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The need for speed: celebrating Top Gun

After years of delays, Top Gun 2: Maverick finally hits UK cinema screens on 27 May. The original is a bona fide classic, memorable for the bomber jackets, the aviators and the need for speed. On paper, Top Gun is a film about fighter pilots and dogfights, but the reality is so much more. It’s an endlessly quotable study in heroism and masculinity with a killer soundtrack. This is a film sweaty with homoeroticism, helped by that volleyball scene and lots of hunky naked men wearing small towels. Its high-octane, full-throttle patriotism avoids feeling toxic, and it’s the best recruitment ad the US Navy never commissioned. It’s a film that defined a decade, how has it stayed relevant? Perfect for rookies or die-hard Top Gun fans, join us for a ThinkIn where we explore how Top Gun has stood the test of time. editor and invited experts Matt d’AnconaEditor Marina HydeGuardian Columnist Mark SimpsonJournalist and Author


The story behind the best British play ever: a ThinkIn with Jez Butterworth

Easter special: in-person and digital tickets tickets are available to all members for this ThinkIn. Since its original 2009 production, Jerusalem by Jez Butterworth has been repeatedly hailed as one of the greatest theatrical works of the century. This examination of English identity and rural life through the story of Johnny “Rooster” Byron, is fuelled by hedonism, defiance, a lot of swearing and a catalogue of tall tales. As Mark Rylance returns to his career-defining role as Rooster Byron in the long-awaited revival of Jerusalem, join us for a very special ThinkIn with Jez Butterworth where we’ll explore how this masterwork is still relevant today, and what it says about modern Britain. What would Rooster make of a post-Brexit UK, preoccupied with covid, culture wars and partying politicians? Is he the anti-hero we need now more than ever? editor and invited experts James Harding Co-Founder and Editor Jez Butterworth Award-winning Playwright, Screenwriter, and Film Director


Which films should have won the Oscar?

This is a newsroom ThinkIn. In-person and digital-only tickets are available.The Oscars ceremony is having a rough few years. Marred by accusations of bias and racism, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has found itself making bigger headlines than the films it tries to celebrate. Some questionable winners have scored the top awards, and Netflix plays a bigger role every year. If fewer of us agree with the winning choices and some of the entries aren’t even films in the classic sense, is this a sign the Oscars has become irrelevant? Join us for a ThinkIn where we’ll explore the difference between popularity and criticism, consider the value of award shows, and look at the worst winners and best losers of the past few years.Ahead of time, we’d love your views on which films you think should have won the best picture award via the survey here. Your answers will help fuel our discussion on the night and we look forward to sharing the results with you then. editor and invited experts Matthew d’AnconaEditor Alison OwenAward-winning producer Tim RichardsFounder and CEO, Vue Entertainment


Has protest music lost its power? with Billy Bragg

This is a digital-only ThinkIn.“Now I long for the morning that they realizeBrutality and unjust laws cannot defeat us”–Lyrics from Billy Bragg, There is Power in a Union.Where are all the modern protest songs? Times have changed a lot since The Specials’ Ghost Town, Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s Two Tribes and perhaps the most famous protest song of all time Do they know it’s Christmas? stormed the charts in the 80s. A recent collection of covers by the Specials (Protest Songs 1924-2012) reached number 2 on the album charts – but where are the big protest hits about climate, corruption, or Covid? Were there mainstream protest songs about Brexit? It is common to say that young people today are more politically motivated than their predecessors – is it that just they don’t consider music a medium for activism? Or is the lack of chart-topping protest music more symptomatic of the way the music industry works now than of how artists communicate? Join us for a ThinkIn with singer, songwriter and activist Billy Bragg as we try to find out what modern protest songs sound like, and where we can find them.This ThinkIn is presented in partnership with KITE. KITE is a new Festival of Ideas and Music which will take place in Oxfordshire in June 2022, brought to you by Tortoise and Neapolitan Music. Tickets will go on sale this autumn. Follow @KiteFSTVL for lineup announcements.  editor Matt d’AnconaEditor and Partner


The future of music with Duran Duran’s Nick Rhodes

This is a digital-only ThinkIn. Calling all Duranies, this is not a drill.  Duran Duran’s first hits Planet Earth and Girls on Film were released in 1981. Since then, they have proven themselves to be so much more than ‘just’ one of the biggest pop bands ever. Always innovators, they’ve resisted nostalgia and embraced experimentation to sustain a career for 40 years, selling over 100 million records.  Join founding member Nick Rhodes to talk about the Birmingham foursome’s latest album Future Past which features collaborations with Mark Ronson, Lykke Li, Erol Alkan and the Godfather of electronic music, Giorgio Moroder.  So many of their contemporaries have embraced the lucrative 80s throwback tours, but the wild boys have resisted. Does a back catalogue like Duran Duran’s hold a band back? What does the future of music look like to Nick Rhodes, and what’s it like doing the same job for 43 years?


