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The Guardian G2 - April 6, 2018

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God’s plan
How Drake
became a
Friday 06/04/18
Lost in showbiz
The key ingredients for
a chef’s midlife crisis
page 3
Spanish bombs
Madrid’s garage
rock underground
page 6
A Quiet Place review
page 14
The 10
best female
rap tracks
Missy Elliott
The Rain
Missy is one of the greatest
conceptual thinkers in rap. Who
else but her would hear soul
singer Ann Peebles’ bluesy 1973
track I Can’t Stand The Rain and
think to morph it into this loping
minimalist masterpiece? Coming
amid an era of engorged hiphop video budgets and fisheye
cams, Missy made these cliches
fresh again by imagining a new
millennium both visually – see
her famous inflatable billowing
trash bag – and sonically, with
Timbaland on production. This
is a master, or rather a mistress,
at work.
As Cardi B (right)
releases her debut album,
Kieran Yates runs
the rule over the best
hip-hop cuts by women
Foxy Brown
I’ll Be
This 1996 refixing
of René & Angela’s
1985 electro-R&B
hit I’ll Be Good
remains Foxy
Brown’s only
UK Top 10 single
from her Ill Na Na
album, but what
a single it is. Its
nostalgic revival
of soul music
a production
trend, and helped
to propel its guest
rapper – a babyfaced Jay-Z – into
the stratosphere.
Angie Martinez,
Lil’ Kim, Left Eye,
Da Brat & Missy
Not Tonight
(Ladies Night
An upbeat frolic
as Lil’ Kim
recruits some
of the leading
ladies of the 90s
scene. All would
go on to make
harder-edged diss
tracks, but this
slightly cheesy
Kool and the
track made a
point: we can do
bars about guns,
sex, weed and
cash even better
than the men.
Missy Elliott’s
indignation at
having to do the
chorus – “What
I look like?
Patti LaBelle or
somebody?” – is
Neneh Cherry
Buffalo Stance
Less a rap track
and more a pop
darling having an
edgy mainstream
moment, this
punchy manifesto
still stands up.
The cry of “that
guy’s a gigolo,
maaaaan!”, a slur
intended to shame
an untrustworthy,
bed-hopping man,
is out of date in
2018 but still just
as satisfying to
Cardi B
Bodak Yellow
The exhilarating Bronx rapper
releases her debut album this
week, her Spanish-inflected
rhymes delivered with almost
as much mesmerising energy as
when she speaks. After a career
as a stripper and appearing on
reality TV show Love and HipHop, Cardi B swaggered into the
wider public consciousness with
a simple and delectable line that
would knock Taylor Swift off the
US No 1 spot: “Little bitch, you
can’t fuck with me if you wanted
to.” Art.
Azealia Banks
Love her or
loathe her, this
moment from the
then relatively
Harlem rapper
had the energy
of a nuclear
reactor. Here
she reclaimed
the “c” word in
catchy style.
The Guardian
Friday 6 April 2018
Nicki Minaj
Did It On ’Em
When this was
released in
2010, Minaj was
fast becoming
a Technicolor
pop-rap Barbie,
but this was a
reminder that she
was still ready
with scatological
takedowns of her
Lil’ Kim
Big Momma Thang
There’s an audible
quaking from men
in the vicinity
when Lil’ Kim
walks into a room,
and it’s thanks to
moments like this.
Kim delivers a
sex-ed lesson that
demands a man
make her orgasm
a minimum of 24
times. The Queen
B pre-Beyoncé,
Lil’ Kim’s power is
Two Minute
Less commercially
viable than Salt
N Pepa (probably
thanks to album
tracks such as
Kotex, which
menstruation at
length), early90s duo Lyndah
McCaskill and
Tanisha Michele
Morgan took shots
at grand promises
of male prowess,
and discussed
inequality and the
agency of black
women with an
acid wit.
Lauryn Hill
Doo Wop (That
A call to action to
remind us of our
worth: “Don’t be
a hard rock when
you really are a
gem / baby girl,
respect is just a
minimum.” In
four minutes,
the queen of the
rap tingle
slickly tells us to
decolonise our
beauty regimes
and ditch a man
who didn’t treat
us properly. You
feel bigger than
yourself when you
sing along.
Sugar and Spice
Given how trauma-centric
a lot of indie rock is
right now, this Brisbane
songwriter’s breezy,
shoegazey love song is as
welcome as a rush of dolly
mixtures to the head.
Kadhja Bonet
Mother Maybe
From Bonet’s second
album, Childqueen, where
the LA musician plays
every note – subtly funky
bass, softly psychedelic
guitar – and sings with
dreamy command about
maternal power.
Violet Eves
Listen Over the Ocean
Taken from the essential
Music from Memory
compilation Uneven
Paths: Deviant Pop from
Europe (1980-1991), this
is dreampop that falls
somewhere between Twin
Peaks and mid-80s Ibiza.
Drawing into slightly
clearer focus from her
earlier echo-heavy work,
this is a spare, devastating
piano ballad, though still
with some nicely ethereal
room noise.
Dr Octagon
Flying Waterbed
A psychedelic body
high from the returning
hip-hop supergroup,
with a romantic, swooninducing chorus melody
from Kool Keith.
Barcelona City Tour
On page 6, Dave Simpson
makes a case for Madrid’s
brilliant indie rock scene;
to round out this Spanish
extravaganza, here’s
Madrid’s youthful quartet
Mourn, whose new single
sounds like One Armed
Scissor played in a shed.
Phil Cook
Steampowered Blues
Phil Cook’s superb
2015 album Southland
Mission was chronically
underrated, interweaving
gospel, Americana
and work songs –
an endeavour that
continues in the rousing
Steampowered Blues.
Lost in Showbiz
The great British TV chefs’
rotating midlife crisis
think I am perpetually
in a midlife crisis,”
observed UN cake
inspector Paul
Hollywood last year,
much as the Pope might
self-identify as Catholic. Is Paul
right? Rarely pictured offscreen
wearing anything but motorcycle
leathers, The Great British Bake
Off judge certainly has the air of
someone who has downloaded the
Headspace app and is thinking about
a Route 66 tattoo.
The most recent off-Bake Off
story we heard about Paul, 52, saw
him caught up in a wider New York
Times exposé about people buying
bots as Twitter followers. It was a bit
too technical for me to get my head
around, but for a feel of how quite
bang Paul was to rights, you could
do worse than his spokesman’s
comment to the paper: “Paul deleted
his personal account last week.” OK,
got it. Whether his new girlfriend,
22, should have done the same with
her Insta is a matter of debate. But
we’ll come to Summer MonteysFullam shortly.
Before we go on, I must remind
you of the First Law of Thermomix,
which states that there is a finite
amount of midlife crisis in the telly
cooks community. It can be neither
created nor destroyed; it can only
be passed from one of them to the
other, like a really great guacamole
recipe. Each will add their own twist
to it, of course, but the ur-recipe –
the ur-crisis – is the same. A chap
who aggressively critiques civilian
cooking efforts on telly will make an
absolute dog’s dinner of a situation,
while stubbornly claiming it all
tastes great to him.
In his head: the image of Steven
Seagal in Under Siege, a highly
decorated ex-Navy Seal (“Security
clearance revoked after Panama”),
who also cooks, and is able both
to dispatch villains using kitchen
knives and turn a microwave into an
improvised weapon, all the while
knowing he’s having Erika Eleniak
for his pudding.
In everyone else’s head: the image
of Seagal now.
For some of our telly chefs, the
condition is high-functioning.
Gordon Ramsay has been having a
rolling midlife crisis since he was 18,
when – contrary to his recollection
– he wasn’t actually in the Rangers
first team squad. For others,
things build to a point of dramatic
reckoning. Ready Steady Cook star
Antony Worrall Thompson started
shoplifting at Tesco, you may recall,
later explaining that the temptation
of pinching stuff at the self-service
tills had been “something that
sparked my naughtiness, my desire
to live on the edge”.
Sorry, Jimmy Dean, but there’s
only one place not paying for two
tubs of coleslaw and a ciabatta is
going to take you, and that’s a rural
Oxfordshire cop shop. Thankfully, as
Antony later revealed: “The police
were very nice, wanted to keep all
the other hoods away from me.” But
the nick experience is still “not nice.
I couldn’t say to them: ‘May I borrow
a magazine, or can I read a book?’”
When the reality of the incarceration
crisis hits you, it hits you hard.
Anyway. Undisputed master of
the telly chef midlife crisis is, of
course, MasterChef’s Gregg Wallace.
Currently married to wife No 4,
Gregg likes to give regular tell-all
interviews on Where He’s At with
the women in his life. Last year, he
was explaining how he didn’t care
to venture to not “nice places” like
shopping centres, because of what
people might think of his muchyounger wife. Spoken like a great
protector, and one familiar with how
the famous jibe goes: “There’s no
fool like a young fool.”
Remarkably, though, this selfpublicised-telly-chef-midlife-crisis
column is not actually about Gregg.
Back, then, to Paul Hollywood,
whose new-ish girlfriend wrote
an Instagram tribute to him at the
turn of the year. One aspect of
Summer Monteys-Fullam’s tribute
to her “amazing boyfriend” has
now caught people’s unfavourable
attention: namely, the bit where
she says he has “turned me from
a girl to a woman, and to a house
woman”. She followed that with a
cry-laughter emoji – and why not?
The precise emoji for that sentence
has arguably yet to be invented, and
may indeed never be.
As for the reaction to this …
well, let’s just say it could have
gone better. It was, of course, the
poet Juvenal who used his Satires
to pose the eternal question: who
judges the telly cooking judges? The
answer, evidently, is “a hell of a lot
of people on the internet”. And if
Paul and Summer currently feel like
getting on his Kawasaki Ninja H2
and disappearing into the American
west, I’m sure we could all quite
understand it.
Past performance
is no guarantee of
Seagal’s worth
What we might term the No-Shit
Intro of the Month comes courtesy
of Fortune magazine, which opens
a story with the words: “Regulators
in New Jersey and Tennessee
are sending clear signals that
investors should steer clear of a
cryptocurrency endorsed by faded
action-film star Steven Seagal.”
Ya think? In what my made-up
market analysts are calling a clear
signal that “nothing’s blue chip
any more”, Seagal’s Bitcoin knockoff has run into a series of strong
regulatory warnings.
Like me, you may be collecting a
series of one-fact stories from the
past couple of years that you plan to
go back in time with and freak out
your 2014 self. In which case, you’lll
already be across the reality that
Above the Law legend Seagal is the
spokesmodel for a cryptocurrency.
The news was exclusively revealed
by the project’s website, which
Which is presumably more enticing
to investors than “VLADIMIR
BITCOIIN2GEN”. Or any of the other
even more malarial options for this
most multi of all multihyphenates.
As you can see, its name is Bitcoiin
– with two “I”s - which strikes me
as the cryptocurrency equivalent of
calling your cab firm AAAAAAAAAA
Taxis back in the anciente tymes
of the Yellow Pages. Quite how this
cryptocurrency has been red-flagged
as potentially risky for investors is
beyond me. According to Bitcoiin,
Seagal “believes that what he does in
his life is about leading people into
contemplation to wake them up and
enlighten them in some manner”.
Do go on. “These are precisely the
objectives of the Bitcoiin2Gen.”
That was the point at which I
went all-in, but for the ultra-timid
investor, there was more: “Zen
Master Steven mentioned an old
Chinese saying: ‘Flow with whatever
may happen and let your mind
be free. Stay centred by accepting
whatever you are doing. This is the
ultimate,’ by Chuang Tsu.”
Amazing. Apparently, in the
interests of balance, I have to
mention a less old saying by the New
Jersey Bureau of Securities, which
goes: blah blah cease and desist,
blah blah “fraudulently offering
unregistered securities in violation
of the Securities Law”.
Whatever. I know which type of
financial advice I feel spiritually
closer to. News that Seagal is now
departing his spokesmodel role
in order that the currency may
remain “genuinely anonymous” is
only further proof of its – and his –
integrity. Pile in, readers, and let the
pyramid-shaped journey to financial
enlightenment commence.
The Guardian
Friday 6 April 2018
Since the release of Star Wars 40 years ago
ago, film
merchandise has been big business – some films have
even been made just for the toy profits. But with sales in
peril, is all that about to change, asks Anna Smith
Lights, camera,
no action toys
long time ago,
in a Hollywood
far away, tie-in
movie toys were
an afterthought,
if that. Then kids
picked up the first plastic Han
Solos. Ever since, merchandise
sales have helped to sustain the
success of some of the biggest
movie franchises, but is that about
to change?
An overall decline in toy company
profits, reported by Bloomberg,
suggests that the movie action
figure may be going out of fashion.
Lego, Hasbro and Mattel reported
losses last year, while Toys R Us is
closing down. This could be bad
news for film franchises that rely
on merchandising for much of
their profit.
The first action figure was actually
inspired by Barbie, in 1959. At a
time when children’s toys were
even more gender-polarised than
today, Stanley Weston pitched
Hasbro a doll to appeal to boys. The
soldier doll became GI Joe in 1964,
and the term “action figure” was
born. Comic book and TV figures
started springing up, and such
was the success of the first Star
Wars film, in 1977, that toymaker
Kenner ended up producing empty
boxes with certificates promising
on as they
tie-in action figures as soon
became available. Soon, most bigot in on
budget family films had got
the act, sparking interest from adult
collectors as well as children.
y Kurtz
Star Wars producer Gary
ade three
claimed that Star Wars made
times as much on toys as itt did on
ge Lucas
films, while creator George
said: “All the money is in the action
figures.” Lucas famously retained
licensing and merchandising
ange for
rights to Star Wars in exchange
a $500,000 directorial fee.. The result
made him a billionaire.
nchise, the
With every big new franchise,
o mount:
official numbers started to
while Harry Potter moviess made
he value
$7.7bn at the box office, the
of the merchandising is estimated
at $15bn. Toy Story 3 made nearly
$10bn from its action figures and
other merch – 10 times what it took
at the global box office.
In a postmodern twist, the
phenomenon has led to several
franchises specifically designed to
sell pre-existing toys. Mattel’s
Masters of the Universe and Hasbro’s
Transformers both began as toy lines
before getting their own movies and
TV shows in the 80s, and the appeal
spread beyond the perceived male
market, with My Little Pony (Hasbro)
and Care Bears (owned by a division
of a greeting-card company) also
spawning saccharine series and films.
That trend saw a resurgence in
the noughties as studios defaulted
to known franchises: Transformers
got a seemingly unending reboot
from Michael Bay, and GI Joe finally
landed his own movie, for better or
worse. The Lego Movie (2014) was
a rare toy tie-in to earn rave reviews
from film critics – but now even Lego
itself has suffered a sales fall – its
first in 13 years.
So why the downturn? Gene del
Vecchio, a marketing professor and
the author of Creating Blockbusters!,
says: “Competition from video and
mobile games has diminished the
interest in action figures.” The toys,
he says, “allow a child to fantasise
about taking on the role of a heroic
charact Video and mobile games
greatly enhance that ability. The age
appeal of action figures has been
declini for decades due to the rise
vide games.”
of video
It ce
certainly seems that kids
are dropping
their toys at a
younge age: not just maturing
earlier, but distracted by a host of
choices. “Really, kids
just want
wa a decent mobile phone,”
says veteran
collector Marshall
Julius. “Maybe a PS4 or Xbox when
they’re older. Physical stuff is too
analogu for them.”
Speak to a parent of a child
their tweens and they
tell a si
similar story. “My 10-yearWi
old, William,
was once heavily into
mas the
merchandise: Thomas
Tank Engine, Cars, Star Wars, Lego,
Pokémon,” says Emma Harrison,
a teacher who lives in Portsmouth.
“Now, he enjoys watching the Star
Wars and Marvel films, but no longer
wants the toys because he has grown
out of them, or plays their games on
the Xbox. He and his friends say they
now like to keep the action figures as
ornaments to look at and only to play
with once in a while.”
Sales experts have noticed
a specific age when children begin to
lose interest. “From my experience,
kids are most interested in movie
merchandise from about three to
eight years old,” says Lisa Wragg,
who worked in children’s licensing
for many years. “At about eight, it
tends to wane as they get more into
music, artists and social media.”
Amanda Moore, whose daughter
Haidee is nearly eight, backs this
up. “Haidee thinks most movie toys
are very age specific and, as a result,
she grows out of them fairly rapidly.
Where she once had everything with
Frozen on, now she is not so swayed
by the tie-ins. I think the pull lessens
as you get older.”
That said, a new generation is
always coming, and just because the
big retailers are suffering, it doesn’t
mean that toy sales are falling across
the board. “The global toy industry
grew by about 1% in 2017,” says Del
So are online companies
taking a bigger piece of the pie?
