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The Guardian G2 - April 13, 2018

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Times move
pretty fast
Watching 80s
favourites in
the age of
#metoo
By Hadley
Freeman
Friday 13/04/18
8
Lost in Showbiz
biz
Olly Murs – the
e truth
is out there
page 3
Manic Street
Preachers
Don’t talk about
ut love
page 6
•
Ssssssssssssssh!
sh!
Noisy cinema etiquette
page 9
•
1
Jurassic Park (1993)
Hold on to your butts. A movie
predicated on genetic remixing
required an equally unnatural
nudge to get into the billiondollar club. If it wasn’t for a
20th anniversary 3D re-release
that earned a sweet extra $45m,
Spielberg’s awe-inspiring, heartswelling thrill-ride might have
missed the cut. But the original
Jurassic Park sprung into life at
a moment where the duelling
disciplines of CGI and practical
effects could still complement
rather than usurp each other
and remains a masterclass in
sustained tension, action and
emotion, making it the ultimate
benchmark in billion-dollar
blockbusters. Total worldwide
box-office gross: $1,029,153,882
$1bn movies
– which is
the best?
Holy box office, Batman!
As the Avengers prepare
to conquer cinemas again,
Graeme Virtue rates the
best films to break $1bn
10
Skyfall (2012)
Bond-JamesBond habitually
Smersh-ed the
box office back in
his 1960s pomp,
but Daniel Craig’s
monumental third
outing, gorgeously
rendered by
cinematographer
Roger Deakins,
transformed a
buried origin story
into something so
mythic it became
the bull-headed
secret agent
biggest – and
best – hit.
$1,108,561,013
9
Iron Man 3 (2013)
Long before James
Gunn’s DayGlo
romp Guardians
of the Galaxy or
Taika Waititi’s
spaced-out turbospoof Thor: Ragnarok, one writer/
director managed
to imprint his
sensibility on to
the unstoppable
Marvel Cinematic
Universe project.
Shane Black’s typically Christmasthemed Iron Man
3 conspired to get
Robert Downey Jr
out of the metal
stomp-suit to help
create a jazzy,
idiosyncratic
triumph.
$1,214,811,252
Heath Ledger as
The Joker in The Dark
Knight. Read the full list
of 33 £1bn+ movies at
theguardian.com/film
2
Playlist
2
Star Wars: The
Last Jedi (2017)
Credit the
(marketing) power
of the Force, but
the most divisive
Star Wars movie
in aeons still
easily cruised
past the $1bn
mark. And despite
working within
a presumably
rigid corporate
straitjacket,
writer/director
Rian Johnson
crafted a fleetfooted epic
that is funny,
heartrending,
weird and
enthralling.
$1,332,653,010
3
8
Fast and Furious 7
(2015)
At first glance,
the Fast and Furious family looks
like the world’s
most idiotic
action franchise,
somehow sprouting from illegal
LA street-racing
into Bondesque
globetrotting
espionage. But the
cocksure seventh
instalment combined virtuosic
action sequences
with an unequivocally moving
send-off for
original star Paul
Walker, who died
during a break in
filming.
$1,516,045,911
5
7
The Dark Knight
(2008)
With 2005’s Batman Begins, director Christopher
Nolan patiently
rekindled a
franchise that
had nosedived
into neon kitsch.
With his moody,
broody follow-up
The Dark Knight
– energised by
Heath Ledger’s
nervy, lip-smacking and ultimately
Oscar-winning
performance as
the Joker – Nolan
reset Hollywood’s
expectations of
the superhero
movie, for good
or ill.
$1,004,558,444
The Guardian
Friday 13 April 2018
6
Toy Story 3 (2010)
Perhaps not the
best Pixar movie
ever but (to
date) the most
successful, Toy
Story 3 features
the bonded gang
of careworn
playthings getting unwittingly
donated to charity
before building toward an
insanely volcanic
climax, like an
emotionally overwhelming training
video designed
to prepare kids
for the end of
Terminator 2.
$1,066,969,703
Black Panther
(2018)
Watch the throne:
in record time,
Wakandan warrior-king T’Challa
– in the form of
coiled, thoughtful
Chadwick Boseman – has staked
his claim. Black
Panther now
towers over every
non-Avengers
Marvel movie at
the box office and
it’s not hard to see
why, since Creed
director Ryan
Coogler’s painterly and propulsive afrofuturistic
thriller contains
multitudes.
$1,301,755,040
The Lord of the
Rings: The Return
of the King (2003)
There are now six
Tolkien adaptations directed by
Shire genius Peter
Jackson but it feels
instructive that
Return of the King
has been by far the
most successful.
Many moan about
the multiple endings, but this is the
grandest of swordclanging finales.
$1,119,929,521
4
Titanic (1997)
We’re gonna need
a bigger boat.
James Cameron’s
$200m-budget
leviathan remains
a touchstone for
old-school epic
film-making,
albeit garlanded
with the best CGI
money could buy
in the mid-90s.
Thanks to a 20th
anniversary rerelease, Titanic is
one of only three
movies to crack
$2bn at the box
office (alongside
Avatar and The
Force Awakens),
and remains a
romantic epic to
die for.
$2,187,463,944
1
Azealia Banks
Anna Wintour
In which Azealia finds
God (personified as the
bobbed Vogue editor),
and completes her
transformation into hugevoiced house vocalist,
fully conveying the wonder
of her Damascene moment.
2
Zayn
Let Me
Not to shock you, but Zayn
has had sex. And not just
any old sex. “Sweet baby,
our sex has meaning,” he
croons on this breezy, doeeyed post-Weeknd bop.
3
Drake
Nice For What
Last week’s cover star
creates a career highlight:
a boisterous club cut with
a gorgeously poignant
melody. After Cardi B’s
Be Careful, it’s also the
second track this month
to interpolate Lauryn
Hill’s Ex-Factor.
4
Black Beat Niks
Ritual of Love (Ron’s
Vocal Beat Down Mix)
From Hunchin’ All Night,
a brilliant compilation of
dusty outsider dance cuts
collated by super-hot DJ
Hunee, Ritual of Love
rides a two-note organ riff
into sensual deep house.
5
Gruff Rhys
Frontier Man
Rhys goes swoonsome
Glen Campbell on this
elegant contemplation of
the artist’s role during
times of political unrest.
6
Gang Gang Dance
Lotus
The New York art-poppers
return with their first
new music since 2011:
a billowing piece of
dream-pop that builds
to a crescendo before
swan-diving into a pool
of ambience.
7
Kamasi Washington
Fists of Fury
One of two new pieces
released this week by the
cosmic jazz saxophonist –
the other being the
ultra-maximalist jazz
symphony The Space
Travelers Lullaby – Fists
of Fury has hard-bopping
solos build to a screed
on retribution.
TOTAL WORLDWIDE BOX-OFFICE GROSS FIGURES ARE FROM BOXOFFICEMOJO.COM
Ranked
•
Lost in showbiz
Peter
Robinson
Olly Murs – was
the 24/11 truther
right all along?
ILLUSTRATION: NICK OLIVER COVER: ALLSTAR/MGM
I
n ordinary circumstances,
a 33-year-old man using
social media to warn seven
million people of a terror
attack underway in central
London would be regarded
in generally positive terms.
Unfortunately, the events of 24
November 2017 were not ordinary:
the warning took the form of a tweet
bellowing: “Fuck everyone get out
of @Selfridges now gun shots!!”,
and the 33-year-old man fearing for
his life in a department store back
office was noted troubadour and
persistent hat apologist Olly Murs.
Murs who did that quite good song
with Rizzle Kicks seven years ago.
Murs, the multiple Brit-eligible chap
who is also cheeky, and whose place
in the pantheon of modern popular
culture occupies the gossamerproportioned cavity between Robbie
Williams and Bradley Walsh.
Also – and, with hindsight,
slightly awkwardly – it was quickly
established that, despite scenes of
chaos prompted, in part, by reports
of gunshots, there had not been any
gunshots. Within minutes Murs
went from hero to berk.
Very quickly, stern words about
communicating mistruths to
millions of people came from former
News of the World editor Piers
Morgan: “When you have millions
of followers be very careful what
you tweet.”
The pair’s Twitter exchange that
night also involved an “if you was
there you’d have understood mate”
from Murs, and a “stop tweeting …
nothing happened” from Morgan.
Not exactly a battle between the
forces of good and evil, but certainly
a battle between someone who had
gone out of his way to help your nan
with her shopping and, well, Piers
Morgan.
Maybe that’s unfair. In the same
situation, Morgan, a close personal
friend of Donald “I really believe
I’d run in there” Trump, may well
have gone “the full John Smeaton”.
Morgan could quite feasibly have
marched around kicking Selfridges
shoppers in the knackers until he
was certain any threat had been
neutralised. But is it harsh, at all,
to suggest that there is something
slightly “wearing a frock on a
Titanic lifeboat” about Morgan’s
general demeanour? Something
that suggests Morgan, on that highly
charged November day, might, in
fact, have barged his way past Olly
and as many nans with shopping as
he deemed necessary, in order to get
into that same safe place and start
tweeting?
Anyway, the story eventually
went quiet, save for the occasional
Twitter user amusingly quotetweeting one of Olly’s subsequent
communiques — “Evacuating store
now!!! Fuck heart is pounding”
— during busier-than-expected
weekend shopping trips. Until this
week, when the Sun splashed a new
interview with Olly across its front
page with the headline “OLLY: I’M
NO WALLY”.
“Something happened that day,”
he was quoted as saying. “Whether
it was covered up, I don’t know.”
(He also introduced the slightly
odd detail that he was in the store
attempting to purchase a massage
chair for his aunt.) “I ran into an
office,” he added, “after being told by
the staff of Selfridges that someone
was there with a gun.”
Reporting these claims, NME’s
sceptical take was: “Olly Murs has
bizarrely hinted that last year’s
terror attack scare at London’s
Oxford Circus was a ‘cover-up’.”
And so, here we are, with Murs
as gunshot coverup truther: the
tightest-trousered conspiracy
theorist in town. The back office he
legitimately thought he was going
to die in has, it seems, become the
hill he is prepared to die on. File this
one alongside rapper BoB and his
charming flat-Earther ways, or Kylie
Jenner and her chemtrail theories.
Except! Except. Except: what
if Murs, regardless of his status as
a semi-endearing bumbling pop
chancer, was telling the truth?
Because, you see, Lost in Showbiz
has heard claims via two different
Selfridges employees that suggest
Murs is, in fact, not mistaken about
what went down that day. And the
more you think about it, and as long
as you don’t think about it too hard,
the more it would make sense that
Murs has been pushed so hard as
a lone voice in this narrative: he’s
the ultimate fall guy. Quite literally
– who would believe the word of a
man who has fallen off stage, and on
stage, and split his trousers on stage
so frequently that his performance
mishaps are virtually a YouTube
subgenre?
With this in mind, Lost in Showbiz
wearily engages in what colleagues
nearer the front of this esteemed
journal might consider “actual
journalism”.
The first call is to the British
Transport Police, who are routinely
cited in articles, such as NME’s,
debunking Murs’s version of events.
They say they weren’t part of the
Selfridges investigation, because
they were handling Oxford Circus.
A good start: get the Pulitzer
committee on standby!
Next stop is the Metropolitan
police, who are quite helpful in
terms of a prompt response, but
no use whatsoever in when it
comes to clearing Olly’s name
(“We really could not discuss or
answer a question in relation to any
individual”). Also, they repeat their
earlier lines about there having not
been any evidence of shots having
been fired.
Lost in Showbiz must concede
at this stage that this whole proper
journalism business is surprisingly
hard work. How is it not possible to
unmask a major conspiracy relating
to public safety with one phone call
and one query submitted via an
online feedback form? No wonder
reporters in films always have their
ties loosened. But perhaps someone
else can continue this story. Perhaps
there is a courageous soul out
there prepared to risk everything,
like they do in those films with
loosened ties, to get to the bottom
of all this. Perhaps they have access
to a double-berth garage capable
of housing cardboard boxes full
of paperwork, like the one Hank
had in Breaking Bad — that was an
absolutely brilliant investigation
space. And perhaps they are brave
enough to pursue the truth, even if it
is quite possibly not true at all, while
also being brave enough to stand
shoulder to shoulder with a man
who could at any moment burst into
a passable cover of something off
The Commitments soundtrack.
Because, make no mistake, this
isn’t about wanting Murs to be right.
It’s about wanting Morgan to be
wrong. A thankless pursuit, maybe,
in this instance; but a noble one
nonetheless.
Margaret Atwood
uncovers the
Alderaan cell
In a strong week for conspiracy
theories of the stars, Margaret
Atwood, whose own Rizzle Kicks
collaborations are sadly yet to see
the light of day, has been having a
chit-chat with Variety. “They got
the idea from Star Wars,” she says
at one point – but what could she
be discussing?
The Force Awakens would be
the obvious answer, but no: the
Handmaid’s Tale hitmaker is
actually discussing 9/11. Notes
Atwood: “Remember the first one?
Two guys fly a plane in the middle
of something and blow that up? The
only difference is, in Star Wars, they
get away.”
The only difference! And there’s
more right here: “Right after 9/11,
they hired a bunch of Hollywood
screenwriters to tell them how the
story might go next. Sci-fi writers are
very good at this stuff, anticipating
future events.”
Atwood’s assertion seems to
represent both freedom from facts
and the freedom to make up her
own, apparently hinging on the
notion that George Lucas invented
the concept of one moving thing
being capable of damaging another
thing. News perhaps to anyone
involved in numerous conflicts, or
who used a bowling alley, before
1977. But perhaps as well as writing
books that predict the future,
Atwood has also found a way to
rewrite the past. If that is indeed the
case, there is a certain pop singer
here in the UK who might appreciate
some advice on how to handle
24/11 2017.
The Guardian
Friday 13 April 2018
3
•
‘I’m a gay artist.
For as long as
I need to, I’ll talk
about it’
South African actor Nakhane stars in The Wound, a film
that mixes an intimate portrayal of a gay relationship
with the Xhosa tribe’s initiation rites. It won awards, but
he has faced a dark backlash, he tells Tshepo Mokoena
A
few months after
the actor, musician
and author Nakhane
started receiving
online death threats,
he developed an
unorthodox reaction to them. Call
it a coping mechanism, but the
30-year-old could not help but
assess the linguistic flair of his fellow
South Africans. “It was interesting
for my own people to describe in
great detail how they wanted to
kill me,” he says, softly. “But some
of the descriptions were so poetic
that I was like: ‘Hey, people can
write. They can write, eh?’” He
lets out a dry chortle, spiked with
weariness, and leans in over his
post-photoshoot glass of red wine.
“It was poetic, but dark.”
He is a long way from home,
sitting in a north London bar, but
the ripple effects of the acting role
that inspired graphic threats against
his life still resonate. Nakhane
stars in The Wound (Inxeba),
a tender and intimate film that
weaves one story, of male samesex desire in rural South Africa,
with another, about what happens
when urbanised and queer teen
Kwanda (played by newcomer Niza
Jay Ncoyini) kicks back against
ingrained tradition. It is a film so
visceral you find yourself clenching
your fists and wincing while
anticipating the slap of violence
during its most tense scenes.
But, really, the reason so much
anger was directed at Nakhane,
his co-stars and the director, John
Trengove, was because The Wound
features approximate depictions of
ulwaluko – the secret rite of passage
into manhood observed by the
Xhosa tribe – and guy-on-guy sex
scenes. Implying that the initiation,
which involves circumcision,
could have any proximity to
homosexuality was more than some
people could take. Add to that a
white director telling a black African
story and controversy followed the
film at every turn. For Nakhane, who
is still clumsily referred to as “openly
gay” in the local press, that reaction
seeped into his own life.
“Initially, people jumped to
conclusions that the film would
be some sort of exposé” – and he
laces his next line with sarcasm –
“because that would be interesting
… They saw a trailer. They saw
queerness. And they went nuts,
because: ‘How dare you?’.”
Outrage ensued, in verbal
statements given by the Xhosa king,
on the streets, in the media and
on the internet. Nakhane recalls
one protest at Wits University
in Johannesburg: “There was a
standoff between people on either
side of the argument. This guy
kept shouting about: ‘IF it’s true,
IF this happens between men,’
and I couldn’t get him out of my
head.” That is because Nakhane’s
experience goes beyond the
hypothetical. “I was propositioned.
