke-esque synth lines, recasting
Can’t see past the sex …
Amber James and Patrick Knowles
are stripped away to show the
desperate, tawdry truth, both she
and her production start to come
apart at the seams.
This is as slow a burn as a New
Orleans summer. The transposition
to the present day sometimes sits
awkwardly with the text, but it
ultimately delivers, and there are
it as a sweet electronic ditty; Wasting
My Time is slowed to an infernal
crawl, White driving its blackhearted ire to operatic heights,
playing the blues as primordial metal
stomp. The results are White at his
wildest, melting these songs down
to their essence, playing his light and
dark sides to their extremes.
The new songs
are without-a-net
Pale enough
to be wearing tightrope walks.
Over and Over
corpse paint
and Over’s funkand with a
rock riff conforms
mop of thick
to White’s
black hair,
trademark guitar
he’s a Tim
kineticism, and
Burtonesque the garage/hiphop mutation of
guitar hero
the anti-Trump
Corporation isn’t
a million light
years from early Stripes belter Hello
Operator – which also gets a gleeful
airing tonight. But Ice Station Zebra,
a cut’n’paste of lounge groove,
thrash blitzes and abstract sounds,
like Art of Noise duelling Metallica,
is held together only by the manic
glee with which White delivers it.
Even Connected By Love, perhaps
the most classic of the Boarding
House Reach material, is a very
Roxy Music-esque vision of gospel –
White’s vocal is shrill, artful, but still
sincere, like Bryan Ferry’s. Nothing
is quite as it seems, and he seems to
relish this unsettling edge.
But even at his most trad –
the unabashed classicism of
Blunderbuss, say – he revitalises
overused tropes, washing them
clean of cliche and autopilot
emoting. This ability to make the
old feel new again was a large part
of White’s appeal the last time he
played poky London noise-pots like
this, in the White Stripes’ legendary
first UK shows in the summer of
2001. That his passion remains
undimmed, his eccentric vision still
so ornery and unpredictable, is a
very fine thing indeed.
Stevie Chick
some extraordinary moments.
At Blanche’s doomed birthday party,
a lone balloon bobs optimistically
until Stanley pricks it. Confetti rains
over Blanche, reminding us of the
wedding to Mitch (Dexter Flanders)
that will never happen. Her
encounter with the young charity
collector (Joe Manjón) mixes sad
truth with wild fantasy.
One of an increasing number of
young female directors, including
Ellen McDougall and Rebecca
Frecknall, who are reinventing
Williams’s plays, Walker makes us
believe in the magic of theatre, and
then she dismantles the set to show
us it was only an illusion. It is like
taking sweets from children.
Georgia Lowe’s design falls away,
leaving the wreckage of Stanley
and Stella’s house. The hurricane
that has hit it is manmade, conjured
by Stanley’s misogyny and his
emotional destructiveness. Blanche
is the obvious casualty, but there are
no female survivors.
Lyn Gardner
Committed …
Jac van Steen
Van Steen
Hoddinott Hall, Cardiff
n his relationship with the
BBC National Orchestra
of Wales, conductor Jac
van Steen’s championing
of a younger generation
of Welsh composers
is remarkable. His vigour and
commitment constitutes its own
advocacy. The new clarinet concerto
by Mark David Boden (not to be
confused with Mark Bowden, former
BBC NOW composer-in-residence
and member of the Camberwell
Composers’ Collective) was written
for the orchestra’s principal
clarinettist Robert Plane. By way of
invoking common ground, Boden
homed in on their shared passion
for running in movements entitled
Adrenaline, Isotonic, Threshold and
Hypertension. Rather than elevated
in aesthetic or philosophical terms,
this was hyper-energetic, brimful
with motor energy, with Plane’s
tireless virtuosity speaking for itself.
Sarah Lianne Lewis chooses
evocative titles. Her 2017 piece
Is There No Seeker of Dreams
That Were? took its title from the
American poet Cale Young Rice’s
New Dreams for Old, and sought
instrumental colours to reflect his
themes of loss and grief. Lewis
was particularly concerned to
convey the waves of emotion that
rise with their own uncontrollable
dynamic, and the inherent austerity
of this vein carried more force
than the moments of ostensibly
consoling tonality.
