Culture Consumption: February 2017
My reading continues to be sloooowwww, but at least I finished a few things this month — along with seeing a TON of movies.
Through the Woods by Emily Carroll was a favorite read from this month. This beautifully illustrated collection of scary stories, involving ghosts and wolves and other stranger monsters explores the dangerous things hidden in the dark that can steel one’s life and/or self away. The art uses bright vivid colors with a mixture of line styles to create a sense of tension and unease while reading — some scenes are vividly terrifying.
I also loved reading Jessie Carty’s collection, Shopping After the Apocalypse. In this collection of prose poetry, the narrator begins a journey across an apocalyptic landscape. Contemplative and beautifully written, each poem builds on the next forming an interconnected story of isolation in an abandoned landscape. The result is a more contemplative exploration rather than the violence and terror expressed in most apocalyptic storylines. I really enjoyed this collection so much that I interviewed the poet about her writing process.
Pat Schmatz’ Lizard Radio is the story of fifteen-year-old Kivali who has never fit in, having been treated as an outcast most of her life for being a bender (someone who doesn’t neatly fit into either the male or female gender binary). She’s survived her loneliness and fear of being sent to Blight by escaping into her mind and listening to “lizard radio,” an internal broadcast that soothes her and makes her feel less alone. When she’s sent to CropCamp in order to learn how to take her place in community, she discovers friendships and love beyond what she’s known inside her own head.
Schmatz has created an interesting world in Lizard Radio. I wouldn’t really call it dystopian or utopian (probably the the best word is “ustopian,” a word coined by Margaret Atwood). If you fit within the parameters of being a good citizen, then this could be an ideal place to live — but less so for those who don’t fit in, benders, samers, and other outcasts, who are sent to live in Blight. (Interestingly, being transgender is acceptable within this world, provided they fit neatly within either the female or male binary.) I wouldn’t really call this world realistic, but I don’t expect that it’s intended to be, at least not in the sense of being a world that could really exist. Rather, I think it’s more designed as a way to examine the theme of ambiguity.
For those who love heady, intellectual examinations of pop culture, Tim Burton: Essays on the Films is worth a read, although it’s very academic with some dense reading involved.
Books Finished This Month:
1. Tim Burton: Essays on the Films, edited by Johnson Cheu
2. Lizard Radio (audio book) by Pat Schmatz
3. Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
4. Shopping After the Apocalypse by Jessie Carty
Total Books for the Year: 4
Still in Progress: Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman, and Tim Burton: Essays on the Films, edited by Johnson Cheu
Most of my movie watching in February involved catching up on all the Oscar Best Picture nominees, which I already discussed elsewhere.
I watched Moana with my niece and nephew who are in love with the movie, singing along to the music, quoting from it, and loving all of the characters. the animation is gorgeous and the story is fun. I liked that it focused on family and community. Even though Moana leaves home to have an adventure, it is ultimately to serve her people and protect them. It’s really wonderful.
New-to-me Movies Watched This Month:
1. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
2. Suicide Squad (2016)
3. Neon Genesis Evangelion: Death and Rebirth (1997)
4. Neon Genesis Evangelion: The End of Evangelion (1997)
5. Fifty Shades Darker (2017)
6. Moonlight (2016)
7. Hidden Figures (2016)
8. Lion (2016)
9. Manchester by the Sea (2016)
10. Fences (2016)
11. Hell or High Water (2016)
12. La La Land (2016)
13. Hacksaw Ridge (2016)
14. Moana (2016)
A ton of shorts made it onto my list this month, because I went to see all of the Oscar nominated live action and animated films at the theatre. I already wrote about those movies elsewhere, but I’ll note that Timecode was pretty much my favorite from that night. It was surprising and delightful.
Shorts from This Month:
1. Blind Vaysha
4. Pear Cider and Cigarettes
5. Borrowed Time
6. The Head Vanishes
7. Once Upon a Line
11. La Femme et le TGV
12. Ennemis Intérieurs
13. Silent Nights
My roommate and I have started watching The Night Of, the story of Nasir, a man who wakes to find a woman stabbed to death in the morning and is charged with her murder. The first episode was a bit slow as it built up to the main story, but the following few episodes have been great, introducing lawyers and cops and the stories behind a number of characters involved in the story. I’m very curious to see how all of this is going to wrap up.
Game of Thrones, Black Mirror, The Walking Dead .
That’s it for me! What are you reading? Watching? Loving right now?