Kathleen Turner: Finding My Voice review – a triumphant roar from Hollywood royalty

The showbiz veteran recovers from a shaky start to deliver a heartrending solo cabaret that melds the personal and political

Never has a show been more aptly named. Kathleen Turner has for most of her 41 years in show business been Hollywood royalty. When she walks on stage and opens her mouth for this solo cabaret it is as if the MGM lion – the one whose snarl has opened a century of films – has leapt down her throat.

Out comes a voice that that prowls from deep roar to deeper purr. She seems to have a cold. She appears to muff a cue. She informs us that cabaret is supposed to begin at the beginning, and launches into an anecdote about her unrequited passion for a boy in Venezuela, where her diplomat father was stationed. She sings Ella Fitzgerald’s Let’s Fall in Love. It’s heart-in-mouth stuff, and not for the right reasons – hers is not a voice equipped for young love. Is this going to be the most agonising outing of an ageing star since Norma Desmond walked down that staircase in Sunset Boulevard?

The anecdotage at least feels secure. “When I first went to New York,” she tells us, “every theatrical lead was a soprano and that was never going to be me. I said, ‘No, I just act.’” Wise woman, we think. “I do tend to jump in the water and find out if I can swim,” she says, a little later. Well, yes. Then she’s into a story about performing a show about Emily Dickinson with the Martha Graham Dance Company. It involves an excruciating costume failure and Mikhail Baryshnikov confronting her in her dressing-room at half time, dressed only in a skimpy yellow towel. “He said, ‘You should dance’ and I said, ‘Sure, like you should act.’” Cue Sinatra’s Pick Yourself Up.

There are lots of stories of being poor, cold and accident-prone while working her way up the career ladder. “These guys have heard this before,” she says, gesturing at her admirably reactive three-piece band, “but I had a disagreement with Francis Coppola. He said would I mind if he directed from his trailer. I said, you go direct in your trailer and I will act in mine.”

It’s all quite amusing but at half-time I was wondering if I’d have stayed, had I been anything less than an uberfan. Then something miraculous happens. She finds her voice and performs Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? as if it were written not in the Great Depression but in Trump’s America. She describes what it was like to be diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at the height of her career and somehow manages to turn Sondheim’s most lachrymose ballad, Send in the Clowns, into a growl of rage on behalf of all older women in an industry that spurns them.

She owns the music. She is magnificent, this battered star with her leonine voice, which unites the personal and the political, taking possession of standards that may have been sung better but never more meaningfully. She turns the mood on a sixpence, from skittish to heartrending and back again. I only wish that Andy Gale’s staging had been more clearly framed, to make it clear from the start how much more Turner was going to offer than a sentimental dawdle down the streets where she lived. This is My Way reframed by Jessica Rabbit, who – as an opening voiceover montage reminds us – gave Turner one of her most memorable movie lines: “I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way.”

  • At the Other Palace, London, until 6 May. Box office: 020-7087 7900. Then touring.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Kathleen Turner: ‘Decades after Body Heat I am still referred to as a sexual icon’

The actor, 63, tells Ruth Huntman about chemistry with Michael Douglas, keeping her illness secret in Hollywood and looking like Lauren Bacall

My mothers were instrumental in the woman I became. From my mother I inherited a graciousness and innate courtesy. And from my father I got a sense of being responsible and accolade. He was a diplomat so I lived in Cuba and Venezuela before he was posted to London and I attended the American School.

I had a lot of guilt when my father succumbed the day after we’d had a huge fight over me wanting to become an actress. I was 17 and in defiance I got on the train to go and assure the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford- upon-Avon. When I came back he’d died of a coronary thrombosis.

Body Heat was a blessing because I went straight-out to being a resulting performer and I didn’t have to suffer any of this predatory male behaviour like many young actresses. It doesn’t frustrate me that nearly four decades after that film I’m still referred to as a sex icon. I got over that a long time ago.

There was a contempt for women in Hollywood. I would finish a movie and get on the first plane back to New York. After Body Heat I found out that Michael Douglas, Warren Beatty and Jack Nicholson would have rivalries to assure who could” get me “.

