Emotion

March 3, 2016

My Lord, pop music has gotten exhausting. It seems every second song is “AN EVENT”; a carefully structured meme generator on the state of race, gender and sexuality in the world today. Either that or it’s a chance for the artist to lift their head off of a snot and tear-stained pillow and tell the world, through revenge porn lyrics, about the folk -often famous, who didn’t appreciate ‘little ole me’.

Some of the above should be admired, even if-like Beyonce’s Formation, it can be self-aggrandizing and self-serving. Pop has a duty to incite.

But, occasionally, one does wish that there was more bubblegum around, sweet, disposable, throwaway tunes where the singer isn’t proclaiming from the chart tops about how they have matured, how they have reformed or how they have conquered.

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American Crime

March 3, 2016

American Crime is one of the most important shows on television at the moment. It’s not one of the best, nor is it the most entertaining (though it really is terrific). But the issues that this anthology series examines – race, sexuality, class, tribalism -and the manner in which it inverts all these topics, starts a proper conversation, rather than prattling the same important message to the converted masses.

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GIRLS

March 3, 2016

Watching the new series of Girls is like hanging out with mates who’ve outgrown each other. There are shadows of the craic and the bond you once shared, but it’s increasingly difficult to see what you ever saw in one another.

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The Night Manager

March 3, 2016

There’s no bum sex or drunken jazz freak-outs in The Night Manager, which makes it the perfect old-school spy-caper for mum and dad of a Sunday evening.

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The Revenant

March 3, 2016

The narrative simplicity of Dora the Explorer meets the survivalist shtick of Bear Grylls in director Alejandro G. Iñárritu gorgeous, gory and- seemingly, never-ending scavenger hunt.

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In the late 1990s I was so caught up in a Girl Power jihad that my ears declared a fatwa on All Saints. There was something so fake about a group of grown women proclaiming that they were more ‘real’ than their far more successful rivals, just because they dressed in the same uniform of bloc coloured bomber jackets, combats and Timberland boots.

Described as a cooler, edgier alternative to The Spice Girls, they were pop for people who used their musical taste as a totem pole to show how cool and edgy they, themselves, were- not as something that touched or moved them in any great way.

In spite of making a great deal of noise, All Saints’ cannon has few classic tracks.

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Trapped

February 26, 2016

Against another unusual backdrop- this time an Icelandic port besieged by a blizzard, a murder mystery unravels. A limbless and headless torso has been pulled from the sea by some local fishermen, at the exact moment an ocean liner, a snowstorm and the ex-wife of our hero, Andri, the chief of police, descend on Seyðisfjörður.

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Happy Valley

February 26, 2016

Sarah Lancashire is so phenomenal as Sgt Catherine Cawood in Happy Valley that you manage to get almost the whole way through the first season before you realise that it’s her performance- and not the storytelling, which makes it such an absorbing watch.

For there’s nothing new to see here, really.

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Mom

February 26, 2016

Chuck Lorre is the man behind Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory and Mike & Molly, shows so bad that, by all rights, he should be dismembered and have his decapitated head hung in the corner of all future CBS comedies to warn what will happen to creators of such mass appeal muck.

But I’m willing to order a stay of execution. Lorre is also the man who oversaw the best seasons of Roseanne , and created one of the finest, most nuanced sitcoms of all time – Grace Under Fire.

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Vinyl

February 25, 2016

Vinyl is a Valentine to 70s New York- and the music subcultures that still define it, at least in our imaginations. Embracing the mess over the muse, the period over the particular and emotional extremes over heartfelt persuasion, creators Martin Scorsese and Mick Jagger- whose own work defined that era, wear coke-tinted glasses to spawn a series that comes on like a skaggy sequel to Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous. The excess of success has bloated out the passion for music which has resulted in a top heavy industry that needs to be ripped up and rebooted.
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