‘The leather started to chafe’ … former Wild Beast Hayden Thorpe on going solo

After Wild Beasts split, singer Hayden Thorpe was left in a ‘strange, cryogenic state’. But a new solo album helped him let go of the past Hayden Thorpe is driving his mum’s Fiat Panda back from a favourite spot near his Lake District hometown of Kendall – a hill called Gummer’s How. The views of Windermere are breathtaking, although Thorpe is more impressed by a huge white bull trampling down a country lane. “Did you see the size of his nuts?” he marvels. “Spectacular.” It was on Gummer’s How that Thorpe, now 33, started to make peace with the demise of his former band, Wild Beasts. Colombian friends had talked him into a ritual: writing down the things he wanted to happen on one piece of paper and burying it in the soil, and writing down the things he wanted to be free of on another, then burning it. He can’t remember what the first note said, but the second had a lot “about letting go of the past and certain aspects of myself,” he says. “When you’ve been in a band from the age of 15 and come out the other side, you’re in a strange, cryogenic state.” Continue reading… [hmp_player]

TV tonight: steam heads do the locomotion

They love their trains at the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, and so will you after this heartwarming documentary. Plus more spy shenanigans in The Looming Tower. Here’s what to watch this evening It is high summer, and for the North Yorkshire Moors Railway that means making hay while the sun shines. So it is hosting 22 steam train-based weddings, including that of head boilersmith Mark and his steam-mad fiancee Emma. As events manager Tim says: “To do this job, you have to be unflappable. And I am quite flappable.” Elsewhere, there are engine problems, a battered-sausage crisis and some breathtaking scenery. A comforting vegetable soup of a show. Ali Catterall Continue reading… [hmp_player]

John McEnroe: In the Realm of Perfection review – Superbrat court in the act

The tempestuous tennis star wages war against the world in documentary-maker Julien Faraut’s philosophical portrait In this cherishably idiosyncratic essay-film, archivist Julien Faraut has spun documentarist Gil de Kermadec’s raw footage of John McEnroe’s fractious mid-80s progress at the French Open into the basis of a philosophical rumination – Herzogian voiceover by Mathieu Amalric – on tennis, cinema and life. Steady old Ivan Lendl gets barely a look-in on the other side of the net; the attraction here lies in watching one man wage noisy war against a world built on treacherous clay. McEnroe makes a fascinating focal point. Faraut seeks to elevate him as a singularly tortured creative, an auteur in sports socks. His face set in that teenage De Niro scowl, he offers no celebration, not even a terse, Murray-like fist pump; coaches will recoil at his tendency to stop after each shot, as if anticipating the worst. An opening instructional short illustrating how to hit a forehand comes to seem simplistic indeed set against McEnroe’s imperfect reality, battling balls, officials, crowds, perms and cameramen. There are electrifying moments where he stares down the lens mid-match with that signature mix of aggression and derision: “You want some? You’re not worth my time.” Continue reading… [hmp_player]

Rocketmen, raves and rhapsodies: how the music movie became a Hollywood hit

Elton John is the latest rock star to get the movie treatment in Rocketman. When did singers become as bankable as superheroes at the box office? The doors swing open and through the smoke swaggers a figure in bejewelled orange horns, gold popped collar and fiery plumage. The Avengers have fought their last battle, and this summer’s superhero has arrived: his name is Elton John (or Taron Egerton) and his superpower is – Hollywood hopes – getting bums on seats in a projected $25m opening weekend. In the opening scene of the biopic Rocketman, Taron-as-Elton strides straight off pop’s most decadent imperial period and into rehab, where he recounts his life from chubby-cheeked Reg Dwight, stuck in a Reg Perrin suburb, to Dodgers Stadium-playing, cocaine-hoovering Elton John. The details of Elton’s gilded life may be particular to him, but Rocketman’s arc (spoiler alert, fame corrupts!) will be familiar to anyone who has recently visited a cinema, where stories about musicians are outnumbering even the comic book characters. Continue reading… [hmp_player]

Deerskin: techno DJ Mr Oizo’s twisted movie about a jacket to die for

In 1999, he hit the charts with a tatty puppet called Flat Eric. Now, Quentin Dupieux has made one of the weirdest films at Cannes The winner of the Palme d’Or may not be revealed until Saturday, but the award for the strangest premise of a film at this year’s Cannes film festival has surely already been claimed. Quentin Dupieux’s black comedy Deerskin stars Jean Dujardin as Georges, a middle-aged divorcee who buys a deerskin jacket and becomes so besotted with it that he sets off on a quest to become the world’s only jacket-wearer. He does so armed with a ceiling fan blade that he has sharpened to a lethal point, bumping off anyone who refuses to relinquish their outerwear. The film’s director insists that it’s not as peculiar as it sounds. “The movie isn’t that crazy, if you look at it,” suggests Dupieux, from a deckchair on the Cannes beachfront. “The character is the absurd element. The movie is almost like a documentary about this guy being crazy.” Continue reading… [hmp_player]

The Other Two review – a fabulous, scabrous sendup of Bieber-a-likes

How would you react if your baby brother became an overnight pop sensation? This comedy has heart, charm – and a staggering belly-laugh gag rate Cary Dubek is a 30-year-old gay, still-aspiring actor. His sister Brooke was a dancer in her younger days. She is currently temping as a realtor, because it allows her to squat in the homes she is supposed to be showing. The Other Two (E4) is about their lives when their 13-year-old brother Chase becomes an overnight star after posting a music video (under the moniker Chase Dreams) for his song I Wanna Marry You at Recess. You would be forgiven for assuming that what follows is a hailstorm of bitter gags, hard little pellets of sibling rivalry and resentment raining down for 20 minutes as their brother’s growing success throws Cary (Drew Tarver) and Brooke’s (Heléne Yorke) lack thereof into sharper and sharper relief. Continue reading… [hmp_player]