Creative Sensemaker: What to watch, read and listen to this weekend

A woman performing on stage

A rundown of the books, films, music and more by Tortoise Media, the slow news agency

By Matt d’Ancona

Welcome to the latest Creative Sensemaker from Tortoise Media.

The miracle of Tina Turner’s career is the degree to which she has imposed a choreography of power, dignity and musical magnificence upon a private life which was – until she escaped – miserably turbulent.

In Daniel Lindsay and TJ Martin’s definitive HBO documentary, Tina (Sky Documentaries, 28 March, iTunes VOD, 29 March), she once again sets out the rules.

Not flinching from the trauma of her first marriage to Ike Turner, it nonetheless avoids defining her only as a victim, instead showing the formidable use to which she put her freedom, and how it made her a true legend.

First, Turner relaunched herself as a solo artist, embracing rock‘n’roll as the musical style that, she correctly predicted, would dominate the American charts in the 1980s.

Second, she decided to reveal, in detail, the violent horrors of her supposedly glamorous life with Ike in the 1986 memoir, I, Tina, co-authored with Kurt Loder. This was a pioneering act, and has been widely credited with encouraging many other victims of male domestic violence to come forward with their stories.

‘It wasn’t a good life. The good did not balance the bad,’ Turner reflects. ‘I had an abusive life, there’s no other way to tell the story. It’s a reality. It’s a truth. That’s what you’ve got, so you have to accept it.’

As melancholy a verdict as this is, it reflects a candour and integrity that together make this documentary unmissable.

Here are this week’s recommendations:
A woman's face up close in a theatre performance

Watch


Pale Sister (BBC Four, 30 March)
Here, the Irish actress Lisa Dwan delivers a masterly performance in a truly original version of the Antigone myth, which she herself developed with Colm Toibin. Directed by Sir Trevor Nunn, Dwan tells the story through the eyes of Ismene, watching with horror as her sister Antigone defies the murderous will of King Creon by trying to bury the body of Polynices. ‘She will persist,’ says Ismene, which is the diamond of irrepressible resistance at the heart of the tragedy.

The Irregulars (Netflix, 26 March)
The capacity of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s tales of Sherlock Holmes to spawn spin-offs is unrivalled. Now, Netflix seeks yet another twist by telling the tales of Holmes’s Baker Street Irregulars, the network of street urchins mentioned in A Study In Scarlet, The Sign Of The Four, and The Adventure Of The Crooked Man. True to Conan Doyle’s under-appreciated love of the uncanny – try this collection of his ghost stories – the series has the young sleuths investigating supernatural crimes in the streets of Victorian London. Entertaining hokum.
A colourful book cover on a lilac background
Two book covers on a lilac background

Read


Double Blind by Edward St Aubyn 
In this unashamed novel of ideas, St Aubyn specifically explores the morality and discontents of science: genetics, ecology, and neuroscience. ‘Ecological angst was in fact almost universal,’ St Aubyn writes, ‘but most people found it hard to know what to do other than eat and drink around the clock in a conscientious drive to fill as many recycling bags as possible.’ I loved it.

A Light In The Dark: A History Of Movie Directors by David Thomson 
Arguably the world’s greatest movie historian, Thomson has always backed the spirit and instincts of the auteur director – and it shows in this splendid collection of essays on some of his favourites, tracing the evolution of modern cinema through the eyes of those who created it. Indispensable to anyone who truly loves film.

The Interior Silence: 10 Lessons From Monastic Life by Sarah Sands
As one of the nation’s most distinguished journalists, Sarah Sands knows all about round-the-clock responsibility and information bombardment. This makes her pilgrimage to 10 monasteries around the world all the more compelling, and full of lessons both challenging and gentle. An exquisite book.
A black and white album cover with a group of women sat around a table
An album cover featuring a large red rose

Listen


Chemtrails Over The Country Club
by Lana Del Rey

Lana Del Rey’s seventh album sees her depart from aestival California and take us on a journey into her past. The first track, ‘White Dress’, is up there with her very best; we’re plunged into a scene from her teenage life, which she describes as a ‘simpler time’. After a decade under an unforgiving spotlight, you can imagine why.

Rachmaninoff: Symphony No 2 by London Symphony Orchestra and Sir Simon Rattle
Recorded live at the Barbican in London in September 2019, this is a gloriously lush and emotional message in a bottle from pre-pandemic times. The LSO has recorded many versions of the second symphony – the masterpiece composed in Dresden that helped Rachmaninoff recover from the disastrous premiere of his first. Rattle conducted from memory and the consequent performance is an hour-long celebration of freedom, instinct, and romance.

Don’t forget to send your own recommendations to [email protected].

That’s all for now – take care of yourselves, and each other.

Best wishes,

Matt d’Ancona
Editor and Partner
Tortoise Media
@MatthewdAncona

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