“Everything’s easier and cheaper to
buy online,” says Julius. “Amazon
killed off smaller retailers. Now it’s
strangling the bigger ones. Of course
it was fun wandering the aisles of
Toys R Us with money in your pocket
and the intention to buy something
fabulous, but it’s
it s cheaper to buy it
‘Gary Kurtz said
Star Wars made
three times as
much on toys as it
did on films’
The Guardian
Friday 6 April 2018
from Amazon, and easier to have it
delivered. That’s how I shopped for
my kids, for the most part.”
If a specific movie action
character isn’t selling as well these
days, that may be down to increased
competition, too. “Consumers have
more and more licensed characters
to choose from,” says Del Vecchio.
“In 2000, only two films in the top
10 US box office hits would have
been likely to generate a licensed
character toy, X-Men and How the
Grinch Stole Christmas, perhaps
Mission: Impossible II. But in 2017,
nine out of the 10 top films had
licensed characters associated with
them, from Star Wars to Beauty
and the Beast to Wonder Woman to
Thor. So, consumers are spending
about the same amount of money
on toys in total, but now they have
far more choices to spend it on. The
battle is over the share of a parent’s
Julius thinks the increased
choice has impacted on the quality
of the products. “Older nerds with
‘The merchandise
isn’t special any
more. There’s too
much to choose
disposable incomes will happily lay
out for deluxe action figures from
specialist companies such as Hot
Toys, and high-end Lego products.
Kids, though, they have grown up
in a world where every other movie
has its own line of merchandise,
and that merchandise is often quite
poorly produced. It is not special any
more. There’s too much to choose
from, it’s overpriced, overhyped
and ultimately just amounts to so
much clutter.”
Supposing the action figure
really is in jeopardy, how might this
affect the movie industry? Given
that superhero movies make up a
huge part of the market, all eyes
will be on Marvel and DC, although
you will have to wait a while to see
a change: these growing universes
plan years in advance. The Star
Wars merchandise numbers were
surely one of the reasons that Disney
splashed out on the franchise,
although box office figures have
been through the roof, thanks
to high-quality films as well as
marketing and brand loyalty.
These box office figures are key
to the merchandise’s success, says
Del Vecchio. “Sales of action figures
rise and fall with the popularity
of the latest film franchise. While
the leading franchise in 2017 was
Star Wars: The Last Jedi with about
$1.33bn at the worldwide box office,
it was not as powerful as the 2015
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
which did about $2.06bn. Both were
phenomenal, but money at the box
office often equates to money in the
toy aisle, pure and simple.”
So next year’s Star Wars: Episode
IX will need to bust the box office to
win the action figure battle –and the
introduction of new characters in
the spinoff movies may help, too.
There is one movie that
is exceeding merchandising
expectations: Black Panther – which,
it is thought, will make $250m on
top of its $1bn global box office.
The film was noted for opening the
comic book genre up to larger black
audiences – perhaps the toys will
have the same effect.
If this means more Black Panther
movies, and more original stories, so
be it. But if the wider problems for
merchandising eventually spell the
end for the Transformers, you won’t
find me complaining.
‘Age can
be a babe
91, found face down in a mound of
his own product. But the idea of
working till you drop still appeals
to me, although not near stables.
Maybe when I start getting feeble, I’ll
get a job in a pillow factory.
I remember thinking when I heard
the story of Methuselah: how did
they know he was 900? Would a
person that old remember their
After a career with heavy
exact date of birth? Did he lug around
a big stone and mark 900 Xs on it?
metal gods Spinal Tap,
Since he lived before electric music,
Derek Smalls is back
I prefer to believe he gave that as his
age in order to meet women. Yes, age
with an album reflecting
can be a babe magnet – I read that
on ageing. Here, he shares Einstein had to fight them off by
reciting boring equations.
his hard-fought wisdom
Memory, they say, fades with age.
Who are “they”? I forget. Men have it
e keep track
easier than women as we age. Unless
of the passing
you’re a rocker, a man doesn’t show
years. Do they
off nearly as much of his body as a
keep track of
woman does, so the muffin top just
us? Life is like
becomes a more powerful belt line.
the ticketing
Facial hair can hide the old chinmachine at a car park: it gives
weakening business. Although your
something (tickets) and it takes
memory fades with age.
something (cash or credit cards).
Of course, all the insecurities and
These are among the thoughts
anxieties of youth
I have had as I’ve been meditating
– Do they like me?
on ageing during the recording of
Am I acting
my new album, Smalls Change. Age,
foolishly? Is this
I say at the beginning of it, is just a
how I’m supposed
number. Number is just a word. And
to dress? – fall
word is just a thing. If I could say it
away. But they
better myself, I still wouldn’t.
are replaced by
‘As time goes
As a bass player, first with Spinal
Tap and now solo, I’m used to seeing on, we’re not
insecurities and
life from the bottom, the foundation, really ageing,
anxieties – Can
the basic 1-4-5 of existence. I think
they tell I just wet
we’re just
it’s easier for bass players to regard
being handed myself? Is this
the ageing process more calmly
the doctor who
dodgier cells’
than our more fiery brethren in the
almost killed my
vineyards of rock. It’s like my friend
cousin? Is this
Eddie (Low Flame) Dregs, the bassist
for the near-death-metal colossus
But as I embark
Chainsaw Vermin, says: “Low flames
on an ambitious
extinguish more slowly.”
tour playing with symphony
I remember reading once that we
orchestras on at least one continent,
replace every cell in our body every
I’m content in the knowledge that
seven years. If that’s true, even a
many of my colleagues in tuxedos,
90-year-old man is probably just six
evening gowns, or both, are much
or seven in cell years. So, we’re not
bloody older than me. Do I look
really ageing, we’re just being handed back at 19-year-old Derek, at 39- and
dodgier cells. In my seventh decade
49-year-old Derek, and think, as
astride this planet, and as my own
I know some of you do: “What a
cells degrade, there are some things I
hopeless tosser?” Not very often.
cannot do now: skydiving, marathon
As I count my years, I also count
running, calculus. I couldn’t do them
my learnings, such as how to play a
in my 20s, either, so no big loss.
five-string, or how to check in for a
My dad, who sanitised telephones
flight on my mobile. Would I trade
for a living, used to tell me how much all that I’ve learned for a 20-year-old
better we had it than his family.
rocker’s body? Where do I sign?
His dad, Percy, spent his whole life
As told to Derek’s alter ego, Harry
selling wood chips for horse bedding. Shearer. Smalls Change is out on 13
He finally keeled over and died at
April on Twanky Records/BMG
The Guardian
Friday 6 April 2018
‘We threw ‘
at the walls!’
➺ Words Dave Simpson
Madrid’s kids have reacted to their generation’s dismal
prospects by joining forces to forge a buzzing DIY rock
scene. For bands such as Hinds and the Parrots, raised
on europop, it’s been a noisy epiphany
Caught by the
fuzz … Madrid
garage girls Hinds
The Guardian
Friday 6 April 2018
had never been to a gig
before and I paid €3
to get in and discovered
a culture I never knew
existed,” Hinds singer
Carlotta Cosials says
of the day of her graduation, when
she accepted an invitation to see
a theatre group pal’s fledgling
garage rock band. “People were
swaying and smashing into each
other. It was like being in a movie.
I thought: ‘Where has this stuff been
all my life?’”
Shortly afterwards, Cosials took
her friend Ana Perrote, now Hinds’
guitarist, to see another emerging
Madrid garage band, Los Nastys,
and she also had an epiphany. The
pair had grown up in a Spanish
culture dominated by europop and
Julio and Enrique Iglesias, and had
always thought that only British
or American teens formed bands.
But Perrote remembers thinking:
“Everything that is happening at this
gig, I want to happen at mine.”
Nine years on, the band they
formed with DJ friend Ade Martín
(bass) and Amber Grimbergen
(drums) – who release their
second album, I Don’t Run, today
– are making history as the first
Spanish rock’n’roll band to make a
meaningful international impact.
In the US, they have been featured
in Rolling Stone and the New York
Times, and their success has been
a gamechanger for other Madrid
bands, who are also thinking
globally. Los Nastys can now tour
South America and the US; the
Parrots signed to UK label Heavenly
after playing at South by Southwest
in Texas, where the up-and-coming
Baywaves played 12 gigs last month.
Such bands are the product of
Madrid’s unlikely but extremely
vibrant indie scene, which is mostly
ased around
a few blocks in the
ohemi district of Malasaña.
Here, bu
buskers blast out garage rock
ssongs. The queue for the La
Vía Láctea club (the Milky
Way) stretches up the street.
Some 500 bands have passed
through the Pandora’s Vox rehearsal
space si
since its 2012 opening, and a
significant number are making some
sort of g
garage-inspired racket. The
scene is perhaps to Madrid what
punk w
was in the UK. “At first, we
couldn’t play but that didn’t matter,”
grins Cosials, as Hinds gather in her
flat. “We’d go: ‘Here’s the solo!’”
She imitates some witless plinking
and plonking, “but we just thought:
‘We’re going to do this.’”
The roots of Madrid’s curious
garage rock boom can be traced
as far back as General Franco’s
dictatorship-era Spain, when
kissing in the street was banned
and homegrown rock was censored.
After the regime’s fall in 1975, a
feeling of liberation gradually
produced a flow of more raucous
80s bands with rebellious names
such as the Pleasure Fuckers and
Sex Museum. The latter are still
going, but by the 1990s, the scene
had dissipated to boring indie gigs
played and attended by thirty- and
fortysomethings. The Parrots’
frontman Diego García remembers
hating “everything. I was the only
Crashin’ in …
person I knew
who listened
to the Velvet
Everything else
sounded like my
parents’ music.”
Cosials concurs:
“As teens, you’ve
no idea how bored
we were.”
Like many of
her counterparts,
the Hinds singer
was not exposed
to rock culture at
school or within
her family, and had
to seek it out. One teenage friend had
never heard of the Rolling Stones.
“I was like: ‘Are you screwing with
me?’” she laughs. Cosials and Perrote
loathed the mainstream pop their
peers liked, Spanish or otherwise,
but once they experienced live
music, they started to mix with
people with whom they could
“listen to the Velvets or Blondie or
the Beatles for hours, read books
and watch 60s pop documentaries”.
None of the scene’s prime movers
are garage rock purists, though.
Hinds listen to hip-hop and their
melodies recall classic girl groups;
the Parrots recently covered a Latin
trap banger, Bad Bunny’s Soy Peor.
But discovering the Strokes’ 2001
debut album Is This It? – albeit long
after the fact – was a big trigger for
both bands. “They weren’t from
decades ago,” explains García, “and
the America that they were singing
about felt very similar to Madrid:
discontent in a big city, a general
disillusion with society.”
Spain was badly hit by the 2008
crash and youth unemployment
stands at 55%. The country’s most
educated generation has emerged
from university with wider awareness
but dwindling prospects, a perfect
cocktail for a musical explosion.
“We’d always been promised that
if we studied, everything would
be there for us,” says García, who
did media and communications,
shouting to be heard over the music
at La Vía Láctea. “But it was a lie:
there was nothing left.”
Thus, a feeling of being cheated
out of a future and the need to make
their own has led to a proliferation
of artists, clothes designers, creative
entrepreneurs, film-makers and
musicians in the city. Cosials refers
to a “change of mindset”.
García explains, “You think: ‘I
might die tomorrow, so I might as
well do what I want.’”
Playing garage rock made it easier
to get started. Los Nastys began in
a grandparent’s garage and played
their early shows in battle-of-
‘You think:
I might die
tomorrow – I
might as well do
what I want’
the-bands competitions or with
the Parrots. “We were seen as a
joke band,” chuckles the latter’s
García. Although people took
them seriously once they started
recording, it was initially hard to get
shows because older people who ran
venues viewed them as upstarts.
“Nobody wanted to put us
on because we destroyed things
or threw chorizo at the walls,”
chuckles Los Nastys singer Luis
Basilio, in one of Malasaña’s cafe
bars. “But we wanted to be the
Madrid Beastie Boys and have
some fun.” At one show, they were
playing a song called Policía De Los
Angeles when the police actually
arrived. “There was a feverish
discussion. They went away and we
continued playing.”
As word spread, acts such as
Hinds (initially called Deers),
Los Wallas (a fictional-surname
band name, like the Ramones),
Hollywood Sinners and Lois hung
out at La Vía Láctea. One night,
after a Los Wallas gig, the club’s DJ,
Alvaro Cobarro AKA Cobie, invited
everybody back to his place for a
party. “The queue for my bathroom
was so long I had to pee in the
street,” he chuckles. “But after that,
my house became the meeting
place for everyone who wanted to
World saved …
Daphne (left)
& Celeste
Future’s so
bright …
Los Nastys
Ooh, stick them!
Daphne & Celeste
are back
squawking …
the Parrots
Reign in
Spain …
Los Nastys
on stage at
make music.”
The scene benefits from an
unusual amount of camaraderie.
The Parrots helped Hinds to make
their first recordings. All the bands
are friends, share flats and cover
each other’s songs. The Spanish
music industry does not have the
infrastructure of its UK counterpart
and the Spanish press will not cover
smaller bands. So mutual support
has been crucial. Los Wallas made
the band their job after signing to the
sizeable Spanish indie Subterfuge;
singer-guitarist Juan Wallas speaks to
me via an interpreter, so I think he’s
joking when he says “in bad times I
sell drugs or supply prostitutes”.
His leather-wearing neo dandismo
(new dandyism) combo sing in
Spanish “because we speak, dream
and fuck in Spanish”. Others sing in
English – because they can, and their
favourite bands do – which helps
with international appeal. When
Hinds (as a duo) put their songs on
Bandcamp in late 2013, the “internet
exploded”, remembers the Parrots’
García, and seeing their friends
in NME and Rolling Stone meant
“things we’d always imagined didn’t
seem so impossible”.
Eighteen years after a slot at Reading looked like a
career full stop, pop’s odd couple have a new LP. ‘Give us
an hour, we’ll make it weird,’ they tell Pete Cashmore
‘Spanish crowds
have no idea what
punk is. But you
can see they feel
it like we did’
Four years ago this month, Hinds
played as a quartet for the first time
as part of Make Noise Melasaña
with Los Nastys and Los Wallas
at Madrid’s Wurlitzer Ballroom.
Cosials was so nervous she thought
she wouldn’t be able to sing and
fretted “the audience are going to
kill me”. But today, the band have
recorded I Don’t Run with Is This
It? producer Gordon Raphael, have
performed with the Strokes and the
Libertines and will play Barcelona’s
Primavera festival for the first time
this summer. They are still seen
as Madrid’s most focused, hardworking band; after our interview,
they hand-sign hundreds of posters.
Baywaves may be the next
to make a splash. Although the
quartet are more dream-pop than
garage rock, the scene drew them
in from Santander and already
they have had a significant impact.
Guitarist-synth player Carlos
Sevilla recruited other bands to
help campaign to change Madrid’s
licensing laws so that people under
18 could attend and perform at gigs.
“Now people have to show ID at
the bar, not the door,” he tells me.
“Hopefully, this will lead to more
teenagers forming bands.”
Spanish pop is changing fast.
The country was slower than many
to catch on to Hinds, but now their
crowds in Madrid or Barcelona are as
big as those in New York or London.
“Spanish audiences have no idea
what garage or punk rock is, but you
look in their eyes and you can see
they feel like we did,” smiles Perrote.
“The difference is, where there used
to be 20, now there are thousands.”
Hinds’ new album, I Don’t Run, is
out today. The band tour the UK
from 15 to 20 Apr, starting at SWG3,
Glasgow on 15 Apr. Baywaves’ It’s
Been Like EP is out on 18 May.
‘We knew
we’d kept
some fans but
it’s worked
out better
than we
dreamed of’
n terms of unlikely
comebacks, you would
do well to find one less
plausible this year, if indeed
ever. A mere 17 years and
nine months after their
debut album We Didn’t Say That!
thundered into the charts at No 140,
Daphne & Celeste are releasing the
You remember Daphne & Celeste.
They crashed the Top 20 with
two classics of tartrazine-addled
trash-pop, 1999’s Ooh Stick You and
U.G.L.Y in 2000, registered another
hit with a cover of Alice Cooper’s
School’s Out, and then more or less
vanished, save for an appearance
at the Reading festival that was,
depending on your perspective,
either iconic or calamitous, as the
pair were pelted with bottles of urine by fans of “proper” bands such as
Blink-182. Someone even threw a
wheelchair at them.
The hiatus between their
debut album and newie Daphne
& Celeste Save the World is more
than three times the length of the
wait for the Stone Roses’ Second
Coming (“Is that a world record?”