Guto Puw’s Camouflage was also
premiered, a piece in which textures
and characteristic sounds merged
and re-emerged in the overall
picture, as in nature. The music’s
constant ebb and flow always held
the ear. It was also rather telling
that Puw, in his deeply instinctive
pursuit of a higher integrity and
purity, was unafraid to camouflage
himself. Large-scale works by Alun
Hoddinott and Michael Berkeley,
showcasing what is stylistically
a brilliant chameleon ensemble,
completed an invigorating evening.
Rian Evans
The Guardian
Friday 30 March 2018
TV and radio
Watch this
Five go to India:
(from left) Alfie,
Ethan, Harry,
Jake and Jack
Arena: Bob Dylan –
Trouble No More
10pm, BBC Four
Indian Summer School
Even for such a master of reinvention, Bob
Dylan’s (short-lived) conversion to Christianity
in 1979 was a step too far for many. As one fan
gripes in this rare concert film, “I didn’t come here
to hear sermons, I coulda went to church, man.”
But this is more than a dusted-off, early-80s
doc from the vaults; it’s a virtual gospel service:
interspersed with the likes of Slow Train Coming
– at Bob’s recommendation – are vivid sermons
preached by actor Michael Shannon. Truly
different, in a good way.
Channel 4
Sam Wollaston
Five badly behaved British teens are
sent to India’s equivalent of Eton.
It’s no solution, but it’s amusing TV
t is not a new idea – send a bunch of badly
behaved, underperforming kids somewhere
different to try to get them to pull up their socks.
Brat Camp, Jamie’s Dream School, The World’s
Strictest Parents, That’ll Teach ’Em, they have
all tried it. In this one, five delinquent Brits are
sent to the Doon School in Dehradun, often called India’s
Eton, to get some GCSEs. At the moment, they have one
between them – 18-year-old Jack’s C in maths. Which is
more than they have in terms of ambition, focus, belief,
motivation and application.
The show attempts to give itself credibility by being
inspired by a couple of stats: the worst performing group
in British education is white working-class boys, and
they perform better in ethnically diverse classrooms.
But it is really about tossing a bunch of lazy teens way
out of their comfort zone, and hoping for amusing
cultural differences, tears, tantrums, entertaining bad
behaviour and maybe some positive results as well. And
it pretty much delivers on all of the above.
The shocks start on the way from the airport – crazy
traffic, cows in the road, a man with pebbles on his head.
Then, at the school, there is no loo paper and there is
snitching. Jake has brought a bottle of rum and Kanav
grasses him up. And in a reading comprehension test,
to the question “What helps Maggie get to sleep?” Jake
writes: “Xanax and pint”. Ha, quite funny … No! Not
funny. Go and see the head teacher now, Jake.
Seventeen-year-old Ethan from south Wales, who
will be transitioning when he is a bit older, has not been
to any school for two years. The strict rules, traditional
values and respect for teachers at the Doon School don’t
sit easily with him. The British headteacher, Matthew
Raggett, allows him to skip the mandatory short back
and sides, accepting that long hair is part of Ethan, but
the nail extensions have to go. And it is not long before
Ethan is skipping classes and threatening to storm off.
It’s not all bad though. Alfie, 17, gets into a bit of Hindi.
Jack does well in Mrs Bhattacharya’s English classes. He
needs English GCSE to pursue his dream of being a chef.
Jake does well at pottery. There might be some positive
results, journeys, even a few GCSEs at the end of this.
Obviously not every English kid who is doing badly
The Guardian
Friday 30 March 2018
can swan off to an elite and very expensive Indian
boarding school: this is an experiment rather than
any kind of solution, but there might be some lessons
learned along the way. Plus, it is amusing TV, taps into
its (our) obsession with school, class and race. And, of
course, it’s not all down to school – what’s going on at
home is quite important, too. There is a telling moment
when Harry, 17, is on the phone to his mum, and he is
telling her it is going well, the lessons are proper good.
But she is straight in asking if he’s behaving himself. She
finds out about the rum incident with
Jake and starts yelling at Harry: it’s all
It’s about
negative, no encouragement.
tossing a
Here is a new TV idea: Parents’
bunch of lazy
School. It doesn’t even have to be in
teens out of
India. I wouldn’t just watch it, I’d go.
their comfort
In The Long Run (Sky 1) doesn’t
zone and
just star Idris Elba – it’s his baby,
loosely based on his childhood
hoping for
growing up in east London in the
80s. He plays Walter, who came to
tears and
London from Sierra Leone 13 years
ago, living a quiet family life with
his wife Agnes (Madeline Appiah)
and son Kobna (Sammy Kamara)
until his party-loving, DJ-ing brother
Valentine (Jimmy Akingbola) flies in
from West Africa.
