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

Two men on horseback in an urban setting

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

By Matt d’Ancona

When the pandemic began, we were united in watching Netflix’s Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness. Now, as the third (and hopefully final) lockdown gradually relaxes, Louis Theroux takes us back to the story of Joe Exotic and his big cat zoo in Oklahoma.

The zookeeper is now serving 22 years in federal prison for violating wildlife laws and a murder-for-hire plot to kill Carole Baskin, founder of the Big Cat Rescue sanctuary in Florida.

In a new feature-length documentary (Louis Theroux: Shooting Joe Exotic, BBC Two, Monday 5 April, 9pm) Theroux conducts an inquest, of sorts. 

In Shooting Joe Exotic, he draws on unseen interviews from 2011, and talks to both Exotic’s relatives and Baskin herself to piece together what really happened – and why. The myth of Joe Exotic, Tiger King, still reigns. It is gripping television.

Here are this week’s recommendations:

A man in prison


The Mauritanian (Prime Video)
Kevin Macdonald’s latest feature film is based on the diary of former Guantanamo inmate Mohamedou Ould Salahi, who was detained without charge between 2002 and 2016. It should be your top choice for an Easter weekend movie.

Concrete Cowboy (Netflix, 2 April)
Ricky Staub’s directorial debut is a father-son story set in the real-life milieu of Black horse culture in North Philadelphia and the Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club. You’d never guess from the traditional Western genre that one in four cowboys was Black, but Concrete Cowboy leaves you in no doubt of the depth and authenticity of that neglected American tradition.

Violation (Shudder)
Violation – directed by Dusty Mancinelli and Madeleine Sims-Fewer – is a hidden gem. The psychological horror movie about revenge following an assault is a must-see. But consider yourself warned: it is not for the faint-hearted.

Two books on a lilac background
A book on a lilac background


The Best Things
by Mel Giedroyc 
Giedroyc’s debut novel, partly inspired by her own experience of near-bankruptcy, is a satirical exploration of money and status in contemporary Britain. It is intensely readable and very funny. 

The Gun, The Ship, And The Pen: Warfare, Constitutions, And The Making Of The Modern World by Linda Colley 
The historian Linda Colley’s latest book shows, with extraordinary imagination, how ostensibly dry constitutions actually reveal fascinating stories of the people and places they were written for. 

To Be Fair: The Ultimate Guide To Fairness In The 21st Century by Ben Fenton 
In this thought-provoking and vividly contemporary book, veteran reporter Ben Fenton argues that we have the balance between competition and collaboration that is essential for human coexistence. This is a timely book that deserves your attention.


A woman on stage in front of a colourful background


Nominations for this year’s 2021 Brit Awards, to be held on Tuesday 11 May, are the most diverse ever – a contrast to last year’s male-dominated shortlists and the #BritsSoWhite row of 2016.

Dua Lipa, Arlo Parks and Celeste scooped three nominations apiece, while four out of five of those shortlisted for Album of the Year are women (Arlo Parks, Celeste, Dua Lipa, and Jessie Ware). More than half the nominees for Female Solo Artist, Male Solo Artist, Breakthrough Artist and British Album are non-white. 

This year’s shortlists are full of great UK rap talent: Headie One, J Hus, KSI, Aitch, and Stormzy. But I have a hunch this will be Dua Lipa’s year. Listen again to her fantastic album Future Nostalgia – which you can stream here.

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

Best wishes,

Matt d’Ancona
Editor and Partner
Tortoise Media

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