I” – and he points at his chest – “me.
And not once. So I know from direct
experience. And what’s next after
that? To say that I’m lying?”
He exhales these sentences
with an animated passion, all hand
sweeping and eye-rolls. He manages
to be warm, even when recounting
how one of his social media posts
promoting the film spread a rage
through his Xhosa community
“like a wildfire”. His magnetic
4
The Guardian
Friday 13 April 2018
personality seems antithetical to
that of Xolani, his character in the
film, who maintains a secret love
affair with Vija, a fellow caregiver to
the teenage boys when they travel to
a remote mountain for the initiation.
“To prepare,” he recalls, “John said
to me: ‘Imagine who you are and
that everyone in the world loves
you. It’s a warm day. Can you feel it?’
Yes, I could. ‘OK, so take that feeling,
put it in a box and squash it. That’s
where you are, as a character.’”
Although Nakhane speaks freely
about his sexual orientation – largely
at the prompting of journalists,
it must be said – he, too, used to
be closeted, like Xolani. He was
born in Alice, once a model town
for apartheid regime propaganda
in the Eastern Cape, where
heteronormative views ruled.
At the age of 15, he moved to
Johannesburg, and came out a few
years later. He briefly reverted to
a form of “pray the gay away”
fundamentalism and lived in
denial about his sexual preferences,
but, by his late 20s, with a career
as a soulful pop performer
blossoming, he had accepted himself
at last.
“Now, my sister tells me about
friends of hers in school who were
gay and out in grade 8, aged 14. And
I’d ask how that was being received:
‘No one cares.’ I never would have
dreamed, at 14, of being able to do
that. Fourteen! I mean, I was feisty to
come out at 17.” He laughs again.
While the film racked up awards,
from the Durban and London film
festivals to LGBT film festivals in
Madrid, San Francisco and Lisbon,
one branch of the Congress of
•
Nakhane, and,
left, as Xolani
in The Wound.
Below: with
Bongile Mantsai
as Vija
Traditional Leaders of South Africa
worked with the country’s Man
and Boy Foundation to have it
censored on its release in February.
The Wound ended up with an X18
rating from the country’s censor,
a classification generally reserved
for porn – before its backers went
to court in an attempt to have a less
restrictive rating.
Speaking via Skype, Trengove
reflected on a tumultuous ride. As
a white director, he has dealt with
another layer of backlash, from
those who think he should not
have told this story. He chooses his
words carefully, pointing out how
he co-wrote the script with Thando
Mgqolozana and Malusi Bengu, both
Xhosa men. “From the beginning,
my own whiteness was a huge thing
to reconcile, or at least grapple with,
in the construction of the film,” he
says. “The difficulty and discomfort
of it is something I knew I was taking
on. But the reasons for making the
film under these circumstances
outweighed those for not making it.”
He has watched The Wound
prompt debate about race, tradition,
what constitutes pornography,
and gayness – in a country whose
progressive
constitution
protects LGBT
rights in theory,
but less so
in practice.
All the drama
surrounding the
film, though,
may distract
from a simple
fact: Nakhane’s
performance
is a delicate revelation. His past
work as a musician and author (his
debut novel, Piggy Boy’s Blues,
was published in 2015) informs the
emotional depths he plumbs in this
first-ever professional acting role.
“He brought an understanding
that, in order to do interesting work,
you have to step outside your own
comfort zone,” Trengove says. “It’s
something a lot of actors struggle
with, which he did very intuitively.
And that is what you see in the
film.” He adds: “There’s something
incredibly expressive about
Nakhane, a way in which what’s
going on, on the inside, pours out
of him. He has a translucency that I
knew could work on camera.”
It beams out in person, too. When
I ask how he reflects on the backlash,
from this vantage point thousands of
miles away, his eyes lock into focus.
“Some people say: ‘Aren’t you tired
of always having to talk about the
fact that you’re a gay artist?’ and I’m
like: ‘You have no fucking idea how
tired I am of it.’ But for as long as I
need to, I’m going to talk about it.
Sure, it’s annoying that sometimes
you see an article that splashes with
‘GAY MUSICIAN’, but do you know
how many openly gay musicians
there are in South Africa?”
He looks resolute, calm.
“For as long as it needs to be said,
then it needs to be said. For as
long as there’s some kid out there
who can’t be themselves, he’ll
need someone.”
The Wound is in cinemas from 27 April
To shush
or not?
Purists wanting to watch
A Quiet Place in silence
have risen up against
cinema’s noisy eaters.
They’re wrong, says
Joe Queenan
M
‘They saw
queerness. And
they went nuts,
because: “How
dare you?”’
Photography
Graeme
Robertson
Kids text
constantly
during films
and there is
nothing that
can be done
otion pictures
regularly strike
a nerve, causing
audiences to
rethink their
views about
politics, sex, religion and drugs.
This is true of films as varied as the
spectacularly racist The Birth of a
Nation, the deeply disturbing and
uncompromisingly antisemitic
The Passion of the Christ and the
futuristic, immensely thoughtprovoking 2001: A Space Odyssey.
But it is also true of Jaws, Psycho
and Deliverance, all of which
traumatised filmgoers to such a
degree that they afterwards avoided
going into the ocean, the shower,
the basement, or the rural American
south. These are films that generate
passion or controversy by virtue of
their troubling subject matter and
their powerful images. For better or
worse, they change the way we think
and the way we behave outside the
theatre once they are over.
But few films affect the way we
behave inside the cinema. This is
what sets the newly released A Quiet
Place apart. Because of the unique
demands it places on viewers, it
raises vexing questions about how
one goes about watching a film
in the 21st century. Its premise
is that, in a few years, our planet
will be taken over by murderous,
sightless creatures endowed with
extraordinarily good hearing. To
avoid being hunted down and killed
by the merciless invaders, the few
surviving humans on Earth must
remain as quiet as church mice.
Here’s where the trouble starts.
Many people have become enraged
at those who noisily consume
food during A Quiet Place, saying
it wrecks the atmosphere the film
is trying to create. Their position
is that people attending a movie
with virtually no sound are morally
obligated to keep their mouths shut.
That means no talking, no giggling,
no coughing and, most important of
all, no eating. Otherwise, boisterous
moviegoers are being deeply,
unforgivably disrespectful.
Alas, if cinemas followed such
draconian rules, they would be out
of business. The fact is, a lot of people
go to the movies because it’s raining
or they are between sales calls or
retired. They don’t care what movie
they see. To say they can’t eat because
the characters on screen are keeping
a lid on it isn’t fair. Once you have
paid for your ticket, you can chomp
as much as you damn well please.
The furore over noisy patrons at
A Quiet Place underscores the need
to develop sensible filmgoing
etiquette for the modern world. Kids
text constantly during movies, often
to friends three seats away, and
there is nothing that can be done.
You can’t persuade or prevent
moviegoers from using their phones
– just as you can’t persuade or
prevent patrons bothered by the
chatter and the clacking and the LCD
glare from spilling popcorn and soda
over the phone abusers, a tactic often
referred to as “direct democracy”.
Is it still OK to drop your sweet
wrappers and popcorn containers on
the floor? Yes, because such slovenly
behaviour is a cinematic tradition,
the cornerstone of the moviegoing
experience. But theatres should
forbid patrons from wearing hoodies
to horror films, because hoodies,
hats with low brims and thick scarves
make it impossible for others to tell
whether the spawn of Satan is sitting
at the other end of the aisle.
Finally, there is the matter of
disruptive toilet breaks. Theatres
should take a lead from opera houses
and stipulate that those who leave
the room once the performance has
started will not be readmitted until
there is a break in the action.
If all these measures fail, cinema
chains might consider designating
individual theatres as quiet rooms.
Here, patrons will not be allowed to
talk or eat. Snickering and tittering
will be forbidden. Theatre staff
should screen filmgoers, much like
airport security, pulling anyone out
of line who looks like a slob, a giggler
or a noisy eater and refuse to sell them
tickets. This way, purists who want
everyone to remain silent as the grave
during the screening of an Emily
Blunt film can huddle in a small, dark
room and stay there for ever. Which
would suit everyone else just fine.
The Guardian
Friday 13 April 2018
5
•
PHOTOGRAPH: DIMITRIS LEGAKIS/ATHENA PICTURES
The Manics in
2018 (from left):
Nicky Wire, James
Dean Bradfield
and Sean Moore
‘We’re still
full of vitality.
You can’t
fake that’
Manic Street Preachers’ new album is entitled
Resistance Is Futile but, from politics to privacy,
the band aren’t taking things lying down
➺ Words Alexis Petridis
6
The Guardian
Friday 13 April 2018
N
icky Wire and James
Dean Bradfield are
seated in the latter’s
hotel room in
Marylebone, central
London, ostensibly
promoting Manic Street Preachers’
forthcoming 14th album, Resistance
Is Futile, but instead talking about
the possibility of Manic Street
Preachers splitting up. Wire says he
finds the prospect “terrifying”,
which is understandable: they have
been in the band for 31 years – they
formed at secondary school in
Blackwood in south Wales – and
neither of them seems to know what
else they might do. “I can’t go and
teach at the Cardiff Institute of
Music, you know,” smiles Bradfield.
“My first lecture on how to make it in
the music business: ‘Piss everybody
off, dress like your mum and learn
how to play on the job.’ ‘Er … can we
have a new lecturer, please?’”
Nevertheless, they say, splitting
up is a thought that has occurred to
both of them in the four years since
they last released an album, a trying
period. During this time Wire’s
elderly parents fell ill, his mother
gravely so, and their Cardiff studio,
Faster, was closed after the building
that housed it was earmarked for
redevelopment and demolished – its
closure made the news in Wales. The
process of building a new one, says
Bradfield, turned him into “a low-rent
version of what’s-his-fucking-name
from Grand Designs”. “He would
ring me up and go: ‘I’ve got a bit of
bad news – steel prices have gone up,”
sighs Wire, with the unmistakable
air of a man who didn’t join a band in
order to discuss supporting joists.
To most observers, the Manics
seem to have spent the past decade in
the kind of creative Indian summer
that has eluded most of their peers.
They enjoyed their commercial
zenith in the late 90s, when, as Wire
disbelievingly points out, they were
so big that a single such as The Masses
Against the Classes, which opens with
a sample of Noam Chomsky and ends
with a quotation from Albert Camus’
book The Rebel, could knock
Westlife’s Seasons in the Sun off No 1.
If they have never recaptured that
high point, the past 10 years have still
come replete with gold albums, arena
tours and critical acclaim. That last
record, Futurology, was widely hailed
as one of the best records the band
has made. But Bradfield says he has
found himself wondering if the
Manics still had an audience – an odd
thing to worry about given the size
of the venues they still play, but as he
says, the band were always “fucking
obsessed with a desire to be huge”.
Wire says he has been beset by
doubts, not just about their relevance,
but the relevance of rock music in
general. From the start, at least part
of the point of Manic Street Preachers
was, as Wire once beautifully put it,
“to give clues to a more rewarding
life”, to use rock music as a means by
which you could transmit ideas about
books and films and politics. The
journalist Stuart Maconie recalled
faxing them, early on in their career, a
standard set of questions for a weekly
NME Q&A called Material World, and
receiving in response a set of
“brilliantly chosen quotations from a
whole range of cultural figures – Mao,
Philip Larkin, Marilyn Monroe,
‘If you look back
at me and Richey
at the start,
we’d have been
killed today’
PHOTOGRAPH: NEELAM KHAN VELA; TIM RONEY/GETTY
•
George Best, Flaubert, Andy Warhol,
Heidegger”. But in a world of social
media, rock music is clearly no longer
the main conduit of youth culture.
“It’s dictated by role models, icons,
whatever you want to call them,” Wire
says. “Music used to be the leader in
terms of that, everything about the
way we looked growing up was about
searching out how to look like those
kind of people. Now they’re getting it
from avenues that I can’t comprehend
why they’d want to.” He sighs.
“The emptiness of it. Actually, I feel a
certain sense of pity, because I think
our youth was so definite and tangible
and exciting and full of space to
dream and magic and all those kind
of ephemeral things. Whereas now,
it’s just ratcheted at you at such a
fucking speed. And we all know,
because we’ve all got kids, and you
try to kind of … not influence them,
but pass on things that made your life
magical, and they just seem
completely fucking irrelevant. It’s
not nostalgia, that’s a key thing; it’s
actually things just disappearing. It’s
like the NME closing, that was the
worst thing about it: it’s just another
nail, telling you music is less relevant.”
Nevertheless, he says, “the one thing
I know for certain, in this world of
absolute doubt and uncertainty, is
that when the three of us get in the
studio, there is still a magic there”.
Hence they didn’t split up, and
while Resistance Is Futile doesn’t
shy away from addressing the band’s
doubts – they are there in everything
from its title to its cover photo,
featuring “one of the last samurai
warriors – someone who knows his
time is over thanks to the coming of
the gun” – it arrives filled with brashly
anthemic songs that deal in what
Wire calls “ecstatic miserablism …
effervescent melancholy”.
He says he feels “drained of
intellectual stamina … That’s why I
don’t think anyone should be in charge
of a political party at 75 or something,
because at 50, I’m fucking struggling.”
He also claims he was incapable of
the effort that went into researching
Futurology’s theme of “connecting
Europe through art movements, like
an antidote to politics” – during which
he became so “obsessed with things
like [Futurist poet] Mayakovsky and
Malevich’s Black Square” that the rest
of the band “didn’t know what I was
fucking on about”. But Resistance Is
Futile’s songs are as lyrically rich as
ever. They variously touch on the
doomed, booze-sodden marriage
of Dylan Thomas and Caitlin
Dwayne Johnson
in his latest film,
the blockbuster
Rampage
‘Corbyn doesn’t
get what makes
the working
classes tick
outside London’
Macnamara, the “seismic cultural
gap” revealed by the death of David
Bowie (“I don’t think there’s ever
going to be anybody to replace him:
that self-made, that extravagant,
intellectual, playful, funny, gorgeous,
best hair ever, best clothes ever – how
can that happen again from a workingclass background in Brixton?”), the
paintings of Yves Klein and the story
of Vivian Maier, the Chicago nanny
who had a double-life as a street
photographer, taking 150,000 photos
that were only discovered, to vast
acclaim, after her death.
T
he latter’s story keys
into another of Wire’s
obsessions about the
internet era: that
nothing is ever truly
secret, that everyone’s
lives are constantly documented and
held up to public scrutiny. “One of
the greatest things Francis Bacon
ever said was that you self-realised,”
he says. “There was a period of five
years in his life, literally no one knows
what the fuck he did. He destroyed
everything he painted, there were
rumours he was an interior decorator,
he was in Berlin … Just no one knows
what went on for that period, and
that can never happen again, that
self-realisation where you really
form yourself through isolation and
scarcity and ideas. I feel sorry for the
generations coming after us because
of that. How can you do it? Everything
is there, laid out for you to be
embarrassed by when you’re older,
without realising. All our embarrassing
songs that we wrote when we were 15,
you know, thank fuck no one heard
them. So there’s humiliation, as well,
that idea of one false step … If you
look back at me and Richey at the
start, fuck me, we’d have been killed
today. I dread to think what I would
have put James and Sean through,
because some of the interviews are
just … there’s so much talk, and it’s
only by the end that we talk any sense.
But that was the process, wasn’t it, of
just going through all that stuff.”
There is also a considerable amount
of fretting about politics, which seems
faintly surprising: given the band’s
past political allegiances to Tony Benn
and Arthur Scargill, I had assumed
they would be quite gung-ho for
Jeremy Corbyn, but apparently not.
“I’m coming around to him a lot more,
but not gung-ho, no,” says Bradfield.
“I’m not one of those people who goes
on about the liberal elite in London,
but I don’t think he understands
what makes the working classes tick
outside of London and that is just
hardcore industries. We’ve operated
at our optimum as people when jobs
give us meaning, and in the postindustrial hinterlands, he doesn’t
understand that. I remember
somebody at a meeting in south
Wales, an old guy, ex-miner, wanted
his son to have a proper, real, bluecollar job, and he was saying: ‘What do
you expect us to do, Mr Corbyn, make
fucking love spoons out of hemp?’ I
don’t think Jezza gets it, I don’t think
he connects with people on that level,
which is part of the reason we’re
having political problems in Wales.”
