Monday. 31/5/2021

The Monocle Minute

Image: Alamy

Opinion / Fernando Augusto Pacheco

Tuning in

It’s one of the few genres that’s able to compete with superhero films at the box office: a biopic of a music legend or jukebox musical based on an artist’s repertoire is a guaranteed hit – and a great way for an artist to revitalise their back catalogue. Think Bohemian Rhapsody and its $900m (€740m) haul at the box office, or Rocketman, based on the life of Elton John.

The latest biopic to be announced will be based on the life of Cher and made by the producers of Mamma Mia!, the incredibly successful jukebox musical featuring Abba songs. Cher herself featured in its sequel (pictured), singing my namesake “Fernando” magnificently from the top of a stairway. Considering that Cher is not only a singer but also an Oscar-winning actress who still has the moves and pens her own dance hits, it’s fair to expect the film to follow in the recent success of the genre. Here are three other biopics I’m keeping an eye out for:

Madonna. Yes, this is in the works. Screenwriter Diablo Cody was spotted writing a script in collaboration with the singer. A previous screenplay based on Madonna’s life, Blonde Ambition, was once considered one of the most sought-after scripts in Hollywood.

Aretha Franklin.Respect is set to be released later this year. It could be another Oscar-winning turn by actress and singer Jennifer Hudson.

Raffaella Carrà.My Heart Goes Boom! is a jukebox musical featuring the songs of the Italian legend. Expect peak camp and excellent costumes. It’s already out in Spain and Italy, and could get an international release later this year.

Some film critics might be sniffy about the pop-culture associations but it’s undeniable that many of these pack an emotional punch – especially if you’ve grown up listening to the songs. Of course, there is an art to getting a biopic right and the wrong actor or actress can ruin a film for the fans; not everyone can equal, say, Angela Bassett playing Tina Turner in the 1993 biopic What’s Love Got To Do With It? But I’m always keen to see people try.

Image: Shutterstock

Diplomacy / Greece & Turkey

Inching closer?

Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu will be in Athens today for another round of talks with his Greek counterpart that could potentially lead to a summit between the countries’ respective leaders. As ever, today’s gathering must be taken with a pinch of salt: when Greek foreign minister Nikos Dendias (pictured, on left, with Cavusoglu) travelled to Ankara in April, he and Cavusoglu traded accusations in a heated public press conference that did little to ease tensions. Still, this latest meeting is a sign that these two countries – Nato allies but long-time rivals – remain committed to finding a way out of various disputes, on everything from territory to refugees and energy exploration. Greece’s prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said last month that a meeting with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, “makes sense and will take place”. If today’s talks in Athens pave the way for that to happen, that alone would be a diplomatic achievement worth celebrating.

Image: Shutterstock

Politics / Oman

Power out

Protests in Oman are rare but a week of demonstrations have prompted police to deploy tear gas and present a test for its relatively new sultan. The unrest is led mostly by younger Omanis in a response to rising unemployment, driven by tumult in the international oil and gas sectors, which account for about 85 per cent of the country’s GDP.

The economic woes are compounded by the fact that social-welfare payments were increased substantially a decade ago in response to the Arab Spring protests, adding additional strain to public finances. Last week, Oman’s sultan Haitham bin Tariq (pictured), who assumed the throne in January 2020, ordered government bodies to create tens of thousands of new jobs by the year’s end. And in December, ambitious plans were unveiled to diversify the economy by 2040, which included designs for the world’s largest green-hydrogen production facility. A positive step, but such long-term economic ambitions are a hard sell to Omanis struggling to make ends meet now.

Image: Courtesy of Kreislauf

Retail / Switzerland

What’s in store

Staying put for much of the past year has meant spending more time in your neighbourhood. For years, Kreislauf 345, a non-profit organisation in Zürich, has organised an annual event across three city districts that shines a light on independent retailers. After taking a hiatus last year, the Kreislauf 345 celebrated its comeback this weekend. Launched 13 years ago, the programme’s goal and vision remains unchanged but it grows bigger every year. “We want to help people to discover colourful, vibrant and hidden spots,” Iris Meili, one of the project leaders, told Monocle 24’s The Briefing. This weekend, more than 100 restaurants, cafés and shops took part and opened their doors to offer unique experiences to local residents. We’re already looking forward to next year.

Image: Jussi Puikkonen

Art / Global

Express yourself

Over the past year the art world has had to confront some existential issues. Do fairs matter? Who wants to go to them? How does buying works online change the relationship we have with pieces in our homes? To answer these questions and take the temperature of the industry, Monocle embarked on its inaugural Art Survey. In the resulting pages, collectors and auctioneers reflect on recent purchases and sales, and offer advice on whether we need to take note of new digital trends in the market. Meanwhile, artists (as they always have done) interpret recent events through works ranging from enormous number-paintings to tiny apartment-block sculptures, and gallerists defy the odds by opening their doors to new projects everywhere from Spain and Lebanon to France and the US. And finally, by leafing through our calendar of top-notch exhibitions coming up, you’ll find proof that it really is time to wave goodbye to the online viewing room.

For a look at our inaugural art survey, order the June issue of Monocle or grab a copy on newsstands today.

M24 / The Entrepreneurs

Eureka 246: Design Editions

Danish architect and industrial designer Mikal Harrsen founded interior-design brand Design Editions in 2019. Based in Milan, it produces premium acoustic panels and contemporary wall décor. Harrsen has found success as people retreated indoors during the pandemic and looked for ways to improve their home acoustics. He previously launched Scandinavian furniture brand MAU Studio.

Monocle Films / Culture

The secret to buying a painting

Alexander Gilkes, co-founder of online auction house Paddle8, unveils the alchemy that surrounds the world of collecting art.

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