CULTURE

  • ‘She went her own way’: the tragic and unusual life of folk singer Karen Dalton
    by Jim Farber on September 27, 2021 at 2:54 pm

    In a new documentary, the underrated singer’s life of depression, addiction and poverty is told while her incredible talents are celebratedThe outlines of the life led by singer Karen Dalton tell a heartbreaking tale. It was one scarred by consistent poverty, intermittent homelessness, bouts of depression and escalating alcohol and drug addiction, culminating in her death from Aids at 55. Yet, to Robert Yapkowitz, who co-directed a new documentary with Richard Peete titled Karen Dalton: In My Own Time, “there’s an inspirational element to her story. Karen was an artist who didn’t compromise. She made music that she was proud of with the people she loved. And that was the focus of her life.” Related: Beatles on the brink: the truth about the Fab Four’s final days Continue reading…

  • ‘They changed my ending, I felt aghast’: how we made Wicked
    by Interviews by Chris Wiegand on September 27, 2021 at 1:26 pm

    ‘I once performed Defying Gravity at the White House within spitting distance of the Obamas,’ says Idina Menzel. ‘In fact, I might actually have spat on them’I’d played with the story of The Wizard of Oz since my childhood in the US when I would arrange theatrical events in our back yard. I was the impresario. My brothers, sisters and friends were assigned roles and we’d have The Wicked Witch of the West fall in love with Captain Hook. Continue reading…

  • Vendetta: Netflix’s chilling mafia show is The Sopranos meets Tiger King
    by Stuart Heritage on September 27, 2021 at 1:22 pm

    Fifteen years in the making, this is the true-crime tale of the tiny Sicilian TV station that took on the mob – and even when the death threats were constant, they stayed on airWhether deliberate or not, the release of new Netflix series Vendetta: Truth, Lies and the Mafia very neatly coincides with that of the Sopranos prequel, The Many Saints of Newark. But while the latter is an offshoot of a TV show that went out of its way to deglamorise the mob, compared with this new documentary it stinks of Hollywood artifice. Indeed, there is a bracing lack of romance here; rather, it is a slow procession of old, tired men and women smoking indoors, worn down by the relentlessness of it all.Vendetta tells the story of Telejato, a tiny, local Sicilian television station that made its name with a virulently anti-mafia stance. Fronted by Pino Maniaci – a small, chainsmoking man with a moustache so huge it makes him look like a Pixar character – Telejato news bulletins often took to calling out specific members of the mob directly. It wasn’t entirely unexpected to see Maniaci spit: “You pieces of shit,” while jabbing his finger at the camera, which you have to admit isn’t something you would expect from Huw Edwards. Continue reading…

  • ‘After healing comes dancing’: Tems, the Nigerian singer loved by Drake and Adele
    by Emmanuel Akinwotu on September 27, 2021 at 9:23 am

    As a teenage loner in Lagos, Temilade Openiyi immersed herself in Kate Bush, Green Day and poetry. She’s now one of Nigeria’s few female music producers and a globally famous vocalistEssence, a melancholy yet feelgood anthem released last October by Wizkid, has belatedly emerged as one of the songs of 2021, gradually dominating global streaming charts – further aided by Justin Bieber’s patronage on a remix. But the track’s success is owed to a less familiar voice: the disarmingly immersive, coursing melodies of the chorus vocalist, the Nigerian singer, songwriter and producer Tems, AKA 26-year-old Temilade Openiyi.Since 2018, local hits Mr Rebel, Try Me and the striking EP For Broken Ears have earned her prominence from within her country’s “alté” scene, an alternative music and fashion subculture that has both chafed against and flirted with the mainstream. Now, the stunning reach of Essence has been transformative. “I’m living in surprise – I just wake up and get surprised every day,” she says in a characteristically mellow voice on a video call from Lagos. The fandom of stars including Alicia Keys and Chris Brown on social media was topped only by bumping into Adele in LA. “She was singing Try Me and saying she’s heard me from Mr Rebel and I was like: what?” Continue reading…

  • Matrix by Lauren Groff review – thrilling trip into the mystic
    by Alex Preston on September 27, 2021 at 8:00 am

    The Fates and Furies author reconstructs the life of a 12th-century nun, drawing out conflict, drama and queer undercurrentsMonasteries and convents make excellent crucibles: closed worlds in which the events of a novel are heightened, their tensions felt more keenly. Sylvia Townsend Warner’s The Corner That Held Them is a near-forgotten masterpiece set in a medieval nunnery, while Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose had metafictive fun mixing crime and semiotics. More recently, there’s been Christopher Wilson’s Hurdy Gurdy, James Meek’s To Calais, in Ordinary Time and, in a slightly skewed vision, Robert Harris’s The Second Sleep. Now we have Lauren Groff, author of the celebrated Fates and Furies, a sharp novel of New York life that drew comparisons to Gone Girl and was praised by Barack Obama. Groff’s fourth novel, Matrix, is something very different indeed: a strange and poetic piece of historical fiction set in a dreamlike abbey, the fictional biography of a 12th-century mystic.Marie de France is a mysterious figure, a poet whose visionary lays and magical fables, written in Francien, a medieval dialect of Old French, are complex, sensual and self-lacerating. Groff has read these mystical poems and what limited historical records we have and has fashioned a life for Marie. We first meet our ungainly heroine aged 17, as she is cast out of her home; the illegitimate half-sister of Eleanor of Aquitaine, she is sent to a nunnery in England. She leaves behind the servant girl whose “frank and knowing body” provided Marie with endless pleasure. She is near-mad with love for her half-sister, whose presence lies heavily over her adolescent mind. Continue reading…

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