There was a great chemistry between Michael Douglas and me when we did Romancing the Stone . I understood he was separated from his first spouse, Diandra, at the time and I was unattached. But I can’t imagine I’d have had the career I have if I’d been Mrs Douglas. Not that he ever proposed, let’s not run wild!

I fired the doctor who told me I’d be in a wheelchair for the rest of my life after my diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis in 1992. I can’t exaggerate what a battle it was against the endless pain and dread of what I’d end up like. I kept my illness a secret for years, I had no choice. I was called a drunk and had awful things said about the route I appeared, it was so cruel. Robert Downey Jr was known for his drinking, but the studios still hired him. But if I’d said I had a disease that wasn’t under control , no one would touch me.

I’ve always had a great notion in services and being able to consequence change. I serve on the board of directors of Citymeals on Wheels in New York. I’m the one they send to City hall twice a year to request fund and as soon as they consider me arriving they run:” How much ?”

Lauren Bacall once told me at a party:” Oh you’re the young me .” That was a little intimidating. I told her,” There could only be one Lauren Bacall .”

I already have my inscription :” More woman than you’ll ever get and more human than you’ll ever be .”

Finding My Voice is at the Other Palace in London from 17 April until 6 May ( faneproductions.com/ kathleenturner )

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Parkland victim’s father to join weekend protest against NRA in Dallas

Manuel Oliver, whose son Joaquin died in Florida attack, says presence at rally near NRA convention can help push for stricter gun laws

A year ago, Manuel Oliver thought his family had achieved the American dream. His daughter had graduated from high school in Florida. His son was close to graduating, full of plans for the great things he wanted to do. More than a decade after emigrating from Venezuela, the Olivers had become American citizens.

Then, on Valentine’s Day this year, his son, 17-year-old Joaquin, was murdered in a school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

This weekend, as an estimated 80,000 National Rifle Association supporters gather in Dallas for their annual meeting celebrating gun rights, Oliver and other survivors of gun violence will be gathering too.

Local Dallas students are organizing a counter-protest one street away from the convention center where NRA members will listen to Donald Trump again pledge his loyalty to gun rights’ advocates.

Oliver will be painting a new protest mural in Dallas to honor his son, one in a series of what he is calling “Walls of Demand” that he has assembled in different cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Miami and Springfield, Massachusetts, near headquarters of Smith & Wesson, the gun company that manufactured the military-style rifle used in the Parkland shooting.

Gun control advocates are protesting in front of city hall, rather than at the convention center where NRA members gather, because “we’re not against NRA members – we’re against the leadership of the NRA,” saidWaed Alhayek, 19, a senior at University of Texas Arlington, and the executive director of StudentsMarch.org, which is organizing the rally. “We’re not going after every single NRA member.”

Alhayek was only seven when she was held at gunpoint in a neighborhood store in Detroit, Michigan, and then watched police officers confront the robber in the store and shoot him to make him drop his gun.

“My whole life, I’ve watched tragedy after tragedy happen, and I’ve waited for politicians to do something to create change,” she said. “The city of Dallas is for the people, not for the gun lobby. Having the NRA convention here was really disappointing at first, but then we realized we could use it as a platform.”

Oliver believes the NRA, with its pro-gun lobbying, is partially responsible for the circumstances that led to his son’s murder. By coming to Dallas, and speaking at Saturday’s rally, he is trying to give his son a voice and push for gun control laws, rather than a government that responds to violence by telling citizens they need to be able to defend themselves.

“Joaquin’s presence in Dallas is more than necessary. It’s mandatory,” Oliver said.

“Joaquin was my best friend, and of course he’s my son and we have that father and son relationship, but most of all, we were buddies,” Oliver said. “I know exactly what he wants to fight for, and I also know it’s totally unfair that he’s not able to be here fighting for his rights.

“There’s one thing that is for sure in America – there’s an easy access to assault weapons. We all know that, and no one seems to be fighting in that direction,” he said.

