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Bono’s Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story is the Perfect Autobiography for the World’s Most Vulnerable Rockstar | Book Review

The Irish rockstar’s story has long remain untold, but he reveals all in rock’s best biography.



This feature was made possible by an advance copy provided by Penguin Books. Thank you for the copy of the book!

Like him or not, Bono is one of the world’s most prominent rockstars. Perhaps to some, he’s the obnoxious political activist who forced his album onto your iTunes library in 2014. To those who are fans of U2, he’s the lead singer of the group who writes some of the most personal and intimate lyrics you’ve ever heard.

Credit: Penguin Books

All of that is to say, as a U2 fan for life, Bono’s long-awaited autobiography, Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story, is a fittingly intimate piece of literature from one of the world’s best lyricists. Like William Blake, a poet Bono himself clearly looks up to (see the Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience albums) the book is filled with aphorisms, metaphors and plenty of peeks behind the curtain that, with an open mind, can’t help but make you appreciate Bono to some degree. I suspect that even the biggest Bono skeptics/haters would have a hard time nitpicking things about his novel to crucify him for.

Let’s go back a year. About one year ago, Paul McCartney wrote a book made up of two massive volumes titled The Lyrics. I love this collection of stories behind some of my favorite songs coming from the man who first inspired my musical journey in my adolescent years as well, but while Surrender shares a similar idea in that its chapters are titled after songs written by the author, this is not the same type of deep dive into the recording process. Yes, Bono still provides stories about recording the songs and tidbits that those with a musical ear will appreciate, but each chapter title is merely a title that is a collection of various stories that fit the central theme of the song if that makes sense.

Perhaps that sounds contradictory, but let me explain. Any U2 fan knows that “Iris (Hold Me Close)” was written about Bono’s late mother. The chapter titled “Iris (Hold Me Close)” is not merely a deep dive into the Songs of Innocence recording sessions; it’s about Bono’s attempts to regain memories of his mother. “Desire” is a deep dive into U2’s experiences in LA with Quincy Jones in the eighties. Rest assured, each chapter will tie back into the title in some fashion.

“Shouldn’t be here ’cause I should be dead/I can see the lights in front of me,” sings Bono at the beginning of “Lights of Home,” the song that kicks off Surrender. The opening chapter, “Lights of Home,” finally reveals more about Bono’s near-death experience that has been discussed since the promotion of Songs of Experience in 2017. As it turns out, Bono had a “blister” on his aorta — making the lines from “Lights of Home” have even more resonance. In case you couldn’t already tell, a whole new level of vulnerability is unlocked with Surrender. But that’s just the beginning of what is one of the best audio experiences of my life.

I’ve never been an audiobook person. I can’t remember the last time I actually listened to one. I have a memory of renting one from the library at a young age, but that was more so because of the little toy it came with than the book itself. Anyways, Bono’s narrated edition of Surrender is absolutely the way to go. If you aren’t a U2 fan but have seen Sing 2, you’re likely aware of Bono’s voice-acting talent. As narrator, Bono transports you right into his front yard at 10 Cedarwood Road in Dublin. There are a number of occasions where Bono’s telling a story and you realize 30 minutes have passed; which should tell you all you need to know about Bono’s storytelling ability. There’s some hypnotic trait about his voice that’s like a lullaby, and you’ll be hearing about recording in Hansa Studios and realize that you’re already moving on to the next chapter.

Above all else, the audiobook edition of Surrender gives little snippets of new versions of the songs that serve as the title of each chapter. You may notice that most of these are reworked editions of songs and are presumably a sneak peek at what’s to come with the eventual Songs of Surrender companion album. Maybe some don’t like when a band reworks their old hits, but as someone who loves playing music as much as I do listening to it, I’m always down for new potential arrangements of songs to try out on my own acoustic guitar. Plus, who doesn’t love hearing “With or Without You”? Some of the other highlights are “Two Hearts Beat as One,” which is more piano-centric than its original counterpart and by far the most unique reworking, “Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses” and “Bad.”