Celeste asks. “We really ought to
have someone find out”) as the
pair returned to acting on, and
writing for, TV and stage. Eagleeyed viewers will have been able
to spot Celeste in an episode of 30
Rock, for example, playing the love
interest in a telenovela that stars
a South American Jack Donaghy
In 2015, they suddenly
re-emerged with the single You and
I Alone, their first collaboration
with UK electronica artist Max
Tundra, whose remix credits include
Mogwai, Pet Shop Boys, the Strokes,
Futureheads and Mint Royale and
who wrote … Save the World. A
reasonably straightforward electrofunk love song, You and I Alone gives
absolutely no indication as to the
berserk oddness of their new album,
which veers from the pummelling
dirty beats of second single BB, their
broadside against homogenous
boys-with-guitars, which may be
the only pop single to work the word
“heteronormative” into its lyrics,
to the jarringly baroque Song to a
Succulent. Throwaway bubblegum,
this isn’t.
I talk briefly to Celeste after
she has returned to the US with
a stinking post-tour cold. She is
effusive about the gigs, which were
attended by both old fans (literally
old, in many cases), and curious
newcomers; indeed, one person I
know who saw them in Brighton was
seven months old when Ooh Stick
You came out. Buoyed by the sheer
unlikeliness of their return, the duo’s
concerts are suitably celebratory
and loopy affairs involving bubble
machines and onstage construction
of balloon animals.
“The reaction is a bit of a
mystery,” says Celeste, “but it’s why
we wanted to do it. We knew we kept
some fans, so we figured if we could
just give everyone a break for the
night, it would be good. But it’s fair
to say it worked out better than we
thought it would, or even dreamed
it would. Give us an hour and we’ll
make it weird, I guess. And balloon
animals make people happy.”
I am warned off asking about
Reading, which seems fair
enough, since nobody wants their
defining moment to be a urinary
bombardment (although, by all
accounts, Daphne – real name,
Karen DiConcetto – sees it as a
career high watermark). But Celeste
warms to the idea that the UK,
generally, “gets” D&C’s eccentricities
in a way that their home country
does not, and is particularly pleased
when I compare Song to a Succulent
to Kate Bush. “I can take that,”
she says. The new record has won
them praise from the likes of indie
pop veteran Helen Love (“The most
punk rock record of the year”) and
Franz Ferdinand’s Alex Kapranos
(“It’s ace”).
So now that they are definitely
back, where next for Daphne &
Celeste? “I don’t know,” she says.
“Come back in 18 years and ask me.”
The Guardian
Friday 6 April 2018
Shhh! – amid the thunderous noise of much
modern cinema, the power of keeping quiet is
seriously underrated, writes Ryan Gilbey
Enjoy the
Quiet Place is a
smart, scary little
shocker that uses
restraint in the area
of sound to enhance
its visual horrors.
Give or take the score, the odd
whisper and the occasional bloodcurdling roar, John Krasinski’s film
deals in cinema’s most underused
commodity: silence. This will
be music to the ears of anyone
overwhelmed by the cacophonous
use of sound in modern film, but
there is a narrative reason too: the
movie is set in a world terrorised
by blind carnivorous monsters
with acute hearing. The only way
to avoid their gnashing jaws and
lunging talons is to keep shtum.
Communication between the main
characters – a family of five hiding
in an underground shelter – is
conducted chiefly through sign
language, lending a small advantage
to the eldest child, Regan, who
happens, like the actor playing her
(Millicent Simmonds), to be deaf.
It’s as if the whole world has come
round to Regan’s way of hearing
things, or rather not hearing them.
The scenario is the inverse of that
in Todd Haynes’s Wonderstruck,
also starring Simmonds, this time
as the deaf runaway Rose. She
appears in those sections of the film
set in 1927, which are shot, as The
Artist was, in the style of a silent
movie, accompanied here by Carter
Burwell’s busy-bee score. Leaving
the cinema one afternoon, Rose
notices that the building is closing
temporarily to allow newfangled
sound equipment to be fitted. The
era of the talkie has arrived, putting
her cruelly out of sync with the
movies she adores.
Both A Quiet Place and
Wonderstruck attempt to reverse
that alienation process by placing
audiences as closely as possible
inside the eyes and ears of their
deaf characters. That noble aim was
achieved most effectively by the
2014 Ukrainian drama The Tribe,
set in a boarding school for deafmute adolescents and performed
entirely in sign language without
subtitles. Deprived of auditory cues,
the non-deaf viewer has to fight
to gain purchase on the meaning
of each scene; the only sounds are
the thump of fists against chests
or palms slapping palms as signing
hands flutter like flightless birds.
Some of the film’s surprises could
not have occurred in a hearing
context, such as the weirdly subdued
road accident in which the victims’
deafness renders them oblivious
to danger – an “It’s behind you!”
moment echoed in the scene in A
Quiet Place when Regan fails to hear
a monster approaching. Being blind,
it is unaware of her presence also.
Any picture that pares back
dialogue and sound can’t help but
make audiences sensitive to their
own contribution to noise levels in
John Krasinski
and Noah Jupe
in A Quiet Place
Julianne Moore
and the deaf
actor Millicent
Simmonds in
the cinema. Watching A Quiet Place,
where suspense can be heightened
simply by the noise of a lamp being
knocked over, we become conscious
of our own bodily sound effects:
the coughs and sniffs, the growls of
an empty stomach. In an age where
ceaseless conversation and rustling
wrappers compete with trilling
phones for the title of Most Irritating
Interruption in a Motion Picture,
the quiet film demands quiet, in
turn, from the viewer. It will be
an ignorant cinemagoer indeed
who carries on munching popcorn
throughout Kim Ki-duk’s 3-Iron, in
which a mute relationship develops
between an abused wife and a
loner who breaks into unoccupied
apartments; or the whimsical rustic
comedy Le Quattro Volte, where
the closest thing to dialogue is the
bleating of goats. What that film has
in abundance is sight gags that send
laughter rippling softly through the
cinema. One set-piece involving
a timber truck, a yapping dog, a
Christian pageant and, yes, goats, is a
particular joy to watch with a crowd.
As audience members foresee the
situation’s slapstick consequences
at differing speeds, the effect is like
hearing a series of pennies dropping
around the cinema.
As this suggests, quiet cinema is
best appreciated with an audience.
That is one of its sweetest qualities:
the use of quiet intensifies the visual
experience, but also makes you
The movie is set in
a world terrorised
by blind monsters
with acute
Mime artist
Marcel Marceau
in Silent Movie;
(right) 2001 is
topped and tailed
by silent scenes
aware of your fellow cinemagoers
as co-conspirators in the film’s
pleasures. Watching Le Quattro
Volte, Playtime, Sylvain Chomet’s
animations Belleville Rendezvous
and The Illusionist, or Roy
Andersson’s macabre compilations
of comic tableaux beginning with
Songs from the Second Floor, we
are all savouring the joke together
in near-silence, cognisant of one
another’s reactions. The relative
quiet on screen heightens the
responsibility on the audience to
be commensurately hushed. If it’s
working right, a quiet film should
have the same effect on potentially
noisy viewers as an almighty “shhh!”
he contrast between
sound and silence
can under special
become a gag in itself.
There is nothing in
the whole of Mel Brooks’s 1976
Silent Movie as witty as the idea
of giving the script’s one spoken
word (“Non!”) to the mime artist
Marcel Marceau. And there was
an accidental joke when Jonathan
Glazer’s Under the Skin, in which
Scarlett Johansson is seen but
rarely heard, opened in the UK
immediately after Spike Jonze’s Her,
where she is heard but never seen.
Glazer knows well the power of
wordlessness, as you would expect
from the director who created in
a mute two-minute shot of Nicole
Kidman in Birth one of the most
insightful close-ups in all cinema.
Though he wrings plenty of menace
in Under the Skin from disorienting
sound design, he also allows whole
scenes to be soundtracked by
nothing more than the sound of
Johansson breathing.
That’s only right for a movie so
indebted to 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Kubrick’s film, celebrating its 50th
anniversary this week, is bookended
by two dialogue-free stretches of
around 25 minutes each.
Wonderstruck acknowledges
the supremacy of 2001 by featuring
on its soundtrack Deodato’s 1973
jazz-funk version of Also Sprach
Zarathustra, the stirring Strauss
composition that is now forever
associated with Kubrick’s film. But
for anyone who needs convincing
further that 2001 was ahead of its
time in the exploration of sound in
cinema, consider this: what does the
eerily-voiced computer HAL 9000
prove he can do in his big scene,
the one everyone remembers, with
its daring point-of-view shot from
his perspective as he watches the
astronauts plotting against him?
That’s right: HAL can read lips.
A Quiet Place and Wonderstruck
are on release. See reviews, p 14-15
The Guardian
Friday 6 April 2018
A scene from
120 BPM and
(right) Jimmy
‘Looking back,
we did some
weird things’
The film 120 Beats Per Minute is about the French
branch of the Aids activist group Act Up. Was it as crazed
as it seems? Louis Wise talks to people who were there
f activism is all about getting
attention, then Act Up,
you could say, screamed
the loudest. As the Aids
crisis deepened, this global
network of campaigners
used whatever tools they deemed
necessary to wake the world up to
their plight: “die-ins”, sprawling
across the floors of corporations
and churches; litres of fake blood
chucked over the steps of town halls;
a great many public snogs. And they
had a thing for big condoms: a pièce
de résistance was a huge pink sheath
covering the obelisk on Paris’s Place
de la Concorde.
This is the story of 120 Beats Per
Minute. Winner of the Grand Prix
at Cannes last year, the French film
gives a fictionalised account of the
country’s branch of Act Up (Aids
Coalition to Unleash Power) in the
early 90s, as young campaigners
protested against government
apathy at their plight.
The film’s director, 55-year-old
Robin Campillo, was once part of
the organisation and faithfully
portrays the urgency of the group:
they debate and argue, they protest
and party, they cry, they have
sex, they smoke and, inevitably,
sometimes they die. For viewers
whose knowledge of Aids movies
are limited to Tom Hanks tastefully
fading away in Philadelphia, it will
come as quite a shock.
120 Beats Per Minute is all the
more remarkable for the fact that
many say the film portrays exactly
what it was like. Will Nutland, who
attended Act Up Paris meetings, says:
“This feels like someone has just
grabbed me and pulled me back.”
But the film is also, it has to
be said, gloriously French, with
everyone huffing and puffing
away. Which leads to a question:
while 120 BPM tells the story of
the French movement – and the
2012 documentary How to Survive
a Plague charts the actions of
the original New York branch
(founded by Larry Kramer in 1987) –
what did Britons do as the Aids
crisis deepened?
Lisa Power was at the very first
meeting of Act Up London in late
1988. Her memories of the session,
held in the basement of the nowdefunct Gay and Lesbian Centre,
are that it was “dimly lit” and had
“cheap beer”. She remembers 15
or 20 people being present. “I’m
pretty sure Peter Tatchell was
there because one thing you can
guarantee at the end of the 80s is
that if somebody was founding
something, Peter Tatchell and
I would turn up to it.” In the 30 years
since, Power has become a powerful
LGBT advocate (she helped set up
Stonewall). Tatchell is well known
for his uncompromising activism,
for instance with the protest
group OutRage! Sure enough,
Tatchell confirms he was there,
but remembers things differently:
“My recollection is that about 50
or 60 people were present. It was
pretty crowded.”
A lot of Act Up’s history is only
patchily recorded, not least for the
awful reason that many activists
have since died. Emotions about
that time still run high. Most were
animated by what Power calls “a
blinding sense of urgency – because
there were lots of people dying and
The Guardian
Friday 6 April 2018
they wanted to make a mark”.
Today, when in the affluent,
white, western world at least,
the Aids crisis has largely abated,
it’s hard to recall the horror and
confusion of the time – and the
levels of prejudice. 120 BPM
encapsulates this moment. Within
the LGBT community, the ructions
were as diverse as the people
themselves. Tatchell, though, now
manages to sum up Act Up London’s
ethos: “It targeted anyone and
everyone who was failing to address
the HIV crisis.”
The group, as with all other
chapters, specialised in direct,
nonviolent action, aided by striking
visuals. The aim, Tatchell says, was
to “raise public awareness and put
powerful people on the spot. It was
also a psychological morale boost for
people with the virus.”
In 120 BPM, activists chuck
fake blood at medical researchers;
the documentary How to Survive
a Plague revisits a memorable
moment when protesters placed
a huge canvas condom over Senator
Jesse Helms’s house. Act Up
London’s actions seem a little less
outrageous. “Paris were frankly
a bunch of complete maniacs,” says
Power with affection, while “there
was a British sense of humour about
the actions here”. She recalls one of
the very first, outside Pentonville
prison, where they blew up condoms
and bounced them over the prison
walls, to protest against the fact
that prisoners weren’t allowed
them. Tatchell was there, too, but
again remembers things differently.
“They weren’t blown up – they were
catapulted over the wall.”
Nutland, meanwhile, helped set
up Act Up Norwich (the group had
branches across the country). They
catapulted condoms over the wall
of Norwich prison, only for their
catapults to be confiscated by the
police. “The policewoman who took
them was called PC Dyke.”
Another activist, Ash Kotak,
recalls an action involving the
singer Jimmy Somerville, who was
a vital figurehead, championing
and funding the cause. He chained
himself to railings at the House of
Commons. “I asked him: ‘What was
that like, Jimmy?’ He said: ‘I rather
liked it.’”
Their collective humour, though,
can’t mask the intensity of feeling of
the time, and the fraught, divergent
reactions it prompted. In 120 BPM,
there is a scene in which a man,
having helped his lover die, almost
immediately has sex with another
activist in the deathbed. “There
was a sense of things you did that,
looking back now, may have seemed
quite weird,” says Nutland, “but
when I watched that scene, I was
like, yep! You fucked the grief out.”
120 Beats
Per Minute …
‘Feels like
grabbed me
and pulled
me back’
Also ringing true in the film are
ecstatic scenes where the characters
go out clubbing; dancing to the era’s
classic house music. Many activists
said that it was just a bit of fun, but
also a means of survival – intense fun
for an intense time. It is one of the
few facts that everyone agrees on.
ecause there were
downsides. Many
activists recall Act
Up being mired
in arguments and
discord. While the
groups were ostensibly democratic,
this could mean it was, at times, hard
to agree on what to do. Tatchell says
that the group benefited from its
“accessibility and spontaneity”, but
some are more ambivalent. “They
would have said it was an open
democracy, but it was pretty much
a meritocracy, plus who shouted the
Worried by homophobia in the 80s, few film-makers
were prepared to vent their anger about the Aids crisis.
Should they have been braver, asks Alex Davidson
HIV and film:
then and now
How To Survive
a Plague …
the US take
on Act Up
Activists blew
up condoms and
bounced them
over the walls of
a prison
loudest,” says Power. Others say it
was shambolic.
Britain was, everyone agrees,
relatively lucky to have the NHS,
which reacted well to the crisis –
for this, and many other reasons,
people never mobilised around
the movement in quite the same
way as in the US or France. It could
even be just a matter of national
temperament, the Brits opting to be
less politicised and more focused
on things such as providing care.
However, most do believe that Act
Up in Britain paved the way for more
“respectable”, or at least organised,
advocacy groups to make their case
in the corridors of power.
The London branch fizzled out
in the 90s, thanks to disagreements
over their methods, on whether to
take corporate money and where the
fight should go next after treatment
started to become available. A nadir
for them, says Nutland, was when
members trashed a stall set up by
the Terrence Higgins Trust at an
international Act Up meeting in
Amsterdam in 1992 – they disagreed
over whether lesbians should use
dental dams during sex. “I also
think one of the problems was that
we never spent any time doing any
medium- to long-term thinking,” he
says. Everyone was just young and
angry, he says. And many thought
they would soon be dead.
Yet the Act Up London group
was revived in 2012, facing new
challenges: the rise of infection
among certain minorities; the
ongoing stigma for those infected;
and the urgent need to save the NHS,
as services face continued cuts.
The new Act Up still carries out
actions – they dumped half a tonne
of manure on the doorstep of Ukip’s
headquarters after Nigel Farage
said that people with HIV should be
barred from entering the UK. “The
gravity of the situation demands
a grassroots, mischievous, creative,
disobedient, fantastical group,”
says Dan Glass, who pushed for the
revival. “We have other groups, but
we need to be on the streets.”
Others feel the fight is best
fought elsewhere. Nutland has
instead cofounded Prepster, which
advocates the use of PrEP, a drug
that has had startling success in
cutting down rates of HIV infection.
In a landscape transformed by the
internet and social media, he argues,
street actions still have a place, but it
needs to be a lot more strategic, and
fit alongside what else is happening.
Lisa Power tends to agree. But
what even makes a good activist,
anyway? She pauses. “You need to
be a bit of a drama queen – but not
too much.” Whether “too much”
of a drama queen is a paradox, she
doesn’t explain. But the activists in
120 BPM, scrapping and screaming
for their lives, would definitely have
something to say.