Like Alhayek, Oliver said he distinguished between the NRA’s leadership and NRA members and other gun rights advocates.

“I rather think that they’re confused than saying that they’re wrong,” Oliver said. “There’s a lot of people thinking that they’re defending the second amendment, but actually they are empowering the NRA and the business behind selling guns.”

Making a public art project in tribute to his son is an emotional effort, Oliver said, but he has seen from past experience that it is a powerful way to communicate his grief and his demand for change.

“Trust me, it’s not an easy thing to do,” he said. But “It’s also like therapy for me. It’s a relief. I have a chance to share it with my son.”

Saturday’s rally in Dallas is co-sponsored by Everytown for Gun Safety, a leading gun violence prevention group that has been staged protests at the NRA’s annual meetings each year since the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary School shooting.

The media spokesperson for March for Our Lives, the organization created by high school students from Parkland, did not respond to requests for comment about whether those young activists would be participating in any protests during the NRA annual meeting in Dallas.

Lex Michael (@lexforchange)

Joaquin’s dad painting. pic.twitter.com/kgGcELFwAy

March 11, 2018

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Every Pixar film ever made – Ranked!

Its the studio that rewrote the order of animation, and it hasnt let up since. So which is the best and worst of Pixars 19 movies? We find out in Ranked, our new weekly series

Every Pixar film ever made – Ranked!

The 50 best US films of 2016: 50-31

A countdown of the Guardian film teams favourite movies released in the US this year


Sing Street

Charming 1980s-set comedy from Onces John Carney about a bunch of Dublin schoolboys who get a band together to try and impress local girls particularly Lucy Boyntons Raphina. Read a full review



Entertaining and funny Disney animation about a bunny rookie cop, working in a city populated by animals, who gets a sniff of a missing-mammal case and aims to prove her worth. Read a full review


Embrace of the Serpent

Oscar-nominated study of indigenous peoples in the Colombian Amazon, based on the journals of two 20th-century explorers and detailing the havoc wreaked by the west. Read a full review


The Light Between Oceans

Swoonsome melodramatic weepie with Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander as a lighthouse-keeping couple who decide to keep a baby they find drifting in an open boat in post-first world war Australia. Read a full review



Everybody Wants Some!!

Subtle 1980s-set comedy from Richard Linklater, conceived as a semi-sequel to Dazed and Confused, as it follows a bunch of jocks to college on baseball scholarships. Read a full review


From Afar

Raw, disturbing story by Venezuelan director Lorenzo Vigas (winner of Venices Golden Lion) about a well-off middle-aged man who falls in love with a teenage street thug. Read a full review


Cemetery of Splendour

Apichatpong Weerasethakuls follow-up to the Palme dOr winning Uncle Boonmee, an elegantly mysterious fable set largely in a hospital filled with soldiers who have succumbed to sleeping sickness. Read a full review


Hunt for the Wilderpeople

New Zealand-set comedy snappily directed by Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows), featuring Sam Neill as a gruff backwoodsman who heads for the hills with teen delinquent Julian Dennison. Read a full review




Ben Wheatleys phantasmagorical adaptation of JG Ballards housing-block dystopia, starring Tom Hiddleston as a doctor caught in between-floors class warfare. Read a full review


I, Daniel Blake

Righteously angry, nerve-touching benefits-assessment drama by Ken Loach, which won him a Cannes Palme dOr for the second time. Read a full review


The Witch

Creepy, disturbing horror with folk-tale elements set in 17th century New England, following an immigrant familys terror as they are tormented by mysterious, witch-like entity. Read a full review



Black-comic anthology of dachshund-themed stories by Todd Solondz, with Greta Gerwig, Danny DeVito and Ellen Burstyn among the dog owners whose emotional lives are anatomised. Read a full review



Hail, Caesar!