Wire says he’s “completely baffled
by my own political vacuum” since
Brexit: “A lot of it’s just about political
intelligence, the frustration where I
think we grew up in a time when there
was a lot of political intelligence on
both sides. Now … there’s never any
answers, it’s just statement after
statement of opposing vitriol … I can’t
see a middle way at the moment.”
And Bradfield and Wire go off on a
lengthy tangent about politics: they
talk, as much to each other as to me,
about Tony Benn’s notion of the EU as
“a gentleman’s club for millionaires”
and how the remain campaign failed
because it didn’t make enough of the
EU’s failings and the need to reform
it, whether or not the shadow
chancellor, John McDonnell, is “an
old-school totalitarian communist”
(Wire uses this phrase with approval,
rather than censure), and the proposed
2016 closure of the Tata steelworks in
Port Talbot. They don’t, it has to be
said, sound much like an irrelevant
band stuck for things to say.
“There is a sense of a massive fun
and excitement being in our band,”
says Wire. “Every record we’ve made
recently, whether you like them or not,
they’ve all been convincing. It’s still
full of vitality. You can’t really fake
that. We have to be completely
committed to this.” He smiles. “At our
age, if you’re not, then it’s fucking over.”
Resistance Is Futile is out now
on Columbia. See review on page 18.
The Manics in
1992, with
Richey Edwards
on left; Bradfield
on stage in 2014
What’s the secret of
The Rock’s success?
Dwayne Johnson is the world’s biggest movie star. But
could he be planning even more? By Peter Bradshaw
D
wayne Johnson is
big. Really big. The
WWE wrestlerturned-Hollywood
star is 6ft 4in, a solid
250lb-worth of hunk
– a muscular alpha monument of a
guy, much like the “Brahma bull” logo
which he has tattooed on to one of his
Crossrail-tunnel-proportioned arms.
Yet he has a kind of Buddha-like
calm to go with the bulk, a geniality
that makes him castable in family
adventures and action comedies.
Aged 45, he is up at 5am every day to
work out for at least a couple of hours,
a regime he inherited from his dad,
Rocky Johnson, himself a professional
wrestler, from whom Johnson adapted
his wrestling name – The Rock.
And Johnson is big in another way.
He is now simply the world’s biggest
film star. In 2015, his films reportedly
made $1.488bn at the box office . In
an industry which desperately needs
tentpole stars and above-the-title
players, Johnson is a prince. As he
today opens his outrageously silly
extravaganza, Rampage, Johnson is
entering his celebrity prime, now
confident enough to discuss his tough
upbringing and the agony of witnessing his mother’s attempt at taking
her own life when he was a teenager.
But how did this happen? Has he
made any good films? It is difficult to
pin down what roles he has made his
own. Arnie had The Terminator,
Sylvester had Rambo and Rocky, Bruce
had Die Hard and, these days, Tom
has Mission: Impossible. But Dwayne
isn’t like that. He has spread his
brand identity into a wider portfolio
of genres and franchise properties,
and the return on these has
collectively added up to a colossal
amount of celebrity clout.
Like Arnie with Conan the
Barbarian, Johnson began by parlaying
his muscles into a “mythic” role. He
was The Scorpion King in 2002, a role
spun off from his small part in The
Mummy Returns the year before.
Johnson made action movies such as
The Rundown in 2003 and Doom in
2005. He had a very surreal flirtation
with auteur-arthouse, making his
debut at Cannes in Richard Kelly’s
cult movie Southland Tales in 2007.
But his career takeoff came at the
end of the decade, when he made his
debut in the fifth movie in the Fast and
Furious franchise. Johnson siphoned
off the huge popularity of these films
into his own career petrol tank. His
secret is that he didn’t go down the
pure action route. Like Arnie, he is
self-aware and good-natured enough
to play comedy and family-oriented
movies – but, unlike Arnie, it wasn’t
a matter of sending himself up. With
his open, wide-eyed face and
unassuming, essentially unaggressive
image, he could carry it off.
For Johnson, being a nice guy is
a central part of his persona. But it
wasn’t always like this. As a college
football star he had a ferocious
temper. In his wrestling career, he
was originally cast as the “heel”, the
bad guy, always trash-talking and
insulting his opponents. And even
now we have seen flashes of his dark
side. “Vin and I had a few discussions,
including an important face-to-face
in my trailer,” he said of filming Fast
and Furious. “And what I came to
realise is that we have a fundamental
difference in philosophies on how
we approach movie-making and
collaborating.” Quite a paraphrase.
For the moment, The Rock is the
colossus of the industry. Will he
progress to something more solid?
Does he even need to? Johnson might
have something bigger to show us
before he taps out. He has spoken
about how he hopes one day to host
the Oscars … maybe even win an
Oscar. And, last May, while hosting
Saturday Night Live, he announced
his bid for the US presidency in 2020,
with Tom Hanks as his running mate.
Of course, he was just kidding. Or
was he?
The soft-centred
hulk: Johnson
has family-film
appeal
The Guardian
Friday 13 April 2018
7
•
Still raving
after all
these years
Thirty years on from the second summer of love, a cohort
of middle-aged DJs remain on the club circuit, fuelled by
nothing stronger than coffee, writes Tony Naylor
PHOTOGRAPHS: REX/SHUTTERSTOCK; LAURA LEWIS/BBC
I
n 1988, Luke Cowdrey was
undergoing his acid-house
epiphany in Manchester.
“For me, it changed the
world,” says the Sheffieldborn DJ, better known as
Luke Unabomber. “It wasn’t just
music, drugs and hedonism. It was
the people you met and the sense
that life was, suddenly, so much
better.” He smiles: “My brother
always says the men in my family
didn’t start hugging until acid house.”
In Manchester you are never
far from such a testimony. The
city is full of grizzly rave veterans
banging on about the Haçienda. The
difference with Cowdrey is that,
aged 51, he is still raving, and not on
the nostalgia circuit (“Celebrating
the past is such a defeat”) but at
clubbing’s cutting-edge – along with
a generation of middle-aged DJs who
have refused, or are unable, to hang
up the headphones.
Cowdrey is the promoter of longrunning queer night Homoelectric
– “a genuine alternative to the
commercial stranglehold”, as he
sees it. “People take the piss but I
still believe in the evangelism of it
all, that, politically and culturally,
the world is so toxic that people still
want to escape together.”
We head to the club Hidden for
the first Homoelectric of 2018.
A three-storey warehouse space near
Strangeways prison, it could not be
further from the glossy polish of the
Refuge, the hotel bar and restaurant
where Cowdrey is also de facto
creative director. He shrugs off the
apparent contradiction and rattles
on about the Meat Free collective or
DJ Jon K – references that would fox
most 21-year-old Mancs.
By midnight, Homoelectric, an
evening of gently dislocated chaos
for several generations of “homos,
lesbos, heteros, don’t-knows”, is
packed and Cowdrey is bouncing in
the DJ booth. He was up at 6am to
spend the day with his family, and
will be at Homoelectric until 5am,
powered only by a few beers. “At
51, you definitely feel it,” he admits,
but if you want to hear that music in
its natural environment, you need
to hang out in nightclubs. Even if
in middle age, you do it drug-free.
“I’ve played Salon zur Wilden Renate
in Berlin at 7am on Sudafed, Red Bull
and coffee. I found a new buzz doing
that. I go to full-on druggy places
100% straight and feel comfortable.
I find that energy exciting.”
Cowdrey is not alone. In 1988 it
would have sounded ludicrous but,
as we approach the 30th anniversary
of the so-called second summer
of love, a significant minority of
acid house veterans are defying
the passage of time: Kompakt’s
Wolfgang Voigt, AKA GAS is 57;
Andrew Weatherall is 54; techno
stars Dave Clarke and Luke Slater
both turn 50 this year. Rather
than creaking rave relics, they
remain creatively potent forces in
underground electronic music.
Colin McBean was originally half
of 90s techno duo the Advent. Now
56, he is enjoying a second life as Mr
G, taking his bass-heavy, hardwaredriven live set around Europe’s
best clubs. “I’m an old soundboy,
a battler, so my perspective is, ‘Can
I still enter the arena and box?’
I can stand toe-to-toe with most.
I do yoga. I keep fit. People ask how
old you are – ‘You’re joking, you’re
older than my dad!’ – but they’re
never derogatory. They’re amazed
you have that stamina. When the
moment takes me I get down,
scream and shout. The kids respond
to somebody playing music they
love. The energy I get is ridiculous.”
Keith McIvor, AKA JD Twitch
from Glaswegian DJ duo Optimo,
turns 50 this year, and confesses to
some awkward moments: “We play
gigs where the age range is so wide
it never crosses my mind, but if it’s
a young audience in their early 20s,
I can feel self-conscious that they’re
thinking: ‘Who is this old fucker?’
Occasionally, someone asks if they
can procure certain substances from
me, too, as if the only reason I’d be in
a club is because I’m a drug dealer.”
“If people view clubs as pick-up
areas, I can see why [older clubbers]
might be construed as weird, but if
it’s honestly about the music, it’s OK
– as it is at a concert,” reasons Clarke.
He has never thought of quitting.
“I’m good at what I do and it brings
people a lot of joy.”
For Clarke, the pace of
technological change in DJing –
the creative possibilities of digital
file manipulation – has been
inspirational: “We’re constantly kept
on our toes.” But Voigt scorns the
theory that technology has extended
his creative lifespan. “For me, this
doesn’t matter, because my job is
not about genres or instruments.
I’m 100% artist. That’s my destiny,”
he says. “When I go to clubs, I leave
around 3am. This is not a question of
age. It’s always been like that.”
As the host of BBC 6 Music’s
weekend breakfast show, Mary
Anne Hobbs has fewer 3am finishes
these days. Her show, however,
is testament to the 53-year-old’s
obsessive interest in exploring
new music, an obsession shared by
everyone I speak to. Like Cowdrey,
Hobbs was transformed by the
Haçienda (“I remember tangibly
the sense of a whole new world
unfolding before me”) and finds
inexplicable the idea that you would
ever grow out of electronic music,
or let your tastes ossify. Sitting in
Altrincham Market’s food hall, she
explains that music is “inextricably
woven” into her DNA. “In a deeply
troubling world, it is perhaps the
only place you find real peace.”
That zeal led Hobbs to venture out
on her own to early dubstep clubs. At
41, she learned to mix and became
a global envoy for dubstep, touring
for years. It was extraordinary and
exhausting. “At that age, you have
to live like a monk – 100% sober.
Especially the American tours,
where you’re flying out of different
time zones every day.”
Interestingly, that discipline came
easy to Hobbs, as it does to most DJs
thriving in middle age. Even at the
Haçienda, Hobbs clubbed straight.
“I was the geek,” she says. Clarke has
taken ecstasy once: “The fact that
I don’t need drugs to stay awake has
probably saved me.”
McIvor likes a drink when DJing,
but says: “We’re not kicking the arse
out of it. You couldn’t sustain this if
you were. In the early 90s, doing Pure
in Edinburgh, 99% of people in that
club were on ecstasy. I didn’t take it.
I didn’t need to. I’m not saying I’ve
led a puritanical lifestyle, but I’ve
never been a mad caner.”
For Berlin DJ and producer Anja
Schneider, it is a myth that DJs are
party animals. Most are dedicated
to their craft, an approach that, as
a mother in her late 40s, enables
her busy schedule. “I don’t see a
reason to stop because I’m a mum.
I cannot deny my first love, music.
But time is limited. I now prefer to
spend Sunday with my son instead
of going to Panorama Bar.”
McIvor is sick of airports (“that’s
the gruelling bit”), but he still
played 120 gigs last year. Soon
after this interview, Hobbs was
DJing in Estonia. “Where else do
you want me to go?” she asks,
rhetorically. “Yeah, I’m 53. But
look at Attenborough, crawling
around in the South Pacific at 90.
At that age, I want to be looking for
my equivalent of the green turtle.”
So, you can now rave to the grave
without embarrassment – as long
as your knees hold out.
Dave Clarke has
taken ecstacy only
once. ‘The fact that
I don’t need drugs
to stay awake has
probably saved me’
Knees are good
... (clockwise
from above)
Andrew
Weatherall;
Mary Anne
Hobbs;
Dave Clarke;
Colin McBean
‘People say: You’re
older than my dad!
But they’re never
derogatory. They’re
amazed you have
that stamina’
The Guardian
Friday 13 April 2018
9
•
Comedy rap
It’s tricky!
Middle-class ad exec turned comic rapper Lil Dicky is
topping the charts. From Roland Rat to Honey G –
why does hip-hop so often get played for laughs?
➺ Words Peter Robinson
‘H
e’s not like
a ‘rapper’
rapper,” the
guy in the
restaurant
explains to his
unimpressed girlfriend. “He’s like
a ‘funny’ rapper.”
Those two statements – true and
open to debate respectively – are
from the opening scene of the video
to Lil Dicky’s Freaky Friday, which
is this week’s UK No 1 single, and
which on Monday crossed 100m
YouTube views, and will soon join its
thriftiness-espousing predecessor
$ave Dat Money in passing the same
number of Spotify plays.
Freaky Friday tells the story
of Lil Dicky mystically swapping
bodies with black guest vocalist
Chris Brown, and is an extreme
extrapolation of a line in Lil Dicky’s
2013 song White Dude, in which
he lamented not being able to use
the N-word. The upshot is that in
2018 Lil Dicky, now voiced by Chris
Brown in the song’s body-swap
concept, is finally “allowed” to say
the N-word 11 times.
10
It’s all very amusing, if you
sidestep the fact that Chris Brown is
a woman-beater with whose plight
both the video and song suggest
the audience must sympathise, and
if you sidestep the video’s racial
stereotyping, and if you sidestep
the ramifications of the N-word
bonanza (such as the all-white
women’s lacrosse team who caused
a minor storm last month when
they uploaded video of themselves
singing along). That’s enough
sidestepping to take you off the
pavement and into the path of an
out-of-control excuse juggernaut,
but then you still face other tracks in
Lil Dicky’s catalogue such as White
Dude and White Crime, which tackle
white privilege and male privilege.
One assessment of Lil Dicky’s
travails was offered in the headline
to a 2015 car-crash interview: Lil
Dicky Isn’t a White Supremacist,
He’s Just an Asshole.
Either way, Freaky Friday is the
biggest hit yet from 30-year-old
David Burd, who grew up in an
upper middle class Jewish family in
Philadelphia and worked – of course!
The Guardian
Friday 13 April 2018
– as an advertising creative before
recording his first mixtape in 2011.
By 2013, he had a viral video on his
hands with Ex Boyfriend, and he
followed it with a barrage of audio
and video content. He has since been
embraced by a number of big names:
his debut album, 2015’s Professional
Rapper, saw collaborations with
Snoop Dogg, T-Pain and Fetty Wap.
Freaky Friday is the latest in
a long line of comedy rap hits, which
more recently include Macklemore’s
Thrift Shop and the assorted works
of the Lonely Island, and date back
to the 1980s with acts such as Weird
Al Yankovic. Lil Dicky’s success once
again raises the question of why
rap and hip-hop are so apparently
hilarious: is it simply that there
are multiple, strong visual and
sonic reference points that make
parody easy, making comedy rap
no different from the way metal
has given the world Spinal Tap,
Bad News, the Darkness and
Muse? Or do the roots of hip-hop
and grime in the UK mean that,
if you’re parodying them, you’re
making a joke out of far more than
just music?
Over at BBC Radio 1Xtra, where
Freaky Friday has been playlisted,
presenter Yasmin Evans remembers
first seeing the video on YouTube
after seeing it shared on social
media. The next time she went
into work a listener had requested
the track, which, divorced from its
scene-setting video and without
knowledge of its performers, can
be baffling. “When I play it on air,
I know people are listening going,
‘I don’t get it. I don’t understand,’”
Evans accepts, “but we wouldn’t
be doing ourselves justice as
broadcasters if we didn’t cover the
things being spoken about, or that
are viral or trending. Chris Brown’s a
good singer! It’s all entertainment.”
ent
She says that she has also
a
hosted
appearances with the K
Kurupt FM
crew, from the BBC’s pirate
p
radio
mockumentary People Just Do
Nothing, “and people think they’re
genuinely real people. I mean,
I guess people think that
th with [Leigh
Francis’s fictional character]
char
Keith
Lemon as well.”