And at the end of the day, Surrender is just another example of Bono being the most vulnerable rockstar of all time. Even going back to the eighties, Bono has always shared a special sort of connection with the audience. In recent years, U2 has embarked on the iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE and eXPERIENCE + iNNOCENCE tours which were like a traveling Broadway show that mostly revolved around Bono’s stories. Maybe that sounds self-indulgent, but how many rockstars are singing to their mothers in front of 20,000 every night? Being that Bono is wiser than ever, he’s also not afraid to confront some of his biggest criticisms. He’s aware of the perception many of you haters have of him, and he’s open to admitting where he went wrong in some cases. I don’t think Mick Jagger or Liam Gallagher would ever do so.

Due to his larger-than-life personality, it’s quite easy to forget behind the round spectacles Bono dons that he’s still a human that has faced human problems. Bono talks about his sappy teenage love (that has remained to this day) — which sounds funny considering he’s a 62-year-old rockstar. But think about it, Bono’s never been a scandalous figure in the pop culture world outside of one controversial album release — is that really the worst thing in the world? — and perhaps that plays a part in the bias against him. He’s a cheeseball, but isn’t it comforting to know that the lead singer in one of the world’s biggest bands got butterflies in his stomach when speaking to his future wife and is just as uncertain of what the hell he’s doing in his relationship? Maybe that’s the hopeless romantic in me speaking, but I find it relatable to know that someone I look up to has gotten nervous speaking to a girl or fucked up in his friendships too.

Surrender is just a perfect experience for fans of U2. I hope that those who aren’t fans of the Irish group also give it a chance and can be enlightened by Bono’s story. There’s far more to him than the sunglasses he dons, and I think that this is an extremely vulnerable and unique way of telling his story. Take it in, folks, because I don’t think another autobiography quite like this one will ever be written. Bono was finally ready to surrender and no longer allow his story to remain untold.


Andrew is an entertainment journalist and film "critic" who has written for the likes of Above the Line, Below the Line, Collider, Film Focus Online, /Film and The Hollywood Handle among others. Leader of the Kaitlyn Dever Fanclub.

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Chloe Domont’s ‘Fair Play’ Is A Spellbinding Debut That Challenges Gender Dynamics



Alden Ehrenreich as Luke and Phoebe Dynevor as Emily in 'Fair Play'. (Netflix)

Chloe Domont’s debut film, Fair Play, opens with a captivating scene that foreshadows the thrilling and thought-provoking journey ahead. A deeply in love couple, caught up in the excitement of a wedding, find themselves in a bathroom, passionately kissing. As their intimacy escalates, there is a surprising twist—blood stains their clothes. They share a giggle amidst the exhilaration, and their eyes land on a ring on the floor. With blood on their hands and a murder yet to be revealed, they go down on their knees once more, this time for a proposal. The scene sets the stage for a story that combines elements of romance, finance, and psychological intrigue.

Domont skillfully ventures beyond the trappings of a typical workplace affair and delves into the dark world of financial thrillers through a mesmerizing psychological puzzle. By taking a subtle narrative twist, she explores the fragility of gender dynamics. In a perfect love story, had Luke been promoted, everything would have been idyllic. However, Emily’s success and her private chamber disrupt their relationship, unveiling its underlying fractures. Overwhelmed with guilt, Emily immediately apologizes to Luke for achieving professional success. This familiar dynamic unfolds, highlighting society’s conditioning of women to downplay their achievements.

Alden Ehrenreich as Luke and Phoebe Dynevor as Emily in ‘Fair Play’. (Netflix)

Unlike traditional didactic tales, Fair Play abstains from presenting a clear moral center. Luke is not portrayed as a monster. Initially, he expresses pride in Emily’s success. However, something within him snaps as he faces the corrosive atmosphere of men assuming that Emily slept her way to the top. Emily, too, is drawn into the boys’ locker room conversations, refusing to concede her hard-earned accomplishments.

With astute storytelling and a refusal to pause for respite, Domont takes Fair Play on an unexpected trajectory. The film’s pacing mirrors the emotional claustrophobia of a chamber drama, intensifying the toxic power dynamics that shift nauseatingly fast. The narrative highlights how even well-intentioned condescension can overshadow narratives of men advocating for their female partners. It underscores the reality that equality in love, within heteronormative relationships, relies on unequal gender politics.