Tricksy Coen brothers comedy set in postwar Hollywood, with Josh Brolin as the film-biz fixer trying to hush up the disappearance of George Clooneys biblical-epic star. Read a full review


The Eagle Huntress

Eye-opening documentary about a teenage girl who breaks taboos among Kazakh migrs in Mongolia by becoming the first female to take up traditional eagle-hunting. Read a full review



The Jungle Book

Live-action retelling of the Rudyard Kipling stories, directed with verve by Jon Favreau and garnished with impressive CGI-animated animal performances. Read a full review


The Clan

Gruesome Argentinian crime thriller from director Pablo Trapero, which offers a political edge in its study of a family who specialise in disappearing their kidnap victims. Read a full review




Denzel Washington directs a powerfully performed adaptation of August Wilsons stage play, with Washington as a baseball player turned garbage collector and Viola Davis as his wife. Read a full review


10 Cloverfield Lane

Sort-of sequel to the JJ Abrams-produced found-footage monster movie. This one is recast as a Hitchcockian thriller about a girl (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) trapped in an underground bunker. Read a full review



The Neon Demon

Nicolas Winding Refns follow-up to Only God Forgives: a self-consciously trashy and blood-soaked fable about the flesh-devouring LA fashion industry. Read a full review


Deepwater Horizon

Impressively tense disaster movie about the catastrophic 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, with Mark Wahlberg doing his American-everyman thing as hero engineer Mike Williams. Read a full review

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Living the dream: when film fans get over-attached

At times, we all want to live in a favourite film. But, from the man who lives in an airport to the fan who removed bits of his nose, the reality is sometimes painful

The internet is full of lists of the most inspirational movies, usually topped by The Shawshank Redemption and Rocky. But how many filmgoers have actually escaped from prison using only a blunt spoon (OK, a rock hammer) after watching Frank Darabonts pathos-drenched tale of perseverance in the face of appalling hardship, or took on the world heavyweight champion and won, after viewing Sylvester Stallones heartwarming blue-collar sports drama?

In the week that a former security guard for David Beckham revealed he is living at Heathrow airport for real after watching Tom Hanks in Steven Spielbergs The Terminal, here are several movie fans who for better and in some cases much, much worse were inspired to mimic their big-screen heroes.

The Fight Club fan who tried to start Project Mayhem for real

Police officers outside a New York branch of Starbucks in 2004. Photograph: Andrew Gombert/EPA

When Kyle Shaw, 17, was arrested in 2009 for setting off a homemade bomb outside a New York Starbucks (using fireworks, electrical tape and a plastic bottle), investigators initially linked the teenagers attack to a number of previous unsolved bombings in the Big Apple over the previous four years. But they ended up unfurling an entirely unexpected conspiracy.

After raiding the students Manhattan digs, police found a DVD of David Finchers 1999 film, along with a packet of sparklers and a news clipping of the coffee-shop attack. A fair cop, you might say. What eventually emerged was a picture of a troubled young man who appeared to be using Finchers film as a sort of personal guide to becoming an anti-corporate domestic terrorist. His statements indicated he was launching his own Project Mayhem, Police commissioner Raymond W Kelly told reporters.

The Starbucks bombing, which shattered windows and destroyed a bench but did not result in any injuries, followed Shaws participation in real-life fight clubs in Manhattans docklands. Its not known whether he also invented a handsome alter-ego with the charm and rugged good looks of Brad Pitt to carry out his dastardly work for him, but evidence suggests Shaw may not have been as cold-blooded as his movie counterpart: his bombing took place at 3.30am, when Starbucks patrons had long since gone home.

The Pixar fans who moved into a house exactly like the one from Up

California couple Clinton and Lynette Hamblin were so obsessed by the story of Carl and Ellies picture-perfect property that they decided to move into the real-life equivalent. The Up house was built by specialist Utah property company Bangerter Homes in early 2011 with the blessing and help of Pixar, and was open to the public as a tourist attraction for a period prior to the Hamblins arrival in 2012.

Living in the house, in the small city of Herriman, Utah, has brought its own challenges for the family, all pronounced Disney and Pixar fans who publish a blog about their experiences. Not least the fact that members of the public, unaware the property is now a private residence, are prone to walking in on Sunday lunch.

