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Monthly Cultural Round Up: June

Well, scary to think that we are already half way through the year. With that banal thought out of the way, onto the culture…

Books

The Dreaming Void Peter Hamilton This was interesting. Like the Peter Hamilton I have read before, this was pretty disposable entertainment. Very readable, quite compelling with some interesting characters and ideas. I do wonder why he bothered to make this Commonwealth and use old characters because it is nonetheless a completely different world, but perhaps this will become clear as the trilogy progresses. And as for that, it is in no way a stand alone book – it kind of just ends, not terribly elegantly, and if you want to get any sort of closure you will have to commit to the other two I imagine. It does suffer some of the problems of the big selling, quick to market books, with a bit of poor editing in places. And at the moment I think it has just a couple too many characters who havenn’t really gone anywhere interesting, However, despite all the disposable-ness of the book, I have caught myself thinking about the Makkathran (the void and the dreams) parts of the book from time to time. So I will definitely be progressing onto the next part of the trilogy…

Film

Iron Man I finally got around to watching Iron Man – the original version, not the sequel. I thought it was quite interesting – not quite as fabulous as I had expected from all the hype, but not bad either. Obviously Robert Downey Jr was playing a role that he could do in his sleep, and I am not quite sure what the point of Gwyneth was. I’m glad that things didn’t get romantic between them because there was zero chemistry. Overall the film was an interesting take on the super hero genre – particularly the whole foreign-war-fighting part – the usual trope of the super hero genre tends to involve urban villains who commit crimes – or who are super bad guys. So the idea of coming and preventing war atrocities in tiny Afghan villages is quite a fascinating one. I think I would have liked more of that. It was inevitable that there is a sequel though; the film felt almost entirely like a prelude to something and that further films are needed to actually see him in action. It is a challenge of the super hero genre really – superheros come from the perpetually continuing comic format, where an origin story can stretch out for a long time. So when films try to deal with superheroes, trying to get the balance right between origin story and ongoing action is always something of a challenge. But that is why sequels, and prequels, were invented. Anyway, over all quite enjoyable, even if there were a couple of really dire lines “nothing elese matters but the next mission.” Really, please.

Television

Doctor Who So I think I may commit blasphemy and say that you know, I think that I like Matt Smith as much as David Tennant, possibly even more. There is something so sweet about him, while still being very Doctor-esque. I think he is rather like Peter Davison as a Doctor. And, as was said on Sunday night, that seemed like a really fast season – which says something about the fact that it was such an enjoyable season, which was really well paced and didn’t drag. Some of the episodes weren’t stellar, but the weren’t dragging. And they did contribute to the over arching arc of the season. Anyway, I am definitely a Matt Smith fan, I like where they are taking River Song, and I thought the fact that we got Amy both as a child and a grown up added to the attraction of her, Of course, the attractiveness added to the attraction of her, even when she was a bit of a passenger in a couple of episodes, so that didn’t hurt either. I am also reasonably pleased with the way they have hopefully dealt with the whole companion-love thing – by making it really explicit, then making a choice, then getting on with it. And River adds to that dynamic. Anyway, now it is just annoying that we probably won’t have any more until Christmas…

Music

The Man in Black So, Tex Perkins does make a terrific Johnny Cash. And the show was well constructed and performed and the backing band was good and real, if you like either Tex Perkins, or Johnny Cash, or, even better, both, I definitely recommend it. The very entertaining thing about the show was the eclecticness of the audience, as there were clearly people who fit into all three of the different categories above. And certainly one where the parent-adult child thing was quite common. So really, just do it!

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