Phoebe Dynevor as Emily in ‘Fair Play’. (Netflix)

Cinematographer Menno Mans contributes to the film’s tension through tight close-up shots of the characters. This visual approach accelerates the emotional intensity woven into their relationship. The exceptional performances of the film’s two lead actors further complicate a linear reading of the story, lending an additional layer of ambivalence. The bathroom scene at the beginning recurs in a darker context near the film’s climax, showcasing the dramatic shift in the actors’ body language. Dynevor expertly weaponizes the fragility of her frame, while Ehrenreich masterfully adapts to his character’s evolving mentality. The film progressively transforms Luke from a genuinely loving and lucky man into a familiar representation of a man that resonates with the experiences of many women.

The return of blood on the floor symbolizes an undisclosed satisfaction, leaving the audience captivated by the film’s powerful exploration of gender dynamics and the human psyche.

Alden Ehrenreich as Luke and Phoebe Dynevor as Emily in Fair Play. (Netflix)

To be honest, FAIR PLAY is not what I expected and I enjoyed it very much. A captivating thriller that explores how power, gender roles, and workplace relationships interact.

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Prime Video

Gen V Season 1 is Bloody and Disgusting, Yet Utterly Compelling



Ever since The Boys premiered on Prime Video in 2019, it has consistently dropped jaws and blown people’s minds with its weirdly whacky, bloody and horny storytelling about corrupt superheroes. Hollywood had never seen anything quite like this. It is developed by Eric Kripke and creative forces such as Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg were also involved. Three incredible seasons have made it into one of the biggest shows right now. It was no surprise that Prime Video would expand such a beloved universe and greenlight a spinoff series titled Gen V which is finally coming to Prime Video.


Gen V is focused around teen supes studying at Godolkin University, who strive to make their careers in crime fighting and potentially join the seven one day. This 8-episode series is set after the events of The Boys Season 3. This series is developed by Eric Kripke, Craig Rosenberg, and Evan Goldberg. It stars Jaz Sinclair, Chance Perdomo, Maddie Phillips, Lizzie Broadway, and Patrick Schwarzenegger among others.


If anyone was worried that this series would not be as wild and horny as The Boys just because it is set around teens, let me put those worries to bed because this series stays true to every aspect of its predecessor and maintains the unfiltered storytelling throughout. The tone is as outlandish as always and keeps up all the horniness in the characters, including the obsession with penises. It is very much a hard R-rated show, so it might be safe to think about who you recommend it to.

Chance Perdomo (Andre Anderson)

The performances here are excellent, by everyone. Jaz Sinclair who plays Marie Moreau, and Chance Perdomo who plays Andre Anderson are particularly great. They have an emotional vulnerability that makes them totally convincing and makes the viewer sympathize with them. Shelley Conn is mysterious and shrewd as Dean Shetty. Maddie Phillips and Lizzie Broadway are good too. But there isn’t a powerhouse performance such as Antony Starr as Homelander.

The story still revolves around supes, though this time a younger generation of them, and the overall world-building of this franchise but it is surprisingly deeper and more mature than most would expect. At its core, there is a meaningful coming-of-age story about dealing with loss, power and the pressure of high expectations. Every character has interesting arcs and the character development is very smooth. The writers also managed to juggle so many subplots at the same time and managed to keep most of them intriguing. The pacing is also very consistent and rarely slows down.

Several people just find The Boys too disgusting and can’t stand the extreme and explicit nature of the narrative. Gen V also runs on a very similar track in terms of storytelling. So those who did not enjoy The Boys, will most probably not enjoy the new spin-off either. But this show will definitely delight the die-hard fans of this iconic franchise. Gen V does take a lot of shortcuts in its narrative and I wish they let the relationships between characters marinate for a little while longer. The plot may also seem overstuffed at times and there is arguably a lack of action so far.

Gen V embraces the outrageousness of The Boys while delivering an engaging coming-of-age story and manages to stand out on its own. It is as bloody, horny, crudely funny and dramatic as you would expect. The series finds new energy and carries the legacy of its predecessor. The first six episodes are thoroughly engaging and get you invested in the characters and their motivations. Expect to have a blast and see a lot of cameos.