The subject matter – immigrant family living in mixed
working-class community in the capital in the 80s while
Brixton burns on the telly – is more interesting than the
comedy, which could have come from the 80s, too. One
liners, a bit of wordplay (Paris/Powys), more amusing
cultural difference and misunderstanding … there isn’t
a laughter track, but there might have been, if you know
what I mean.
Sit’s better than the com, in other words. It’s good
natured, though. There are a few chuckles, nice
performances, and a lovely nostalgic soundtrack – the
Jam, the Beat, Junior Murvin, Toots, plus a stack of West
African highlife records Valentine brought over with
him. I like the Singing Boy, too, singing out over London
from his tower block.
Ali Catterall
The Nineties
9pm, Sky Arts
I can’t decide
what’s worse
when watching
a footy
international on
ITV – listening
to 5 Live’s
that’s half
a minute
behind what’s
happening on
the screen, or
suffering Glenn
Hoddle. One to
think about for
the summer
Tom Hanks pops up as
both producer and talking
head in a series that takes
a very US-centric look at
a turbulent decade. Later
episodes will examine Bill
Clinton and the rise of the
internet, but this softball
opener focuses on TV at
a time when NYPD Blue,
Twin Peaks and ER were
ripping up the rulebook.
Graeme Virtue
10pm, BBC Two
Back for a fifth series,
Matt’s show The Box (a
sexist, American version
of The Cube with a killer
production budget) is a
huge hit. Once a big-time
actor, he struggles with
his “shittier” gameshowhost identity. Meanwhile,
Beverly fantasises about
being a widow, and tries
to coax Carol out of the
Candice Carty-Williams
Lee and Dean
10pm, Channel 4
A crass mockumentary
about two builders who
are lifelong best friends:
one laddish, the other
childlike and strange. The
writing and performances
are so unsophisticated
that, whether or not it’s
what was intended, it
looks as if we’re being
invited to laugh at
working-class culture,
and at some vulnerable
Jack Seale
The Scariest Night of
My Life
10pm, Really
Imported doc telling
tales of paranormal
panic. Tonight’s opener
features Gloria, whose
demonic tenant left her
frozen in fear while her
children slept alongside
her. That’s followed by
JP, who suffered a night
of terror at his new home
in Toronto. Boilerplate
spookiness that will leave
you lamenting a wasted
Mark Gibbings-Jones
Rob Beckett’s Playing
for Time
11.15pm, Channel 4
Beckett’s new show is
GamesMaster meets
Back in Time for Dinner.
He must make his way
back to the present day
by completing an iconic
video game challenge in
each year he lands in. This
week’s guest, Gogglebox’s
Scarlett Moffatt, has some
relevant screen-withinscreen experience.
Ellen E Jones
Channel 4
Channel 5
CITV 9.20 Mission
Employable (T) (R) 9.25
K-9 (Rod Daniel, 1989)
(T) 11.15 King Ralph
(David S Ward, 1991) (T) 1.15
Countrywise (T) (R) 1.40
News (T) 1.50 Local News
(T) 2.0 Judge Rinder (T) 3.0
Dickinson’s Real Deal (T) (R)
4.0 Tipping Point (T) 5.0 The
Chase (T) 6.0 Paul O’Grady:
For the Love of Dogs (T) (R)
6.30 Local News (T) 6.45
News (T) 7.0 Emmerdale (T)
Vanessa discovers her fate.
7.30 Coronation Street (T)
The truth about Pat finally
catches up with Eileen.
