MonthJanuary 2018

Paul Thomas Anderson: ’You can tell a lot about a person by what they order for breakfast’

The director is back, with another charismatic obsessive – this time a 1950s couture designer – in Phantom Thread. But his brush with fashion has not left him with a taste for togs About four years ago, Paul Thomas Anderson got sick. “Just a bug … inexplicable. It wasn’t food poisoning. It was just one of those things that takes you over.” Tended to by his wife, Maya Rudolph – she of Bridesmaids’ most memorable gastrointestinal moment – Anderson hatched a plan: a movie about the tenderness of the invalid and the power of the nurse. And whether the odd bout of illness might sometimes be healthy. Phantom Thread – exquisitely styled, emotionally raw, saturated with machismo – looks like classic Anderson. Daniel Day-Lewis, who won an Oscar for the director’s There Will Be Blood, is back as another ravenously charismatic obsessive, Reynolds Woodcock, a brilliant, brattish couture designer in postwar London. But strip away the cravat and you find a pussy bow. Phantom Thread is a subversion – a hymn to women’s upper hands and stronger stomachs. For Reynolds is upstaged by his sister, Cyril (Lesley Manville, on super-wither), and turned subservient to new muse, Alma (Vicky Krieps). A fumbling, blushing immigrant waitress, Alma is whisked off to Reynolds’s London fashion house to act as a live-in muse, and initially appears no match for the suave genius 30 years her senior. Yet Reynolds underestimates her at his peril. As do we. Watch the movie a second time and all her entreaties – “Whatever you do, do it carefully”; “Maybe I’m looking for trouble” – sound like threats. (February 1, 1996)  Hard Eight Continue reading… [hmp_player]

The 10 greatest Super Bowl half-time shows – Ranked!

From Beyoncé to Bruce half-time at the NFL’s big season finale is the 12-minute stadium set that’s become a pop cultural milestone. But whose show was the MVP? After 15 years on the margins of pop, Prince’s 12-minute Super Bowl show was part of a return to centre-stage that climaxed with his dazzling 21-night O2 Arena residency. As he reeled off hits and stunning guitar solos, the dancers and special effects seemed almost beside the point: there was something thrillingly defiant and pugilistic about his performance, a man who knew he could do it all better than anyone else, imperiously showing them how it’s done. For any other artist, a torrential storm during half-time would have been a disaster: for Prince, singing Purple Rain in the middle of the downpour, it was a final, magical addition to the show. Continue reading… [hmp_player]

Bryan Ferry on how Roxy Music invented a new kind of pop: ‘We were game for anything’

With their thrillingly strange 1972 debut, Roxy Music announced themselves as a band that were unlike anyone else. The singer looks back at how they created a new kind of music – out of Stax, oboes and Marilyn Monroe More than 45 years ago, a new group released their first album. They didn’t wear denim, nor had they, apparently, paid their dues. Indeed, their heavily stylised presentation – a model posed archly on the cover in a 1950s pastiche, the musicians inside clad in leopardskin and leather with styled quiffs – could not have been more opposed to the rock modes of the day. “Is this a recording session or a cocktail party?” inquired Ferry’s friend Simon Puxley in the liner notes. Before you even got to the music, the record cover was a gauntlet thrown down – an explosion of glamour in a wasteland of faded blue cotton. “The clothes we were wearing at that time would have put off quite a large chunk of people,” reflects Bryan Ferry. “What I liked about the American bands, the Stax label and Motown, they were into presentation and show business, mohair suits, quite slick. And the cover art, I thought of all the American pop culture icons, Marilyn Monroe: selling cigarettes or beer with a glamorous image. But it was a bit off-kilter as well; there was something a bit strange about it, futuristic as well as retro. All that, instead of a picture of the band, in a dreary street, looking rather sullen. Which was the norm.” (February 1, 1971)  Roxy Music form Related: Roxy Music: 10 of the best Continue reading… [hmp_player]

Wonders of the Moon review – a timely celebration of all things lunar

This week’s extravaganza is a nice excuse for a documentary that takes in Apollo 12 astronauts, coral having sex and Pink Floyd The supermoon? Yes, I know this, and why it’s in the news. Now that it seems the president of the United States will be visiting us after all, in October, a supermoon will be our welcome. Protesters will line the street and, when the motorcade passes, they will bow, facing the other way, with their pants around their ankles – #ShowYourRumpToTrump – no, really, look it up. A super blue blood moon, though? Well, that I assume is when Prince Harry joins in, too, from an upstairs window of the palace. Yeah, get a load of this, Meghan says you’re a misogynist, and you’re not coming to the wedding … Oh, that will have already happened. Well, Michelle and Barack are there, top table, so yah boo sucks to you. The first earthling visitors were Soviet tortoises, launched into orbit in 1968. Are they still there, circling? Related: ‘Super blue blood moon’: stargazers prepare for rare celestial event Continue reading… [hmp_player]