Now were really good about it just so people dont accidentally walk in. And we put up a little sign, Clinton told pixarportal.com. We didnt want to, but the knocking and the ringing was getting hard because weve got a dog and she goes ballistic when the doorbell rings.

The teenagers who died in the wilderness after watching Into the Wild

Emile Hirsch as Christopher McCandless in Into the Wild. Photograph: Allstar/Paramount/Sportsphoto Ltd

There is a rare purity to the story of Christopher McCandless, the subject of biographical drama Into the Wild, whose determined quest to find a life less ordinary led ultimately to an agonisingly slow death from poisoning and starvation in the Alaskan wilderness. But the natural conclusion for most viewers of Sean Penns poignant film is that there must surely be less painful ways to escape the toxic fumes of civilisation.

Not so poor Dustin Self, 19, who left his parents home in Oklahoma in March 2013 after telling them he wanted to test himself against the wilderness, just like McCandless. Selfs remains were found 20 months later in a remote corner of mountainous south-east Oregon, where he had apparently trekked to get away from it all. He isnt the only young man to have been inspired by Into the Wild. In August 2013, the body of Oregon teenager Johnathan Croom, 18, who was said to be heartbroken after the end of a romantic relationship, was found in an Oregon forest.

Croom was obsessed with Penns film, according to his family. Local police said they believed the death was most likely a result of suicide.

The man who changed his name by deed poll to Han Solo

Bad feeling about this … Harrison Ford as the real Han Solo in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Photograph: Allstar/Disney/Lucasfilm

Stourbridge man Dominic Kimberley, 35, thought it would be a spiffing idea to rename himself after the galaxys greatest space scoundrel, until it emerged he might never be able to leave Britain legally again, let alone head off on the Millennium Falcon for adventures in the cosmos. Kimberley, a fan of Star Wars since the age of four, successfully changed his name by deed poll for a fee of just 12, but was subsequently unable to secure a passport in his new name.

I had booked a holiday to Thailand so sent my passport off with the deed poll letter and they sent it back saying I couldnt change it because it was a fictional character, Kimberley/Solo told ITV.com. I rang them, and was on the phone for hours going from manager to manager, but nobody would sort it out for me.

The West Midlands man was ultimately forced to travel using his old passport, but is now terrified of being caught the next time he leaves the country and locked up in some wretched hive of scum and villainy.

The Venezuelan man who mutilated himself to look like the Red Skull

We live in an era of unprecedented popularity for cosplay the practice of dressing up as ones favourite fantasy character. But Henry Damon of Caracas, Venezuela, undoubtedly took the whole thing a bit too far after chopping off part of his nose to more closely resemble the Marvel villain The Red Skull, as essayed by Australian actor Hugo Weaving in Captain America: The First Avenger.

Caracas also tattooed his face red and had implants placed in his forehead, in order to look more like the wartime leader of fictional Nazi terrorist organisation Hydra. For good measure, he also tattooed his eyeballs black.

He has loved comic books since he was a kid and always dreamed of being Red Skull, but never got round to doing it, Damons friend Pablo Hernandez told the Daily Mail. As of 2015, the Marvel fan was planning to have silicone implants placed in his cheeks and further facial tattooing to complete the transformation.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Why the lack of Indian and African faces in Dunkirk matters | Sunny Singh

The blockbuster purports to be a historical portrayal, but in fact its a whitewash. And these decisions help corrode societal attitudes, writes Sunny Singh

What a surprise that Nigel Farage has endorsed the new fantasy-disguised-as-historical war film, Dunkirk. Christopher Nolans movie is an inadvertently timely, thinly veiled Brexiteer fantasy in which plucky Britons heroically retreat from the dangerous shores of Europe. Most importantly, it pushes the narrative that it was Britain as it exists today and not the one with a global empire that stood alone against the European peril.

To do so, it erases the Royal Indian Army Services Corp companies, which were not only on the beach, but tasked with transporting supplies over terrain that was inaccessible for the British Expeditionary Forces motorised transport companies. It also ignores the fact that by 1938, lascars mostly from South Asia and East Africa counted for one of four crewmen on British merchant vessels, and thus participated in large numbers in the evacuation.