Everybody Loves Raymond
(T) (R) 6.55 Frasier (T) (R)
7.50 Animals United
(Holger Tappe, Reinhard
Klooss, 2010) (T) 9.40 The
Big Bang Theory (T) (R)
10.35 The Simpsons (T) (R)
12.05 Romancing the
Stone (Robert Zemeckis,
1984) (T) 2.10 Countdown
(T) 3.0 A Place in the Sun:
Winter Sun (T) (R) 4.0 A
New Life in the Sun (T)
5.0 Four in a Bed (T) (R)
5.30 Star Boot Sale (T) 6.0
The Simpsons (T) (R) 6.30
Hollyoaks (T) 7.0 News (T)
7.30 Food Unwrapped (T)
Britain’s Favourite Food
(T) (2/2) Simon Rimmer
recounts how the UK
became a nation of
convenience-food lovers,
and how the alcoholic
beverages industry got
women drinking.
Gogglebox (T) Capturing
the households’ instant
reactions to TV.
Breakfast (T) 9.15 Painting
the Holy Land (T) 10.15
Homes Under the Hammer
(T) (R) 11.0 The Sheriffs Are
Coming (T) (R) 11.45 Claimed
and Shamed (T) 12.15 Bargain
Hunt (T) 1.0 News (T) 1.15
Regional News (T) 1.25 102 Dalmatians (Kevin Lima,
2000) (T) 3.0 Escape to the
Country (T) (R) 4.0 Money
for Nothing (T) 4.45 Flog
It! (T) (R) 5.45 Pointless (T)
(R) 6.30 News and Weather
(T) 6.50 Regional News
(T) 7.0 The One Show (T)
7.40 The Silent Child
(Chris Overton, 2017) (T)
Money for Nothing (R)
6.45 Escape to the Country
(R) 7.30 Nature’s Weirdest
Events (R) 8.30 Tinker
Bell and the Secret of the
Wings (2012) (T) 9.40 Muppets Most Wanted (2014)
(T) 11.15 Six Puppies and Us
(T) (R) 12.15 Natural World
(T) (R) 1.15 Coast (T) (R) 1.50
Canterbury Cathedral (T)
(R) 2.50 Talking Pictures:
Epics (T) 3.35 The Robe
(Henry Koster, 1953) (T)
5.45 Put Your Money Where
Your Mouth Is (T) (R) 6.30
Eggheads (T) 7.0 The Repair
Shop (T) 7.30 Mastermind (T)
EastEnders (T) Ted realises
he takes Joyce for granted.
8.30 Room 101 (T) With Stephen
Mangan, Phil Wang and Holly
9.0 MasterChef (T) The nine
cooks have just 90 minutes
to create a masterpiece.
9.30 Mrs Brown’s Boys (T) (R)
Agnes is worried that her
family is too secretive.
8.30 Gardeners’ World (T) Monty
Don starts marking out a new
area at Longmeadow.
9.0 Pilgrimage: The Road
to Santiago (T) As the
seven celebrities near the
end of their 780km trek,
they consider whether
the experience has led to
any lasting change within
themselves. Last in series.
Love Your Garden (T) Alan
Titchmarsh heads to Bolton
to surprise a 39-year-old
RSPCA officer.
8.30 Coronation Street (T)
Eileen confronts Pat.
9.0 Fast & Furious 7
(James Wan, 2015) (T) A
rogue special forces assassin
seeks revenge. Action sequel
starring Vin Diesel.
10.0 News (T)
10.20 Regional News and Weather
(T) Includes lottery update.
10.30 Spooks: The Greater
Good (Bharat Nalluri, 2015)
(T) A terrorist escapes when
the convoy transporting
him is attacked. Spy thriller
starring Kit Harington
and Peter Firth.
12.10 Weather (T) 12.15 News (T)
10.0 Episodes (T) New series.
10.30 The Assassination of
Gianni Versace (T) (R)
11.25 The Way (Emilio
Estevez, 2010) (T) Comedy
drama starring Martin Sheen
and Deborah Kara Unger.
1.25 Sign Zone Civilisations (T)
(R) 2.25 The Assassination
of Gianni Versace (T) (R)
3.10 This Is BBC Two (T)
11.30 News (T) Weather
11.49 Local News (T) Weather
11.50 Bear’s Mission With Anthony
Joshua (T) (R) Bear Grylls
teaches the boxer some
alternative survival skills.
12.40 The Durrells (T) (R) Louisa
learns that Aunt Hermione
has died. 1.30 Jackpot247
3.0 Take on the Twisters (T)
(R) 3.50 ITV Nightscreen
10.0 Lee and Dean (T) New sitcom.
10.30 8 Out of 10 Cats (T) (R)
11.15 Rob Beckett’s Playing for
Time (T) New series.