What Kurupt FM – a
and Michael
Dapaah, whose Big Shaq
Sha character
and Man’s Not Hot trac
track blew up
after a 1Xtra Fire in the Booth session
– have in common is th
that neither
b
ase their humour on o
base
outsiders
looking in. It’s hard to question
their authenticity, and it’s a similar
authenticity that Lil Di
Dicky has been
shrewd in acquiring by drafting in
collaborators such as Brown
B
and
Snoop Dogg.
At Sony’s Relentless Records,
general manager Ben Coates
C
takes
a similar view when he talks about
la year to
his label’s decision last
sign Love Island do
double act Chris
& Kem. On paper their track,
I , bore all
Little Bit Leave It
the hallmarks o
of a novelty
single, but by d
drafting in
producer Z
Zdot – who has
w
worked with
Stormzy
and Wile
Wiley – the
finished article was
not the sshambles it
migh have been.
might
Motherlovers …
Even the rapper Lethal
US comedy trio
Bizzle, who was initially
Lonely Island
unimpressed with the duo
hijacking his catchphrase,
eventually conceded: “You
know what, it’s not too bad. It’s
quite cool.”
Coates adds that he was
comfortable working on the project
as “the guys had a real knowledge
and love for the UK urban music
scene. They weren’t trying to take
the mick or culturally appropriate.
They were just huge fans, doing
what every other young man up and
down the country who’s into grime
or hip-hop was doing – and they
were having fun with it.”
We do seem to be a long way from
the explosion of rap novelty hits of
the 1980s, such as Liverpool FC’s
Anfield Rap or Mel Brooks’s Hitler
Rap. One of the earliest UK examples
came from the children’s TV puppet
Roland Rat, who hit the charts with
Rat Rapping. Steve Jeffries was
a house writer at Chappell Music
when, in 1983, the phone rang with
news that the fabric rodent wished
to make a single. “It’s still one of the
most hilarious
sessions I’ve ever
been in,” he says
today, but despite
the project’s
ridiculousness
he recalls one
key point about
the music: “We
were keen that
it sounded like
the real thing. We
didn’t want to
take the piss.”
One of that era’s biggest novelty
rap hits was Morris Minor & The
Majors’ Stutter Rap (No Sleep ’Til
Bedtime), which pastiched the
Beastie Boys’ own approximation of
hip-hop, and went Top 5 in 1988. “I
was on a train with a friend talking
about rapping,” explains comedian
and writer Tony Hawks. “And the
idea just came up that rapping when
you’re born with a stutter would
be funny.” He started performing
Yeeeaaah …
the track on the UK comedy circuit,
Honey G
and in New York, where he says it
and, left,
received a – slightly nonplussed –
Roland Rat
standing ovation.
We are a long
way from 80s
novelty hits such
as Liverpool’s
Anfield Rap
T
hough Hawks says
he didn’t receive any
feedback from the rap
community, he quickly
came to acknowledge
that his single’s subject
matter was not entirely helpful to
anyone with a speech impediment.
“When you do something in
a comedy set, you don’t expect
it to be under the same scrutiny
as when it’s Top 5 in the charts.
Suddenly it’s in the playground,
and then you think, ‘Well, we didn’t
make it for playgrounds.’ I issued,
quite rightly, an apology.” There is
a parallel here with that women’s
lacrosse team chanting lines from
Lil Dicky’s Freaky Friday: the song’s
context may involve multiple layers
of it’s racist / no it’s not / yes it is /
no it’s not, but when that context
is ignored, all you’re left with is a
load of white people chanting the
N-word.
Freak hit …
Lil Dicky
•
In the loopss
The new
wave of
female
producers
Hip-hop production
has long been maledominated, but women
such as WondaGurl
and Crystal Gaines are
now making beats for
the genre’s biggest stars,
writes Safra Ducreay
A
PHOTOGRAPHS: REX; GETTY; INVISION/AP; SYCO/THAMES TV; DAVID LEVENE/GUARDIAN; AP
An object lesson in how you can
easily run roughshod over these
ideas of authenticity and context
is 2016 X Factor contestant Honey
G. While to varying degrees tracks
such as Man’s Not Hot, Freaky Friday
and Little Bit Leave It are respectful
to rap, Honey G’s output was not.
On a very plain, objective level, she
could not rap. Her act seemed to
have been made deliberately bad,
either by Honey G herself or by the
show’s producers. It was hard to see
her inclusion as anything other than
reductive and exploitative.
When the Guardian calls Honey
G – 36-year-old Anna Gilford – she’s
at home in her flat. She’s standing,
she says at one point, in front of a
photograph of the X Factor judges
giving her a standing ovation; she
says we can call her Anna, so it
seems she’s not in character today.
Gilford talks about a planned
range of actual honey, her dreams
of Hollywood stardom and her
forthcoming tour – there will be kids’
dates, with a free buffet. Beyond
that, our time on the phone goes
badly, falling at the first hurdle
when she refuses to accept that she
is a joke act: “It’s quite insulting for
people to refer to me as a comedy
act.” But The X Factor presented
her as one for cheap laughs, right?
“I don’t think that’s true at all, in any
way, shape or form.”
It’s hard to move past that
curveball. She insists that she loves
hip-hop, and dismisses questions
about how it would be possible for
someone who truly loved hip-hop to
present it, as she did, as something
to be ridiculed. “It’s an insult when
someone says I’m appropriating
black culture,” she says later in the
conversation. Her defence is this:
“Of all the songs I performed on the
live shows at X Factor, a lot of them
came from black artists.”
Honey G’s third single, released
last Christmas, has been streamed
on Spotify only 2,981 times. Its
predecessor had about 24,000
streams, while her first
Man’s hot … release sits at around
Big Shaq
275,000. She is losing
AKA Michael 90% of her audience
every time she releases
Dapaah
a song: a cautionary
tale that suggests an artist
needs sophistication, humour,
authenticity – or at least selfawareness – to make comedy rap
work in 2018.
Lil Dicky, though, seems to be just
getting started. “People want to be
entertained by uplifting music and I
can’t really criticise that,” is how Ben
Coates sees Dicky’s success. “He’s
so smart – it seems to stem from
someone who’s hugely creative, and
has a complete understanding of
where the market is right now, and
has capitalised on it.”
At 1Xtra, Yasmin Evans adds
that the key to pulling off a comedy
rap act – and getting it right – is
straightforward. “People get the
balance right if they’ve lived what
they’re portraying,” she reasons.
“There are things you need to be
aware of. You have to be 100% real.
You can’t really fake it. To do it well
and represent it right, you have to
do it justice.”
s per the Tribe Called
Quest album, hiphop is about beats,
rhymes and life. The
first of these can
often get overlooked
in favour of the second, but
production is an essential part of the
genre’s appeal. A slick production
has the power to drive the lyrical
message home: from the 80s, when
Audio Two dropped their DaddyO-produced classic Top Billin’; to
2001, when Dr Dre laced Still D.R.E
with his signature aesthetic; to the
twisted work of Hit-Boy for stars of
this decade such as Kendrick Lamar
and Kanye West.
One thing remains clear:
production skews heavily towards
men. Recent darlings include Mike
Will Made-It, Murda Beatz, London
on da Track, DJ Mustard – the list
goes on. But as hip-hop evolves,
more and more women are entering
the production game.
The gender ratio isn’t yet equal,
but far more women are getting
production credits than when LA
producer Georgia Anne Muldrow, 34,
came on the scene in the early 00s.
“At that time, there weren’t any other
female producers in my social circle.
But there were awesome female
MCs,” she says. “You had Rah Digga,
Digable Planets’ Ladybug Mecca,
Missy Elliot. But I wasn’t hooked
up with them – everyone was just
kind of doing their own thing.
The idea was just to be dope and
get your stuff heard.”
Now, with female producers
proliferating, women are expecting
rather more than just getting heard
– they can end up working with
some of the genre’s biggest stars.
Some gaining clout include Ebony
“WondaGurl” Oshunrinde, who
at just 21 has already made tracks
for Drake, Travis Scott, Jay-Z and
Rihanna, and the Virginia-based
producer Shakari “Trakgirl” Boles,
who has been in the studio with
Omarion, Luke James and Jhené
Aiko. She says that being a woman
is no longer an impediment to
getting ahead in the rap game. “The
issue that I’ve had is something
that happens in general: being
undervalued and underappreciated,”
says Boles. “That’s the same in any
industry. But I would say it was a
disadvantage being a woman in the
beginning. I was underestimated.
I’ve learned to build an armour when
it comes to that.”
“I’m not offered some
opportunities, I think, just because I
am a woman,” says Harlem’s Crystal
Caines (above), a producer since
2014. “I can’t assume, but ... those
opportunities are present, and yet
they will give them to men over me.”
But she sees the situation improving.
“I was acknowledged as a producer
first – now, I’m able to introduce
myself as an artist, a producer and an
engineer.” Caines, 26, is known for
her haunting, slowed-down sound,
which can be heard on tracks by
artists such as A$AP Ferg, Smoke DZA
and female rapper Bbymutha. “I just
love making the artist uncomfortable
sonically – that’s when they get the
best product from me.”
LA producer Jennifer
“Tokimonsta” Lee gained credibility
within the electronic scene as well
as hip-hop and R&B, working with
Anderson Paak and Isaiah Rashad.
The way to win, she says, is to keep
your ego in check
and continue to
prove yourself.
“I’ve never tried
to use my gender
as a crutch or a
gimmick. I just
sought to earn
the respect of
The way to
my peers,” she
win, says
says. “When
Tokimonsta,
I was starting
is to keep
out, there were
your ego in
always these little
check
rumours that
I had a boyfriend
who taught me
everything I
knew, or I had
a ghostwriter making my beats for
me. Many of my peers applauding me
were male, so people would think:
‘Maybe she’s dating [electronic
producer] Flying Lotus. That’s why
she got signed to this label.’ They
overlooked the music to some
degree, and I found that difficult.”
But, Muldrow says, while
sexism still exists, the industry has
advanced to the point where you can
no longer make the excuse that being
female is holding you back. “You
can’t use that no more, because there
are more women producers,” she
says. “Now, it’s like, ‘Well, join
the club!’ What’s gonna make you
unique is being authentic; if you
ain’t born to do it, quit and figure out
what it is you’re born to do. When
you’re in there, you’ve gotta jam like
your life depends on it. Put in that
work. That’s what it’s about.”
The Guardian
Friday 13 April 2018
11
•
How do 80s
classics look in
the #metoo era?
Molly Ringwald’s reappraisal of the sexual politics in
The Breakfast Club has thrown an uneasy light on many
beloved movies. By Hadley Freeman
E
veryone has blind spots
when it comes to things
they loved as a child:
you don’t remember
how shonky your
favourite toys were, or
how weirdly racist your most-adored
first books could be. Partly, this is
because you encountered these
things as a child and so didn’t think
to question them, but it’s also
because you don’t want to question
them, because questioning them
means rewriting your happiest
memories.
This is probably why John
Hughes has got a free pass for so
long. Many of us who are now adults
grew up with his films and cherished
them with the fond sentimentality
French novelists reserve for
madeleines. He is – rightly – held
up as the man who brought a
soulfulness to the teen genre, but
that was never Hughes’s full story,
really. So when Molly Ringwald, who
starred in three of his teen movies,
wrote in the New Yorker this week
about rewatching those films in the
#MeToo era and pointed out that,
actually, Hughes’s teen films have
some distinctly unsoulful elements
to them, it was, for fans, as if the
emperor’s most devoted courtier
had pointed out his (semi) nudity.
Ringwald cites 16 Candles in
particular, although with its rapiness
and racism, that movie has been
Suspect …
The Breakfast
Club, in which
Ringwald’s
character falls
for her bully
pretty unwatchable for a while now,
surviving only on nostalgia. But she
also talks about The Breakfast Club,
a film still genuinely so beloved that
a restaurant chain is named after it.
Yet the school thug (Judd Nelson) is
vicious to Ringwald’s character
throughout the film, even looking up
her skirt in one scene and poking her
in the vagina, and still she swoons
into his arms at the end.
I have never loved The Breakfast
Club, mainly because it is so weird
about the two female teen
characters: one gets together with
her bully and the other (Ally Sheedy)
has to have a makeover to be
deemed socially acceptable. Hughes
adored and respected Ringwald, but
this only comes across in their last –
and, uncoincidentally, best –
film, Pretty in Pink.
Films from the 80s have lasted
amazingly well, considering some
are now almost 40 years old. But
there is no doubt social attitudes
have changed, particularly post
#MeToo. Some clunkingly dated
examples are obvious: everyone
knows that Fatal Attraction is
completely ridiculous about single
women, and nobody watches
9½ Weeks for a healthy depiction of
sexual politics. But it’s the creepy
jokes and weird dynamics that can
really make the heart sink.
Yet, as Ringwald rightly says,
pointing out the flaws does not
mean you have to disown it. It is part
of being a grownup, as much as
suddenly seeing your parents’
‘Pointing out the
flaws does not
mean disowning
it. It is part of
being a grownup’
Weird film …
Weird Science,
with Kelly
Lebrock as
a sex doll
12
The Guardian
Friday 13 April 2018
fallibilities and still loving them. You
love things from the past with the
heart of a child, but you can
simultaneously see them through
the eyes of an adult.
1 Weird Science
Yup, more John Hughes. And that’s
because Hughes had such an odd
sensibility, in that he was 50% a
National Lampoon jokemeister with
all the gross fratboy humour that
entails, and 50% poetic bard of deep
teenage feelings. By the time he
made his later teen films, Ferris
Bueller’s Day Off, Pretty in Pink and
Some Kind of Wonderful, he focused
on the feelings, and that’s why those
films have lasted the best. But Weird
Science, which was released between
The Breakfast Club and Pretty in
Pink, is his one teen film that is pure
fratboy, and thus has aged the worst.
Two teenage boys (Anthony Michael
Hall and Ilan Mitchell-Smith) create a
cybersex doll (Kelly LeBrock) and
impress the girls at school with their
apparent sexual prowess. You know,
just a universal coming-of-age story.
Do we have space to talk about the
weird racial politics in this film and,
in fact, in all of Hughes’ films? Let’s
save that for another day. After all,
there are only so many times you can
stab a sacred cow.
2 Overboard
The ultimate example of a story idea
that should have been made as a
horror film but was somehow instead
written up as a romantic comedy. A
handyman (Kurt Russell) lies to a
woman with amnesia (Goldie Hawn)
and tells her she is his wife just so
she will clean his house, look after
his kids and, ultimately, have sex
with him. “Does she run in the
opposite direction when she finds
out the truth?” SPOILER! She does
not. Russell and Hawn have one of
the stablest relationships in
Hollywood, so you have to wonder
how they looked at this script and
thought, “Yup, that seems normal –
sign us up!”
3 Working Girl
Yes, Tess (Melanie Griffith) is
celebrated for being ambitious.
Look, she swaps her trainers for
heels under her desk! But she is also
depicted as a kind of babyish sex
doll, one who girlishly defers to her
men (Alec Baldwin and then
Harrison Ford) and talks in the voice
of a child. She can only progress up
the ladder not by fighting sexism,
but by tearing down another
woman, the pointedly very adult
Katharine (Sigourney Weaver), who
is mocked for worrying about her
fertility, physically humiliated and
finally banished. Working Girl was
certainly not the only 80s film to be
conflicted about feminism and full
of contradictory messages to
women, but the fact it is still
celebrated as a feminist classic
makes its weirdness all the weirder.
4 Ghostbusters
I love Ghostbusters, you love
Ghostbusters, we all love
Ghostbusters. But let’s be honest,
•
doll. The perfect woman, it turns
out, is one who only comes to life
when given permission to do so. At
least 2007’s Lars and the Real Girl,
starring Ryan Gosling, admits the
weirdness of this man-and-doll
set-up. Mannequin, however, plays
it purely for romance, and not even
the always-welcome presence of
Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now by
Starship on the soundtrack changes
the wrongness of this film.
Love across the
ages … Tom
Hanks in Big
6 Say Anything
Domestic slave …
Goldie Hawn
and Kurt Russell
Venkman (Bill Murray) is a total
creep. In his opening scene he is
literally giving electric shocks to
one of his male students just so he
can try to sleep with a female
student, and then he later barges
into Dana’s (Sigourney Weaver)
apartment when she specifically
didn’t want him to come over.