But Nolans erasures are not limited to the British. The French army deployed at Dunkirk included soldiers from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and other colonies, and in substantial numbers. Some non-white faces are visible in one crowd scene, but thats it. The film forgets the racialised pecking order that determined life and death for both British and French colonial troops at Dunkirk and after it.

This is important, firstly, because it is a matter of factual accuracy in what purports to be an historical portrayal and also because it was the colonial troops who were crucial in averting absolute catastrophe for the allies. It is also important because, more than history books and school lessons, popular culture shapes and informs our imagination not only of the past, but of our present and future.

The stories that we share among ourselves give us the vision of our individual and collective identities. When those stories consistently and in a big budget, well-researched production like Dunkirk, one must assume, purposefully erase the presence of those who are still considered other and less-than-equal, these narratives also decide who is seen as us as opposed to them. Does this removal of those deemed foreign and other from narratives of the past express a discomfort with the same people in the present? More chillingly, does it also contain a wish to excise the same people from a utopian, national future?

British soldiers fight a rearguard action during the evacuation at Dunkirk. Photograph: Grierson/Getty Images

A vast, all-white production such as Nolans Dunkirk is not an accident. Such a big budget film is a product of many hundreds of small and large decisions in casting, production, directing and editing. Perhaps Nolan chose to follow the example of the original allies in the second world war who staged a white-only liberation of Paris even though 65% of the Free French Army troops were from West Africa. Perhaps such a circumscribed, fact-free imagination is a product of rewriting British history over the past decades, not in the least by deliberate policies including Operation Legacy? Knowingly or not, Nolan walks in the footsteps of both film directors and politicians who have chosen to whitewash the past.

But why is it so important for Nolan, and for many others, that the film expunge all non-white presence on the beach and the ships? Why is it psychologically necessary that the heroic British troops be rescued only by white sailors? What would change if brave men fighting at Dunkirk wore turbans instead of helmets? What would alter if some of the soldiers offered namaaz on the sands before rising to face the advancing enemy for that one last time?

Why is it so important that the covering fire be provided by white French troops rather than North African and Middle Eastern ones? Those non-white faces I mentioned earlier they were French troops scrabbling to board British boats to escape. The echoes of modern politics are easy to see in the British-first policy of the initial retreat that left French troops at the mercy of the Nazis. In reality, non-white troops were at the back of the queue for evacuation, and far more likely to be caught and murdered by Nazi soldiers than their white colleagues who were able to blend into the crowd.

Could we still see our neighbours as less than human if we also saw them fight shoulder-to-shoulder with our boys in the good war? Would we call those fleeing war cockroaches and demand gunboats to stop them from reaching our white cliffs if we knew they had died for the freedoms we hold so dear? More importantly, would anti-immigration sentiment be so easy to weaponise, even by the left in the past and the present if the decent, hardworking Britons knew and recognised how much of their lives, safety and prosperity are results of non-British sacrifices? In a deeply divided, fearful Britain, Nolans directorial choices succeed as a Brexiteer costume fantasy, but they fail to tell the story of Operation Dynamo, the war, and Britain. More importantly, they fail us all, as people and a nation.

All storytellers and novelists, poets, journalists, and filmmakers are, ultimately, just that know the power we hold. Stories can dehumanise, demonise and erase. Such stories are essential to pave the way for physical and material violence against those we learn to hate. But stories are also the only means of humanising those deemed inhuman; to create pity, compassion, sympathy, even love for those who are strange and strangers. Stories decide the difference between life and death. And that is why Dunkirk and indeed any story is never just a story.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/aug/01/indian-african-dunkirk-history-whitewash-attitudes

And the Braddie goes to … Peter Bradshaw’s pick of the year in film

The Guardians film critic nominates his personal best of the year in cinema

Once again, it is time for the least anticipated part of the awards season: the Braddies, my personal top 10 film nominations in the categories: film of the year, best director, best actor, best actress, best supporting actor, best supporting actress, best screenwriter and best cinematographer. The nominations are in no particular order. You are, of course, invited to vote in the comment section below and complain about any omissions.

