Culture Consumption: January 2019

Hi, lovelies. Here’s my month in books, movies, television, and games. 🙂 I’ll be posting my favorite reads and movies of the year in the next week or two.

Books

 

I finished three fantastic poetry collections this month. Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric is a justifiably lauded collection of poetry and essays. The collection offers an unflinching look at the everyday realities of racism in America, with the second person narration drawing the reader directly into the experience. The blend of writing styles and art make for a powerful and necessary read.

My Body Is a Poem I Can’t Stop Writing by Kelly Lorraine Andrews is a beautiful little chapbook published by Pork Belly Press. These poems explore the physicality of existing in a body, with a blend of mortality and eroticism.

Ivy Johnson’s Born Again dives into the ecstatic expression of religious experience. With its confessional style, it gives power to the female voice, rending open that which would be hidden behind closed doors. Check out my interview with Johnson on the New Books in Poetry podcast.

I also completed Wolves of the Calla, the fifth book in Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series. It was a fantastic read, so I wrote a bit of a post about why I loved the story and characters.

Books Read Last Month:
1. Born Again by Ivy Johnson
2. The Wolves of the Calla: The Dark Tower V by Stephen King
3. Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine
4. My Body is a Poem I can’t Stop Writing by Kelly Lorraine Andrews

Total Books for the Year: 4

Still in Progress at the End of the Month: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden, Books of Blood by Clive Barker, and Memes to Movements: How the World’s Most Viral Media Is Changing Social Protest and Power by An Xiao Mina

Short Stories & Poetry

I’ve Seen Stranger Things Than This, Mulder” by Joanna C. Valente:

“You tell yourself a lot of lies. You do this
so you can wake up in the morning and put on
your lipstick and high heels and pray”

A Collection of Collaborations” by Juliet Cook and jj hastain:

“But they’re not human.
They’re lunar
lunges with fish
dying inside the musculature
of their thighs.”

Another Conversation” by Theodora Goss:

“I did not know how to tell him that, certainly,
over time I would start to find him as tiresome
as birds returning each spring, or as clouds
that gather and disperse, always the same yet different,”

Movies

The Favourite — which is one of the Oscar favorites with ten nominations — is about two women vying for the affections of the Queen of England. With stunning cinematography and costuming and female power and relationships at its center, the film is a compelling historical drama. With a slightly off-kilter style of the storytelling shifts between being funny, moving, and unsettling. All three actresses — Olivia Colman, Rachael Weisz, and Emma Stone — are given interesting, complex characters to embody and all do a stunning job of portraying those characters. I loved this movie, even though parts of it made me uncomfortable.

The Favourite 2018
The Favourite (2018)
The Favourite 2018
The Favourite (2018)

Another great flick is the documentary Shirkers, which tells a story of lost and recovered dreams. Sandi Tan and friends Jasmine Kin Kia Ng and Sophia Siddique Harvey set out to make a roam movie in Singapore, where they all grew up with Georges Cardona directing. But when the filming wrapped Cardona disappeared, taking all of the cans of film with him — essentially crushing the dreams of the young filmmakers. Twenty-five years later, the cans of film are returned to them, dredging up the past and inspiring Sandi Tan to dig into the mystery of Cardona and why he did what he did. This documentary is haunting and moving. Not since watching Jodorowski’s Dune have I longed so fully to see a film that will never be completed.

Shirkers 2018
Shirkers (2018)

I also rather enjoyed You Might Be The Killer. When summer camp councilors begin getting picked off one by one by a brutally violent killer, head councilor Sam calls his horror-movie obsessed friend Chuck for advice on how to survive the night, only to make an unsettling discovery about himself in the process. The concept is silly, fun, joyfully campy and meta, much like the twitter thread between authors Sam Sykes and Chuck Wendig that inspired it.

And finally, Room, is a beautifully moving movie about a young woman who was kidnapped and locked in a shed for years along with her young son who was born there and has known nothing else. When he escapes, they both have to figure how to live out in the vast world.

New-to-Me Movies Watched Last Month:
1. The Favourite (2018)
2. You Might Be the Killer (2018)
3. Shirkers (documentary, 2018)
4. Room (2015)

Games

I finished playing Bioshock: Infinite, which is set in the same world as one of my favorite games Bioshock. But instead of journeying through a city under the ocean, you travel through a floating city in the sky run by a religious zealot. The steampunk-styled world is beautifully rendered and looking over the side of a railing to see the buildings bobbing through the clouds around you is stunning.

Bioshock: Infinite
Bioshock: Infinite

In the storyline, you play former Pinkerton agent Booker DeWitt who, in order to clear his debts, has been tasked with finding and bringing back Elizabeth, a young woman who has lived most of her life as a captive in the floating city of Columbia. I love the characterization of the both main characters and the assemblage of side characters. The story layers in the moral complexities of religion, power, and revolution in fascinating ways.

Bioshock: Infinite
Bioshock: Infinite

The first person shooter gameplay was fun (even if I didn’t understand why the controls had to change to much from the previous game). One of the things I especially appreciated about Infinite (and I also appreciated with The Last of Us) was that the NCP companion character Elizabeth was not only far from being a burden, but also actually helpful. When you get into battles, she can call forth weapons, heath kits, barriers, and other helpful items to benefit you in the fight.

Bioshock: Infinite
Bioshock: Infinite

I’m not sure what I think of the ending. It makes sense for the story but I can’t help hating it a bit. In a way, it didn’t feel satisfying and was longing for an alternate ending (which doesn’t exist).

I also did another complete replay of The Last of Us, and I think I need to be done with that now. I love the game with all my heart, but it’s starting to loose meaning like when you play a beloved song too many times in a row.


That’s it for me! What are you reading? Watching? Loving right now?


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