Look, I didn’t want to accept this
either, and for a while I convinced
myself that Venkman proves
himself to be a good guy when he
resists having sex with Dana even
though she is possessed by the
demon of a horny dog and begs
him to do so. But if your bar for male
goodness is not taking advantage of
a woman who is actually a dog, your
bar is probably too low.
Arguably the greatest teen film of all
time and definitely the greatest John
Cusack film ever (don’t even try,
High Fidelity and Grosse Pointe
Blank fans). I love this film so much
I used a quote from it to open one of
my books (“The world is full of guys.
Be a man. Don’t be a guy”.) And yet
I also accept it can also be seen as
exemplifying the long-established
truth that films romanticise
harassment and stalking. The film
opens with Lloyd (Cusack) claiming
he once went on a date with Diane
(Ione Skye) because he sat near her
while eating in the mall, which
sounds, let’s be frank, kinda stalkery.
Later, Lloyd, freshly dumped, stands
outside Diane’s window and plays
the song (In Your Eyes by Peter
Gabriel) to which he and she once
had sex. This may well be the most
aww/eww moment ever committed
to celluloid, and it only falls on the
aww side of the former thanks to
Cusack’s Cusackiness.
7 Big
The 80s were so full of bodyswap
films they became a genre unto
themselves: 18 Again!, Vice-Versa,
Like Father Like Son, All of Me,
Dream a Little Dream, and I am not
ashamed to say I have seen them all,
yes, even the one in which Judge
Reinhold swaps bodies with Fred
Savage. Twice. No, YOU had a
wasted youth. Big is so superior to all
those other bodyswap films it’s
pretty much in a different universe,
which is why you have seen it
17 times and had never before heard
of Vice-Versa. But in one respect it
PHOTOGRAPHS: ALLSTAR/MGM/ALLSTAR UNIVERSAL
5 Mannequin
There are some 80s films that
haven’t lasted but really should have
done: Crossing Delancey and Lucas,
for example, are stone-cold classics
that no one watches now when they
absolutely should, ideally every day.
And then there are films that have
had a longevity that baffles even the
most devoted 80s fans. Mannequin
is one such film. Yes, Andrew
McCarthy’s smile is so magical it
should be a Unesco-protected
Office politics …
tourist site, and yes, the film does
Melanie Griffith
get bonus points for the presence
and Sigourney
of Estelle Getty, AKA Dorothea
Weaver in
from The Golden Girls. But that
Working Girl
does not change the fact this is a
romantic comedy about a man
who falls in love with a plastic
falls victim to the genre’s cliche in
having the child-in-the-body-of-aman have sex with a grown woman
who has no idea who she is actually
sleeping with. And sure, Tom Hanks
carries off the scene with sweet
panache, staring dazedly at his
girlfriend Susan’s (Elizabeth Perkins)
bra, but it is still a 13-year-old having
sex with a thirtysomething. Things
reach peak weirdness when Susan
drops him back off at his mother’s
and watches him turn back into a
little boy. She smiles lovingly at his
13-year-old face, remarkably
unbothered that she should now be
arrested for paedophilia.
Heartwarming!
‘She smiles
lovingly at his
13-year-old face,
unbothered that
she should now
be arrested’
Revenge of
the Nerds –
beyond
dodgy
8 Die Hard
This may well be the greatest
Christmas film of all time, but it is
also part of a different genre we can
call the 80s Anti-Feminism Movie.
It’s a pretty packed genre: there was
Mr Mom (by, yes, John Hughes),
which warned that women going out
to work would destroy the nuclear
family, and let’s not even get started,
please, on Fatal Attraction. Die Hard
is subtler than both of those films,
but it definitely fits in. John McClane
(Bruce Willis) has come to LA from
New York because his wife, Holly,
dared to want to take a big job there,
even though, as McClane stresses
early on, this destroyed their
marriage. He is disgusted when he
arrives at her office to hear everyone
call her by her maiden name, and her
office is full of coked-up sleazeballs
and terrorists. But don’t worry, by
the end of the film she is tamed and
she insists, to her husband’s delight,
to be addressed as “Mrs McClane”.
9 Meatballs
Strictly speaking, this is a 70s
film, as it came out in 1979, but
given I saw it in the 80s I’m
including it. And when I saw it,
when I was eight, I thought this was
the funniest film anyone could ever
and would ever make. Directed by
Ivan Reitman, co-written by Harold
Ramis and starring Bill Murray in his
first starring film role, Meatballs,
about a rather unorthodox
summer camp, can be seen as the
early comedy prototype for
Ghostbusters, given how many
crucial cast and crew members of
the two films overlapped. And, like
Ghostbusters, it has definite
weirdness in it that you can overlook
as a kid but will wince at as an adult.
Murray plays Tripper, a very Murrayish camp counsellor, who torments
the kids, flirts with the women and
is goofily aggressive to the woman
he actually likes, Roxanne (Kate
Lynch), a fellow counsellor. In one
scene, he makes a move on Roxanne
and by “makes a move” I mean
chases her around his office while
she tries to fight him off, pushes her
to the ground and the whole scene
is, to use the technical term, totally
rapey. In short, the lesson of
Murray’s early comedies is, a man
could get away with a lot of gross
behaviour on screen, if he was
Bill Murray
10 Revenge
of the Nerds
These days nerds are seen as
charming, rumpled, cool and even a
bit sexy. Back in the 80s, they were
generally depicted as voyeuristic
sex pests, peering into the girls’
changing room through their
taped-up glasses, and no film
exemplified this more than
Revenge of the Nerds. But in case
you ever get asked in a pub quiz
what was the rapiest film of the
1980s, this is the official answer.
Life Moves Pretty Fast by Hadley
Freeman (Fourth Estate, £12.99).
To order a copy for £9.99, go to
bookshop.theguardian.com or
call 0330 333 6846.
The Guardian
Friday 13 April 2018
13
•
Review Film
Culture clash …
Meinhard
Neumann
in Western
The Titan
★★☆☆☆
Dir Lennart Ruff
Starring Sam Worthington, Taylor
Schilling, Tom Wilkinson
Length 95 mins Cert 15
Western
★★★★★
Dir Valeska Grisebach
Length 121 mins
Cert 12A
Starring Meinhard Neumann, Reinhardt Wetrek, Syuleyman Alilov Letifov
Trouble in
paradise
Peter
ter
shaw
Bradshaw
O
ne of the year’s best
films has arrived, a
work of unmatched
subtlety, complexity
and artistry. It is
about tension and
transgression, and yet also evokes a
pure and miraculous calm. German
film-maker Valeska Grisebach leads
you gently by the hand along her
drama’s meandering path into a
grove of mystery. She never allows
you to make assumptions about the
good guys and bad guys, doesn’t
confect the obvious confrontations
and crises, and doesn’t coerce the
audience into consenting to the
inevitability of violence.
A bunch of German construction
workers show up in the remote,
mountainous and stunningly
beautiful region of south-western
Bulgaria to build a hydroelectric
power station, evidently with EU
money. But there is a problem with
the job: the site manager has been
badly briefed about the terrain,
there is no regular water supply to
make the concrete and the gravel
they paid for hasn’t arrived. Work
grinds to a halt and the men have
little to do but lounge around in the
14
The Guardian
Friday 13 April 2018
sun, drinking beer, boorishly flying
the German flag from their camp
and making leering advances to the
women from the village, while they
antagonise the local men.
Meinhard Neumann plays
Meinhard, a quiet, ruminative
worker. He is hardworking,
avoids idiotic behaviour, and has
a respectful and open-minded
attitude to the local people; he is
nicknamed the Legionnaire on
account of supposed military service
in Iraq and Afghanistan, although
the truth about this is never quite
clear. Reinhardt Wetrek plays the
boss, Vincent, an arrogant and
swaggering type who insults one
of the local women, Vyara (Vyara
Borisova), but then, in the most
excruciatingly poignant way, appears
to have feelings for her. Syuleyman
Alilov Letifov plays Adrian, a
Bulgarian man who befriends
Meinhard and hires him as his
unofficial bodyguard at the gravel
quarry he manages.
The title sports with the idea
of genre. The premise is like a
Hollywood western, with a militarystyle fort set up in Apache country
and a question of tribal loyalty
involved in fraternisation. But there
is another genre: pastoral. For all the
simmering resentment and sexual
tension, the Germans and Bulgarians
occupy an almost Edenic world
of natural beauty. Reinhardt tells
Adrian that it is “paradise” and takes
him to the fabled rock formation in
nearby Sarnitsa that is a promontory
in the shape of a face in profile.
Their water problem is because
it has to be rationed between three
villages, switching the supply with
a hidden valve. Reinhardt takes and
tames one of the local wild horses –
which annoys the villagers, until they
see his love of the animal – but then
this horse becomes fatefully involved
in Vincent’s duplicity and his plan
to steal the locals’ water. It is a
micro-tragedy that becomes weirdly
reminiscent of Thomas Hardy’s story
Our Exploits at West Poley.
Western doesn’t just allude to the
American west. In some ways, it is
naturally a parable of neo-colonial
adventure and the toxic masculinity
s. The
and loneliness that involves.
dedly
prosperous west high-handedly
d political
imposes its commercial and
rritories.
will on the undeveloped territories.
The German workers insist they are
arians a
doing these backward Bulgarians
favour they don’t deserve. But this
isn’t quite right. These two European
tribes seem to have a lot in common,
ce –
and the explosion of violence
rd act of
which could occupy the third
ollywood
an arthouse shocker or a Hollywood
u might
thriller – never arrives as you
-onexpect. It is more a western-onwestern culture clash, one that turns
out to be more of a meeting of minds
in which people work to gett past the
unicate in
language barrier and communicate
formance
good faith. Neumann’s performance
is quietly compelling.
Grisebach has not made many
ure credits
movies; her two other feature
006), and
are a love story, Longing (2006),
her schooldays drama, Be My Star
(2001). But on the strength of this
nsidered
one, she deserves to be a considered
a major film-maker.
Not a bad idea, this. But where it
could have delivered a mounting
sense of dread, crowned with horror,
the film seems concerned to hedge
its bets by balancing the disturbing
stuff with a feelgood drama about
a family pulling together. It’s a
sci-fi mystery thriller, distributed
by Netflix and directed by feature
first-timer Lennart Ruff, based on an
original story idea by screenwriter
Arash Amel.
We are some decades in the
future; overpopulation and
ecological calamity have made Earth
uninhabitable, and our only chance
for survival is to send some hardy
pioneers to Titan, a moon of Saturn
with an atmosphere in which homo
sapiens could conceivably survive
with the right genetic modifications.
Sam Worthington plays Lt Rick
Janssen, a tough military man
who has volunteered for the topsecret medical programme, Taylor
Schilling plays his wife, Abi, and
Noah Jupe is their son, Lucas. Tom
Wilkinson plays the careworn
Professor Collingwood, who is
masterminding this last-chance
scheme for Humanity 2.0.
At first, Rick and his family are
pretty thrilled by the luxurious
LA-style home they are allowed
to occupy for the programme’s
duration, and this is interestingly
presented. But as Rick and his fellow
guinea pigs undergo a brutal drugs
regimen, it becomes progressively
clear that they have not been told
everything about what is happening
to them. It is the kind of sci-fi
drama in which the point is not
interplanetary space travel, it is all
about the tension and conspiracy
on the home front. But it should
lead somewhere dramatically, and
this is anticlimactic. PB
•
Marlina the Murderer
in Four Acts
Rampage
★★★☆☆
★★★☆☆
Dir Brad Peyton
Dir Mouly Surya
Starring Marsha Timothy, Dea
Panendra, Egy Fedly
Truth or Dare
★★★☆☆
Dir Jeff Wadlow
Starring Lucy Hale, Tyler Posey,
Violett Beane
Length 100 mins Cert 15
Given the current obsession with
reboots, it’s strange that the Final
Destination franchise hasn’t yet
been dragged back to life. It’s
even stranger given that its legacy
has been haunting lesser recent
pretenders, from Wish Upon to
Happy Death Day.
Blumhouse, the company behind
the latter, is likely to have another
crowd-pleasing franchise on its
hands with a nifty if derivative
gimmick that lends itself to multiple
sequels: a cursed game that finds
its way into the lives of a group of
college kids, enjoying their final
spring break in Mexico.
Earnest Olivia (Lucy Hale) and
rebellious Markie (Violett Beane),
are, along with their friends,
coerced into playing a game of truth
or dare inside a creepy chapel by
a handsome stranger who reveals
that he only took them there to save
himself. One by one, each friend is
visited by a demonic presence that
overtakes the body of someone
close to them in order to ask the allimportant question. If you decide to
skip, you die.
After a rushed and entirely
unscary opening scene, there are
A Gentle Creature
★★★★☆
Dir Sergei Loznitsa
Starring Vasilina Makovtseva, Liya
Akhedzhakova, Valeriu Andriutã
Length 160 mins Cert 18
Early on in Sergei Loznitsa’s
some smartly crafted titles that
showcase the group’s vacation
through social media posts. It’s
indicative of the film that follows,
which sees college students
behaving like college students
would, forever texting, snapping
and gramming. Slightly less
believable is how they are led into
playing the initial round of the game.
This dim-witted behaviour follows
them home.
Hackneyed horror tropes
persist throughout and so does
some crushingly expository
dialogue (“Since my dad took his
own life, you’ve been my only
family”) but it rattles along at a fair
lick. Director Jeff Wadlow has a
puppyish eagerness to impress and
entertain, and as silly as the film
gets, it’s never dull.
The characters all have issues to
contend with. There’s alcoholism,
bereavement, sexual abuse and
sexuality. Most of it is admirably
handled, but the latter subplot leads
to one of the film’s most regrettable
lines – “Your dad didn’t know you’re
gay? Your ringtone is Beyoncé!” –
which prompted more groans than
any of the death scenes.
With the characters forced to turn
detective to find the curse’s origin,
the film takes a turn for the ScoobyDoo. But Hale is a committed lead
and the film builds to an audaciously
nutty climax. There’s something
charming about the film’s dogged,
goofy attempt to earnestly write the
rules of a franchise that will clearly
be haunting cinemas for years to
come. Truth: it’s watchable trash.
Benjamin Lee
A Gentle Creature, a minor character
proposes a toast: “To our enormous
suffering!” And the whole film is in
some sense pledged or consecrated
to this Russian pain. A Gentle
Creature is a movie that takes its
heroine on a pilgrimage into the vast,
trackless forest of national suffering.
Vasilina Makovtseva plays the
creature of the title: a woman whose
sharp, pinched, unsmiling face has
become an impassive mask due to
the hardship of her life. The film
Starring Dwayne Johnson, Naomie
Harris, Jeffrey Dean Morgan
Length 107 mins Cert 12A
Length 93 mins Cert 15
This macabre and deadpan film
from the Indonesian director Mouly
Surya has been described as a
“satay western”. It’s a violent raperevenge tale that takes place in the
sweeping plains of Sumba in eastern
Indonesia, which Surya endows with
the same stark quality that Sergio
Leone gave Spain’s Tabernas Desert.
Marlina (Marsha Timothy) is a
widow whose only son has just died
when seven men arrive at her house
intent on stealing her livestock and
raping her. But Marlina has her fierce
payback with poisonous berries
and a machete. Her escape brings
her into contact with the pregnant
Novi (Dea Panendra) and the two
women’s destinies entwine.
This movie, with its four coolly
conceived chapters, is well crafted
and composed, a little like a
Tarantino film – although it is the
opposite of macho. Timothy’s
purposeful stillness gives weight
to the drama, but I thought that
the film was perhaps no more
than the sum of its parts. One of
Marlina’s chief tormentors reappears
in the drama as a headless ghost,
and it is a disquieting moment
– but it is not entirely clear what
his effect on Marlina is. If it is a
metaphorical haunting this is
opaque, as Marlina does not feel
guilty, and her intention to go to
the police is a simple matter of
reporting an act of self-defence.