Film of the year

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Celebrities getting political at the Oscars? Give them an award

There is something pretty hilarious about people saying celebrities shouldnt talk about politics, when a celebrity is currently the president of the United States

Being both old enough and shallow enough to remember the once seemingly annual horror of Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins political speeches at the Oscars, I understand why so many people experience a kind of inners demise when celebrities heave themselves up on their political high horse at awarding ceremonies. From Vanessa Redgrave denouncing the Jewish Defense Leagueas Zionist hoodlums in 1978 to Jared Leto giving a shout out to all the dreamers in the Ukraine and Venezuela in 2014, the list of celebrities dabbling in politics at the Academy Awards is only slightly more impressive than Donald Trumps movie cameos.

So I get why people feeling weary at best, abhorrence at the worst about the inevitable tub-thumping well get at tomorrow nights Oscars. Trump advocates will sneer at the out-of-touch, hysterical elitists who think they have a right to tell us normal folk what to do. As journalist( and daughter of John) Meghan McCain put it after the Golden Globes last month: This Meryl Streep speech is why Trump won. And if people in Hollywood dont start recognising why and how you will help him get re-elected. People voted Trump for lots of reasons; but I dont think a desire to stick it to Meryl Streep was one of them.

Meanwhile liberals have been building similar debates, if in less strident tones. They say that overpaid celebrities railing against the government will only turn the current political situation into an even bigger culture war: coastal upper-class versus hard-working midwesterners. And that only helps Trump.

Bipartisan as this take increasingly is, I dont have much truck with it. Maybe its because there is something pretty hilarious about people saying celebrities shouldnt talking here politics, when a celebrity is currently the president of the United States. The suggestion that performers are too privileged to talk to us umble, potato-faced peasants would work better if a Manhattan billionaire who lives in a literal golden palace hadnt been elected on the basis that he truly understands the average American. Celebrities are, after all, free citizens, and last time I checked, the US wasnt a totalitarian nation where criticism of our Dear Leader is forbidden on Tv. But Im guessing Steve Bannon is working on that.

I am writing this from America, and, over here, President Trump is the only tale in town. Whether people support or fear him, he is the first and last topic of dialogue for pretty much everyone Ive talked to over the past fortnight. For American celebrities not to acknowledge this would attain them seem a lot more cosseted by privilege than a dislike of the president. Yes, there will be total homogeneity of political opinion at the Oscars: the awards take place in California, after all, a solidly Democrat state. And yes, the president can then spin that as proof of liberal elitism.

But if everyone avoided doing things that might be reframed negatively by the president, they wouldnt get out of bed in the morning. And some things are just plain wrong, whatever your politics: the president spreading false gossipsabout voter fraud and Swedish terror attacks; the senate voting to defund Planned Parenthood, the primary health provider for many low-income girls. So if Republican celebrities arent speaking up Robert Duvall, tell, or Adam Sandler well, perhaps they dont fancy defending the indefensible.

For every two celebrities( Viola Davis, Meryl Streep) who speak brilliantly about politics there will be at least 20( Madonna, Tom Hiddleston) who set their gilded foot in it, which is pretty much the average ratio for humans in general. Im OK with that. Everyone who feels strongly about these issues has a right to protest, and that includes gratingly self-important celebrities at massively high-profile events. If you dont want to hear celebrities wanging on, perhaps just dont watch the Oscars. I hear there are other TV channels out there.

Celebrity protests rarely change things. After all, as President Trump and his supporters are keen to point out, all the celebrities in the world and I mean that pretty much literally couldnt assist Hillary Clinton get elected. But they certainly rattle the current president, a man so desperate to be recognised by Hollywood he insisted on appearing in Home Alone 2. Chipping away at his insatiably needy ego may well be one of the more powerful tools against him. For the first time in history, telling celebrities not to talk about politics voices a lot less like sensible advice, and a lot more like a the ways and means of stifling powerful protest.

Read more: www.theguardian.com