11.50 Rude Tube (T)
12.45 The Woman in Black:
Angel of Death (Tom
Harper, 2014) (T) 2.25
Electric Dreams (T) (R)
3.25 Damned (T) (R) 3.50
The Question Jury (R)
Other channels
6.0am Home Shopping
7.10-9.0 Storage
Hunters UK 9.0 Dynamo:
Magician Impossible
9.55 Red Bull Soapbox
Race 10.55-11.55
Deadly 60 11.55 Steve
Backshall’s Extreme
Mountain Challenge
1.55 Top Gear 3.20 Top
Gear: Africa Special 6.0
Red Bull Soapbox Race
7.0 Cop Car Workshop
8.0 Motorway Cops
9.0 Good Will
Hunting (1997) 11.35
Would I Lie to You? The
Unseen Bits 12.15 Mock
the Week 12.55 QI 1.35
Would I Lie to You? At
Christmas 2.10 Mock
the Week 2.50 Suits
4.0 Home Shopping
All programmes to 2pm
are double bills 6.0am
Hollyoaks 7.0 Rules of
Engagement 8.0 How
I Met Your Mother 9.0
New Girl 10.0 2 Broke
Girls 11.0 Brooklyn NineNine 12.0 The Goldbergs
1.0 The Big Bang Theory
2.0-7.0 The Big Bang
Theory: Weird Science
7.0 Hollyoaks 7.30
Extreme Cake Makers
8.0 Fantastic
Four (2005) 10.0 Five
Star Hotel: The Finale
11.05-12.0 The Big Bang
Theory 12.0 First Dates
1.05 Five Star Hotel: The
Finale 2.10 Tattoo Fixers
3.05 Gogglebox 3.55
First Dates Abroad 4.206.0 Rules of Engagement
11.0am Ever After:
A Cinderella Story (1998)
1.25 Last Holiday
(2006) 3.40 Mrs
Doubtfire (1993) 6.05
The Hunger Games:
Catching Fire (2013)
8.50 Paddy Considine:
Journeyman Interview
Special 9.0 Pride
and Prejudice and Zombies (2016) 11.10 Dead Man’s Shoes (2004)
1.0 One-Armed
Swordsman (1967)
6.0am The Planet’s
Funniest Animals
6.15 Totally Bonkers
Guinness World Records
6.35 Totally Bonkers
Guinness World Records
7.0 Who’s Doing the
Dishes? 7.55 Emmerdale
8.20 Emmerdale 8.55
Coronation Street 9.25
You’ve Been Framed!
Gold 9.55 Totally
Bonkers Guinness World
Records 10.05 St Trinian’s 2: The
Legend of Fritton’s Gold
(2009) (FYI Daily is at
11.05) 12.15 Emmerdale
12.45 Emmerdale 1.15
Coronation Street 1.45
You’ve Been Framed!
2.10 The Jeremy Kyle
BBC Four
Milkshake! 9.15 The
Wright Stuff 11.10 Can’t
Pay? We’ll Take It Away
(T) (R) 12.05 News (T)
12.10 Home and Away
(T) 12.40 Neighbours (T)
1.10 Shenandoah
(Andrew V McLagen, 1965)
(T) American civil war
western starring James
Stewart. 3.15 The
Searchers (John Ford, 1956)
(T) John Ford’s western
starring John Wayne. 5.30
Neighbours (T) (R) 6.0
Home and Away (T) (R) 6.25
News (T) 6.35 Kensington
Palace: Fit for a Princess (T)
Britain’s Great Cathedrals
With Tony Robinson (T)
New series. The actor visits
York Minster, backdrop to
some of the most dramatic
events in British history.
Includes news update.
Jane McDonald & Friends
(T) Veteran vocalist Elkie
Brooks and theatre star
Lee Mead join the host.
10.0 Will & Grace (T) A baby
shower leads the duo to
question their life choices.
10.30 Football on 5: The
Championship (T)
11.30 Football on 5: Goal Rush (T)
12.0 SuperCasino (T) 3.10 GPs:
Behind Closed Doors (T) (R)
4.0 The X-Files (T) (R) 4.45
House Doctor (T) (R) 5.10
Great Artists (T) (R) Bruegel
World News Today (T) 7.30
Top of the Pops: 1985 (T)
(R) Richard Skinner and
Simon Bates introduce
performances by Dire Straits,
Princess, Go West, Phil
Collins and Amazulu. First
aired on 8 August 1985.