Eventually, the drama closes in
on itself and attains the logic of a
dream, though one that dissipates
quickly on waking. PB
This is the story of a big and bighearted guy and his poignant
bromance with George, the
sweet-natured albino gorilla who
is accidentally given an illegal
supersizer drug and starts growing
like a sinister mix of Alien and
Elsa from Born Free. Dwayne
Johnson plays Davis Okoye, whose
casually confident masculinity is as
impressive as his scientific expertise
in the field of primatology at a San
Diego nature reserve. But up in space,
a creepy corporation is developing
a genetic editing programme that
will mess with the proportions
and energy levels of otherwise
innocuous animals. These growth
hormones explode meteorically
out of the craft, plunge through the
atmosphere, down into the nostrils
of George – the lovable gorilla with
whom only the day before Johnson
was exchanging high-spirited signlanguage banter. Soon George is
growing out of control, and so are
a few other animals, including a
wolf and something that looks like
a crocodile crossed with a warthog.
The only person who can talk to
George, and maybe even get his
assistance in tackling the whole biganimal-chaos issue, is Johnson. It is
entertainingly over the top. As for
Rampage 2, surely one of the army
of screenwriters is going to wonder
out loud what would happen if
Johnson himself accidentally inhaled
the supersize drug. It doesn’t bear
thinking about. PB
takes as its starting point the story of
the same title by Dostoyevsky.
Loznitsa gives her situation aspects
of Dostoyevsky – and also Kafka –
in the bureaucratic nightmare of
her ordeal. She is living on her own,
with a job as the overnight minder
of a tiny petrol station. One day, she
receives word from the post office
that a parcel she has sent has been
returned to sender. This is a care
package she had sent to her husband,
in prison for a murder, a conviction he
denies. What has happened to him?
No one can or will tell her, so she
must take a long and arduous rail
journey to Siberia, to the prison town
itself. The hell of her situation is
provided by the people she
encounters on her journey. The
gargoyle faces that Loznitsa conjures
are extraordinary – people laughing,
singing, arguing, crying, leering –
while the woman’s own face stays
empty and still. A Gentle Creature has
a gaunt sense of its own Russianness,
and it has a kind of Ancient Mariner
address to the audience. It is gripping
and absorbing. PB
The Guardian
Friday 13 April 2018
15
•
Review Film
Custody
★★★★☆
Dir Xavier Legrand
nd
Starring Léa Drucker,
cker,
Thomas Gioria
Dur 94 mins
There’s a unidirectional agony
to this psychological drama by
first-time director Xavier Legrand.
The focus is on a single, horrible
situation, which gets steadily and
unwatchably worse. It concerns
a divorce and a legal hearing.
Dénis Menochet plays Antoine, a
glowering, heavy-set guy in dispute
with his ex-wife, Miriam (Léa
Drucker), about the custody of their
11-year-old son, Julien (Thomas
Gioria). Antoine is allowed access to
Julien, but is not allowed to know
Miriam’s address, to interfere with
their household arrangements – and
certainly has no say in the matter
of Julien acquiring a new stepdad.
With icy rage, Antoine decides he
has a right to know everything that’s
going on and begins to turn the screw
on his innocent, terrified son. The
performances are frighteningly good
– and without them the film would
have been merely blank or histrionic.
This especially applies to Gioria as
the son, and more than any actor in
any film I can remember, he conveys
what emotional and physical abuse
is like. Julien’s scenes with Antoine
have to be watched between your
fingers. The temptation is to compare
Custody to Asghar Farhadi’s modern
A Fistful of Dollars
classic A Separation. But they are
quite different. Custody doesn’t have
the subtlety or nuance. The film it
resembles more is something like
Claude Chabrol’s L’Enfer, or Hell,
from 1994, about a married man who
descends into the horror of fanatical
jealousy and paranoia. There is not
much storytelling light and shade in
Custody – but it has the shock and
swipe of real life. PB
Games
★★★★★
Dir Sergio Leone
Starring Clint Eastwood, Gian
Maria Volontè, Marianne Koch
Length 96 mins Cert 15
Two fistfuls in fact: two $500
payments – a gigantic amount –
which The Man With No Name
accepts casually from either side
of a bloody feud in the sunbaked
Mexican town of San Miguel. He
has blown in like a strange force
of nature, with a coolly amoral
plan to use their mutual hate to
his own gunslinging advantage.
Striding towards a gunfight, he tells
the coffin-maker in advance how
many to knock up. This is the 1964
movie, now on rerelease, which
created the revolutionary genre of
the spaghetti western. It’s an Italian
coproduction shot in Spain and
directed with inspirational pulp
passion by Sergio Leone, drawing
on Kurosawa. And it made a star
and a legend out of Clint Eastwood.
Before this, he had been young
Rowdy Yates on TV’s Rawhide, an
open-faced boy with a pleasant
singing voice. In this movie he
suddenly, terrifyingly grew up: hat,
poncho, grizzly beard, short cigar
and eyes perpetually screwed up, as
if staring into the sun or suppressing
a grimace of incredulous disgust.
The other figure that became a
legend here was the composer Ennio
Morricone, for the extraordinary
musical score he devised for this
film, with its whip-poor-will
whistling cries, whipcracks, bells
and eerie percussive shouts.
A Fistful of Dollars has a cult, comicbook intensity. It is the punk rock
of westerns. PB
16
The Guardian
Friday 13 April 2018
God of War
PlayStation 4
★★★★★
God of War wants us to
see its protagonist Kratos
as a person, rather than
the vengeful instrument
of extraordinary violence
he was in previous
iterations of the game.
Here he appears recently
widowed, father to a
tweenaged son. They
set out to scatter his
wife’s ashes, becoming
entwined in an epic tale
that takes inspiration from
Norse mythology. This is
still a violent game, yet
when not fighting you’re
exploring the reaches
of Midgard on foot or by
boat. The game is one
continuous shot, flowing
between combat, story
scenes and exploration
without interruption, and
a cinematic commitment
to Kratos’s point of view
enhances the story’s
efforts to humanise him.
There are abundant
moments of beauty: it is
among the most visually
impressive games ever
made. God of War is a
story about what it means
to be a god, but also about
what it means to be a man.
Power and masculinity
are intertwined, and
Kratos’s desire to protect
his son from the realities
of both is touching. Their
relationship involves a lot
more demon blood and
magical artefacts than
the typical parent-child
dynamic, but Kratos is still
a distant father clumsily
trying to reach out to a
son who feels unwanted.
Their journey makes for
one of the best games
of recent years: a deft
intertwining of relatable
familial drama and aweinspiring mythological
epic. Keza MacDonald
•
Reviews Music
Tinashe
Joyride
★★★☆☆
Label RCA
Genre Pop/R&B
Delayed gratification
Ben
n
montBeaumontmas
Thomas
T
here’s a lot of industry
chatter about the
diminishing power of
the album format, as
playlists on streaming
services start to
become what many people reach
for. Expect howls of outrage from
musicians who want to present a
body of work, and from marketing
departments and awards shows
who want a neat way to package
that work up. But someone who
might bid a fairly muted goodbye
to the album is 25-year-old popR&B star Tinashe, who has spent
an excruciating two-and-a-half
years waiting for her second one
to be released. She announced it in
September 2015, then said it was
being held while her label focused
on Zayn Malik, then had to contend
with someone trying to nick the title
track for Rihanna’s album. In the
meantime, she released companion
piece Nightride, which, for all its
interesting alt-R&B touches, lacked
the songwriting chops that had
previously earned her big hits such
as All Hands on Deck and 2
On. Joyride clearly didn’t
have good enough songs. So
does it have them now?
You might have expected
the big lead-off single, No
Drama, to be an absolute
diamond, having waited this
long, but it’s a damp squib. Made
contemporary with a guest rap from
a typically skrrt skrrt-ing Offset,
Tinashe gives the verses some
bad-girl pep, and rather admirably
wants to have her cake and eat it
by shagging one man as well as a
second “side piece”, while retaining
the lack of drama named in the title.
Unfortunately, any man would have
their zeal for strings-free polyamory
snuffed out by the desperately dull
chorus. “If my life was like a movie
I’d need 50 sequels,” she says. On
this evidence, they’d be pre-sold
in a package deal to Amazon Prime
Video to avoid box-office losses.
You can almost feel the shoulder
tension in the RCA execs’ offices on
hearing it, but it is massaged out by
second single Faded Love, a stonedsex classic co-starring that icon of
chemically altered lovemaking,
Future. Over bongwater-warm
synth tones and a quietly sensual
dancehall beat, Tinashe has her
voice looped into a catchily lulling
stutter; Future, meanwhile, drops
some high-stakes psychology,
reasoning that it’s her fault he hasn’t
yet given up his promiscuity: “Before
I give my half-Dominican girl up,
I need real love … You can’t hold it
against a king, baby / You shoulda
made me better, what I need.” Tinder
users: do not attempt this approach
if you aren’t an incredibly rich and
handsome rapper.
The rest of the record falls
somewhere between these two
poles. Tinashe, with eyes set to
hungry and thirsty, is convincingly
lascivious on stage or video, and yet
sometimes struggles to generate a
unique voice on record. He Don’t
Want It is coiled and serpentine,
with the alt-R&B tendencies of
Nightride beautifully fleshed out,
but the way she reaches for her
higher register is very reminiscent
of FKA Twigs. Perhaps spooked by
Rihanna’s interference, meanwhile,
she ends up channelling her, just
as Rihanna channels Sia whenever
she comes near her songwriting
credits. The title track’s “na na na”
intonation is Bajan-accented, and
the other single, Me So Bad, recalls
Rihanna’s delivery of “naked naked
naked” on Wild Thoughts. The
latter song also suffers from generic
tropical house production and a
guest spot from French Montana,
who, by always writing verses about
seducing women with cash or goods,
no matter what the actual topic of
the song he is appearing on, is the
rap equivalent of the cuddly meerkat
earned with a Compare the Market
purchase – something you don’t
need that has nothing to do with
what you originally came for.
Tinashe works best when she
embraces her cool yet focused
sexuality, such as on Stuck With Me
(featuring Little Dragon), whose
restricted melodic range makes it
riveting; her suggestion to “bring an
icepack for the weekend”
is a drily witty entreaty.
That come-hither mode
is explored to catchy and
frankly bizarre effect on
the Marmite jam Ooh La
La, on which a number of
very appealing elements – strong
melodies, lyrics seeming to
champion cunnilingus, the “oh!”
vocal sound last heard on Nelly and
Kelly’s Dilemma – are paired with the
constant squeak of bed springs on
the beat. Tinashe plays it completely
straight, as if pretending not to hear
the neighbours going at it next door.
For some, it will be an annoying
aural gag, though it is well written
and could become a fan favourite.
Given its gestation period, it’s hard
to not feel a little disappointed with
Joyride, where, in a painful irony,
there are just too many “album
tracks”. Instead, it might work best
with its highlights scattered across
a bedroom playlist. Considering the
filler, and the difficulties in getting
Joyride to market, perhaps Tinashe
is one of those stars who would be
better off without albums altogether.
Grime
Artist Novelist
Album Novelist Guy
Label MMMYeh
★★★☆☆
The true test of
whether a scene has
a lifespan is to look
at the new crop of
talent following the
greats. Grime might
have had a mainstream moment, but
what’s next? The answer for many
fans comes in the form of 21-yearold Novelist, the south London MC
who fondly bought us Lewisham
McDeez as part of grime crew the
Square, a jubilant homage to a
local landmark. This introspective
offering takes us through his
frustrations with industry obstacles,
black masculinity and our current
political moment. At its best,
with punchy tracks such as Afro
Pick, he reminds us that he’s not
divorced from the young people
you might be reading about in the
news: “Afro pick in my hair / Look
but I don’t recommend you stare
… I do what I do for the young
youth from back in the day when I
ran for the mayor,” touches on his
brief stint as former deputy young
mayor of Lewisham. His politically
confrontational moments are the
best – on Stop Killing the Mandem
he furiously repeats the title, taken
from a sign that went viral when
he held it up at a 2016 Black Lives
Matter protest in London, 16 times
before we even hear him rap. The
production too, can be a thrilling
exercise in beat-spotting from an
artist who pays his dues. Nov Wait
Stop Wait pays homage to Rebound
X’s iconic Rhythm and Gash grime
instrumental, and the radio skit
(Nov B2B DeeCee) is a nostalgic
revisiting of pirate radio sessions, but
there are points, such as on Gangster,
when songs feel unfinished, taking a
while to draw us in. Overall, though,
this is a confident salute to a scene
still rich in talent. Kieran Yates
The Guardian
Friday 13 April 2018
17
•
Reviews Music
Rock
Artist Manic Street Preachers
Album Resistance Is Futile
Label Columbia
★★★☆☆
The title of Manic
Street Preachers’
13th album hits like
one among the many
ebullient slogans
they’ve fired out over
the years. Yet their latest aphorism
comes as loaded with melancholy as
provocation; these songs are heavy
with a sense of uncertainty. For every
note of defeat, though, there’s a roar
of defiance. Dylan & Caitlin turns the
darkness of the Thomases’ alcoholic
romance into an effervescent homage
to Don’t Go Breaking My Heart. Nicky
Wire has hinted that Resistance Is
Futile is “either a new era or the
end”. But their willingness to turn a
critical eye on themselves as well as
on a changing world is what makes
this album so emotionally engaging.
Emily Mackay
Jazz
album of
the month
★★★★☆
Artist Joe Lovano and Dave Douglas
Sound Prints
Album Scandal
Label Greenleaf
Jazz at its
imaginative best
T
Scandal’s
title track,
with its
smouldering
trumpet, is its
tour de force
Reviews by
Ben BeaumontThomas, Laura
Snapes, Rachel
Aroesti and
Michael Hann
18
The Guardian
Friday 13 April 2018
he Sound Prints quintet, co-led by
saxophonist Joe Lovano and trumpeter
Dave Douglas, can surely book its place
on the 2018 albums of the year lists
thanks to the smouldering, Miles-muted
trumpet sound and hip yet stately
horn counterpoint of its title track alone. For some, a
downside of Scandal might be that it is unapologetically
a jazz album – entirely instrumental and jazz-refential
in the accuracy of its fascination with the music of
Wayne Shorter, particularly Shorter’s 1960s work and
involvement in Miles Davis’s second quintet.
But the five year-old group – Lovano and Douglas, plus
pianist Lawrence Fields, double bassist Linda May Han
Oh, and drummer Joey Baron – tell better jazz stories
from this kind of perspective than most, and this session
catches them at their most collectively fluent. Scandal’s
release is backed by a European tour next month.
The leaders hope this session might contribute
to “celebrating unity in divided times” – a common
contemporary ambition. The musical reflexiveness
and empathy of this band celebrates unity in almost
every track. Douglas’ and Lovano’s contrapuntal
dances over Oh’s agile bassline and Fields’ discreetly
dissonant chordwork are models of exact but elastic
group-thematic playing on the languidly pulsing Dream
State. Enthusiasm for reinvented bebop is evident in
the brightly bouncing Full Sun and The Corner Tavern’s
Latin swing. Two Shorter covers – Fee Fi Fo Fum and Juju
– explore a more ambiguous version of Shorter’s cannily
swinging original in Douglas’s arrangement of the
former, and a mix of scampering piano and percussion
figures and tersely urgent trumpet and sax solos in
Lovano’s version of the latter. But Scandal’s title track
is its tour de force – a reverie of murmuring paired-note
descents and wistful trumpet-sax conversation, drifting
gracefully into slow jazz grooving in the Miles/Shorter
manner, coaxed by Oh’s attentive basslines and Fields’s
softly prodding piano. This is jazz with a deep sense of
history, but imaginatively and spontaneously reworked.
This month’s other picks
Former Bad Plus pianist Ethan Iverson and delicate UK
alto saxophonist Martin Speake renew a long occasional
partnership with the transatlantic quartet session
Intention, a smart, lyrical, and exhilarating celebration
of Speake originals, a Charlie Parker sprint and graceful
balladeering. And Bruno Heinen, the inventive young
UK-based jazz/classical pianist, releases Mr Vertigo,
his eccentric, unobtrusively erudite solo-piano
salutation to Wayne Shorter, John Taylor, Stockhausen,
Debussy and plenty more.
John Fordham
•
In brief
Classical
album of
the week
Pop
Artist Confidence Man
Album Confident Music for
Confident People
Mouse on Mars
Dimensional
People
★★★☆☆
Everyone from
Justin Vernon to
Spank Rock
appears on this
grand, dense,
sensory but
flailing album of
contemporary
electronics in
quirky
arrangements.
