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Everyone’s watching

Clarkson’s Farm

Jeremy Clarkson has “gone soft” in his new Amazon series, and it makes for “surprisingly good viewing,” says Anita Singh in the Telegraph. He’s now running Diddly Squat, a 1,000-acre farm in the Cotswolds, and, despite having no clue what he’s doing, seems genuinely to care about it. He is close to tears when he has to send three lambs to the slaughter. “Even the most committed Clarkson haters will find him likeable here, while also enjoying the sight of him getting kicked in the nuts by a sheep.”

“It’s simply, just… really good TV” – if I’m allowed to say that in The Guardian, says Joel Golby. What makes it work is the “slight change in tack”. Clarkson is usually “an all-knowing, jeans-and-a-blazer dad-god”, but here he’s a “blundering idiot” who buys a monster Lamborghini tractor with 80 gears that he can’t work. Even better, he’s found the perfect foil in Kaleb Cooper, “a local, no-mucking-about farm boy who speaks to Clarkson with a complete and disarming lack of awe”.

I agree: it’s “a sheer treat”, says Camilla Long in The Sunday Times. The second episode, where Clarkson narrates a “prancing shagfest” of 78 sheep and two rams, “is the funniest thing I’ve seen all year”. Free from “the dead weight” of his Top Gear co-stars, James May and Richard Hammond, Clarkson comes across as far more playful, witty – and watchable.

Clarkson’s Farm is on Amazon Prime Video. Watch the trailer here.

In the Heights 

Films “don’t get much more summery” than In the Heights, says Justin Chang on NPR. This sweltering screen adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical is the most “socially undistanced” film I’ve seen in months. The action unfolds in New York’s “crowded store aisles and gossip-filled beauty salons”. The musical numbers blend hip-hop, Latin pop and salsa. Frankly, it couldn’t be more perfectly timed. A “joyous sense of togetherness” is exactly what we’ve been missing.

I liked all the sweet-natured “Sunny D optimism”, says Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian. But there’s a weird lack of “grown-up plausibility” for a feature-length film, and it’s a quaint image of street life – West Side Story’s Jets without the Sharks. In the Heights was first a stage hit in 2008. It was while taking a well-earned holiday after this stage success that Miranda chanced upon Ron Chernow’s biography of Alexander Hamilton – “and the rest is showbiz history”.

That’s what you get with Miranda, says Anthony Scott in The New York Times. At heart he’s “a political romantic and a romantic optimist”. Viewers may wish for “sharper-edged” explorations of issues such as gentrification and immigration policy. But Miranda believes in the redemptive promise and democratic potential of popular culture – and in the supreme power of love. That winning formula should melt even “the iciest heart”.

In the Heights is in cinemas now. Watch the trailer here.