The Kate Bush Story:
Running Up That Hill
(T) (R) Documentary
exploring the singer’s
career and music.
Johnny Cash: The Man,
His World, His Music (T)
(R) Robert Elfstrom’s
1969 documentary, which
captures “the Man in Black”
at the peak of his career.
10.0 Arena: Bob Dylan –
Trouble No More (T)
11.0 Sings Dylan 2 (T) (R) With
the likes of Joan Baez, the
Hollies, Adele, Bryan Ferry
and KT Tunstall.
12.0 Top of the Pops: 1985 (T) (R)
12.30-3.30 Music for Misfits:
The Story of Indie (T) (R) (1,
2 & 3/3) With Mark Radcliffe.
3.30 TOTP: 1985 (T) (R)
Show 3.20 The Jeremy
Kyle Show 4.30 Hop (2011) (FYI Daily
is at 5.30) 6.20 The Amazing SpiderMan (2012) (FYI
Daily is at 7.25) 9.0
(2011) 11.30 Family
Guy 12.0 Family Guy
12.30 American Dad!
12.55 American Dad!
1.25 The Keith and
Paddy Picture Show
1.50 The Keith and
Paddy Picture Show
2.20 Totally Bonkers
Guinness World Records
2.30 Teleshopping
8.55am Food Unwrapped
9.30 A Place in the Sun:
Home or Away 10.30 A
Place in the Sun: Home
or Away 11.35-2.10 Four
in a Bed 2.10-4.50 Come
Dine With Me 4.50 A
Place in the Sun: Home
or Away 5.55 Kirstie
and Phil’s Love It or List
It 6.55 The Secret Life
of the Zoo 7.55 Grand
Designs 9.0 Rough
Justice 10.05 24 Hours
in A&E 11.10 24 Hours
in A&E 12.15 Ramsay’s
Kitchen Nightmares
USA 1.15 24 Hours in A&E
2.15 24 Hours in A&E
3.15 8 Out of 10 Cats
6.0am Dog Whisperer
7.0 RSPCA Animal Rescue
7.30 RSPCA Animal Rescue 8.0 Motorway Patrol
8.30 Motorway Patrol
9.0 Road Wars 10.0
Warehouse 13 11.0 David
Attenborough’s Conquest
of the Skies 12.0 NCIS:
LA 1.0 Hawaii Five-0
2.0 Road Wars 3.0 NCIS:
LA 4.0 Stargate SG-1
5.0 The Simpsons 5.30
Futurama 6.0 Futurama
6.30 The Simpsons
7.0 The Simpsons 7.30
The Simpsons 8.0 The
Simpsons 8.30 Modern
Family 9.0 In the Long
Run 9.30 In the Long
Run 10.0 The Late
Late Show with James
Corden: Best of the Week
11.0 The Russell Howard
Hour 12.0 Ross Kemp:
Extreme World 1.0 Brit
Cops: Law & Disorder
2.0 Most Shocking 3.0
Most Shocking 4.0 It’s
Me or the Dog 4.30 It’s
Me or the Dog 5.0 Futurama 5.30 Futurama
Dolly Parton: Song by
Song 8.0 Video Killed
the Radio Star 8.30
Discovering: Blur 9.0
The Nineties 10.0 Music
Videos That Defined the
90s 11.0 Dire Straits:
On the Night 1.0 Deep
Purple with Orchestra:
Live at Montreux 2011
3.15 30 Degrees in
February 4.30 Tales
of the Unexpected 5.0
Auction 5.30 Auction
Sky Atlantic
6.0am The British 7.0
Urban Secrets 8.0 Hotel
Secrets 9.0-11.0 The
West Wing 11.0-1.0
House 1.0 Without a
Trace 2.0 Blue Bloods
3.0-5.0 The West Wing
5.0-7.0 House 7.0 CSI:
Crime Scene Investigation 8.0 Blue Bloods 9.012.45 Game of Thrones
12.45 Mosaic 1.45 The
Sopranos 2.45 Dexter
4.0-6.0 The West Wing
Sky Arts
6.0am Glyndebourne
Opera Cup 9.30 Landscape Artist of the Year
2016 10.30 Video
Killed the Radio Star
11.0 The Eighties 12.0
Discovering: Laurence
Olivier 1.0 Jesus of
Nazareth 3.0-6.0
Portrait Artist of the Year
2018 6.0 Discovering:
Albert Finney 7.0 Johnny
Cash: Song by Song 7.30
Radio 3
6.30 Breakfast 9.0
Essential Classics. With
Suzy Klein and her
guest Judith Kerr. 12.0
Composer of the Week:
Gesualdo (5/5) 1.0 News
1.02 Lunchtime Concert:
Malcolm Martineau – A
Life in Song. English
repertoire. (4/4) 2.0
Afternoon Concert.