120 Beats Per Minute, review, page 15
rom the first films
made about the
crisis in the mid-80s
to recent historical
dramas charting the
epidemic, cinema has
given us many noble dramas about
Aids, the vast majority of which
focus on gay men. Precious (2009) is
a notable exception.
The first feature film to depict
Aids was Buddies (1985), a lowbudget chamber piece by Arthur
J Bressan Jr, a former gay porn
film-maker, who died of an
Aids-related illness in 1987. The
film, about a dying man and his
“buddy” – someone who provides
companionship and care to people
with HIV and Aids – sensitively
merges the political and the
personal. It boasts an energy
missing from many Aids films in
the 80s, few of which showed any
fury at the lack of action by Ronald
Reagan’s administration.
Rampant homophobia, however,
and the feeling that people with Aids
deserved their fate, contributed to
the lack of representation in film.
With mainstream US cinema
keeping rage against government
inaction to itself, film-makers,
particularly in Europe, were less
well behaved. Rosa von Praunheim
took a caustic look at the Aids crisis
in A Virus Knows No Morals (1985),
a provocative satire that embraced
camp to criticise the misinformation
circulating around HIV and Aids.
The British artist and film-maker
Derek Jarman was fiercely critical
of the Thatcher government’s
homophobia in his 80s films. Jarman
was a member of the protest group
OutRage!, whose activists appeared
in Jarman’s splendid interpretation
of Edward II (1991), rallying against
the persecution of gay men, but it
wasn’t until his final film that Aids,
and Jarman’s own diagnosis, took
centre stage. Blue (1993), made
when Jarman had been rendered
partly blind by Aids complications,
is a 79-minute-long shot of a blue
background, accompanied by a score
and Jarman’s own musings about the
effects of the syndrome.
If US mainstream cinema was
cautious, documentary makers
were braver. The moving Common
Threads: Stories from the Quilt
(1989), follows five people who
succumbed to Aids-related
illnesses, ending with the gigantic
quilt dedicated to all Aids victims
being displayed in Washington
DC, a clear political act designed to
shame. Silverlake Life: The View
from Here (1993) chronicles the
final days of a couple dying from
Aids complications.
In the early 90s, New Queer
Cinema, a US independent
film movement which rejected
heteronormative values and put
gay people behind and in front of
the camera, burst on to the scene.
Todd Haynes’s Poison (1991) in
the style of a B-movie, includes
a story of a man rejected by society
when he contracts a mysterious,
grotesque illness. The Living End
(1992) by Gregg Araki showed two
HIV-positive gay men go on a crime
spree, with one declaring: “Fuck
everything. We’re totally free; we
can do whatever we want to do.”
Araki jeered at the notion that an
HIV-positive man was a victim.
Philadelphia (1993), meanwhile,
the glossy Hollywood production
about a gay lawyer with Aids who
sues a law firm for unjust dismissal,
remains the best-known mainstream
film about the syndrome, thanks
to Tom Hanks’ Oscar-winning
performance. Viewed 25 years after
its release, its skittishness around its
gay characters is disappointing. But
the film’s biggest failing is the lack of
anger. There’s fury in the film, but it
is directed at the cruel law firm that
fires him, not the government that
allowed the inaction to continue.
From the late 80s, playing
a character with Aids could be
a fast-track to award recognition.
Few would begrudge Bruce
Davison’s Golden Globe win for his
performance as a man with Aids who
tends to his dying lover in Longtime
Companion (1989), featuring one
of the most moving deathbed
sequences in the history of cinema.
Less deserving was cisgender actor
Jared Leto’s portrayal as a trans
woman with Aids in Dallas Buyers
Club (2013), a performance more
informed by drag theatrics than a
depiction of a young woman near
the end of her life.
Today, when medical funding
and treatment has improved
significantly, many films look
back with regret at a time when
government support was at best
reluctant, at worst nonexistent.
HBO’s 2014 film adaptation of
Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart
is an excellent dramatisation of the
fear and powerlessness that was
unleashed when Aids started killing
young men, and the admirable,
ultimately effective attempts to
fight back.
Jared Leto in
Dallas Buyers
Club (2013)
Threads: Stories
from the Quilt
Tom Hanks
in Philadelphia
Edward II
The Guardian
Friday 6 April 2018
‘Who he is, as a
person, is a
little bit of
Drake is the definitive pop star of his generation: R&B
loverman, hip-hop thug, meme sensation.
Ben Beaumont-Thomas tracks his rise to the top
ots of weird things
have happened at
the top of the UK
charts: Musical Youth
informing the nation
which way to pass a
joint, one-hit wonders Brian and
Michael appraising the work of
Mancunian painter LS Lowry, and
pop’s forgotten couple Eamon and
Frankee spending seven weeks of
spring 2004 literally telling each
other to fuck off. But the fact that
God’s Plan by Drake just spent nine
weeks at No 1 in the UK – and is still
top of the charts in the US – is easily
one of the weirdest.
It’s a song that features two
notes, a chorus that is just one line
long, and lazy lyrical iterations of
oft-visited topics for Drake: how
much reputational shine he has
given to his home city of Toronto,
how non-specific haters wish nonspecific ill upon him, and how he
is pathologically unable to open
himself up emotionally to a woman
he has had sex with. Yes, it’s catchy,
but he has done all this before with
markedly more charisma, not least in
2016’s One Dance – another song that
shacked up at No 1 for weeks on end.
These are just his most successful
chart moments; Drake’s last major
release, 2017’s “playlist” More
Life, saw each of its 22 tracks hit
the UK top 75. In the interim, the
commercial fortunes of tracks that
he guested on, such as Blocboy JB’s
Look Alive, NERD’s Lemon, and
Migos’ Walk It Talk It, have all been
boosted by his presence. We have
now reached the point where even
the B-grade solo material of God’s
Plan is a shoo-in for No 1. Why?
Drake has, of course, amassed
huge star quality via a decade of
often excellent music, but there
are also more prosaic reasons:
his gossip-mag visibility from
His solipsistic
lyrics chime with
an emotionally
Tinder generation
relationships with Rihanna, Serena
Williams and Jennifer Lopez, and
his swaggering self-confidence in
describing himself as “last name
ever, first name greatest” before
his debut album had even come
out. Crucially, his identity and
upbringing have also been key.
Aubrey Drake Graham was born in
Toronto in 1986 to Dennis Graham,
an African-American session
musician whose power-moustache
currently lights up his vibrant social
media feed, and Sandi Graham, a
white Ashkenazi Jewish teacher.
His parents split up when he was
five, his father moving away to
Memphis. The family home was in
the working-class west side of the
city, before the Grahams moved
to the more affluent Forest Hill in
what Drake has claimed were still
relatively straitened circumstances:
“I went to school with kids that were
flying private jets. I never fit in. I was
never accepted.”
If questions around identity
Universal appeal
ever felt awkward during his
… Drake onstage,
teenage years, they became
London 2017
key to Drake’s success later on,
allowing him to be all things to all
people: black and white; Jewish
and non-religious; a singer and a
rapper; a hard-scrabble working-class
hustler; an aspirational middle-class
professional; a superstar. His peculiar
handsomeness – feminine eyes and
lips, coupled with a thick beard and
strong forehead – is both soft and
hard. In a world where streaming
services mean tastes have broadened,
and where ethnic and musical
diversity is championed among the
millennials that make up the majority
of his fanbase, he sits in the middle of
perfects this image. He offset Over,
a cultural and stylistic Venn diagram.
the braggadocious first single from
In short, everyone likes Drake.
his debut album, with Find Your
“There’s no demographic with him,”
Love, a sweet, dancehall-leaning
says Dirty South Joe, a Philadelphia
R&B track; on his second album,
DJ who hosts a monthly party that
Take Care, the melancholy title track
plays exclusively Drake tracks to
dovetailed against the pumped-up
3,000 people at a time. “There’s no
party of Headlines; on album three,
makeup to the crowd – it’s literally
the flexing on Started From the
everyone. Because who he is, as a
Bottom was met by the crooning
person, is a little bit of everybody.”
of Hold On, We’re Going Home. In
Drake’s biggest success has been
the 90s, sex and relationships were
to manoeuvre two musical identities
often reduced to pornography in
so that they sit in equilibrium, and
mainstream rap, while R&B, framed
then blend them into one. He is sold
by billowing satin drapes, explored
as both an R&B loverman and a hipthem in more depth: Drake unified
hop thug, and much like a painter
the two styles. “There were a few
adding detail after detail to his
years there where you took a lot
own self-portrait, Drake constantly
The Guardian
Friday 6 April 2018
of shit for being a Drake fan,” Joe
says. “The inner monologue of
humanity, of vulnerability and
doubt – it’s never been a hip-hop
trope. But he eventually made it
OK.” The Weeknd, Bryson Tiller and
Tory Lanez have all clearly been
influenced by his approach.
The unrelenting solipsism and
passive-aggressive relationships in
Drake’s lyrics seem to chime perfectly
with an emotionally hyperarticulate
Tinder generation and have spawned
countless memes. Indeed, no other
MC generates more internet content
than Drake: “He has a strong team
around him, who understand
memes, and the importance of always
being ahead of that too,” says Joe.
“And there’s a willingness to be the
punchline that others don’t have. It’s
not a dominance of music with him –
it’s a dominance of popular culture.”
But perhaps still wary of
emasculation in the eyes of male
rap fans, thanks to his soft R&B
tracks – one blogger amusingly
dubbed him “Young Garnier Fructis”
– Drake indulges a performative
masculinity: bulking up his physique
and his bro squad, flagging up his
obsession with videogames and
the Toronto Raptors basketball
team. His most alpha move of
all, though, was in taking on the
rapper Meek Mill in 2015, after
The seven ages of Drake
The party boy: Fancy
‘It’s not a
dominance of
music with him
– but of popular
Mill accused Drake of employing
a ghostwriter for his songs. As the
genre demanded, Drake released
diss track Back to Back. He stated
“you’re getting bodied by a singing
nigga” – an extraordinary line that
acknowledged Drake’s perceived
emasculation for being a singerrapper rather than a pure MC,
and then flipped it by using it as a
weapon against Meek. In that single
lyric, Drake declared the might of
his hybrid musical identity, and in
the court of public opinion – ie the
internet – he was crowned the victor.
Drake had, until that point, mostly
avoided the world of freestyles
and battle rhymes, but his hip-hop
credentials were now brilliantly
burnished with the victory. His huge
success, then, has come from ruling
both the R&B and rap kingdoms as
a sort of smooth-tongued, brandyquaffing autocrat. But that isn’t
enough for Drake, whose other
hybrid identities – ethnic, religious,
and social class – ensure he appeals
to every possible demographic.
Take the video for HYFR, where
he is “re-bar mitzvah’d” in a boozy
celebration, sending up the fact
that his Jewishness will be viewed,
however patronisingly, as exotic and
rake also represents
one of the major
foundational legends
of hip-hop, which is
that, counter to the
famous Rakim line,
where you’re from is where you’re
at. Civic pride is at the core of the
modern rapper: think of Kendrick
Lamar’s Compton, Chance the
Rapper’s Chicago, or Gucci Mane’s
Atlanta; Drake was fortunate that
no major rapper had hailed from
Toronto, and he set about making
it his own, inventing a mythic
camaraderie with an entire city to
make himself more authentically
hip-hop. References to “the
six” – the six cities Toronto was
combined from in 1998 – abound in
his tracks; his album Views had him
Photoshopped on to the top of the
city’s CN Tower.
In his major hit Started From
the Bottom, he used a tale of his
Toronto youth to invoke another
trope at the heart of hip-hop and
North American culture: the Horatio
Alger-style libertarian fable of the
kid who hauls himself up by his
bootstraps and reaches the top of his
industry. There was scoffing in some
quarters – could anyone who starred
Drake waits for his girl to get ready
for a night out, on an underrated
track to sit alongside other
champagne-poppers he guests on,
such as French Montana’s Pop That
and Nicki Minaj’s Truffle Butter.
The brooder: The Ride
Performing with
2 Chainz, Tory
Lanez and Lil
Wayne, Miami
2017; (below)
with Rihanna at
the Grammy
awards, 2011
less-expected figures – outsider
rapper ILoveMakonnen, Nigerian pop
singer Wizkid, South African house
producer Black Coffee, Jamaican
dancehall MC Beenie Man, Puerto
Rican trap star Bad Bunny – to expand
his empire to become the definitive
pop star of his generation. Most
significantly for his UK success was
an enthusiastic embrace of grime and
British rap: he has appeared on stage
in the teen soap Degrassi Junior
with Section Boyz, and on record with
High reasonably be described as
Giggs, Dave, Jorja Smith and Skepta,
starting from the bottom? – but the
complete with heaps of British slang.
sheer brilliance of the track helped
He has an ongoing fanboy obsession
listeners swallow the message. He
with urban TV drama Top Boy, wears
had successfully given himself the
Stone Island, has sampled Bristol
hustler-to-mogul arc that Jay-Z,
dubstep producer Peverelist for an
Notorious BIG and others had made
unreleased new track, and even
so central to hip-hop, all without
tattooed himself with the letters BBK,
having to deal a gram of crack.
after the British grime crew. For every
After exploring and leveraging
person who cringed at Drake saying
all these sides of his identity to
“on road” or “wasteman”, there were
the fullest, Drake embarked on a
many more who loved his genuine
riskier strategy – allying himself
adoration of British mic culture. After
with different cultures. Just as
the titanic second wave of grime,
Kanye West kept a longstanding
black British music has splintered into
relationship with producer Mike
its own hybrid forms, partly thanks
Dean while flirting with avant-garde
to diasporic links being strengthened
beatmakers such as Arca, Drake
via the internet, taking in Jamaican
stayed sonically ahead of the curve
dancehall, African pop, US trap and
by pairing a long-time production
more – and Drake’s enthusiastic
head, Noah “40” Shebib, with
cultural exchange has helped catalyse
hipster tyros such as James Blake
and legitimise that shift. From Hardy
and Majid Jordan; he was soon
Caprio to Yxng Bane, Stefflon Don to
riffing between New Orleans bounce
Not3s, he has become part of the DNA
(Child’s Play), UK funky (One Dance)
of new British MCs.
and dancehall (Controlla).
Drake is now gearing up to release
He became a permanent fixture
his eighth full-length project, or as
in bottle-service clubs by appearing
he put it on Instagram this week:
on party tracks by seemingly every
“You can see the album hours
significant US rapper, from French
under my eyes.” That it will reach
Montana to A$AP Rocky, Nicki Minaj,
No 1 on both sides of the Atlantic is
and an entire album with Future. But
an absolute certainty, but is there
he also started guesting with much
anything left for him to mine from
the zeitgeist to stay relevant? Could
this jack of all trades end up a master
of none? The lyrics still cleave to
victory-lap descriptions of his
charmed life, menaced occasionally
by nebulous antagonists – he
As Jimmy
might need a bit of KendrickBrooks in
style social commentary or
psychological self-probing
Junior High
like Kanye to stave off
boredom. But for now, Drake’s
cultural dominance is a little like his
beard: strong, clear and expertly,
obsessively tailored.
Dirty South Joe appears on Diplo
& Friends on Radio 1, Saturday 7
April; his Drake party So Far Gone
is on Friday 6 April at the Fillmore,
If his fi rst album talked his success
into existence, his second had him
fretting about what he had created.
On The Ride he fi nds ennui in
expensive dinners, and emptiness
in airport-security compliments.
The lover: Hold On, We’re
Going Home
Recalling the marble-smooth 80s
R&B oeuvre of Alexander O’Neal,
this request for “hot love and
emotion” is shamelessly cheesy –
and genuinely romantic.
The citizen: Know Yourself
Drake remembers the hard days
coming up in Toronto, “running
through the six with my woes” – a
track that could be an official city
anthem, were it not so fraught.
Timmy Thomas sample, this is
Drake’s biggest pop moment. The
goofy video ensured instant and
unrelenting memes.
The tourist: KMT
His best track with a foreign star,
in which Drake’s foe-taunting
flow – admittedly reminiscent of
XXXTentacion – is joined by British
rapper Giggs (below), who delivers
ever more quotable lines on the way
to the moshpit-exploding payoff.
The fighter: Jumpman
As his biceps and chest expanded,
his music got more masculine –
Jumpman, a basketball anthem
created with Future, is perfect for
slam-dancing bro-downs.
