A personal selection of this week’s cultural highlights, including films, books, podcasts, radio shows and music.
|Afghan Star.Dir. Havana Marking.”If there was no singing, the world would be silent”, says a shy young Afghan boy in the prologue of this award-winning documentary by British filmmaker, Havana Marking. Perhaps this is exactly what the Taliban wanted when they banned music, dancing and watching TV: a world where no-one speaks out. But only a few years after they were ousted, the Taliban have seen Afghanistan fall under the spell of a Pop Idol style TV talent show, called Afghan Star. Marking’s film explores the social tensions that shape daily life in post-Taliban Afghanistan. Filled with fascinating characters as well as social and political insights, this film will move, enthral and enrage you. A must see. http://bit.ly/aoCfp7||Mr Rush. Written by Roger Hargreaves. Who says children’s books are for children only? I’m finding the complete Mr. Men series positively therapeutic. Perhaps it’s just that old human tendency to find meaningful patterns in random bits of data, but I’m struck by how much similarity there is between my own traits and those of the Mr. Men I’ve randomly chosen from the shelf. Mr. Wrong. Mr. Grumble (yes, I’ve been known to). And my personal favourite this week, Mr. Rush. Who needs Myers Briggs or 16PF tests to assess your psychological type? It’s a lot more fun with Mr. Men, and there’s all those wonderful illustrations to look at. Weeee!!!!http://amzn.to/frfcNb|
|File on 4. The Somali Connection. David Cameron’s speech to the Munich security conference in early February was fundamentally mistaken in two important respects. Firstly, in seeing liberal, pluralist values as incompatible with, and at threat from, multiculturalism. And secondly, in suggesting that the primary (overwhelming) cause of terrorist attacks against civilians in the West was extreme attempts to implement Islamic values in all spheres of life (i.e. Islamist extremism). But, as this File on 4 documentary on the Somali terrorist group Al Shabab shows, even if one disagrees with his analysis, it would be a mistake to ignore the fact that organisations carrying out suicide bomb attacks are recruiting British citizens to fund and get involved in terrorist operations abroad. This documentary isn’t without its flaws – but hearing the stories of some of these young men and their families helped me realise just how misguided and short-sighted Cameron’s solutions are. http://bbc.in/dklnvZ||Any Questions. Hosted by Jonathan Dimbleby.A rare thing happened on Any Questions this week: no politicians on the panel. But the jousting was as fierce as ever. The week’s big show down was between George Monbiot, Guardian columnist and author, and the former Sun Editor, Kelvin Mackenzie. Clearly a master of posing and prattle, Mackenzie was hopelessly out-smarted by the force of Monbiot’s arguments on welfare reform, government cuts, and Western support for Middle East and North African dictators. Can’t wait to catch his upcoming speaking tour, Left Hook, at Bristol’s Festival of Ideas. http://bit.ly/i2SxEE|
|Epic. By Sharon van Etten. I admit I can’t make sense of the lyrics, but there’s something instantly captivating about Sharon van Etten’s folksy melodies. The beautiful harmonies she crafts with her backing vocalists seem effortless and so intimate there are times they feel like the same voice. Bob Boilen (from NPR’s All Songs Considered) was spot on when he said: “There are enough gently strummed folk songs and ballads about broken hearts to last anyone a lifetime.” Still, I’d give these another listen anyday.