Monocolumn

A daily bulletin of news & opinion

7 August 2015

TV: Narcos

“While on the surface this is an action drama about getting Escobar, it’s really about how the United States has failed in its drug policies over 30 years

John Doyle, television critic for Toronto’s ‘The Globe and Mail’

Notorious Colombian drug overlord Pablo Escobar is the subject of Narcos, a new series from Netflix. On the trail of the Medellín Cartel is DEA agent Javier Pena, played by Pedro Pascal, chasing down the activities of Escobar, played by Wagner Moura. Though based on real life, Narcos is as dramatic and bloody a tale as any fictional gangster series could ever be.

ART: Alien Sex Club, London

“It’s kind of witty and funny and makes it seem something that you can learn about in a really accessible way, but it also is a really valid artwork in its own sense.”

Francesca Gavin, critic and curator

British artist John Walter has created a curious event at London’s Ambika P3 Gallery that tries to add fun to the conversation of sexual health and the serious issue of HIV. Using a “more is more” approach, Walter’s riotous eye for colour and form references everything from cabaret theatre to saunas in its attempt to make visitors feel natural and enthusiastic about a topic that in the past has been shrouded in more serious tones.

FILM: The Diary of a Teenage Girl

“What’s really interesting about the film is that it ends up being as much about being an artist as it is a rite-of-passage film – you need to have these experiences to be able to express yourself.”

David Jenkins, editor, ‘Little White Lies’ magazine

The Diary of a Teenage Girl is a coming-of-age film with a stellar cast including Kristen Wiig, Alexander Skarsgård and British actress Bel Powley in the title role, that eschews the normal clichéd boy-meets-girl narrative in order to take a much more complicated view of what it means to be a grown-up in modern America. The fact that it’s set in a modern America slightly removed – the sexually liberated (and not always entirely politically correct) hotbed of 1970s San Francisco – lends the film room to experiment with ideas. And it’s based on a life journey that’s been full of those – that of illustrator, artist and writer Phoebe Gloeckner.

MUSIC: Thundercat, The Beyond / Where the Giants Roam

“He’s definitely in demand but he’s also defined a sound of his own.”

Nick Luscombe, broadcaster, music specialist and DJ

Thundercat is LA-based producer Stephen Bruner, who also has a neat sideline in playing bass for music’s great, good and plain weird. Having backed up everyone from Suicidal Tendencies to Flying Lotus, Bruner, now on his third album The Beyond / Where the Giants Roam, is getting stronger and distinctly smoother as an artist in his own right. This album deserves to be played in summer and Thundercat deserves his critical acclaim that is fast matching those bigger names he’s helped in the past.

BOOK: Jim Jarmusch: Music, Words and Noise by Sara Piazza

“You’ll come away wanting to see a Jim Jarmusch film if you haven’t seen one, and to put this stuff to the test.”

Karl Smith, literary editor, ‘The Quietus’

Film director Jim Jarmusch has always made music an essential part of his films – be it his documentary-style series of conversations between musicians Coffee and Cigarettes or the more recent Only Lovers Left Alive, which featured a vampire rock star as its main character. Jarmusch also plays music himself with collaborators such as Bradford Cox of Deerhunter, so writer Sara Piazza (pictured above, photo credit: Gisella Sorrentino) has sought to peel away some of the dense layers of Jarmusch’s identity in this intelligently written book that suggests that sound without vision is only half of the big picture.

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