The pop star: Hotline Bling
Using a brilliantly sped-up
The Guardian
Friday 6 April 2018
Review Film
Shhh … Noah Jupe,
Millicent Simmonds
and John Krasinski
in A Quiet Place
Death Wish
Dir Eli Roth
Starring Bruce Willis, Elisabeth
Shue, Vincent D’Onofrio
Length 107 mins Cert 15
A Quiet Place
Dir John Krasinski
Dur 90mins
Cert 15
Starring John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Noah Jupe, Millicent Simmonds
Tiptoe through
the wasteland
f ever a film had me
mentally tiptoeing over a
booby-trapped carpet of
eggshells while silently
gibbering with anxiety, it’s
this brutal sci-fi suspense
thriller, written by horror specialists
Scott Beck and Bryan Woods and
directed by John Krasinski, who
developed the screenplay with
them and stars – alongside Emily
Blunt. It’s set in a postapocalyptic
wasteland. But this isn’t a young
adult drama, it’s a prematurely
old adult drama, a world in which
innocence, childhood and happiness
have been blowtorched off the face
of the Earth.
There has been some sort of
ecological disaster or invasion and
now all of humanity, or at any rate
everyone in this indeterminate part
of the United States, lives in fear of
giant reptile predators who stalk the
land. The thing is, they’re blind but
have advanced hearing. So, as long as
you can keep silent all the time, in a
24/7 hyper-alert state of anticipation,
you’re all right. But making the
slightest noise brings them out, doing
everything but sniff the air, like a
horrible mix of Ridley Scott’s Alien,
Steven Spielberg’s T rex and Robert
Helpmann’s Child Catcher in Chitty
Chitty Bang Bang.
Krasinski and Blunt play Lee
The Guardian
Friday 6 April 2018
and Evelyn, a couple who now run
an efficient Trappist-survivalist
smallholding in the countryside,
while making regular forays into the
devastated town for supplies. We
get the time-honoured scenes in the
ruined supermarket, and that weird
frisson of seeing stuff that you could
just take if you wanted, but who cares
now that consumerist law and order
has utterly broken down? One of their
kids wants to take a toy model of the
space shuttle Challenger (poignantly
yearning for a rocket to take them all
away from this ruined planet) but
Lee fixes him with a bayonet gaze
of disapproval, while grabbing this
unexploded noise-bomb and silently
removing the batteries. That thing’s
too dangerous.
Their son, Marcus (Noah Jupe),
and daughter, Megan (Millicent
Simmonds), are well drilled in the
new soundless, wordless discipline,
and the point is that Megan is
hearing impaired, so the whole
family has already had to learn sign
language to communicate. Lee
has even got his soldering iron out
and tinkered with adapting a new
hearing aid for her. It is Megan’s
disability that has enabled the
family to cope – an elegant narrative
contrivance from Beck and Woods.
Yet, as the story continues, there is a
new challenge. Evelyn is pregnant,
and now the adults must wonder
how she is going to have the baby
without modern anaesthetic and
without making a sound. A world of
horror is on the way.
A Quiet Place allows you to worry
at a strange thought: might it be
possible to live life entirely safely
and even normally in this situation,
if you could somehow mentally
train yourself, or evolve over a few
generations, to do without sound?
Might this be a workable, natural
mode of existence? Could you
internalise the fear and remain silent
to avoid the predators in the way
that you might naturally change
your habits in some locales to avoid
bears or snakes?
Lee and Evelyn’s family have
developed a habit of joining hands
before they eat their meals. Perhaps
this was what they used to do before
saying grace, or perhaps they have
started doing it now. In fact, there
are certain circumstances in which
they are allowed to make a moderate
amount of sound, and they have wargamed out certain situations in which
the production of sound might help
them in an all-out confrontation with
the beasts.
But the point is that suppressing
noise makes them yearn for it,
not simply as a kind of human
expression but an entirely rational
howl of rage or horror or despair
at what is happening. The movie
shows that suicide-by-scream is
an open-ended possibility.
In its simplicity and punch, this
is a film that feels as if it could have
been made decades ago, in the classic
age of Planet of the Apes or The
Omega Man. It is a cracking back-tobasics thriller that does not depend
too much on what these creatures
look like. Krasinski rather cleverly
addresses this issue by keeping
them glimpsed only subliminally at
first, but then, without giving any
clearer idea of what they look like,
we graduate to a surreally extreme
close-up of the beast’s hideous,
undulating ear. A satanically
sensitive orifice.
Even Charles Bronson, with his
famously expressive face, would
struggle to convey the range of
my emotions at the news that
Bruce Willis (below) has chosen
this moment to star in a remake
of Michael Winner’s gamey 1974
thriller Death Wish – with loads of
rip-roaring NRA thrills about how
great guns and gun stores are. Death
Wish was about the regular-guy
vigilante who goes around blowing
holes in bad guys because a couple
of punks killed his wife and raped
his teenage daughter and the wussy
police can do nothing. This new
version, with an adjustment to
21st-century sensibilities, changes
it so the daughter doesn’t get raped.
Now Paul Dursey (Bruce Willis) is
an ER surgeon, not an architect,
but it’s pretty much the same deal.
I have to admit that director Eli
Roth does at one moment bring a
sort of unwholesome energy to the
proceedings: he has an insolent
montage of Dursey operating on
shot-up bodies in split screen,
alongside his nighttime practising
with a handgun – with AC/DC’s
Back in Black on the soundtrack. But
it’s crass and Willis’s performance
is uncompromisingly smug and
awful. Why stop now, though?
Why not get Willis to remake all
of Winner’s great work – and then
get Willis to take on Winner’s job
as Sunday Times restaurant critic,
in which role the great man would
famously get service by waving
his napkin in the air and hissing:
“Middle! Middle!” – because the
oddity of the word always stopped
waiters in their tracks. I’m sure
Willis can do this. It can’t be any
more embarrassing than his guntotin’ surgeon. PB
Ghost Stories
120 Beats Per Minute
Dirs Jeremy Dyson, Andy Nyman
Dir Robin Campillo
Starring Martin Freeman,
Alex Lawther, Paul Whitehouse
Starring Nahuel Pérez Biscayart,
Arnaud Valois, Adèle Haenel
Length 98 mins Cert 15
Length 143 mins Cert 15
Ghost Stories is a barnstormer of an
entertainment, a fairground ride
with dodgy brakes. It’s an anthology
of creepy supernatural tales, each
story made individually stranger by
the way the film allows you to notice
an overarching narrative between
them, becoming increasingly visible
through the uncanny accumulation
of coincidental detail. Writerdirectors Andy Nyman and Jeremy
Dyson have adapted it from their
colossally successful stage show.
I never saw Ghost Stories in the
theatre, but I wonder if the broader,
brasher moments might have been
more effective live. On screen, it was
the subtler touches I found more
disturbing – the strange dreary worlds
and interiors with a putrefying
Robin Campillo’s 120 Beats Per
Minute is a passionate ensemble
movie about Act Up in France in the
late 80s, the confrontational directaction movement that demanded
immediate, large-scale research
about Aids. The movie compellingly
combines elegy, tragedy, urgency
and a defiant euphoria. Campillo, the
screenwriter and film-maker who
scripted Laurent Cantet’s 2008 Palme
d’Or-winning The Class, writes and
directs. Long before the invention of
the term “woke”, the Act Up goal was
to rouse the gay community from
fatalism and torpor, and this film is
sited within its predominantly male
world – gay people who are mostly
HIV-positive. The movie begins with
a catastrophe: campaigners have
disrupted a medical convention by
throwing fake blood at a speaker and
even handcuffing him to a post. It is a
terrible moment of indiscipline and
misjudgment that allows them to be
represented as violent. Bad publicity.
Yet Act Up believes in causing
astonishment and disruption,
because it is the only thing that stirs
things up. Among the campaigners,
Nahuel Pérez Biscayart plays Sean,
a wiry, smart, lippy guy. Nathan
(Arnaud Valois) is a quieter man who
is HIV-negative, and attracted to
Sean. Adèle Haenel plays Sophie, an
exasperated organiser. Sean has what
is possibly the movie’s key speech. In
the afterglow of a successful protest,
they are all heading home on the
Metro and he is talking about how the
nearness of death has intensified his
appreciation of life. In that moment,
the city seen from the train window
suddenly looks beautiful with a New
Wave splendour. Paris belongs to
them, as Jacques Rivette might have
said. But then Sean shrugs and grins.
He was kidding: that sort of maudlin
sentimental nonsense doesn’t help
their cause. This film has what its
title implies: a heartbeat. It is full of
cinematic life. PB
wintry light: a seaside caravan park,
a crepuscular pub in the middle of
the day, a blank modern church. The
action is wrapped up with a timehonoured narrative trick that has
been with us since cinema’s earliest
days. It can be overused. But
Nyman and Dyson pull it off with
tremendous verve. Nyman plays the
lead: professor Philip Goodman, a TV
celebrity and paranormal debunker,
driven to expose hoaxes and frauds.
Philip grew up hero-worshipping
a 70s TV personality who was a
debunker in much the way he is now,
but who disappeared at the height of
his fame. He is astonished when this
man contacts him out of the blue,
and tells Philip to reopen the files
on three of his cases that wouldn’t
add up or submit to a rational
explanation. Night watchman
Tony, played by Paul Whitehouse,
experienced a horrible vision.
Schoolboy Simon, played by Alex
Lawther, had a fright driving home.
Retired City trader Mike, played by
Martin Freeman, encountered a
poltergeist: the spirit of his unborn
child. Philip seeks all of them out,
and begins to sense that they may
have some terrible, collective
significance for him personally.
Nyman and Dyson have created
a weird world of menace, despair
and decay. PB
voiceover, demand an unearned awe
at the supposed cosmic coincidences
of essentially benevolent fate – and
they incidentally rely heavily on
the idea of a child suppressing a
certain memory, with no convincing
reason for having done so. There
are some nice moments in this
film, chiefly a wonderful sequence
showing a kid from Minnesota
getting off the bus in 1977 and
experiencing the intimidating
sights of New York for the first time.
Wonderstruck is sometimes sweet
and well-intentioned, but more often
indulgent and supercilious. PB
on the straight romcom classics
such as The Shop Around the Corner
and You’ve Got Mail, with their
anonymised romances. This movie’s
storyline does come carefully
encased in an unassumingly small-c
conservative plot superstructure,
and in the real world not everyone
in Simon’s situation has such a
well-off home, sophisticated and
pricey vinyl collection or impeccably
liberal family and friends. Here the
hostility is carefully quarantined to
a couple of homophobic boys whose
narrative function is to be trounced
and then tacitly forgiven. The only
other out gay kid in the school is
almost impossibly witty and welladjusted, nearly middle-aged in his
droll composure. In real life, things
are a bit more muddled than that.
But what a smart, fun, engaging
film. Simon’s personal life comes
to a crisis when he starts having
an anonymous email conversation
with a boy known only as Blue.
They fall in love. But who is Blue?
The mystery becomes trickier when
drama-club nerd Martin (Logan
Miller) discovers Simon’s secret and
agrees not to publicise it in exchange
for Simon’s help in his doomed
mission to impress the hottest girl in
school, Abby, played by Alexandra
Shipp. Martin isn’t supposed to be
a bad guy, just desperate, but his
temporary blackmailing nastiness
is something that the film has to
finesse, reasonably successfully. It all
rolls up to a happy ending that feels
entirely deserved. What a thoroughly
intelligent and good-natured film. PB
Dir Todd Haynes
Starring Millicent Simmonds,
Julianne Moore, Cory Michael Smith
Length 118 mins Cert PG
Disappointmentstruck and even
rather boredomstruck are reasonable
descriptions of my emotional
state, having sat through this selfconscious and twee YA fantasy
from director Todd Haynes. It is
a double-stranded narrative, two
stories in different historical times
about hearing-impaired kids who
are lonely, unhappy and who run
away from home and head for
the bright lights of New York in
search of meanings and answers.
Wonderstruck’s contrivances
are gooey and its self-conscious
elaborations and withheld mysteries,
finally revealed in a narrative
Love, Simon
Dir Greg Berlanti
Starring Nick Robinson, Jennifer
Garner, Katherine Langford
Length 110 mins Cert 12A
With its sheer warmth, openness,
likability and idealism, Love,
Simon won me over. It takes all
the corniness and tweeness of the
coming-of-age genre and transplants
new heart into it. A high-school kid
is about to come out as gay. This is
Simon, played by Nick Robinson,
and his story puts a smart new spin
Sea of Thieves
Xbox One; PC
There are moments of
astonishing beauty in
pirate adventure Sea
of Thieves. You spend
much of your time on
the open ocean, sailing
between deserted islands
in search of treasure. As
a team of four, the first
challenge is mastering
the ship: one person
steers, one navigates,
someone mans the sails
or loads the cannons.
Once in a while, you’ll
spot a sail on the horizon
and know that a battle
is likely. These are
intense encounters,
with cannonballs flying,
crew members sneaking
aboard each other’s
vessels to cut down
foes, treasure chests
being stolen away. The
potential for moments of
bravery – and hilarity – is
You soon learn that
Sea of Thieves isn’t really
a game about finding
treasure, but is about
messing about with other
people, bellowing and
following instructions,
experimenting with group
strategies and laughing
together when something
goes horribly wrong. The
playing experience is best
with friends, although
sometimes you’ll pick
up a crew of strangers
and everything will click.
There’s a chance you’ll
laugh more in your first
three hours with Sea
of Thieves than you’ve
ever laughed with a
game before.
But then the allure
fades. You can’t buy
better ships or weapons
and the islands, little
knuckles of sand and
grass jutting from the
waves, are all very
similar. There are
little tasks and secrets
hidden around the world,
but not enough that
you can just set sail and
find a surprise. This is a
game where the whole
point is other players –
the burden of design and
experience is on us. But,
at its best, Sea of Thieves
is majestic. Keith Stuart
The Guardian
Friday 6 April 2018
Review Film
I Kill Giants
Dir Cory Finley
Dir Anders Walter
Starring Olivia Cooke, Anya TaylorJoy, Anton Yelchin
Starring Madison Wolfe,
Zoe Saldana, Imogen Poots
Length 93 mins Cert 15
Length 106 mins Cert 12A
Here is a psychological suspense
thriller and an anhedonic daymare:
absorbing, if finally anticlimactic.
It is Bret Easton Ellis out of Patricia
Highsmith, and there’s also an
interesting touch of Lady Macbeth’s
murderous MO. Olivia Cooke plays
Amanda, a disturbed, wealthy
teenager, just out of a psychiatric
facility for something horrible she
did to her mother’s thoroughbred
horse. Now she is being sent for
a bizarre remedial “playdate” or
home-study session with the equally
privileged princess who lives in
the same chi-chi neighbourhood
and with whom Amanda has had a
brittle acquaintance since childhood.
This is the eerily groomed and
detached Lily, played by Anya
Taylor-Joy. After an initial froideur,
their relationship blossoms once
There should be a separate genre
heading for this: time-wasting
droopy fantasy. It is based on a
graphic novel by Joe Kelly and Ken
Niimura and directed by the Danish
film-maker Anders Walter, who
won an Oscar in 2014 for his short
film Helium. From the outset, there
is a heartsinking sense of deja vu.
JA Bayona’s recent movie A Monster
Calls – about a child retreating from
emotional pain into CGI fantasy
– had a certain storytelling force.
But this awfully similar confection
is flaccid: a pointless parade of
unearned emotion, unearned drama,
unearned everything. Madison
Wolfe plays Barbara, a lonely and
troubled girl who regularly roams
through the nearby forest hunting
for “giants”, which we periodically
get to see – sub-Iron-Giant/
more and they become deadpandysfunctional besties, hanging out,
affectlessly watching TV, bonding
over a shared loathing of Mark (Paul
Sparks), Lily’s asshole of a stepdad,
who is threatening to send Lily
away to a special school. Pretty
soon the girls are wondering out
loud if it would be such a bad thing
if Mark were to be killed and if they
might employ the local drug dealer,
twentysomething Tim, who creepily
hangs around their school-age
parties – sadly, the final performance
by the late Anton Yelchin. Firsttime writer-director Cory Finley
cleverly creates the airless, loveless
The Guardian
Friday 6 April 2018
world of emotional aridity and
extreme wealth in Lily’s clenched
household, the manicured lawns
and the spotless hotel-lobby-like
rooms – including Mark’s gruesome
alpha-male den with its classical
figures and photograph of Mark
himself solemnly posing with a
samurai sword. It is initially gripping,
with agreeably chilly Hitchcockian
echoes, although the plot is a little
less satisfying when it comes to the
way the horrible murder plan itself
appears to go wrong. Cooke and
Taylor-Joy are convincing in their
ruthlessness: Stepford sisters in the
cause of self-gratification. PB
dementors. But there is no question
of us, the audience, finding them
scary or dramatic in the sense that
Barbara does, because naturally
we understand immediately that
they are delusional fantasies, part
of Barbara’s troubled way of life
that has got her bullied at school
for being a weirdo. Her elder sister
Karen (Imogen Poots) fixes her
meals at night. Zoe Saldana plays
her superciliously sorrowing school
counsellor, Mrs Mollé. So what is the
cause of Barbara’s “giants”? It turns
out to be extremely straightforward.