Jordi Savall conducts
his new reconstruction
of JS Bach’s lost St Mark
Passion in Barcelona.
5.0 In Tune 7.0 In Tune
Mixtape 7.30 In Concert.
Live from King’s College,
Cambridge. Elgar: The
Dream of Gerontius.
BBC Concert Orchestra,
Philharmonia Chorus,
Kathryn Rudge (mezzo),
Brenden Gunnell (tenor),
Henry Waddington
(bass-baritone), Stephen
Cleobury. 10.0 The Verb
(R) 10.45 The Essay: Is
Music a Civilising Force?
With Paul Morley. (5/5)
11.0 World on 3. The
Afro-Cuban All Stars
in concert in Glasgow.
1.0 Through the Night
Radio 4
Pride and
Prejudice and
Zombies, Film4
LW: 5.30 TMS: New
Zealand v England –
Second Test, Day One.
FM: 6.0 Today (LW
joins at 7am) 8.31 (LW)
Yesterday in Parliament
9.0 Desert Island Discs:
Anne-Marie Duff (R)
9.45 (LW) Daily Service:
Good Friday 9.45 (FM)
The Channel: Making the
Crossing. With Christine
Finn. (5/5) 10.0
Woman’s Hour. Includes
at 10.45 Drama: Judas.
(5/5) 11.0 The Patch:
Codicote. Polly Weston
sets out to find a story in
a place about which she
hitherto knew absolutely
nothing – selected for
her by an online random
postcode generator.
11.30 When the Dog
Dies (R) 12.0 News
12.01 (LW) Shipping
Forecast 12.04 Home
Front: Howard Argent
(20/40) 12.15 You and
Yours 1.0 The World at
One 1.45 Encounters:
Death Knocking. Two
people come together
to swap one story which
helped shape their
views on death knock
journalism. Presented by
Vivien Jones. (4/4) 2.0
The Archers 2.15 Bread
and Butter. Jennifer
Bell’s a cappella songs
about human emotions
are interwoven with
true stories of love and
yearning. 3.0 Good
Friday Meditation. With
the Rev Mike Long. 3.30
Soundstage: Cima Verde
(R) 3.45 Short Works:
The Last Place, by Julie
Mayhew. 4.0 Last Word
4.30 Feedback 5.0 PM
5.54 (LW) Shipping
Forecast 6.0 News 6.30
The Now Show (5/6) 7.0
The Archers 7.15 Front
Row 7.45 Judas (R) (5/5)
8.0 Any Questions? 8.50
A Point of View. With
John Gray. 9.0 Home
Front Omnibus (4/8)
10.0 The World Tonight.
LW: 10.30 TMS: Second
Test, Day Two. 12.48;
5.20 Shipping Forecast.
FM: 10.45 Book at
Bedtime: Reservoir
13, by Jon McGregor.
