MonthOctober 2018

The First review – Sean Penn’s Mars drama fails to launch

Any hopes that the actor’s first regular TV role might lift off were dashed right from the start in this plodding space saga As Sean Penn runs sleeveless up and down his neighbourhood as astronaut Tom Haggerty in The First (the actor’s first – ha! – regular TV role) the thought arrives unbidden that you could add the body fat of him and his erstwhile love Madonna together and still not have enough to fry an egg. There is plenty of time to mull over such non-pressing issues as the secret diet and exercise regimes that gift the rich and famous with such extraordinary leanness as you watch the first episode of The First, because almost nothing happens in the first episode of The First. We are some time in the near future. The clothes and cars look the same, but everything is voice activated by software that actually works. Tom is a seasoned astronaut due to captain Earth’s first manned mission to Mars but who is stood down at the last minute by his boss, a visionary aerospace lady magnate, Laz Ingram (Natascha McElhone). Continue reading… [hmp_player]

Pity Jordan Peterson. Can a giant lobster analogy ever replace a sense of humour?

The leading member of the self-styled intellectual dark web likes to think he is ‘locked out’ of the mainstream media. Which makes his interview in this month’s GQ all the more revealing The nights have drawn in, the rains have come, and it is time to start unveiling some of the lines in the Lost in Showbiz Winter Collection. Let me say right now that one of our absolute key pieces will be Jordan Peterson. Quite how it’s taken this column so long to alight lovingly on the winningest public intellectual of our age is unclear, but please now consider me officially very into him. This week, I read Jordan’s most famous book, 12 Simple Rules For Dating My Teenage Daughter, and found it an absolute scream. Forgive me – the opus is actually called 12 Rules For Life, but it certainly forced me to tear down every other thought leader poster peeling off my bedroom wall. I am highly excited to get around to Jordan’s only other published book, some kind of vast theory of everything which took him 12 years to write. Oscar Wilde wrote The Picture of Dorian Gray in about a fortnight, so imagine how much better Jordan B Peterson’s Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief is going to be. Continue reading… [hmp_player]

Nicolas Hodges review – supple and gritty Elisabeth Luytens premiere

Wigmore Hall, LondonHodges paired an nuanced debut of work by the late British composer with virtuosic premieres of contemporary pieces by James Clarke and Hans Thomalla In the decades after the second world war Elisabeth Lutyens wrote the most challenging and uncompromising music of any British composer of her time. But little of it is heard nowadays, and even the upsurge in interest in 20th-century female composers has hardly furthered her cause. Underlining the neglect of Lutyens’s music since her death, in 1983, Nicolas Hodges began his recital with the world premiere of her Five Impromptus Op 116, which were composed in 1977 for the Australian pianist Roger Woodward but which he seems never to have performed. The impromptus are typically supple, gritty miniatures, notated without bar lines to emphasise their rhythmic freedom, and only occasionally touching down on solid tonal ground. The sequence perhaps traces the shape of a compressed sonata, with a discursive opening movement of accelerations and slowings-down, and a brief succession of quiet chords functioning as a central slow episode. But nothing is wasted and every gesture is pared down to its functional minimum. Continue reading… [hmp_player]

‘I didn’t want to be a Hollywood actor’: Julian Sands on controversy, fear and his best friend, John Malkovich

The actor has spent his career seeking out the weirdest roles possible. And his new portrayal of Tarzan is no exception – perhaps because Malkovich is playing Cheeta … There’s freedom in being Julian Sands, an actor whose eclectic career has taken him from prestige romances to subversive indie movies and sinister TV shows – and to more than 50 countries. For proof, you could scan his résumé – or, if you are a thrill-seeker yourself, stake out his Los Angeles home where, over the rush of Sunset Strip traffic, you may hear Sands bellow his Tarzan call: “Aah-eeh-ah-eeh-aaaaaah-eeh-ah-eeh-aaaaah!” “I’m not going to do it here, of course,” Sands announces in a coffee shop down the hill from his house – or, as he refers to it, his base camp. “But I tormented my wife practising, and it’s one of the things I’m most proud of in my life.” He learned the barbaric yawp for BBC Radio 4’s dramatisation of James Lever’s acclaimed novel Me, Cheeta: the Autobiography, a fictional memoir of the chimpanzee who starred in 12 Tarzan films alongside the former Olympic swimmer Johnny Weissmuller. Weissmuller’s king-of-the-jungle yell was reportedly bolstered by mixing in the sound of a hyena, a camel, a dog, a violin and an opera soprano. Not Sands’s one, though: “That was me without any mechanical amplification.” Continue reading… [hmp_player]

Dave Gorman review – nitpicking fury of a PowerPoint maestro

Royal Festival Hall, LondonThe comic is on solid form as he deploys graphs, data and ruthless over-thinking to rage against life’s tiny details Churnalism, fraudulent daytime TV, the idiocies of social media – these are the targets of Dave Gorman’s peevishness in his new show, With Great PowerPoint Comes Great ResponsibilityPoint. “Can we stop factory-farming bullshit?” he protests. But were his wish to come true, he’d be doing himself out of a USP: Gorman’s act depends on that neverending stream of the cheap, the crap, and the woollily thunk. He takes it, he parades it across a screen and he deploys graphs, data and ruthless overthinking to dismember it bit by bit. The formula does not alter one iota in this latest offering, as the PowerPoint maestro once again gets wound up at very trivial things. Fans may be delighted – cheers greet his two trademark “found poems” tonight – but I didn’t find the show quite sharp enough to justify two-hours-plus of near-total inconsequentiality. At Harrogate Convention Centre on 2 November, then touring. Continue reading… [hmp_player]