There is no good reason for everyone
not to be talking openly about it
all the time. But this explanation
is coyly withheld from us through
a dishonest narrative fudge until
virtually the last moment, creating
fake mystery and fake jeopardy.
Of minuscule interest. PB
Reviews Music
Struggling to
create a unique
timbre … Lil Xan
Lil Xan
Total Xanarchy
Label Columbia
Artist Kylie Minogue
Album Golden
Label BMG
Genre Rap
Opioid-age rap to
numb the soul
ome will tell you
adulthood starts at
18, others 21, but
actually it’s when you
come across some pop
music that you can’t
comprehend on any level. From
Elvis Presley to Miley Cyrus, every
generation has musicians who
have adults harrumphing under
baffled brows as teenagers gleefully
proclaim their genius, and the
current example is mumble rap. Also
dubbed emo rap or SoundCloud rap,
this is an offshoot of mainstream
hip-hop characterised by mournful
or noisily distorted production,
rapped over by pan-racial MCs
whose aesthetic is of a skate punk
given an unlimited budget for
accessories at Claire’s. Face tattoos
are de rigueur – one minor rapper,
Arnoldisdead, has one of Anne
Frank covering his entire right cheek
– and the lyrical fixations are drugs
and coldly pornographic sex. These
are topics covered in rap since day
one, but are now paired with an
awareness of the spiritual vacuum in
these pursuits, as rappers reference
anxiety, loneliness and depression,
before self-medicating again. The
amorality isn’t necessarily just
a pose: XXXTentacion, whose
new album reached No 1 in the
US last month, will soon be tried
on domestic abuse charges of
sickening violence, while 6ix9ine,
whose rainbow-coloured teeth
make him look like a poorly storyboarded slasher film protagonist,
has pleaded guilty to the “use of
a child in a sexual performance”.
Adam Grandmaison, who has done
a huge amount to advance the scene
via his No Jumper media brand,
has denied accusations of sexual
assault. Meanwhile, the scene’s love
of prescription opiates claimed a
victim in 21-year-old Lil Peep, who
died in November of a Xanax and
fentanyl overdose. Perhaps the
moral panic is justified.
But even the most troubled parent
would have difficulty denying the
melodic catchiness of this new breed
– indeed, that’s what weaponises the
lyrics. The most obvious example
is the operatically idiotic Lil Pump,
whose track Gucci Gang has been
streamed hundreds of millions of
times. The appeal of its playgroundchant chorus to children was most
obviously underscored in a viral
video of a Florida school disco, in
which a parent exclaims “Oh my
God!” as a brood of eight-year-olds
chant “My bitch love do cocaine”
– presumably outraged at Pump’s
abuse of verb conjugation as well as
his documentation of drug-taking.
Into this toxic yet often irresistible
scene enters Lil Xan, a one-man
distillation of its inanity and very
occasional brilliance. He has
already been dismissed by older
rap fans for calling 2Pac “boring”.
His cute, cherubic looks paired
with his lobotomised demeanour,
inevitable face tattoos and attitude
to education – “I can’t sit down
for seven hours a day and listen to
some old bitch talk about shit I ain’t
ever gonna need” – add up to an
almost cliched image of the kid you
hope never dates your daughter.
A 21-year-old high-school dropout
and former Xanax addict who
named himself after his beloved
painkiller, he has since renounced
the drug. On Betrayed (included
here and his biggest hit yet with
more than 150m plays on YouTube
and Spotify), he warns: “Xans gon
fake you, Xans gon betray you.” But
by keeping the Lil Xan name, he
continues to advance Xanax’s edgy
glamour, and his uncalibrated moral
compass leads him down some other
dubious and boring paths.
I can confidently report that there
are no good lyrics on this album.
The only bit of wordplay seems
to be “I’m so cold I think I need a
sweater”, while the royalty cheques
for Betrayed have presumably
started coming in, as Gucci flip-flops
and diamonds are expounded upon
at length. There’s a flicker of interest
as he claims “all my friends are
enemies” on Deceived, but neither
this, nor his journey out of Xanax
addiction, are examined, merely
remarked on. His disparagement of
women is so frequent that there now
can’t be a single one in his life that he
hasn’t said “fuck that bitch” about.
Bad lyrics don’t necessarily matter
‘There are some
hooks: Wake Up
will have you
mumbling “I wake
up, I throw up, I
feel like I’m dead”
all day’
in pop-rap, and his intermittent
facility for hooks means that some
of the tracks succeed nonetheless
– Wake Up will have you mumbling
“I wake up, I throw up, I feel like I’m
dead” all day – and there is some
fine, gothic production from Mike
Will Made-It and others. But Xan
often struggles to create a unique
timbre – Diamonds references
XXXTentacion’s flow, while Far is
uncannily similar to Post Malone
– and he is shown up by his more
talented guest stars, such as Rae
Sremmurd, who helps make Shine
Hard the album’s best track.
Lil Xan serves a purpose. At the
risk of sounding like a funky supply
teacher preaching from a flippedaround chair, rap is America’s folk
music, constantly taking stock of
the nation. Some rappers vocalise its
troubles, but others, like Lil Xan and
his SoundCloud brethren, reflect
them – their violent misogyny,
torpor and inarticulacy reveals as
much about a rudderless generation
as, say, Kendrick Lamar does. But
that doesn’t mean it’s good to listen
to. Like the much-memed Simpsons
quote from Principal Skinner, it’s
tempting to say the children are
wrong about this.
The “Nashville
album” offers artists
a chance to work
with bulletproof
songwriters, foreground their craft, or
age gracefully. This is the backdrop
to Kylie Minogue’s 14th album, the
product of two weeks of writing in
London (before recording it over
there). Yet Kylie opts not for copperbottomed songcraft, but the unholy
intersection of country and EDM:
drops beget scratchy fiddle breakdowns, while banjo clucks meet
tropical house in a mush of mild
euphoria. Even the most traditional
track, Stop Me from Falling, is more
Lumineers than Loretta.
Kylie’s country pivot is odd. She
has never troubled the States, and
Golden’s down-home signifiers won’t
fool country radio’s gatekeepers. The
only explanation seems to be that
escaping her comfort zone offers a
welcome disassociation to balance
the intensely personal lyrics –
something she’s spent a career
avoiding, the exception being 1997’s
Impossible Princess. She experienced
a nervous breakdown after splitting
from her cheating fiance in 2016,
and that devastation penetrates the
music. “If I get hurt again, I’ll need a
lifetime to repair,” she sings, showing
unusual vocal sensitivity as she
conveys desire, desperation and
cynicism within a few lines.
An unsettling, fatalistic streak sets
in. Every potential relationship is just
another opportunity to get hurt.
Despite sometimes sounding
defiantly youthful – Shelby 68 is very
Taylor Swift; Music’s Too Sad
Without You as doe-eyed as Lana
Del Rey – Golden is rife with death.
Dancing explores Kylie’s determination to go out on a high; she
yearns for One Last Kiss before
meeting “a light in the distance”; and
on the lovely ballad Radio On, about
the salvation a good pop song can
offer, she sings: “I really need a love
song that I believe.” While aesthetic
shifts have been crucial to her career,
Golden feels like the first time the
window dressing is a distraction from
a flawed yet deeply admirable album.
Laura Snapes
The Guardian
Friday 6 April 2018
Reviews Music
In brief
album of
the week
Artist Daniel Avery
Album Song for Alpha
Label Phantasy
Between 1992 and
1994, Warp Records
released the Artificial
Intelligence series of
albums. Including
key early work by
household names in electronica
circles – Aphex Twin, Autechre,
Richie Hawtin – it was ostensibly
home-listening music, all unfolding
minor-key melodies and washes
of sound. But it was bathed in the
afterglow of the rave explosion, more
about bodily pleasure than nerdy
detail-spotting. Lately, the Artificial
Intelligence sound has been bubbling
up again all over the club world.
Bicep, Nina Kraviz and Berghain’s
Ostgut Ton label have all channelled
it; now, Daniel Avery, top right, is
doing so, too. Where his popular 2013
album Drone Logic was about big riffs
and forward momentum, its followup’s mood feels more like loosened
gravity: the acid-house 303 synths
go round in circles, singing sensuous
songs to themselves; diffuse chords
hang around the beats, reminiscent
of early Aphex and Autechre at
their dreamiest. But this isn’t just
90s nostalgia, and Avery’s week-inweek-out training in seething techno
bunkers is still evident. Tracks such
as TBW17 and the album’s glowering
centrepiece Diminuendo pummel
hard. And even when it slows down,
its structures are based on relentless
repetition, not relaxed meandering,
and there’s a gothic grandeur
to the churchy reverberations
that speaks not of genial postrave relaxation but of being lost
in cavernous Berlin dungeons.
The old bodily pleasure is here,
but it’s approached in altogether
sterner, more serious ways.
Joe Muggs
Sex & Food
Super fourth
album by UMO
packs a lot into
40 mins:
etoliated R&B,
psychedelia and
wig-outs. It’s
never dull, but –
just as important
– never eclectic
for the sake of it.
Terrific stuff. MH
Goat Girl
Goat Girl
This indie band
capitalise on
their feverish
live shows with
a 19-song debut.
It’s rife with
Ennio Morricone
malevolence and
choruses that dig
in like rusty fish
hooks. LS
Françoise Hardy
The French
legend’s first
new album in six
years hangs like
heavy perfume
– sophisticated,
and rich, though
perked up by
curveballs. LS
Kali Uchis
With a fantasy
guestlist, Uchis’s
debut is a rich,
retro reverie of
psychedelic R&B,
daisy age hip-hop
and neo-soul. EM
The Guardian
Friday 6 April 2018
Artist Fouchenneret/Zaoui/Merlin/Lefort
Album Fauré: Horizons
Label Aparté
Fauré facing
his collection of Gabriel Fauré’s chamber
music is by no means comprehensive; for
a complete survey, the 2011 Virgin Classics
recordings, with the Capuçon brothers
and pianists Nicholas Angelich and Michel
Dalberto, remain the ones to seek out.
In this new set, from violinist Pierre Fouchenneret,
cellist Raphaël Merlin and pianist Simon Zaoui, the
focus is very much on the later works. The main pieces
are the two sonatas for cello and piano, the Second
Violin Sonata, and the Piano Trio, all of which were
composed in the eight years before
Fauré’s death in 1924. Presumably
for completeness, the First Violin
Sonata, from 1876, is included,
underlining the stylistic distance
that his music travelled over the
course of his composing career,
together with several miniatures
These young
and three of the piano nocturnes,
also late pieces. There’s also the
last of the song cycles, L’Horizon
show a
Chimérique, which dates from 1921,
total lack of
sung by the tenor David Lefort.
Like the Capuçons, these young
French musicians clearly have
these works deeply ingrained in
their musical thinking, and that
familiarity shows in the total lack
of preciousness in their performances, whether it’s in
the forthright way that Merlin and Zaoui launch into
the Second Cello Sonata Op 117, or the edgy unease
with which the Piano Trio opens. There’s never a lack
of muscularity, but it’s always kept on the right side of
over-assertiveness. The warm closeness of the sound,
meanwhile, brings out the subtleties in the way in which
the instrumentalists colour every phrase, just as it adds
a nice sheen to Lefort’s reedy timbre in his fastidious
account of the song cycle.
Also out this week
The best known of Fauré’s song cycles, the nine settings
of Paul Verlaine that make up La Bonne Chanson,
features on Illuminations, tenor Nicholas Phan’s latest
disc for Avie. Phan opts for the composer’s later version
of the cycle, in which the voice is accompanied by
strings (Telegraph Quartet) and piano (Phan’s regular
accompanist, Myra Huang). Here it’s alongside another
set of Verlaine songs, Debussy’s Ariettes Oubliées and
Benjamin Britten’s precocious Arthur Rimbaud cycle Les
Illuminations, in which the string orchestra comes from
the Knights collective. Phan is a lyric tenor and there
are moments, in the Britten especially, when a bit more
weight of tone would have been welcome, but otherwise
his singing is impeccably correct. Andrew Clements
album of
the month
Artist Various artists
Album Revamp and Restoration:
Reimagining Elton John
Label Virgin EMI
More than 17 years
after Two Rooms, a
pair of new albums
reinterpret Elt
and Bern with a
new generation of
A-listers. Bernie Taupin is behind
Restoration, featuring Nashville
stars countrifying the catalogue,
while Elton John invited his showbiz
pals to fill Revamp. When it’s good,
Revamp is very good. When it’s bad,
it’s awful. And in between there’s
the requisite amount of anonymous
competence. Sad to say, the track
with John’s involvement is the worst
– an extremely state-of-the-chart
version of Bennie and the Jets led
by Pink, with a wholly unnecessary
rap from Logic (“Serving food and
writing rhymes / For Elton John,
the greatest of all time”). The very
good songs might come as more of
a surprise. Ed Sheeran takes Candle
in the Wind and plays it as a gentle
country lope, with luscious backing
vocals. The phrasing is sometimes
odd, but it makes something wildly
familiar sound fresh, a triumph
in itself. Alessia Cara’s I Guess
That’s Why They Call It the Blues,
driven by a Fender Rhodes, loses
the blowsiness of the original and
becomes a convincing piece of
country soul. And Q-Tip and Demi
Lovato give Don’t Go Breaking
My Heart a compellingly bouncy,
funky reinvention, proving that
melodies as good as these really
are hard to ruin. Into the pointless
pile go the Killers, whose Brandon
Flowers sounds uncannily like
70s John; Lady Gaga, below, who
seems determined to erase all hint
of subtlety from Your Song, and
Queens of the Stone Age, who let
their 70s fixation get the better of
them and are simply too reverent,
which may be the first time one
could say that of Josh Homme.
Michael Hann
Artist Alasdair Roberts, Amble Skuse,
David McGuinness
Album What News
Label Drag City
A scholar, a Scot
and a sonologist
o work well in folk music, you have
to be an industrious soul, and there
are few more industrious in the field
than Alasdair Roberts. The Scot, who
grew up around traditional song in a
hamlet near Stirling, has been yomping
without pause for more than 20 years, releasing
A fragile
more than 15 albums since he was a teenager. He
dulcitone sets only got his first Radio 2 folk award last year as part of
the Furrow collective (for best group), and it’s farcical
off Roberts’
that his exploratory journeys into traditional music
hadn’t won him even a nomination before. Perhaps
being long-signed to US alternative label Drag City
marked him out as being too different from Radio 2’s
cosy club. This short-sightedness can be instantly
remedied by listening to Roberts’ back catalogue
(available on Spotify and Tidal from this week)
and to his new, giving album.
A collaboration with early music scholar David
McGuinness and electronic sonologist Amble Skuse,
What News is Roberts’ fourth album of entirely
traditional material. It is a gentler proposition
than that collaboration looks on paper, the main
instruments being a 19th-century piano and a fragile
1920s dulcitone (a keyboard instrument in which
tuning forks on the inside are rung by gently pressed
keys). The dulcitone sets off the tenderness in Roberts’
beautifully unworldly voice well, particularly on
Rosie Anderson, in which a “gentle man as ever
lived on Earth” sees his wife kissing another. Skuse’s
laptop textures offer slow-burning, elemental
accompaniment throughout: flutters and shutterclicks in The Dun Broon Bride, watery bubbles in
Babylon, and falling rain in the beautiful closer, Long
A-Growing, in which the grass keeps on lengthening
in life as well as in death. So many intricate ideas
here, so beautifully done.
In brief reviews
by Michael
Hann, Laura
Snapes and
Emily Mackay
Also out this month
Anna and Elizabeth’s The Invisible Comes to
Us offers the stunning results of a year of the US
pair collecting songs from their home states of
Vermont and Virginia, with the Dirty Three’s Jim
White and pedal steel player Susan Alcorn as band
members. Both the drone-driven, avant-garde
delivery of the astonishing Farewell to Erin, and
traditional vocal duets such as John of Hazelgreen,
come highly recommended. Ninebarrow’s
The Waters and the Wild is more smartly scrubbed,
hugely folk festival-friendly British trad, full of
glossy, close harmonies. Josienne Clarke and
Ben Walker’s Seedlings All is also warmly done,
a move away from traditional songs to originals
for the first time, done with verve.