(10/10) 11.0 Late Night
Woman’s Hour 12.0
News 12.30 The Channel
(R) 1.0 As World Service
5.30 News 5.43 Prayer
for the Day 5.45 iPM
Radio 4 Extra
6.0 The Unpleasantness
at the Bellona Club (6/6)
6.30 Brandreth’s Pills
7.0 The Emerald Green
Show (4/4) 7.30 In
and Out of the Kitchen
(5/6) 8.0 I’m Sorry
I’ll Read That Again
(7/13) 8.30 Brothers
in Law (4/12) 9.0 The
Motion Show (5/6) 9.30
Kathmandu or Bust (5/6)
10.0 Sons and Lovers
(2/3) 11.0 Man About
the House (2/3) 11.15
Bowen and Betjeman
12.0 I’m Sorry I’ll…
(7/13) 12.30 Brothers
in Law (4/12) 1.0 The
(6/6) 1.30 Brandreth’s
Pills 2.0 The Norfolk
Mystery (10/10) 2.15
Laurence LlewelynBowen’s History of Home
(10/10) 2.30 The Old
Curiosity Shop (20/25)
2.45 Hellhound on His
Trail (5/5) 3.0 Sons
and Lovers (2/3) 4.0
The Motion Show (5/6)
4.30 Kathmandu or Bust
(5/6) 5.0 The Emerald
Green Show (4/4) 5.30
In and Out of the Kitchen
(5/6) 6.0 The Willows
(4/4) 6.30 Mastertapes
(2/2) 7.0 I’m Sorry I’ll…
(7/13) 7.30 Brothers
in Law (4/12) 8.0 The
Unpleasantness… (6/6)
8.30 Brandreth’s Pills
9.0 Podcast Radio Hour
10.0 In and Out of the
Kitchen (5/6) 10.30 The
Show What You Wrote
(2/4) 11.0 Kevin Eldon
Will See You Now (3/4)
11.30 A Look Back at
the Nineties (1/5) 12.0
The Willows (4/4) 12.30
Mastertapes (2/2) 1.0
The Unpleasantness;
(6/6) 1.30 Brandreth’s
Pills 2.0 The Norfolk
Mystery (10/10) 2.15
History of Home (10/10)
2.30 The Old Curiosity
Shop (20/25) 2.45
Hellhound on His Trail
(5/5) 3.0 Sons and
Lovers (2/3) 4.0 The
Motion Show (5/6) 4.30
Kathmandu or Bust (5/6)
5.0 The Emerald Green
Show (4/4) 5.30 In and
Out of the Kitchen (5/6)
The Guardian
Friday 30 March 2018
no 14,943
Quick crossword
Garry Trudeau
1 One of the original 13
colonies of the United
States, capital Raleigh (5,8)
8 Pipe leaves (7)
9 Attribute (5)
10 Repeat a passage from some
written work (4)
11 1940s’ genre of American
thriller or detective movies
(French) (4,4)
13 Repeated performance
demanded by an audience
14 Basic — original (6)
17 Football upright (8)
19 Flakes that drift (4)
21 Close chum (slang) (5)
22 Large edible flatfish (7)
24 Cold wind in Europe — rent a
hostelry (anag) (13)
1 Fool (3)
2 Unthinking, like a machine
3 Rhine wine — horse joint (4)
4 Immeasurably small (6)
5 Win by clever thinking (8)
6 Adult insect (5)
7 Pleasure of remembering
something nice (9)
10 Person of the cloth (9)
12 Painting on three hinged
panels (8)
15 Hotel room chiller? (7)
16 Breathing problem (6)
18 Subsequently (5)
20 Surfeit (4)
23 Rugby score (3)
Stuck? For help call 0906 200 83 83. Calls cost £1.10 per minute, plus your phone company’s access charge.
Service supplied by ATS. Call 0330 333 6946 for customer service (charged at standard rate).
To buy puzzle books, visit or call 0330 333 6846.
no 4,021
Hard. Fill the grid so that each row, column and
3x3 box contains the numbers 1-9. Printable
version at
Word wheel
Find as many words as
possible using the letters
in the wheel. Each must
use the central letter and
at least two others. Letters
may be used only once. You
may not use plurals, foreign
words or proper nouns.
There is at least one nineletter word to be found.
TARGET: Excellent-67.
Good-60. Average-46.
Fill the grid so that each
square in an outlined block
contains a digit. A block
of 2 squares contains the
digits 1 and 2, a block of
three squares contains the
digits 1, 2 and 3, and so on.
No same digit appears in
neighbouring squares, not
even diagonally.
Can you find 11 words associated with
rambling in the grid? Words can run
forwards, backwards, vertically or
diagonally, but always in a straight,
unbroken line.
Yesterday’s solutions
Sudoku no 4,020
Pet corner
Solution no 14,942
Word wheel
The Guardian
Friday 30 March 2018
Which Twilight star has a
wolf-hybrid called Jack?
a. Kristen Stewart
b. Robert Pattinson
c. Taylor Lautner
d. Billy Burke
Answer top right
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