Sci-fi, sci-fact and sandworms: a ThinkIn with Paul Krugman on DUNE

This is a digital only ThinkIn.Frank Herbert published the first book in the DUNE trilogy in 1965. It is widely cited as the biggest-selling science fiction novel of all time. In 1984, David Lynch adapted it for the screen. The film was mauled by the critics but has gone on to achieve bona fide cult status amongst science fiction fans. A remake has long been rumoured and, after several delays is now finally coming to our screens on October 21. Directed by Denis Villeneuve, who has twice been nominated for the Best Director Oscar for science fiction movies Arrival and Blade Runner 2049, the new DUNE is the first in a series of two films. It covers the first half of the original novel’s story. Paul Krugman is one of the world’s most influential economists. He is also a science fiction superfan. He joins us for a digital ThinkIn, in conversation with Tortoise’s unofficial science fiction correspondent Matt d’Ancona, to review the movie and reflect on the evolution of the genre as a whole. Beware the sandworms.


In conversation with Michael Morpurgo

This is a newsroom ThinkIn. In-person and digital-only tickets are available. Please note: children are very welcome at this ThinkIn! Children’s tickets are FREE to all Tortoise members. If you’d like to bring your offspring with you, please let us know by emailing thinkin@tortoisemedia.com. Michael Morpurgo is the former children’s laureate and author of many wonderful children’s books, the most famous of which is, perhaps, War Horse. His first new children’s novel in over two years is published on September 30th, 2021, called When Fishes Flew. After leaving the army, Michael became a teacher before moving to Devon with his family and starting a charity called Farms For City Children. He and his wife ran it together for over 25 years, with Michael writing children’s books ‘on the side’. Come along to the Tortoise newsroom to spend an hour in Michael’s company, in conversation with James Harding about his life and work. We’ll explore the relationship between literature and literacy in teaching, the impact of lockdown on children’s imaginations, how classic children’s literature resonates in a modern cultural context and the state of children’s publishing in general. This ThinkIn is presented in partnership with KITE. KITE is a new Festival of Ideas and Music which will take place in Oxfordshire in June 2022, brought to you by Tortoise and Neapolitan Music. Tickets will go on sale this autumn. Follow @KiteFSTVL for lineup announcements.  editor Matt d’AnconaEditor and Partner


Sign of the times: How does pop define the 1980s?

Oliver Anthony, a previously unknown and unsigned musician, has topped the US charts for a second week with a song that blames urban elites for the troubles of working-class Americans.  To some, “Rich Men North of Richmond” is a heartfelt country song. To others it’s more sinister. The lyrics talk about low paid jobs and poverty, but there are also references to right-wing tropes about people on government welfare, and alludes to conspiracies about sex trafficking among political elites, with references to the billionaire and convicted sex offender, Jeffrey Epstein.  “Rich Men North Of Richmond” has now spent two weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100: Oliver Anthony is the only person to have had a song debut at number one without having any previous chart history. The song was also played at the first Republican presidential debate.  The track’s success is partly down to its content. It strikes right at the heart of America’s cultural divide: the track was shared and praised by dozens of Republican political figures and right-leaning influencers, including Joe Rogan, a popular libertarian podcaster.  It’s not the first time that the American right has propelled an apparent outlier into the limelight. Earlier in the year a controversial country song got right-wing backing after its music video was criticised for allegedly encouraging vigilante violence.  The video for “Try that in a small town” by country star Jason Aldean featured images of looting and demonstrations like the ones seen during the Black Lives Matter protests. The accompanying lyrics suggested that in a “small town” that would be met with violence. There was a backlash and in response it was pulled by a country music channel. But fans responded by paying for downloads to push it up the charts and the song reached number one in the top 100.  Despite how his song has been interpreted and embraced by America’s right, Oliver Anthony does not identify as a conservative. Last week, he responded to the attention his track has received in a video posted online. “It’s aggravating seeing people on conservative news try to identify with me like I’m one of them,” he said.  Today’s episode was written and mixed by Ella Hill.


Creative Sensemaker: is classical music boring and elitist?

Its fans howl at accusations that classic music is an old, white men’s genre, too fond of marathon-length recitals, eye-wateringly expensive tickets and wealthy, serious audiences. But might some of that be at least a little bit true? In decline in terms of public participation for decades, just before the pandemic hit there was evidence that streaming services were sparking a mini-boom in classical listening. Like other art forms, live classical music has been decimated by Covid, despite impressive levels of innovation in virtual performances and experiences.  Why does classical find it so hard to shake off its uptight, elitist image? editor Matt d’AnconaEditor and Partner