Jude Rogers
The Guardian
Friday 6 April 2018
ST MARTIN’S 020 7836 1443
66th year of Agatha Christie’s
Mon-Sat 7.30, Tues & Thu 3, Sat 4
Live reviews
Pointlessly relocated
… Mabel Clements in
The Country Wife
The Country
Southwark Playhouse, London
Until 21 April
Box office: 020-7407 0234
Wigmore Hall, London
Touring until 12 April
uke Fredericks prefaces
this production of
William Wycherley’s
1675 comedy by saying
he wants to blow the
cobwebs off something
“considered old and outdated”. But
considered by whom? This is one
of the most popular and frequently
revived plays of its period. By
relocating the action to the 1920s
world of the bright young things,
Fredericks sacrifices common sense
to surface energy.
Wycherley’s plot revolves
around a rake, Horner, who feigns
impotence to gain access to other
men’s wives, a ploy that succeeds
with the rustic Margery Pinchwife
and the urban Lady Fidget. But
transposing the story to another
era is pointless if you are going to
preserve most of the local references
and original language. A line such as
“He’s as jealous of her as a Cheapside
husband of a Covent Garden wife”
reeks of Caroline London. You
also wonder why Horner goes
to such trouble if he is living in a
world, as this production implies,
where anything goes: one point
of Wycherley’s play is to expose
the hypocrisies of marriage in a
supposedly monogamous society.
Fredericks and his designer,
Stewart Charlesworth, who present
the production under the banner
of Morphic Graffiti, have certainly
cottoned on to the fact that this is
a play about sex – but even here
they can’t leave well alone. The
evening starts with rumpy-pumpy
behind a museum exhibit. The
first act reaches its climax, in every
sense, with the sight of Lady Fidget
pleasuring herself in the Savoy tearoom to an aria that sounds like the
Jewel Song from Faust. After this,
the filthiest and funniest scene
in English drama – where Lady
early all of Liszt’s
piano music
is regulation
repertory nowadays,
but complete
performances of the most
demanding of all his keyboard
works, the Transcendental Studies,
are still quite rare events – feats
of endurance as much for the
audience, perhaps, as for the pianist.
At Wigmore Hall, the whole set
of 12 studies formed the second
half of an all-Liszt programme
from Bertrand Chamayou. He’s
perhaps less well known in Britain
than elsewhere in Europe, where
his performances of Schubert,
Chopin, Mendelssohn and Ravel
especially are widely admired.
On this evidence, he’s a formidable
Lisztian, too.
These were boldly presented
performances of the studies, which
certainly never made the virtuosity
they demand an end in itself. The
sound was rich and sonorous – in a
Never making virtuosity
an end in itself …
Bertrand Chamayou
piece such as Feux Follets, in fact, a
bit more tonal delicacy might have
been appropriate – and the climaxes
often epic, though there was always
the feeling that Chamayou was more
Fidget goes to Horner’s bedroom
to examine his china, leaving him
limp with exhaustion – is a total letdown. Lines that require the silkiest
innuendo are shouted and screamed
to the rooftops.
That is in keeping with a
production where more attention is
paid to choreography than to text.
Heather Douglas,
as movement
The first act
director, has the
reaches its
cast do a range
climax with
of 1920s dances,
Lady Fidget
including the
herself in
the foxtrot and
the Savoy
the Lindy hop
while changing
the furniture.
The results are
often startling
but there is
something badly wrong when a
scene-change gets the evening’s
biggest applause. While Douglas’s
contribution is accomplished, it also
harks back to old-fashioned West
End period revivals where dinky
set-changes were done by liveried,
applause-seeking footmen. Plus ça
In keeping with the supposed
behaviour of 20s hedonists, much
of the acting is frantic and shrill,
with two shining exceptions. Nancy
Sullivan is fresh and funny as the
closeted, rural wife who achieves
self-fulfilment when exposed
to the temptations of the town;
she leaves the impression that
the balance of marital power has
changed for ever. Richard Clews
is also very good as her abusive
husband, who menacingly wields
a teaspoon as if it were a carving
knife. Eddie Eyre makes a decent
enough Horner while suggesting the
working-class world of EastEnders,
in which he recently starred, rather
than that of Mayfair salons. But
although some cheered at the end
(don’t they always?), I felt depressed
to see a great comedy turned into
a senseless romp.
Michael Billington
convincing in reflective numbers
such as Paysage and Ricordanza
than in the grandstanding of Eroica
and Wilde Jagd.
Before the studies Chamayou
had warmed up with a selection
of transcriptions, all of pieces
by composers Liszt knew and
admired at points during his long
life. There was his take on Chopin’s
Six Polish Songs, composed after
Chopin’s death in 1849, which
decorates the melodies with
ornate figuration, and his similar
treatment of Schumann’s songs,
Frühlingsnacht from the Op 39
Liederkreis and Widmung from
Myrthen, in which the rapturous
simplicity of the melodic lines is
totally smothered. There were two
of the Wagner transcriptions as
well – the grail scene from Parsifal
and the Liebestod from Tristan
– which end up more Liszt than
Wagner, though Chamayou certainly
made them dramatically, as well as
musically, convincing.
Andrew Clements
Sinister, sugary
disco psych-pop …
Let’s Eat Grandma
Let’s Eat
Stereo, Glasgow
Touring until 27 September
he lights turn violent
fuchsia and Let’s
Eat Grandma throw
themselves at new
single Hot Pink,
moving in sync behind
twin keyboards. The track crunches
slick, threatening bass against Rosa
Walton and Jenny Hollingworth’s
taunting, faux-naive vocals: “On my
pony in the sky / I just want anything
and everything.” Co-produced by
Sophie, and Faris Badwan of the
Horrors, it’s a clubbier, late-night
development of Let’s Eat Grandma’s
eerie psych-pop. Slight, serious, and
with manes of thick curly hair, best
friends Walton and Hollingworth
look uncannily alike. They started
writing songs together aged 13,
and three years later released their
debut I, Gemini (2016) to critical
acclaim. By turns sinister and
sugary, the Norwich duo twisted a
world from playground hand-claps,
gothic singsong, starry saxophone
instrumentals and a recorder solo.
With second album I’m All Ears
due in June, tonight’s show draws
heavily from their new material
with planned imprecision. They still
sound like little else around.
For second new single Falling Into
Me, a warped disco epic, Walton
dances with awkward limbs and
languid squats. A new ballad, sung
by Hollingworth, is open-hearted
and glittering. On more familiar
ground for older song Deep Six
Textbook, the duo whip tousled
curls in stoner hair-ography.
Donnie Darko, an unreleased live
track pegged for the new album,
closes the show: a monumental,
unhurried surge that sounds like
subwoofers bleeding through a
wall. Hollingworth throws aside her
recorder to run through the crowd.
It’s an accomplished performance
from formidably talented oddities,
but one that feels more a teaser than
an unveiling of new secrets.
Katie Hawthorne
The Guardian
Friday 6 April 2018
TV and radio
Watch this
Coders Dinesh
and Gilfoyle
are ‘best
The City and the City
9pm, BBC2
Silicon Valley
In this eerie adaptation of China Miéville’s sci-fi
novel, the cities of Besźel and Ul Qoma occupy
the same geographical space. The citizens of
each learn to “unsee” the other; if they don’t,
the secret police of Breach might come calling.
Thus, when Inspector Borlú (David Morrissey)
of Besźel’s Extreme Crime Squad investigates
a murder with links to both locales, trouble
lies ahead. A thriller with much to say about
quintessentially 21st-century themes such as
othering, this may well divide audiences – which
seems appropriate.
Sky Atlantic
Lucy Mangan
‘This show’s fans rarely come across
each other. Maybe, like the nerds in
the show, we do our best work alone’
The boys are back in town! Yeah, the boys are back in
town! Or rather the city of Palo Alto, home of Silicon
Valley in real life and Silicon Valley the sitcom, which
is back for its fifth series following the trials and
tribulations of Richard Hendricks (Thomas Middleditch)
and his coders as they fight to get their start-up company
Pied Piper off the blocks.
Silicon Valley is an award-winning hit comedy by
Mike Judge (a physics graduate who worked in the tech
industry before moving into music and showbusiness
and creating the likes of Beavis and Butthead, King
of the Hill and Idiocracy) that still retains the aura of
a cult hit. Particularly here in the UK, its diehard fans
– of which I am one – rarely come across each other.
But perhaps like the nerds in the show – genius coder
Richard, best-frenemies Dinesh (Kumail Nanjiani) and
Gilfoyle (Martin Starr), Zach Woods as frail business
manager Jared (“My uncle used to say I look like
someone starved a virgin to death”), bombastic irritant
landlord of their digs Erlich Bachman (TJ Miller) – we do
our best work (or worshipping) alone.
We left Pied Piper facing a rare moment of success
at the end of the last series – fully funded for its new
project, creating a decentralised internet that can
potentially render the group’s nemesis Gavin Belson’s
giant server company Hooli obsolete. Outside the show,
things were trickier – Miller, who as the unrestrained id
of the hacker hostel was many fans’ favourite, suddenly
announced that he was leaving the show and rumours
of how, why and exactly when threatened to overwhelm
everything else.
The when and how have been answered at least. As far
as the fifth season is concerned, Ehrlich is exactly where
Gavin left him at the end of the fourth – stoned out of
his mind in a Tibetan opium den as they made their way
back from Gavin’s journey to find enlightenment.
In his landlord’s absence, Jian Yang, a tenant with an
almost nobly implacable, unswerving hatred of Ehrlich,
is filling the hacker hostel with friends and trying to have
his nemesis declared dead so he can inherit the house
and Erlich’s shares.
With Yang destroying life on the domestic front, it is
up to Richard to keep things going professionally. He
The Guardian
Friday 6 April 2018
needs to hire a dozen distributed system engineers.
So far Gilfoyle and Dinesh have agreed on three and
rejected 63 – all of whom Gavin snaps up for Hooli to
stymie further Pied Piper progress. He tries instead to
acquire Optimoji, a company on the verge of bankruptcy.
The owner is reluctant to sell and fire most of her 30
engineers. “I know what it’s like to only be able to save
half your family,” says Jared. “But sometimes it’s the
only way.” He reassures Richard that once the contract is
drawn up “it will be cosy! Holed up here like the Branch
When Optimoji goes with a better
offer from pizza delivery company
Sliceline, Richard shows how much
he has evolved – or devolved – from
the nervy, indecisive, consciencestricken geek we first met. Whether
it’s the advent of proper power,
‘I know
proper money, real responsibility or
what it’s
simple exposure to Gavin or a potent
like to only
mixture of them all, Richard finds a
be able to
way to bankrupt Sliceline and get
save half
an officeful of coders for a knockdown price.
your family‘
I love this show deeply, for its
one-liners, the immaculate playing
of its ensemble cast and magnificent
peripheral characters but also for its
odd heroes. It’s not clear to me, therefore, how well this
continuing corruption of Richard – which seemed, and
realistically so, to have been arrested by the end of the
last series after a horrified Jared departed the company
– can play.
The show manages brilliantly to keep the audience
onside through a lot corporate and computing detail, but
the remaining bandwidth needs to be used for emotional
rather than intellectual investment. The beleaguered
nerd, forced out of his comfort zone by the demands of
success, made him the heart of the group, had us rooting
for him and made Jared’s fierce loyalty credible. If he
morphs into Gavin, we will all lose a lot. Especially Jared.
And I don’t think I can bear to watch his starved virgin
ghost face suffer any more.
Jonathan Wright
Sounds Like Friday
7.30pm, BBC One
We are on
holiday and
nothing is
Not telly,
not internet,
not nothing.
We are not
family life.
We are in
Send help.
Greg James and Dotty
return for a second series
of this Top of the Pops litestyle show. With its skits
and interviews, it’s a more
hyperactive proposition
than its predecessor (and,
sadly, lighter on the music)
but at least the BBC is
trying. This week, Years
and Years and Meghan
Trainor get involved.
Hannah J Davies
I Don’t Like Mondays
8pm, Channel 4
Ever wanted a year off ?
Here’s a gameshow
with real consequences.
Contestants appear
before Alan Carr with
resignation emails in
hand (or on their phones).
To win a year’s salary
and send the email,
contestants must compete
in ingeniously selected
head-to-head challenges.
John Robinson
Have I Got News for
9.30pm, BBC One
The biggest problem for
the makers of a satirical
news quiz in 2018 must
be knowing where to
start. Hislop and Merton’s
Friday-night fixture has
felt slightly flabby in
recent series but Brexit,
Trump and Cambridge
Analytica feel like fish in
a barrel, just waiting to
be shot. Jeremy Paxman
hosts this opener.
Phil Harrison
10pm, BBC Two
Matt’s dalliance with
Danika, the girl in the
box, has gone viral, with
the footage pulling in
more than a million hits
overnight. Everything
goes skew-whiff quicker
than you can say:
“Look at him go!”, with
sponsors pulling out
left, right and centre.
But can he be convinced
to take the incident
Candice Carty-Williams
Front Row
11.05pm, BBC Two
Exit the theatre-hating
Giles Coren and enter
the eminently more
suitable host Mary Beard
for a second TV run of
Front Row. Tonight, she
and her guests discuss
conflicts since 1968,
and Stephen Daldry’s
new play The Inheritance,
about different
generations of gay men
in New York.
Ali Catterall
Channel 4
Channel 5
Commonwealth Games
2018 (T) 9.15 Oxford Street
Revealed (T) (R) 10.0 Homes
Under the Hammer (T) (R)
11.0 Street Auction (T) (R)
11.45 Claimed and Shamed
(T) 12.15 Bargain Hunt (T)
(R) 1.0 Commonwealth
Games 2018 (T) Highlights
of day two in Queensland.
5.15 Put Your Money Where
Your Mouth Is (T) (R) 5.45
Golf: The Masters Highlights
(T) 6.45 Football: Women’s
World Cup Qualification
(T) England v Wales (kickoff 7pm) From St Mary’s
Stadium, Southampton.
Countdown (T) (R) 6.45 3rd
Rock from the Sun (T) (R) 7.35
Everybody Loves Raymond
(T) (R) 8.30 Frasier (T) (R)
10.0 Ramsay’s Hotel Hell (T)
(R) 10.50 Simpsons (T) (R)
11.20 Simpsons (T) (R) 11.50
News (T) 11.55 F1 Bahrain
Grand Prix, Practice One Live
(T) 1.40 The Simpsons (T)
(R) 2.10 Countdown (T) 3.0
A Place in the Sun: Winter
Sun (T) (R) 4.0 A New Life
in the Sun (T) (R) 5.0 Four
in a Bed (T) (R) 5.30 Star
Boot Sale (T) 6.0 Simpsons
(T) (R) 6.30 Hollyoaks (T)
(R) 7.0 News (T)
The City & the City (T) New
series. A dead woman is
recovered at Bulkya Docks,
on the border between
Besźel and Ul Qoma – two
cities with a dangerous
and volatile relationship.
Thriller based on the novel
by China Miéville, with David
Morrissey, Mandeep Dhillon,
Lara Pulver and Ron Cook.
I Don’t Like Mondays (T)
New gameshow hosted by
Alan Carr, in which audience
members compete to get
the chance to resign live
on air. With guest Amanda
Gogglebox (T) Capturing
the householders’ reactions
to what they are watching on
the telly.
Breakfast (T) 9.15
Commonwealth Games
2018 (T) Continued live
coverage of day two of the
Games in Queensland, with
swimming and track cycling
the main focus. 1.0 News and
Weather (T) 1.30 Regional
News and Weather (T) 1.45
Moving On (T) (R) 2.30
Escape to the Continent (T)
(R) 3.30 Money for Nothing
(T) 4.15 Flog It! (T) (R) 5.15
Pointless (T) 6.0 News and
Weather (T) 6.30 Regional
News and Weather (T) 7.0
One Show (T) 7.30 Sounds
Like Friday Night (T)
EastEnders (T) Jack
persuades Honey to go with
him to make Mel jealous.
8.30 Room 101 (T) A look at the
highlights. Last in the series.
9.0 MasterChef (T) The best
six amateurs compete in
the last of the semi-finals.
9.30 Have I Got News for You (T)
New series. Jeremy Paxman
10.0 News (T)
10.25 Regional News and Weather
(T) Includes lottery update.
10.35 The Graham Norton Show
(T) New series. With guests
Emily Blunt, John Krasinski,
Kylie Minogue.
11.25 Today at the Games (T)
11.55 Commonwealth Games
(T) Artistic gymnastics,
triathlon and hockey.
10.0 Episodes (T) The video of
Matt’s escapade with the
girl in the box goes viral.
