Show me the honey: Glyndebourne director requests beehive on his rider

Not keen on working at the opera without his apiary, Sebastian Schwarz is bringing his own bees from Vienna When I was a secretary on the Sun’s showbiz desk, I once took a call from a very haughty public relations expert who inquired: “Who is your opera correspondent?” To which the only possible response was: “Have you ever seen the newspaper?” Today, I am indebted to another publication – the Daily Mail – for permitting the artform its debut in Lost in Showbiz. My eye is drawn to an article concerning the new general director of Glyndebourne, Sebastian Schwarz, whose rider conditions should pass immediately into music legend. To wit: he demands an apiary. Continue reading… [hmp_player]

Boomf! James Middleton’s printed marshmallow business puffed up by investors

It looked like the ‘Wonka-in-chief’ and royal brother-in-law’s business was toast. Now the bespoke confectioner is tasting success And so to occasional Lost in Showbiz series You’re A What, Now?, which celebrates recherché employment arrangements. Our focus today is – would you believe – on another individual connected to the royal family. Last time it was Duchess Fergie, who had announced she was the “ambassador for a lifestyle app”. This week, we spotlight Kate Middleton’s brother James, who is CEO of a “printed marshmallow business”. If you are able to say the words “printed marshmallow business” without casting a Harry Hill-style sideways look to camera, I congratulate you. I also congratulate James’s firm Boomf, named because of “the noise a marshmallow makes when it drops through your letterbox”. (You know – THAT noise. It’s literally the all-time number one search in the BBC sound effects archive.) Boomf may care to know that they are in receipt of the first ever, by-appointment Lost in Showbiz warrant, as Purveyors of Extreme WTF-ery. Continue reading… [hmp_player]

James Blake: ‘I’m the opposite of punk. I’ve subdued a generation’

Kanye, Beyoncé, Drake and Frank Ocean have all been inspired by the unassuming Londoner’s sound. Now he’s coming of age with his new album, The Colour in Anything A few months ago, James Blake was working on the biggest album of 2016 and he couldn’t tell anyone. Beyoncé had asked him to come to the studio and work on the secrecy-shrouded Lemonade. After he’d been improvising for a while around her melodies and lyrical ideas, Beyoncé arrived with her four-year-old daughter Blue Ivy to hear what he had come up with. Every time he sang the hook on the song Forward, Blue Ivy sang: “Forward!” “That’s how you know it’s catchy,” Beyoncé told him. ‘He’s really influenced everybody a lot. In the artist community everybody loves Blake’ ‘The dance music community is where the most embittered critics hang out’ ‘I felt like I was banging my head against the wall. It’s a miracle that my girlfriend walked in at that point.’ Continue reading… [hmp_player]

Grayson Perry: All Man review – making touching art out of machismo

The artist and ‘lifelong sissy’ goes north to hear how the old model of masculinity can malfunction in the modern world – then distils his experiences into tapestries and pots. Plus: please never let The Good Wife end ‘As a lifelong sissy myself, I have never felt at ease amongst macho men …” So begins the first part of Grayson Perry: All Man (Channel 4), the artist’s three-part exploration of masculinity that opens with a trip to the north-east to talk things through with a group of mixed martial arts fighters. Related: Grayson Perry: ‘Boys think they’re breaking the man contract if they cry’ Continue reading… [hmp_player]

I Saw the Light review – Tom Hiddleston croons a country curiosity

The British actor does a fine, intelligent turn as the troubled singer Hank Williams, but this baggy biopic never really finds its shape Can the British invasion of Hollywood get any more startling than this? Country music icon Hank Williams played by … Tom Hiddleston? Maybe even now Eddie Redmayne is getting ready to play Elvis. It’s counterintuitive casting, to say the least, for this intensely American figure. My personal theory is that George W Bush could always count on some sentimental loyalty from the voters because he looked a bit like Hank Williams. Well, Hiddleston brings his focused and intelligent technique to bear on the role; the externals are plausible, the accent is fine and he does his own (very good) singing. There is something interesting in his every scene. But alongside him, Elizabeth Olsen – playing Hank’s first wife Audrey – looks natural and relaxed in a way Hiddleston never quite does. This is a long, baggy movie about Williams’s troubled life and career in the 1940s and 50s. It never really finds its shape, either as a conventional biopic or an intentionally mysterious scenes-from-a-life study. Williams gets drunk a lot, cheats on his wife, does drugs on the road, misses gigs and suffers from chronic back pain. Wives and girlfriends flit in and out of the action. Disappointingly, Olsen isn’t in it much, and her genuine rapport with Hiddleston isn’t developed. An interestingly acted curiosity. Continue reading… [hmp_player]

Knight of Cups review – Malick stagnates in dull Tinseltown tale

The revered director’s latest is a mannered, shopworn disappointment. It’s too hard to care about screenwriter Christian Bale’s self-indulgent inward journey Related: Terrence Malick: has the legendary visionary finally lost the plot? Terrence Malick’s latest film has arrived in cinemas after its premiere at last year’s Berlin film festival, and it is a disappointment, finding pointless anguish in first-world problems. His visual language is always distinctive and even arresting in its vehemence, but is now stagnating into mannerism and self-parody. The increasingly shopworn tropes – sunsets, whispery voiceovers, young women in floaty dresses dancing puckishly ahead of men, occasionally turning round to dance backwards – are here applied to Tinseltown LA, where a screenwriter called Rick (Christian Bale) undergoes the least interesting spiritual crisis in history. The title is taken from a tarot card; he goes to a fortune teller as part of his self-pitying and self-indulgent inner journey. Rick is on the verge of career superstardom, but anguished by the collapse of his marriage to Nancy (Cate Blanchett), a quaintly imagined hospital doctor tending to ordinary and unglamorous folk. Rick broods and smoulders wordlessly at decadent parties and also remote desert locations. The conflation of Rick’s spiritual state with the power of the landscape is unconvincing and unearned. There are moments of interest and flashes of visual power, but Knight of Cups is redundant. Continue reading… [hmp_player]

Arabian Nights, Vol 3: The Enchanted One review – elegant Portuguese austerity marvel

The final part of Miguel Gomes’s docu-fantasy trilogy includes Scheherazade as a romantic warrior queen and an interplanetary Karen Carpenter Miguel Gomes’s wayward, opaque and sometimes dreamily erotic Arabian Nights docu-fantasy trilogy about Portugal’s austerity nightmare enters its final section, and in this episode, the on-screen intertitles – so sparing in the previous episodes – now recur almost continuously, commenting ironically or enigmatically on the action, quoting the imaginary tale, even transcribing birdsong. Gomes pulls off this asymmetric quirk as insouciantly as he does everything else. Scheherazade (Crista Alfaiate) takes centre stage, the “enchanted one” herself; we see her romantic yearnings and emotional relationship with her father. This emergence confers on her a strange, understated sort of heroism, Portugal’s warrior-queen tribune. Apart from her story, there are two tales: one about chaffinches hints at the reason why the nation’s caged bird sings; another about a lonely young Chinese woman in Portugal is juxtaposed with scenes of mass protest and mass action. We close with a choral cover version of the Carpenters’ Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft: a real cry for help. Why aren’t there many more colossal movie trilogies about austerity? Should they look like this? If austerity-battered people are allowed bread, then they are allowed roses, in the form of a fantasy life, a resistance through imagination. What a delicate, elegant marvel these movies have been. Continue reading… [hmp_player]