One to see live.
BBT
Label Heavenly Recordings
★★★★☆
★★★★☆
Artist Pierre-Laurent Aimard
Album Messiaen: Catalogue
d’Oiseaux
Label Pentatone
Messiaen’s birds
soar and sing
Malena Zavala
Aliso
★★★★☆
Gently warped
and beguilingly
melancholy
guitar pop floats
free on the debut
album by this
Argentinian
songwriter. LS
Isaac Gracie
Isaac Gracie
★★★☆☆
Gracie deals in
furiously
lovelorn, faintly
folky pop. The
Londoner’s
debut sports
cringeworthy
lyrics, but the
tunes are
enjoyable,
balancing
sweetness with
gravelly rock. RA
Laura Viers
The Lookout
★★★★☆
In a just world,
Veirs would be as
popular as her
labelmate Father
John Misty.
This 10th solo
album is another
masterclass in
songwriting and
playing. MH
Made up of four
one-time members
of the Antipodean
psych scene,
Melbourne outfit
Confidence Man
have cast off the ambling melodies
and noodly jams in favour of sugary,
crisp and slightly gawky dance-pop.
The thing that first wallops you over
the head about their wacky debut is
frontwoman Janet Planet’s chatty,
bratty vocal, which covers topics
ranging from the lameness of her
boyfriend to how quickly other men
fall in love with her.
There are shades of Moon Unit
Zappa’s Valley Girl in Planet’s
persona, especially on the deadpan
COOL Party, but the overwhelming
impression is of a retro-futurist
superbitch: cold, conceited and
very camp. The intention may be
arch but it’s still not hugely edifying
stuff, and perhaps Confidence Man
would feel a bit old hat were it not
for the music accompanying this
cartoonish character – a profoundly
uplifting patchwork of dance
music’s most gleeful moments.
With its warm breeze synth lines
and space-age sound effects, opener
Try Your Luck nods to Arthur
Russell’s transcendent disco group
Loose Joints, while on Better Sit
Down Boy the band mine turn-
of-the-millennium maximalist
fun, resembling a grottier version
of Basement Jaxx. Elsewhere,
co-vocalist Sugar Bones goes to
Right Said Fred levels of bass, and
a seemingly inexhaustible supply
of excellent basslines rub up against
the euphoria-stoking flavours of
trip-hop, Madchester and other
chart-friendly strains of early
90s electronica. They certainly
aren’t subtle, but Confidence
Man’s broad brush strokes belie a
sophisticated and skilful distillation
of dance-pop joy. Rachel Aroesti
O
livier Messiaen’s Catalogue d’Oiseaux
clearly means a great deal to to PierreLaurent Aimard, who studied with the
composer and his wife, Yvonne Loriod,
for whom the cycle was composed.
Two years ago, Aimard marked the
end of his tenure as artistic director of the Aldeburgh
festival with a dawn-to-dusk performance of the pieces
at Snape Maltings and the RSPB reserve at Minsmere.
This, however, is the first time he has recorded the
complete 13-piece cycle of the portraits of French
birds, divided into seven books, which make up
Messiaen’s most substantial work for piano. These discs
– marking the start of a new partnership with Pentatone
– show the same combination of fierce precision
and marvelling fantasy that came across in the live
performances at Aldeburgh.
As Aimard demonstrates
vividly, the Catalogue is one of the
greatest, and most original, of all
20th-century keyboard works. The
pieces transcend the songs on which
they are based; this is much more
than cosy description.
It captures
There’s a virtuosic fierceness to
every nuance
some of the writing – in the rattling
of Aimard’s
outbursts of the fourth piece, Le
wonderfully
Traquet Stapazin (The Black-Eared
varied keyWheatear), for instance, or in the
almost Lisztian flourishes that usher
board colour
in the penultimate piece Le Traquet
Rieur (The Black Wheatear) – while
the nocturnal ruminations of the two
pieces in the third book, La Chouette
Hulotte (The Tawny Owl) and L’Alouette Lulu (The
Woodlark), explore a darkly different world altogether.
The recordings capture all that dexterity, and every
nuance of the wonderfully varied keyboard colour that
Aimard brings to the piano writing.
The pieces are generously spread across three CDs,
so that the central panel of the cycle, the half-hour
long La Rousserolle Effarvatte (The Reed Warbler),
has the second disc to itself. With such room to spare,
it’s a shame that Aimard does not also include the
piece that Messiaen composed in 1970 as a appendix
to the Catalogue, La Fauvette des Jardins (The Garden
Warbler), which proved to be his last major piano
work, and is perhaps the finest of all his solo-piano bird
portraits. As it is, though, this collection is arguably
the best of the available versions of the complete
Catalogue, especially as Peter Hill’s recordings (made in
collaboration with Messiaen in the 1980s) appear to be
currently unavailable. Andrew Clements
The Guardian
Friday 13 April 2018
19
ST MARTIN’S 020 7836 1443
66th year of Agatha Christie’s
THE MOUSETRAP
Mon-Sat 7.30, Tues & Thu 3, Sat 4
www.the-mousetrap.co.uk
20
Entertainment Classified
•
Live reviews
Comedy
Tom Allen
Elegantly soigné
… Tom Allen
★★★☆☆
Soho theatre, London
To 21 April, then 11-21 July
Box office: 020-7478 0100
I
PHOTOGRAPHS: JEFF SPICER/GETTY; TRISTRAM KENTON FOR THE GUARDIAN; HIROYUKI ITO/GETTY
f Tom Allen weren’t already
hosting a primetime
Saturday night TV show,
you’d have to invent one
for him. Thirteen years
a standup, the Bromley
man deploys a similar old-school,
unthreatening camp and fauximperious manner that Larry
Grayson brought to The Generation
Game. It’s a crowdpleasing
combination and Allen wears it as
elegantly as his soigné three-piece
tweed suit. Now a host (one of
several) on BBC1’s new prank-thepublic gameshow Ready or Not,
Allen is still touring his 2017 show
Absolutely, itself a well-honed
nugget of light entertainment and
now running for a fortnight at Soho
theatre, and again in July.
You leave wholly persuaded by
Allen’s skills as an entertainer – even
if he sometimes has to flog them
hard to sell so-so material. He starts
by setting out his stall. A chat with
punters in the front row establishes
his quick wit and his egoism; he
feigns exhaustion with talking about
anything but himself. He gives an
account of his stage manner: posh
voice but coarse background, and
unapologetically fey. “I’ve finally
made it as a gay stereotype!” There’s
nothing simpering about Allen,
mind you: he practically barks the
opening 10 minutes, and his voice
– now singsong, now stentorian – is
deployed very adroitly throughout.
There’s no theme to the show,
nor much to bind together its
Classical
Piotr
Anderszewski
★★★★★
Barbican, London
observational humour, nostalgia
trips and snapshots of Allen’s life –
cautiously dating, learning to drive,
living awkwardly with mum and
dad. His signature trick is the nonstop rant. Three separate routines
E
ver since Piotr
Anderszewski took
himself out of the
running for the
1990 Leeds Piano
Competition, walking
out during his semi-final recital
when he was one of the favourites,
his name has been inextricably
linked with the Diabelli Variations.
By no means regular competition
repertoire, the Beethoven had been
the main work in Anderszewski’s
Leeds programme (alongside
Webern’s Op 27 Variations), and
a decade later, his recording of it
was hailed as the finest in many
years. That interpretation has lost
none of its freshness and vivid
commitment over the subsequent
decade and a half. As the second part
of Anderszewski’s Barbican recital
it was an astonishing performance,
perhaps the most completely
convincing reading of the Diabelli
I’ve ever heard in the concert hall.
Some readings, even from
great pianists, can’t entirely avoid
(about schoolteaching, kids’
birthday parties, and hen parties) are
delivered in the same grandstanding
manner, escalating in intensity
as Allen heaps indignity upon
indignity, barely pausing for breath.
squareness in a work that, for all
its moments of the transcendence
that only late Beethoven can access,
sometimes seems to fall back on
the mechanics of variation form.
But there was no trace of that, or of
routine of any kind, in a single bar
here. Every one of the 33 variations
seemed freshly imagined, with their
dizzying contrasts of wit and pathos,
explosive energy and communing
stillness; it made a totally enthralling
musical journey.
The only possible encore after
that was more late Beethoven, and
Anderszewski duly obliged with
the first of the Op 126 Bagatelles.
The first half of his recital had been
devoted to Bach, with three preludes
and fugues from the second book
of the Well-Tempered Clavier,
followed by the third of the English
Suites, in G minor. That was equally
extraordinary in its own way, with
a Glenn Gould-like clarity to the
textures and rhythmic articulation,
informed by a freewheeling
imagination that was never wilful.
I found them a bit too conspicuous
as set-pieces, too engineered.
There is some good content,
mind you. In the children’s party
section, one neat image describes
tenpin bowling balls being “vomited
from the floor”, and another finds
a high-strung, cake-toting mum
squawking “HAAA- HAAA- HAAA-”
over and again
until the guests
Allen’s
join in with that
snobbery
old familiar song.
turns into
He wrings some
hard comic
fine laughs from
currency
straight couples’
when he’s
banal love lives
confronted
on a visit to Pizza
by a ‘beige’
Express. And
hen-do buffet his snobbery
is converted
into hard comic
currency when
confronted with
a “beige” buffet on a hen do, the
nadir of which (“barbecue Hula
Hoops!”) all but deprives him – very
amusingly – of the power of speech.
That’s a rare deviation from the
standard mode of witty diatribe;
another finds Allen in character
as the underused vocalist on a
dance music track. I welcomed
the respite from his observational
material, with its coercive use of
the second person (“you would
do this, wouldn’t you?”). Other
sections don’t develop far beyond
the laughter of recognition: when
Allen mentions that hen parties
tend to be organised via WhatsApp
groups, he practically gets a round
of applause. And to the cheerful
gay stereotyping, he adds workingclass stereotyping too, as he visits
Bluewater shopping centre with his
macho dad and debates immigration
with his parents’ friends.
Clearly, overturning received
wisdom is not what Allen is here
for. And that’s fine: he gives us lots
to enjoy in this upbeat and likable
show. There’s some sharp badinage,
sympathetic personal material and
– not least – his abundant skills as a
raconteur and host. Brian Logan
Totally enthralling
… Anderszewski
Anderszewski certainly brought
his own ideas to the music, but
whether in the quiet intensity with
which he invested the D sharp minor
Fugue, or the spiky, Scarlatti-like
exuberance of the pair of gavottes,
they never seemed anything other
than quintessential Bach.
Andrew Clements
Never dull …
Paddy Glynn and
Shelley Atkinson in Reared
Theatre
Reared
★★★☆☆
Theatre 503, London
Until 28 April
Box office: 020-7978 7040
I
t is possible to really
enjoy a play without
ever quite believing
in it. That is the case
in John Fitzpatrick’s
comedy about
three generations of one
family weighed down by
secrets from the past.
Eileen (Shelley Atkinson) and
her husband, Stuart (Daniel
Crossley), who tinkers but never
fixes anything, are under strain.
They are living with his mother,
Nora (Paddy Glynn), who may or
may not be showing signs of
dementia, and their 15-year-old
daughter, Caitlin (Danielle Phillips),
who was the last in her school year
to lose her virginity and the first
to get pregnant. Caitlin refuses to
name the father, and money and
space are both squeezed in the
family home. Eileen wants Nora
to move into the unfinished
granny flat in the garden, or
better still into a care home.
But how far will any of them
go to get what they want?
This family are hardly the
Macbeths, but their moral
compass is doubtful and an
inability to talk honestly about
the past or to be accountable pulls
them apart. Nobody’s very lovable,
but there is a lot to like in this play,
even if the evening swings
between all-out farce and truthtelling drama. The best scene is
between grandmother and
granddaughter, and includes
a terrific story about a boy who
survives the Irish potato famine.
Director Sarah Davey-Hull
doesn’t always negotiate the
switches in mood or the fact that
Fitzpatrick throws too many back
stories into the mix. But the story
is never dull, and he is a master
at narrative surprise.
Lyn Gardner
The Guardian
Friday 13 April 2018
21
•
TV and radio
Watch this
The inscrutable
killer: Mark
Strong as
Max Easton
in Deep State
The City and the City
9pm, BBC Two
Review
If the opening episode of this metaphysical
drama left you a little confused, relax:
China Miéville’s source novel delights in
misdirection in its early chapters, but things
do get clearer. In tonight’s episode, as the
investigation into Mahalia’s death continues,
Borlú (David Morrissey) pays a visit to Ul
Qoma, where he is supposed to act only in
an advisory capacity to the local authorities.
Plus Borlú thinks far-right Besźel nationalists,
the True Citizens, may have been involved in
Mahalia’s demise.
Fox
Deep State
Sam Wollaston
The spy thriller rattles along with big
bangs and fabulous locations. But
there’s a sense we’ve seen it all before
★★☆☆☆
W
here were we? You will remember
(or maybe not, because Deep State
is on Fox) that Max Easton, played
by Mark Strong, has been called out
of his idyllic rural retirement with
his lovely new French family for
the inevitable one last job. And it’s not a bank job, even
though his family thinks he used to work in one. He was
actually a British agent and now he must go to the Middle
East where a joint MI6/CIA cell has been curtailing Iran’s
nuclear programme by car-bombing its scientists. But
the cell has a leak, so now they, too, must be bumped off.
Max isn’t cashing cheques, then, although I guess you
could say he is closing accounts – personal accounts – by
firing bullets and sticking screwdrivers into people. And
pulling fingernails out of other people to extract the
whereabouts of those he needs to kill. Ouch, that wasn’t
really necessary, was it? Homeland and 24 are probably
to blame. Anyway, that was last week. Right now, Max
is cornered in a flat in Beirut and a squad of police is
coming for him. How will he get out of that one?
By finding the equipment and building a bomb.
Naturally, he manages it in the time it takes the
Lebanese feds to get up the stairs. Nice work. Jack
Bauer, Nicholas Brody or Jason Bourne could not have
done it better. Now, Max can return to the hotel and
call the missus. She is having a tough time getting used
to creepy men crawling around the family home in the
dark, and to the fact that her husband – the father of her
daughters – almost certainly isn’t the man she thought he
was. To be honest, it is hard to know who Max is. Strong
wears the same expression – furrowed brow, otherwise
cold, chiselled stone – whether he is making pancakes
for his daughters, pulling out someone’s nails (stop it!),
sanding a bench or has just found out that his son (from
a previous marriage) is dead. I guess that’s the idea – the
inscrutable killer – but Deep State isn’t exactly weighed
down with humanity or people to care about.
MI6 boss George White (Alistair Petrie) is the best
character – posh and outwardly honourable but, beneath
the veneer, rotten to the core. It is White and his US
counterpart, Amanda Jones (Anastasia Griffith, also
very watchable), who have gone rogue and are behind
22
The Guardian
Friday 13 April 2018
the cell’s compromise, for their own personal gain. I
think. Everyone is spying on everyone else; no one really
knows who to trust, who to kill or who to sleep with.
Oh, and the son, Harry (Joe Dempsie from Skins), isn’t
dead, after all. That was staged to keep White happy
… for the time being. Harry is following in his father’s
footsteps, part of the Tehran cell known as Daddy’s
hitlist. Dropped near the border with Turkmenistan and
told to disappear for his own safety, Harry does a little
Silk Road trek before hopping on the first bus back to
Tehran. He has unfinished business
there, and – I’m guessing – a reunion
with his father to come. Plus there’s
a girlfriend, Leyla, although she was
spying on him as well as sleeping with
him, obviously.
Oh, God, it looks like there is going
to
be
more torture – of Max this time,
Harry is
rather than by him. This dodgy geezer
following in
Baraket, down at the docks, has a
his father’s
massive fish hook; what is he going
footsteps,
to do, stick it into Max’s face to try
part of the
to pull it into another expression, a
scream, anything? Except that Max
Tehran cell
has dirt on Baraket. He knows he
was involved in the bombing of the
government motorcade on 21 July
2005; if Max is killed, that will come
out. Torture is off, which is a relief, frankly. There really
was a bombing of a Lebanese motorcade in 2005, in
which a former prime minister was killed, but it was on
14 February. Deep State throws in a near-fact, fishing for
credibility but doesn’t manage to catch an awful lot.