10.30 Newsnight (T) Weather
11.05 Front Row (T) New series.
11.35 The Assassination of
Gianni Versace (T) (R)
12.25 Rehab: Addicted Lives (T) (R)
1.45 Civilisations (T) (R) 2.45
The Assassination… (T) (R)
3.30 Weather 3.35 News (T)
Good Morning Britain (T)
8.30 Lorraine (T) 9.25 The
Jeremy Kyle Show (T) (R)
10.30 This Morning (T)
12.30 Loose Women (T) 1.30
News (T) 1.55 Local News
(T) 2.0 Judge Rinder (T) 3.0
Dickinson’s Real Deal (T) (R)
3.59 Local News and Weather
(T) 4.0 Tipping Point (T)
5.0 The Chase (T) 6.0 Local
News (T) 6.30 News (T)
7.0 Emmerdale (T) Laurel
faces an emotional day, and
Rebecca needs to confess.
7.30 Coronation Street (T)
Mary and Tracy spring a
surprise on Jude.
Love Your Garden (T) Alan
Titchmarsh and his team
transform the garden of
Hull nurse Maggie.
8.30 Coronation Street (T)
Jude begs Mary to keep
a secret from Angie.
9.0 Lethal Weapon Funny
Money(T) Riggs and
Murtaugh are thrown into
the world of counterfeiting.
10.0 News (T)
10.30 Local News (T)
10.45 Hellboy II: The Golden
Army (Guillermo del Toro,
2008) (T) The demon battles
an elf prince who plans to
awaken a robot army. Fantasy
sequel with Ron Perlman.
12.50 Jackpot247 3.0 Take on
the Twisters (T) (R) 3.50
ITV Nightscreen
10.0 Lee and Dean (T) Dean
“dates” Mrs Bryce D’Souza.
Hilariously funny.
10.35 8 Out of 10 Cats (T) (R)
11.20 Rob Beckett’s Playing for
Time (T) With Asim Chaudhry.
11.50 Rude Tube (T) (R)
12.45 Lawless (2012) (T)
Crime drama. 2.45 Kiss Me
First (T) (R) 3.40 Electric
Dreams: Kill All Others (T) (R)
Other channels
6.0am Home Shopping
7.0 Scrapheap Challenge
8.10 American Pickers
9.0-10.0- Storage
Hunters 10.0-1.0
American Pickers 1.03.0 Top Gear 3.0 Sin
City Motors 4.0 Steve
Austin’s Broken Skull
Challenge 5.0-7.0 Top
Gear 7.0 QI XL 8.0 Into
the Fire 9.0-11.15 Fawlty
Towers 11.15-12.35 QI
12.35 Mock the Week
1.15-2.35 QI 2.35 Mock
the Week 3.15 Suits
4.0 Home Shopping
11.0am The
Boxtrolls (2014) 12.50
The Rugrats in
Paris: The Movie (2000)
2.25 Hotel for Dogs
(2009) 4.30 The
Princess Diaries (2001)
6.45 Back to the
Future (1985) 9.0
Four Weddings
and a Funeral (1994)
11.20 Bullet to
the Head (2012) 1.05
Machete (2010)
All programmes to 7pm
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
Nine-Nine 12.0 The
Goldbergs 1.0 The Big
Bang Theory 2.0 How
I Met Your Mother 3.0
New Girl 4.0 Brooklyn
Nine-Nine 5.0 The
Goldbergs 6.0 The
Big Bang Theory 7.0
Hollyoaks 7.30 Extreme
Cake Makers 8.0-9.0
The Big Bang Theory 9.0
The Watch (2012)
11.0-11.55 The Big Bang
Theory 11.55 First Dates
1.0 Tattoo Fixers 2.05
Gogglebox 3.0-4.15
Rude Tube 4.15-6.0
Rules of Engagement
6.0am The Planet’s
Funniest Animals 6.15
Totally Bonkers Guinness
World Records 6.40
Totally Bonkers Guinness
World Records 7.05
Who’s Doing the Dishes?
7.55 Emmerdale 8.20
Emmerdale 8.50 Totally
Bonkers Guinness World
Records 9.05 The Ellen
DeGeneres Show 9.55
Around the World
in 80 Days (2004)
(FYI Daily is at 10.55)
12.15 Emmerdale 12.45
Emmerdale 1.15 You’ve
Been Framed! Gold 1.45
The Ellen DeGeneres
Show 2.35 The Jeremy
Kyle Show 3.40 The
Jeremy Kyle Show 4.50
Judge Rinder 5.50 Take
Me Out 7.0 You’ve Been
Framed! Gold 8.0 Two
and a Half Men 8.30
Two and a Half Men
9.0 American Pie
BBC Four
Milkshake! 9.15 The
Wright Stuff 11.15 Can’t
Pay? We’ll Take It Away
(T) (R) 12.10 News (T) 12.15
GPs: Behind Closed Doors
(T) (R) 1.15 Home and Away
(T) 1.45 Neighbours (T)
2.15 NCIS (T) (R) Collateral
Damage 3.15 A
Father’s Guilty Secret
(RD Braunstein, 2016)
(T) Thriller starring Willa
Ford. 5.0 News (T) 5.30
Neighbours (T) (R) 6.0 Home
and Away (T) (R) 6.30 News
(T) 7.0 The Gadget Show
(T) The team puts the latest
outdoor gadgets to the test.
Britain’s Great Cathedrals
With Tony Robinson (T)
The history of Canterbury
Cathedral. Includes news.
Jane McDonald & Friends
(T) Jane McDonald sings
some of her favourite
songs with a live band,
inviting Tony Hadley and
Shayne Ward to join her.
Last in the series.
10.0 Will & Grace (T) Jack is
unhappy that Will has
rekindled his relationship
with Michael.
10.35 Greatest Ever Celebrity Wind
Ups (T) (R)
11.35 Lip Sync Battle UK Joey Essex
v Louie Spence (T)
12.0 SuperCasino (T) 3.10-4.45
GPs: Behind Closed Doors
(T) (R) A double helping.
World News Today (T)
7.30 BBC Young Musician
2018 (T) New series. At
the Royal Birmingham
Conservatoire’s new
concert hall, Josie d’Arby
is joined by the trumpeter
Alison Balsom to review
the five strings finalists
of this year’s contest.
Forever Young: How
Rock’n’Roll Grew Up (T)
(R) Documentary exploring
the ways rock stars have
coped with growing
old after being symbols
of rebellion. Features
contributions by Iggy Pop,
Lemmy, Rick Wakeman,
Suggs and Alison Moyet.
Narrated by Cherie Lunghi.
10.0 Billy Fury: The Sound of Fury
(T) (R) How Larry Parnes
found Liverpool-born Ronnie
Wycherley, redubbed him
Billy Fury and created a star.
11.30 It’s Only Rock’n’Roll: Rock
’n’Roll at the BBC (T) (R)
12.30 Guitar Heroes on Later…
With Jools Holland (T) (R)
1.30 Forever Young… (T)
(R) 2.30 Billy Fury… (T) (R)
(1999) 11.0 Family Guy
11.30 Family Guy 11.55
American Dad! 12.25
American Dad! 12.55
Two and a Half Men
1.25 Two and a Half Men
1.50 Totally Bonkers
Guinness World Records
2.20 Teleshopping
5.50 ITV2 Nightscreen
8.55am-11.05 A Place in
the Sun: Home or Away
11.05-1.55 Four in a Bed
1.55-3.55 Come Dine
With Me 3.55 F1: Bahrain
Grand Prix, Practice Two
Live 5.35 Car SOS 6.40
Jamie’s Comfort Food
6.55 The Secret Life
of the Zoo 7.55 Grand
Designs 9.0 Rough
Justice 10.0-12.10 24
Hours in A&E 12.10
Kitchen Nightmares USA
1.10-3.15 24 Hours in
A&E 3.15 8 Out of 10 Cats
6.0am Supergirl 7.0
Supergirl 8.0 Futurama
8.30 Modern Family
9.0 Modern Family
9.30 The Simpsons
10.0 The Simpsons
10.30 The Simpsons
11.0 Warehouse 13
12.0 NCIS: Los Angeles
1.0 Hawaii Five-0 2.0
Hawaii Five-0 3.0
NCIS: Los Angeles 4.0
Stargate SG-1 5.0 The
Simpsons 5.30 The
Simpsons 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
Karl Pilkington: The
Moaning of Life 10.0
The Late Late Show
with James Corden:
Best of the Week 11.0
A League of Their
Own 12.0 Football’s
Funniest Moments
1.0 In the Long Run
1.30 Brit Cops: War on
Crime 2.20 Hawaii
Five-0 3.10 Warehouse
13 4.0 The Real A&E
4.30 The Real A&E
5.0 The Dog Whisperer
Sky Arts
6.0am Sounds of the
Dolomites 7.0 2Cellos at
Sydney Opera House 9.0
Tales of the Unexpected
9.30 Landscape Artist
of the Year 2017 10.30
Video Killed the Radio
Star 11.0 Trailblazers:
Disco 12.0 The Sixties
1.0 Discovering: Telly
Savalas 2.0 Tales of
the Unexpected 2.30
Landscape Artist of the
Year 2017 3.30 Video
Killed the Radio Star
4.0 Trailblazers: Glam
Rock 5.0 The Sixties
6.0 Discovering: Leslie
Howard 7.0 Johnny
Cash: Song by Song
7.30 Dolly Parton:
Song by Song 8.0
Video Killed the Radio
Star 8.30 Discovering:
REM 9.0 The Nineties
10.0 Blur/Oasis: The
Britpop Years 11.15 Brian
Johnson’s A Life on the
Road 12.15 The Who:
Sensation – The Story
of Tommy 1.30 Liam
Gallagher: Live in New
York 2.45 Video Killed
the Radio Star 3.15 Oasis
Live at Barrowlands 4.30
Tales of the Unexpected
5.0 Auction 5.30 Auction
Sky Atlantic
6.0am Fish Town 7.0
The Guest Wing 8.0
Storm City 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
12.45-1.50 The Sopranos
2.50-4.0 Crashing 4.06.0 The West Wing
Radio 3
6.30 Breakfast 9.0
Essential Classics. Ian
Skelly is joined by Niamh
Cusack. 12.0 Composer
of the Week: Schumann
(R) (5/5) 1.0 News 1.02
Lunchtime Concert: New
Town Concerts (4/4)
2.0 Afternoon Concert:
NDR Elbphilharmonie
Orchestra 4.30 BBC
Young Musician 2018
5.0 In Tune 7.0 In
Tune Mixtape 7.30 In
Concert. The Royal
Liverpool Philharmonic
Orchestra recorded at
Liverpool Philharmonic
Hall yesterday evening.
Wagner: Overture,
Rienzi. Elgar: Cello
Concerto. 8.15 Interval.
8.35 Schumann:
Symphony No 2.
Narek Hakhnazaryan
(cello), RLPO, Ben
Gernon.10.0 The Verb
10.45 The Essay: The
Book That Changed
Me – Inua Ellams on
Terry Pratchett’s
Pyramids. (5/5) 11.0
Music Planet. New series
replacing World on 3.
1.0 Through the Night
Radio 4
Four Weddings
and a Funeral,
6.0 Today 9.15 The
Reunion (R) 9.45 (LW)
Daily Service 9.45
(FM) Book of the Week:
Factfulness, by Prof
Hans Rosling. (5/5) 10.0
Woman’s Hour. Includes
at 10.45 Drama: A
Book of Middle Eastern
Food, with Tracy-Ann
Oberman. (5/5) 11.0
Up Close and Personal
(R) 11.30 When the
Dog Dies (R) 12.0 News
12.01 (LW) Shipping
Forecast 12.04 Home
Front: Walter Hamilton,
by Katie Hims. (25/40)
12.15 You and Yours 1.0
The World at One 1.45
Voices of the First World
War: Enter America (5/5)
2.0 The Archers 2.15
Drama: Love Me Tender,
by Ian McMillan. (R) 3.0
Gardeners’ Question
Time 3.45 Short Works:
The Astonishing Good
Fortune of Marigold
Castor, by Lionel
Shriver. 4.0 Last Word
4.30 Feedback. With
Roger Bolton. 4.55
The Listening Project:
Alex and Terry – Three
Words 5.0 PM 5.54 (LW)
Shipping Forecast 6.0
News 6.30 The Now
Show (6/6) 7.0 The
Archers 7.15 Front Row
7.45 A Book of Middle
Eastern Food (R) (5/5)
8.0 Any Questions?
Topical discussion
chaired by Jonathan
Dimbleby. 8.50 A Point
of View. John Gray
reflects on a topical
issue. 9.0 Home Front
Omnibus: 2-6 April
1918, by Katie Hims.
(5/8) 10.0 The World
Tonight. Chris Mason
presents. 10.45 Book
at Bedtime: Rabbit Is
Rich, by John Updike.
(5/10) 11.0 Great Lives:
Jim Moir on Captain
Beefheart (R) 11.30
Ramblings: Stanton Moor
and Robin Hood’s Stride
from Winster (R) 11.55
The Listening Project:
Joel and David – The
Art of Conversation
12.0 News 12.30 Book
of the Week (R) 12.48
Shipping Forecast 1.0
As World Service 5.20
Shipping Forecast 5.30
News 5.43 Prayer for
the Day 5.45 iPM
Radio 4 Extra
6.0 Brother Cadfael: The
Virgin in the Ice (5/5)
6.30 Arvon Turns 40
7.0 The Stanley Baxter
Playhouse (1/4) 7.30 In
and Out of the Kitchen
(6/6) 8.0 I’m Sorry
I’ll Read That Again
(8/13) 8.30 Brothers
in Law (5/12) 9.0 The
Motion Show (6/6) 9.30
Kathmandu or Bust (6/6)
10.0 Anna Karenina
(4/4) 11.0 Podcast Radio
Hour 12.0 I’m Sorry I’ll
Read That Again (8/13)
12.30 Brothers in Law
(5/12) 1.0 Brother
Cadfael: The Virgin in
the Ice (5/5) 1.30 Arvon
Turns 40 2.0 The Essex
Serpent (5/10) 2.15
Disability: A New History
The Guardian
Friday 6 April 2018
(5/10) 2.30 The Old
Curiosity Shop (25/25)
2.45 On Her Majesty’s
Secret Service (5/10)
3.0 Anna Karenina (4/4)
4.0 The Motion Show
(6/6) 4.30 Kathmandu
or Bust (6/6) 5.0 The
Stanley Baxter Playhouse
(1/4) 5.30 In and Out
of the Kitchen (6/6) 6.0
Hothouse (5/5) 6.30
Mastertapes (4/14)
7.0 I’m Sorry I’ll Read
That Again (8/13) 7.30
Brothers in Law (5/12)
8.0 Brother Cadfael…
(5/5) 8.30 Arvon Turns
40 9.0 Podcast Radio
Hour 10.0 Comedy Club
In and Out of the Kitchen
(6/6) 10.30 The Show
What You Wrote (3/4)
11.0 Kevin Eldon Will See
You Now (2/4) 11.30 A
Look Back at the Nineties
(2/5) 12.0 Hothouse
(5/5) 12.30 Mastertapes
(4/14) 1.0 Brother
Cadfael: The Virgin in
the Ice (5/5) 1.30 Arvon
Turns 40 2.0 The Essex
Serpent (5/10) 2.15
Disability: A New History
(5/10) 2.30 The Old
Curiosity Shop (25/25)
2.45 On Her Majesty’s
Secret Service (5/10)
3.0 Anna Karenina (4/4)
4.0 The Motion Show
(6/6) 4.30 Kathmandu
or Bust (6/6) 5.0 The
Stanley Baxter Playhouse
(1/4) 5.30 In and Out
of the Kitchen (6/6)
no 14,949
Quick crossword
Garry Trudeau
1 Day of rest (7)
8 City hosting the 1996
Olympics (7)
9 Fighter — bully (7)
10 (Spanish) womaniser (3,4)
11 Distinctive attitudes of a
people (5)
13 Tender or romantic emotion
15 Subject someone to stressful
indoctrination (9)
18 I’m sad (anag) — king of
Phrygia (5)
21 Spins round (7)
22 I’m so new (anag) —
attractive (7)
23 Surpassed (7)
24 Defies (7)
1 Sword (that may be rattled)
2 Substantial branch of a tree
3 Murder of a public figure (13)
4 Become less sympathetic (6)
5 Flattering inducements (13)
6 Far from certain (6)
7 Proverbially greedy seabird
12 Norse god of thunder (4)
14 Star showing a sudden, brief
increase in luminosity (4)
15 Warren (6)
16 Canny (6)
17 Solution (6)
19 Anything worthless (5)
20 Leaks slowly (5)
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 4,027
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-75.
Good-68. Average-59.
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 13 words associated with
Switzerland in the grid? Words can
run forwards, backwards, vertically
or diagonally, but always in a
straight, unbroken line.
Yesterday’s solutions
Sudoku no 4,026
Pet corner
Solution no 14,948
Word wheel
The Guardian
Friday 6 April 2018
Which movie star has
a pet tortoise?
a. Robert De Niro
b. Al Pacino
c. John Travolta
d. Leonardo DiCaprio
Answer top right
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