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Monthly Cultural Round Up: July

This was a slightly busier month in the movie viewing department. Oh and yes, that might have had something to do with school holidays, but not entirely. Anyway, here ’tis.

Movies

Shrek: Forever After I enjoyed this more than I expected to; it was much better than the third Shrek movie, and I liked the fact that it returned more to the fairytale world than the more overt pop culture referentialism of 3, which really just goes over the head of small children. I hate it when films aimed at kids actually mostly don’t respect that audience. Anyway, the story was completely predictable, but it was well done predictable. It wasn’t groundbreaking in the way that the original Shrek was, but it was still entertaining and well constructed with generally good dialog and characterisations. I enjoyed it, and more importantly, so did the small boys.

Toy Story III This was another lovely film; a total tear jerker from a parental point of view, and a joy for the small boys. I loved Barbie;s Marxist line at the end, thought it was clever and entertaining as a film. But it definitely triggered those thoughts as a parent about how children grow and change. And, I really was a bit worried at the end!

Inception Another film I really enjoyed. I liked the fact that it was clever and layered and beautifully beautifully filmed. I didn’t think it was as confusing or difficult as some seem to have seen it, and there were aspects of it where I think its internal consistency failed – the depiction of comparative time seemed a bit ropey in places, and how it all worked, particularly how the architect operated, was really bit blurry. Despite this though, I think it was interesting and entertaining with good performances – I particularly loved Tom Hardy, but I thought Leonardo di Caprio was excellent also. And the rest of them. As someone who loves a caper film, and notions of what is real, this was definitely worth seeing.

Books

The Time Traveler’s Wife Audrey Niffenegger So I am probably the last person in the woorld to read this book, and I did enjoy it. I think it is interesting that the title indicates that it is Clare’s story, because the character I think one knows the best at the end is actually Henry. I think the book is really Henry’s story and even though Clare is given a voice, how she is depicted is really only in relation to her relationship with Henry. I also think it is interesting the extent to which sadness suffuses the novel. One is left with the over all impression of sadness; that despite the fact that this is a love story, that love is ultimately tied up with sadness and grief. However, a book which begins by quoting a Derek Walcott poem has left a good impression from the start and I did indeed enjoy it as a novel.

Television

The Wire Season 5 Our time with The Wire came to an end this month which was definitely a bittersweet experience. I don’t think that Season 5 was the strongest of the seasons on a stand alone basis, but it did make a beautiful end to the series. Some moments in it like McNulty’s final realisation of the enormity of what he has done, and his contempt for the lying journalist are outstanding television. Another moment which is just fascinating television I won’t discuss for fear of providing the ultimate spoiler.The finale of the show is second only to the amazing ending of Six Feet Under in the way it provides a future for the characters, a future which shows us that the Baltimore that we have come to know continues as it has been. Excellent television that everyone should watch.

Dexter Season 3 This season faces the challenge that having taken Dexter to the edge in season 2, that level of drama cannot be sustained. Instead it takes us to a very different place with respect to its depiction of his relationship and his longing for connection. Well, done, with some striking moments, this season managed to maintain its quality without having to constantly raise the stakes.

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