It is a gripping, quick ride as it rattles along, with big
bangs and fabulous locations, but it is very much in the
footsteps of Homeland, The Night Manager and the
Bourne movies. Even the soundtrack’s ominous
descending notes of doom at perilous moments are
familiar. And it doesn’t have the writing, performances
or depth of character of those former shows. So, in
the footsteps of, and in the shadows of, too. Careful,
though, you don’t know who or what else is lurking in
those shadows …
Jonathan Wright
Sounds Like Friday
Night
7.30pm, BBC One
And
another
thing
The Queen
– talking
about nature
with David
Attenborough
on Monday. You
can’t keep the
royals off the
box these days.
Give her a job
behind the bar
at the Queen
Vic. Or Great
Great Granny’s
pub, as she
calls it.
Live performances
from big names. Actual
pop stars doing quite
funny “bits”. Strange
but true: Sounds Like …
has managed to bottle
some of that 70s varietyshow magic and take it
to a younger audience.
Tonight, we get James Bay
and Sam Smith, plus more
from Dotty with Little Mix.
Can Lily Allen get with the
good vibes?
John Robinson
Episodes
10pm, BBC Two
With things looking up
for Matt LeBlanc, he is
now getting flooded with
job offers. It’s a shame
they’re all awful. Luckily,
he has Sean to give him
some sage career advice.
Elsewhere, Beverly is
concerned about Carol’s
malaise, which is largely
manifesting itself in her
getting high and watching
daytime property shows.
Ben Arnold
Lee and Dean
10pm, Channel 4
Episode three of the
likable mockumentary
(and that lesser-spotted
thing, the working-class
sitcom). Lee’s love life gets
complicated when Mrs
Bryce-D’Souza’s on-off
husband shows up. And
poor, sweet, befuddled
Dean shows hidden depths
when he premieres his
poetry at a local arts club.
Ali Catterall
The Graham Norton
Show
10.35pm, BBC One
This week, our genial host
chats with the stars of new
movie Rampage, Dwayne
Johnson and Naomie
Harris. Martin Freeman
discusses his role in the
upcoming Brit horror
anthology Ghost Stories,
while Who vocalist and
Brexit enthusiast Roger
Daltrey performs his new
single.
David Stubbs
Front Row Late
11.05pm, BBC Two
Happily, the arts show
has been returned to
its late-night spot and
re-fitted with serious
presenters. Tonight,
Mary Beard uses new
play The Assassination
of Katie Hopkins as the
basis for a debate about
free speech. There is also
a flick through Madeleine
Albright’s forthcoming
book, the jaunty-sounding
Fascism: A Warning.
Phil Harrison
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Fixers 2.20 Gogglebox
3.10 Rude Tube 4.054.50 How I Met Your
Mother 4.50-6.0 Rules
of Engagement
Film4
11.0am A Monster
in Paris (2011) 12.45
The SpongeBob
Movie: Sponge Out of
Water (2015) 2.30
How to Train
Your Dragon (2010)
4.20 Tooth Fairy
(2010) 6.25 XMen 2 (2003) 9.0 X-Men: The Last Stand
(2006) 11.05 My
Entire High School Sinking into the Sea (2016)
12.35 Bad Teacher
(2011) 2.25 The
Sitter (2011)
ITV2
6.0am The Planet’s
Funniest Animals 6.20
Totally Bonkers Guinness
World Records 6.45
Totally Bonkers Guinness
World Records 7.10
Who’s Doing the Dishes?
7.55 Emmerdale 8.20
Emmerdale 8.55 You’ve
Been Framed! Gold 9.25
The Ellen DeGeneres
Show 10.20 The Bachelor 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
9.0
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) 2.20 NCIS
Special: Game of Shadows
(T) (R) Aliyah 3.20 Patient Killer (Casper Van
Dien, 2015) (T) Psychological
thriller starring Victoria
Pratt. 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)
A family find out how easy
their gadgets are to hack.
Springtime on the Farm (T)
Kelvin Fletcher gets to go
on a date in the Rhubarb
Triangle. Last in the series.
Jane McDonald: My
Life Story (T) Profile of
the singer, examining
her rise to fame as one
of the country’s first
reality TV stars on 1998
docusoap The Cruise.
10.0 Will & Grace (T) Jack
suffers a crisis of faith.
10.30 Will & Grace (T) The friends
discover a link between their
parents. Last in the series.
11.05 Greatest Ever Celebrity
Wind Ups (T) (R)
12.0 SuperCasino (T) 3.10 GPs:
Behind Closed Doors (T)
(R) 4.0 The Great Yorkshire
Bridge (T) (R)
7.0
World News Today (T) 7.30
Young Musician 2018 (T)
Percussionist Joby Burgess
joins Josie d’Arby for the
percussion category final.
9.0
Nat King Cole: Afraid of
the Dark (T) (R) A look into
the private journals of the
singer who rose above racial
segregation and prejudice in
the US to become one of the
world’s greatest jazz artists.
Features interviews with
his widow, Maria, other
family members and
fellow musicians.
10.30 Joy of the Guitar Riff (T) (R)
11.30 Rollermania: Britain’s
Biggest Boy Band (T) (R) The
Bay City Rollers recall their
rise to fame in the 1970s.
12.30 Cilla at the BBC (T) (R)
Memorable TV appearances.
1.30 Totally British: 70s
Rock’n’Roll (T) (R) 2.30
Nat King Cole: Afraid of
the Dark (T) (R)
Radio
Two and a Half Men 8.30
Two and a Half Men 9.0
American Pie 2
(2001) 10.30 FYI Daily
10.35 American Pie
2 (2001) 11.05 Family
Guy 11.35 Family Guy
12.05 American Dad!
12.35 American Dad!
1.05 Two and a Half Men
1.30 Two and a Half Men
1.55 Totally Bonkers
Guinness World Records
2.20 Teleshopping 5.50
ITV2 Nightscreen
More4
8.55am Food Unwrapped
9.30-11.35 A Place in
the Sun: Summer Sun
11.35-2.10 Four in a Bed
2.10-4.50 Come Dine
With Me 4.50 A Place
in the Sun: Summer Sun
5.55 Kirstie and Phil’s
Love It or List It 6.55
The Secret Life of the
Zoo 7.55 Grand Designs
9.0 Rough Justice 10.012.10 24 Hours in A&E
12.10 Ramsay’s Kitchen
Nightmares USA 1.103.15 24 Hours in A&E
3.15 8 Out of 10 Cats
Sky1
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:
LA 1.0 Hawaii Five-0 2.0
Hawaii Five-0 3.0 NCIS:
LA 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 Sky Sports’ Funniest Moments: Best Bits
12.0 A League of Their
Own 1.0 In the Long Run
1.30 Brit Cops: War on
Crime 2.20 NCIS: LA 3.10
NCIS: LA 4.0 The Real
A&E 4.30 The Real A&E
5.0 The Dog Whisperer
Sky Arts
6.0am Dvořák: The
Complete Symphonies
6.55 Giselle 9.0 Watercolour Challenge 9.30
Landscape Artist of the
Year 2017 10.30 Tales
of the Unexpected 11.0
Trailblazers: Nuclear
Protest 12.0 The 60s
1.0 Discovering: Max
von Sydow 2.0 Watercolour Challenge 2.30
Landscape Artist of the
Year 2017 3.30 Tales
of the Unexpected
4.0 Trailblazers: Acid
House 5.0 The 60s
6.0 Discovering: Julie
Andrews 7.0 Johnny
Cash: Song by Song
7.30 Dolly Parton: Song
by Song 8.0 Video
Killed the Radio Star
8.30 Discovering: Foo
Fighters 9.0 The 90s
10.0 Foo Fighters: Austin
City Limits 11.15 Brian
Johnson’s A Life on
the Road 12.15 Classic
Albums 1.15 Pearl Jam:
Let’s Play Two 3.30 The
Summer of Love 4.30
Tales of the Unexpected
5.0 Auction 5.30 Auction
Sky Atlantic
6.0am Fish Town 7.0
Richard E Grant’s Hotel
Secrets 8.0 The British
9.0 The West Wing
10.0 The West Wing
11.0 House 12.0 House
1.0 Without a Trace 2.0
Blue Bloods 3.0 The
West Wing 4.0 The West
Wing 5.0 House 6.0
House 7.0 CSI: Crime
Scene Investigation 8.0
Blue Bloods 9.0-12.10
Game of Thrones 12.10
The Sopranos 1.20 The
Sopranos 2.35 Crashing
3.10 Without a Trace
4.10-6.0 The West Wing
Foo Fighters:
Austin City
Limits,
Sky Arts
Radio 3
6.30 Breakfast. Petroc
Trelawny presents.
9.0 Essential Classics.
Stewart Lee guests. 12.0
Composer of the Week:
Pachelbel (5/5) 1.0 News
1.02 Lunchtime Concert:
Norfolk and Norwich
Chamber Music Series
(4/4) 2.0 Afternoon
Concert. From Hoddinott
Hall, Cardiff, a concert
marking the 90th
anniversary of the BBC
National Orchestra of
Wales. 4.30 BBC Young
Musician 2018 5.0 In
Tune 7.0 In Tune Mixtape
7.30 In Concert. From the
Barbican, London. Emma
Tring (soprano), Andrew
Staples (tenor), Roderick
Williams (baritone),
BBC SO and Chorus,
Andrew Davis. Elgar:
The Starlight Express
(excerpts). Raymond Yiu:
The World Was Once All
Miracle. 8.15 Interval.
8.35 Lilian Elkington: Out
of the Mist. Elgar: The
Spirit of England, Op 80.
10.0 The Verb 10.45 The
Essay: One Bar Electric
Memoir (5/5) 11.0 Music
Planet. With Fatoumata
Diawara in session. 1.0
Through the Night
Radio 4
6.0 Today 9.0 The
Reunion (R) 9.45 (LW)
Daily Service 9.45
(FM) Book of the Week:
Packing My Library (5/5)
10.0 Woman’s Hour.
Includes at 10.45 Drama:
How Does That Make
You Feel? By Shelagh
Stephenson. (5/5)
11.0 The Opt Out. Polly
Weston reports on the
opt-out organ donation
system. 11.30 When the
Dog Dies (R) 12.0 News
12.01 (LW) Shipping
Forecast 12.04 Home
Front: 13 April 1918
– Gabriel Graham, by
Lucy Catherine. (30/40)
12.15 You and Yours 1.0
The World at One 1.45
Chinese Characters: Ding
Ling – Sophie, Sensation
and Sex (5/20) 2.0 The
Archers 2.15 Drama: The
Deletion Committee, by
Mark Lawson. Following
pressure from campaign
groups and social media,
a wax works museum
feels compelled to reevaluate and purge many
of its most celebrated
exhibits. 3.0 Gardeners’
Question Time: Cranfield
University 3.45 Short
Works: Unmade, by
David Hayden. 4.0 Last
Word 4.30 Feedback 5.0
PM 5.54 (LW) Shipping
Forecast 6.0 News 6.30
The News Quiz (1/8)
7.0 The Archers. Shula
gets a shock. 7.15 Front
Row 7.45 How Does
That Make You Feel? (R)
(5/5) 8.0 Any Questions?
Jonathan Dimbleby
presents the debate from
Oxford. 8.50 A Point of
View: The Mental Illness
Metaphor. With Tom
Shakespeare. 9.0 Home
Front Omnibus: 9-13
April 1918 (6/8) 10.0
The World Tonight. With
Razia Iqbal. 10.45 Book
at Bedtime: Rabbit Is
Rich (10/10) 11.0 Great
Lives: Ayesha Hazarika on
Jayaben Desai (R) 11.30
Ramblings: Aberlady Bay
(R) 12.0 News 12.30
Book of the Week (5/5)
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 White Heat (5/5)
6.30 Arthur Mee:
Encyclopaedist 7.0
The Stanley Baxter
Playhouse (2/4) 7.30
The Hitchhiker’s Guide
to the Galaxy: Hexagonal
Phase (6/6) 8.0 I’m
Sorry I’ll Read That Again
(9/13) 8.30 Brothers
in Law (6/12) 9.0 It’s
Your Round (1/6) 9.30
After Henry (1/8) 10.0
Jude the Obscure (5/6)
11.0 Podcast Radio
Hour 12.0 I’m Sorry I’ll
Read That Again (9/13)
12.30 Brothers in Law
(6/12) 1.0 White Heat
(5/5) 1.30 Arthur Mee:
Encyclopaedist 2.0 The
Essex Serpent (10/10)
The Guardian
Friday 13 April 2018
2.15 Disability: A New
History (10/10) 2.30
Tristram Shandy (5/10)
2.45 On Her Majesty’s
Secret Service (10/10)
3.0 Jude the Obscure
(5/6) 4.0 It’s Your Round
(1/6) 4.30 After Henry
(1/8) 5.0 The Stanley
Baxter Playhouse (2/4)
5.30 The Hitchhiker’s
Guide… (6/6) 6.0 The
Scarifyers: The King
of Winter (4/4) 6.30
Mastertapes (10/14)
7.0 I’m Sorry I’ll Read
That Again (9/13)
7.30 Brothers in Law
(6/12) 8.0 White Heat
(5/5) 8.30 Arthur Mee:
Encyclopaedist 9.0
Podcast Radio Hour
10.0 The Hitchhiker’s
Guide… (6/6) 10.30 The
Show What You Wrote
(4/4) 11.0 Kevin Eldon
Will See You Now (4/4)
11.30 A Look Back at
the Nineties (3/5) 12.0
The Scarifyers… (4/4)
12.30 Mastertapes
(10/14) 1.0 White Heat
(5/5) 1.30 Arthur Mee:
Encyclopaedist 2.0 The
Essex Serpent (10/10)
2.15 Disability: A New
History (10/10) 2.30
Tristram Shandy (5/10)
2.45 OHMSS (10/10)
3.0 Jude the Obscure
(5/6) 4.0 It’s Your Round
(1/6) 4.30 After Henry
(1/8) 5.0 Stanley Baxter
Playhouse (2/4) 5.30 The
Hitchhiker’s Guide… (6/6)
23
•
no 14,955
Quick crossword
1
2
3
4
Garry Trudeau
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
Across
1 Warship smaller than a
frigate (8)
5 Mineral used as a toiletry (4)
9 Turn out (5)
10 Swarming (with) (7)
11 Meanwhile (3,3,6)
13 Free and easy (6)
14 Elevation (6)
17 Completely normal (2,2,8)
20 Stream in north Italy that
Julius Caesar crossed in 49
BC (7)
21 Arrive at (5)
22 Pitcher (4)
23 Windy (8)
Down
1 Sailors — boasted (4)
2 Destructive (7)
3 Business that sells and rents
properties for clients (6,6)
4 Move unsteadily (6)
6 Get up (5)
7 Think deeply (8)
8 Be dismissed from one’s
employment (3,4,5)
12 Without penalty (4-4)
15 Small bomb (7)
16 Relating to the backbone (6)
18 Holy Scripture (5)
19 Watery part of milk (4)
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
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 guardianbookshop.com or call 0330 333 6846.
Sudoku
no 4,033
Hard. Fill the grid so that each row, column and
3x3 box contains the numbers 1-9. Printable
version at theguardian.com/sudoku
Word wheel
Suguru
Wordsearch
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-60.
Good-51. Average-39.
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 flags in the grid? Words can run
forwards, backwards, vertically or
diagonally, but always in a straight,
unbroken line.
Yesterday’s solutions
Sudoku no 4,032
Pet corner
Suguru
Wordsearch
Solution no 14,954
B U R E A U
C
A U
L
R E S T F U L
O H F O
S L OW S U N
S
M T
P E C K A T
P
A O G G
T I MO R O U S
C M
I
S
H A U N T
S C
T
T
E
R E L E N T L
Word wheel
THROWBACK
24
The Guardian
Friday 13 April 2018
C
O
L
E
S
L
A
W
R A
B
I S
T
H A
I
U N
P L
M O
U T T
T U
E S S
T
L E
V
D E
N
C H
A
A N
D
L E
D
Which crime writer had
a cat called Taki?
a. Dashiell Hammett
b. Jim Thompson
c. Raymond Chandler
d. Elmore Leonard
Answer top right
Doonesbury
TODAY’S PET CORNER ANSWER RAYMOND CHANDLER
Puzzles
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