Episodes Viewed – 6 out of 8.

Gen V episodes 1-3 will stream on Prime on September 29 with the finale on November 3.

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The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar Is Wes Anderson’s Delightful Take On Roald Dahl’s Sweet Story



Benedict Cumberbatch as Henry Sugar in Roald Dahl's 'The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar' (Netflix)

Roald Dahl and Wes Anderson have both left an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of generations. Dahl’s timeless stories have enchanted readers for decades, while Anderson’s groundbreaking films have pushed the boundaries of cinematic storytelling. Their unique talents and shared appreciation for the power of literature have now converged in Anderson’s latest masterpiece, the modern short film adaptation of Dahl’s The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar.

Anderson, known for his extraordinary attention to detail and distinctive visual style, brings Dahl’s adult-friendly tale to life in a truly captivating way. With a star-studded cast that includes Ralph Fiennes, Benedict Cumberbatch, Dev Patel, and Ben Kingsley, the film stays true to the author’s original text, with the actors delivering their lines directly from the page. This dedication to the literary essence of the story sets the stage for Anderson’s exceptional storytelling.

Dev Patel as Dr. Chatterjee, Sir Ben Kingsley as Imdad Khan and Richard Ayoade as Dr. Marshall in Roald Dahl’s The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar. Cr. Netflix ©2023

Following his previous successful adaptation of Dahl’s work with the Oscar-nominated The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Anderson is poised to once again captivate audiences with The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar. In a mere 37 minutes, this short film manages to deliver a delightful and heartwarming experience that can beat any full-length feature film. The commitment and power of the A-list cast shine throughout, ensuring a resounding success on multiple levels.

From the very beginning, Fiennes embodies Dahl himself, narrating the tale as he seamlessly transitions between the comfort of his home and the picturesque outdoors.  By applying freeze-frame techniques and cleverly staged tableaus, Fiennes and his fellow actors walk through different sets that are magically transformed by on-screen “stagehands” right before our eyes. This dynamic interplay between reality and cunningness is a testament to Anderson’s growing fascination with the theatrical aspects of filmmaking.

The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar not only captures the imaginative essence found in Dahl’s works but also showcases the filmmaker’s mastery of visual storytelling. Each scene is meticulously crafted, with Anderson’s staging drawing heavily on theatrical influences. Costume changes happen seamlessly on camera, resulting in Ben Kingsley’s Khan humorously questioning the whereabouts of his mustache. Furthermore, practical effects, including a delightful box trick, add to the mesmerizing experience of witnessing the film’s creation unfold before our eyes.

Benedict Cumberbatch as Henry Sugar and Ralph Fiennes as the policeman in The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar. Cr. Netflix ©2023

Anderson’s choice to create a short film rather than a feature-length production proves to be a stroke of genius. The pacing remains consistently engaging, ensuring that viewers remain captivated from start to finish. The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar is a visual feast, an entertaining experience, and, above all, a whole lot of fun.

When it comes to acting, it’s so hard to pick a standout because whenever an actor comes on the screen, he or she gives a performance that stays with you. Benedict Cumberbatch is magnetic in his portrayal of Henry Sugar and mesmerises you with a performance that shows his acting prowess. Ben Kingsley shows us why he is one of the greatest actors of all time. His monologues are truly special. Meanwhile, Dev Patel and Richard Ayoade are the magical new entrants in Anderson’s world of magical stories. Both of them are brilliant in their respective roles.

On the other hand, Ralph Fiennes showcases his versatility by embodying Roald Dahl in the most fantastic way possible.

Benedict Cumberbatch as Henry Sugar in The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar. Cr. Netflix ©2023

Roald Dahl’s rich storytelling finds new life through Wes Anderson’s innovative cinematic techniques. Their creative collaboration results in a short film that is visually pleasing, emotionally compelling, and brimming with the charm and magic that have made both artists legends in their respective fields. The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar is not to be missed, as it brings together the best of Dahl and Anderson, leaving audiences enraptured by its undeniable allure. Experience this enchanting journey, and let yourself be swept away by the power of imagination.

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