The punk rock internet – how DIY ​​rebels ​are working to ​replace the tech giants

Around the world, a handful of visionaries are plotting an alternative ​online ​future​.​ ​Is it really possible to remake the internet in a way that’s egalitarian, decentralised and free of snooping​?​ The office planner on the wall features two reminders: “Technosocialism” and “Indienet institute”. A huge husky named Oskar lies near the door, while the two people who live and work here – a plain apartment block on the west side of Malmö, Sweden – go about their daily business. Aral Balkan and Laura Kalbag moved here from Brighton in 2015. Balkan has Turkish and French citizenship, and says their decision was sparked by two things: increasing concerns about the possibility of Britain leaving the EU, and the Conservative government’s Investigatory Powers Act, otherwise known as the snoopers’ charter, some of which was declared unlawful this week by the court of appeal. The legislation cut straight to the heart of what now defines the couple’s public lives: the mesh of corporate and government surveillance surrounding the internet, and how to do something about it. Continue reading… [hmp_player]

Den of Thieves review – musclebound cops-and-robbers face-off

Gerard Butler’s team of tough-guy ’tecs take on a gang of audacious LA outlaws in this warmed-up throwback to Heat It’s been 23 years since Michael Mann’s landmark LA crime opus Heat alchemised pulp into gleaming screen spectacle, raising the possibility an entire generation has gone unaware of the symbiotic cops-and-robbers trope. Writer-director Christian Gudegast here leaps into that demographic gap with a film that falls somewhere between Mann fan art and an extended upgrade of those late-90s knock-offs with titles such as City of Industry and Body Count. The script, co-credited to Prison Break mastermind Paul Scheuring, outlines yet another mirrored face-off. On one side, jacked and tatted outlaws – headed by Orange is the New Black’s Pablo Schreiber – who have the audacity to steal an empty armoured van for reasons initially unclear; opposite them, jacked and tatted detectives, headed by all-drinkin’, ever-smokin’ bad boy Gerard Butler, some indication of where we are in relation to the film’s obvious inspiration. Continue reading… [hmp_player]

Diane Abbott on feminism in the 1980s: ‘It was so exciting being in a hall full of black women’

The rise of black feminist politics was of particular importance in a decade that saw inspiring council leaders ensure a voice for radical feminism and real change in the mainstream In the 1980s there was a belief in sisterhood, and we saw real change. Feminist politics took place in the context of what was happening more generally on the left. We had the 1984-85 miners’ strike, and the Women Against Pit Closures movement, which was really important for women in what are now post-industrial areas. They were the wives and daughters of the miners and organised, raised money and built support for the strike. It was important for focusing people on what women were doing. I vividly remember going to one of the first black feminist conferences. It was so exciting to be in a hall full of black women who shared my beliefs. Black feminist politics was one of the highlights of the decade for me. I did a lot of work on Scrap Sus – a campaign against stop and search and abuses of policing. The mums got involved because of the experiences of their children and their friends’ children. Continue reading… [hmp_player]

Monica Ali on feminism in the 2000s: ‘I hadn’t truly considered the impact of children’

The Brick Lane author read era-defining books by Rachel Cusk and Allison Pearson as her dreams of equality drowned in a sea of nappies. But soon third-wave feminism brought fresh energy As a student in the late 80s, I read Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex, Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique and Sexual Politics by Kate Millett. I knew that challenging the patriarchy was an urgent task, and I knew how to accomplish it: by making banners and drinking tea in the Wadham Women’s Room (at the Oxford college where I was an undergraduate). The banners were deployed on marches such as the one that protested against MP David Alton’s 1987 private member’s bill to end late abortions. “Keep your hands off my body,” we shouted, supremely confident, blissfully blind to any ethical nuance in one of the defining issues of gender equality – that of our reproductive rights. Could ‘feminist pornography’ really be the route to equality? Continue reading… [hmp_player]

Injera: the bike wheel-sized base of Ethiopian cuisine

Foodie scenesters are descending on long-serving Ethiopian restaurants in search of this spongy flatbread topped with mountains of dried meat and veg Ethiopian food has come a long way since Billy Crystal’s problematic joke about a bad date in When Harry Met Sally: “I didn’t know that they had food in Ethiopia?” he says. “This will be a quick meal. I’ll order two empty plates and we can leave.” Truly it’s staggering to think it took Sally so long to see the light. I was reminded of this punchline when I was confronted with an actually enormous plate of Ethiopian food, so big they serve it on a tray, at an Ethiopian restaurant called Wolkite in Holloway, north London. Continue reading… [hmp_player]