June and Winter: Picks of the week

By Tony Inglis and Niall Christie

Here’s a rundown of the music released, films screening, shows playing, books read, events happening and stuff going on that we think is worth talking about this week.

Top of the Lake

If you have a prestige TV shaped hole in your life or Ed Sheeran rearing his goblin shaped head in Game of Thrones has got you down, then click onto the BBC iPlayer as the second season of Top of the Lake – the antipodean-set series co-written and directed by the Oscar nominated and Palme d’Or winning filmmaker Jane Campion – is available in its entirety for your binge viewing pleasure.

The first series starred Elizabeth Moss, as troubled detective Robin Griffin, on the search, across a breathtaking New Zealand landscape, for a missing, preganant 12-year-old girl, with star-studded support from Peter Mullan as a grizzled (what else?) family figurehead and Holly Hunter as the leader of an isolated feminist collective. The second season sees Moss return, this time aided by Gwendoline Chrsitie, and having to deal with Nicole Kidman, the adopted mother of Griffin’s estranged daughter, who she gave up due to some startling revelations in season one. It also transplants the New Zealand backdrop for the sun and sand of Bondi Beach, though under the surface, there’s just as much grime, dirt and crime as she came across in her former home.

It’s interesting that this should reappear in the midst of Twin Peaks: The Return, as the original series of Top of the Lake owed a great debt to David Lynch and Mark Frost’s seminal show – a strange backwater town; eerie, unexplained goings on; a violent underbelly beneath seemingly picturesque locations; eccentric characters; all couched within a murder mystery. It remains to be seen if this atmosphere will be replicated in the Sydney setting, but Jane Campion is an extremely imaginative and interesting director, and with such great acting talent involved, it’s worth plenty of your time. TI

Pod Save America

More a pick for every week than just this one, Pod Save America is a political podcast hosted by Jon Favreau, Tommy Vietor, Jon Lovett and Daniel Pfeiffer, all former White House staffers under President Barack Obama. They talk bluntly, satirically and in no uncertain terms about the American political situation and it is essential listening.

While it can sometimes turn into a bit of an echo chamber – for me anyway – it is great to hear issues such as Donald Trump’s potential collusion with Russia, Anthony Scaramucci’s car crash arrival as White House communications director and the unholy saga of the Republican healthcare bill spoken about plainly, passionately and urgently. Sometimes the hosts’ ability to set out the gob-smacking turn of events in Washington in recent months so basically can go from funny scary very quickly. If you want to keep up with American politics and can’t find a decent horror movie to watch, subscribe to this podcast. TI

Regina Spektor – The Playhouse, Edinburgh, Thursday 3 August

Arriving in Edinburgh just as the madness of the Fringe gets underway, New York-based Russian songstress Regina Spektor plays the only Scottish date of her tour in the coming week. The artist has come a long way from selling her own CDs in NYC cafe gigs. Now seven albums and a Grammy nomination into her career, Spektor is now one of the most recognisable voices in indie pop having emerged from the early-noughties anti-folk scene.

Touring last September’s Remember Us to Life, Spektor will no doubt treat fans to an array of tracks from her previous works, with her collaborations with Ben Folds, possibly even her Hamilton mixtape cover, likely to feature, potentially acting as a closer, sending fans into rapturous applause.

A handful of tickets remain for anyone silly enough to have left it this late. While Edinburgh may well be spilling over with talent in the weeks ahead, Spektor is certain to be one of the musicians supplying a focal point for festival goers next week. NC

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