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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.

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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.

FILM RATING

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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Adventure

Arthur the King is an Epic Masterpiece

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Arthur the King movie poster (Lionsgate Films)

Here follows the review of Arthur the King, a story of deep connection between people and dogs. Not all heroes wear capes, some have wagging tails and would cross a river (and jungle) for you.

Plot

Desperate for one last chance to win, Michael Light convinces a sponsor to back him and a team of athletes for the Adventure Racing World Championship in the Dominican Republic. As the team gets pushed to the outer limits of endurance, a dog named Arthur comes along for the ride, redefining what victory, loyalty and friendship truly means.

Arthur Foundation

Mikael Lindnord raced through a jungle in Ecuador and after feeding a few meatballs to a stray dog made a friend for life. The dog followed Mikael and his team through the rough terrain. Mikael named the dog Arthur and took him back home with him.

Arthur and Mikael Lindnord (Photo taken by Krister Goransson)

The Arthur Foundation collaborates with various organizations in different countries that work towards animal welfare.

Click on the following links to reach out to Mikael Lindnord.

Movie Review (no spoilers)

The movie is based on the memoir, Arthur – The Dog Who Crossed the Jungle to Find a Home by Mikael Lindnord, who was the athlete who participated in the Adventure Racing World Championship in Ecuador. It is important to note in the movie they refer to him as Michael Light. Even though the original race took place in Ecuador, the movie changed the location to the Dominican Republic. The original race took place in 2014, while in the movie the race takes place in 2018.

Mark Wahlberg portrays the part of the Mikael and delivers an excellent performance alongside Simu Liu, Nathalie Emmanuel and Ali Suliman. Ukai, a stray dog, was a real champion portraying the role of Arthur. The film takes us through picturesque locations in the Dominican Republic. The suspense was felt at every turn and corner and you are kept glued to the screen with a gripping storyline. The story balances the journey of Mikael and Arthur and eventually joins their path like a jigsaw puzzle.

Mark Wahlberg as Mikael Light (Lionsgate Films)

A fictional backstory is provided of Mikael’s competitive journey as well as the journey that Arthur took to get to Mikael. The movie successfully tells a deep story of connection between dogs and people. If you want to know more about the real story, you can check your local bookstore or Amazon for a copy of Arthur – The Dog Who Crossed the Jungle to Find a Home

This movie is a 5 out of 5 for me. The connection between Mikael and Arthur is brought to life in this epic masterpiece. Arthur found a home in the heart of Mikael and thanks to Mark Wahlberg and Ukai, this film adaptation of ‘Arthur – The Dog Who Crossed the Jungle to Find a Home’ became a memorable movie.

The trailer doesn’t spoil any of the important scenes of the movie. Arthur the King has a runtime of 1 hour and 30 minutes. There is no post-credits scene so no need to wait till the end.

Arthur the King Official Trailer (Lionsgate Films)

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Entertainment

A Must-See Satanic Panic Horror – Late Night With the Devil

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Written and directed by Cameron Cairnes & Colin Cairnes, Late Night With the Devil follows a late night TV host Jack Delroy, fighting the plummeting viewership of his show by welcoming in people from the occult in order to change that, but of course, everything doesn’t go as smooth as planned.

David Dastmalchian as Jack Delroy Late Night With the Devil (2023)

David Dastmalchian has appeared in a lot of films however always in smaller roles including The Dark Knight, Prisoners and more recently The Suicide Squad. This film allows Dastmalchian to take on the lead role of Jack Delroy, the host of the late night show at the centre of this film, and he genuinely does a great job. There’s a real range of emotions which his character goes through during the course of this film and he depicts them so well.

If you’re a fan of the horror genre, you’re going to really appreciate the use of practical effects in this. There’s plenty of stretchy and gooey gore for all of the horror fanatics that will have you shouting at the screen. 

From left to right: Laura Gordon, Ingrid Torelli, David Dastmalchian, Ian Bliss

If you want to hear my full thoughts, check out my review over on YouTube and let me know your opinions in the comments.

Late Night With the Devil will be released in cinemas from 22nd March and on Shudder on 19th April.

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Reviews

‘I Love You, Guys’ Review | A Poignant Exploration of Celebrity Vulnerability and Human Resilience

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We are living in an era where celebrities are worshipped like deities and sometimes, people forget that he or she is also a normal human being. If we feel happy or sad at certain moments, they do as well and even though a lot of people always surround them, they get vulnerable too. Although a lot of filmmakers forget to show that aspect of their lives, Billie Melissa Rogan takes the bold approach of showing the truth. Her directorial debut, ‘I Love You, Guys,’ is a poignant story about a celebrity fighting her inner self to maintain her celebrity image. The result is a stunning piece of art that resonates long after the end credits roll in.

The short film opens with a profound close-up of the young singing sensation named Sky (Becky Bush). She has made a name for herself by making and singing really exceptional songs. As a result, she is adored by her fans. Even though it feels like Sky has everything she wants, viewers see her submerged in a bathtub as she tries to battle her anxiety. Just then, Sky gets a phone that she’d be performing state-side. Now, that’s where we get to know about her vulnerable state for the first time. Although she says that she is really happy with the above-mentioned news, her face tells a different story. Despite her impending stardom, Sky has not started to feel the massive weight of mounting pressure, a sentiment audiences get to see in her conversations with bandmate Ryan (Pedro Leandro) and girlfriend Taylor (Celi Crossland).

Becky Bush in a still from ‘I Love You, Guys’ (Jumpcut Studios)

As the story moves forward, we get to know that ‘I Love You, Guys’ is about the fragile nature of the human spirit as much as it is about celebrity culture. It not only navigates themes of depression, it also highlights the turbulent emotional journey of Sky. One of the best aspects of the film is how Rogan masterfully brings Cory Varney’s screenplay to life. She managed to capture every minor detail of Sky’s emotions with utmost precision. Despite the fact that it is her first-ever film as a director, we get a sense that we are watching a flick helmed by a seasoned filmmaker.

Another aspect that makes this film such a compelling watch is its cinematography. Jenni Suitiala has done a phenomenal in showing expressions through vibrant colors and Rogan has made full use of the settings to give viewers a visually striking film. Whether it is heated arguments or silent moments of despair, each frame feels authentic and draws audiences into Sky’s personal life.

Apart from Rogan’s direction, Varney’s script is this film’s biggest strength. The writer has undoubtedly done a stunning job of showing the humanity of these characters. There’s a reason why Sky’s struggles feel very personal and it is because we have endured such moments in life. Moments where we doubt ourselves even when we know we are more than capable of doing a particular thing. Not every smiling person is happy. Sometimes he or she is smiling just so that no one finds out about the tough times they are going through.

A still from ‘I Love You, Guys’ (Jumpcut Studios)

Acting-wise, Becky Bush has given a performance that is surely going to open several doors for her. She delivers a magnificent performance by infusing Sky with a beautiful balance of vulnerability and strength. The way she manages to convey an innumerable amount of emotions is spectacular. I believe this is one of the most apt depictions of mental turmoil. Meanwhile, Pedro Leandro and Celi Crossland are just as spectacular. Every interaction between the characters feels genuine and nuanced.

All in all, ‘I Love You, Guys’ is a testament to how resilient a human spirit can be. In just 15 minutes, Rogan, Varney, and Bush take viewers on a journey that’s thought-provoking and talks about a subject that no one talks about. The writing, direction, and performances achieve a lot more than just viewers’ attention. The film offers a compelling examination of the human cost of pursuing fame and success. A poignant story that touches on themes of ambition, relationships, and self-discovery.

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