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Cultural round-up: October

So apologies over the recent blog silence. Between legislation (work) and my break from work (five days in Port Douglas) there has not been much time. And given the non-stop legislation drafting action which has been my life since mid September, there is not a whole lot on the culture front to report. But we will do our best here.

Books

The Deep Field James Bradley I hadn’t reread this book since it was first published over ten years ago and it was interesting to read it with a consideration of what has transpired in those ten years. Small details of small details of the novel – the newscaster crying as atomic bombs are about to hit the city – are eerie in their prescience when one thinks about the impact on the world and the viewing audience of 9/11. I also found the novel fascinating again in the sense that in the last 10 years I completed my PhD which had ideas about memory and the constructed nature of the past – ideas which are played with throughout the novel. Despite being so different in period and setting, one can clearly see the auteurist links with The Resurrectionist, particularly having only read it a few months ago. For me, the book is suffused with a sense of longing, but some of its darker tone is alleviated by the spark of hope which travels through the book, the sense that renewal – be it of the beach or of the lives of individuals – is possible. Well worth re-reading.

The Lovely Bones Alice Sebold While I haven’t read the book before, it was interesting to read having cried through the film on a plane earlier this year. The novel did not make me cry as much as the film did, in fact I am not sure whether it made me cry at all. I was struck though by how much like the film the book is, despite the fact that some of the events get moved around. Anyway, it is an immensely readable book, and I actually found the whole Heaven construct more digestible in the book than in the film. It is clearly primarily a narrative device, a way of telling the story which makes it more compelling and engaging in many ways than telling it from a different point of view. I enjoyed it a lot and read it in no time flat.

Movies

Spartacus Stanley Kubrick As a giant Kubrick fan and also having only last year finished writing a thesis on constructions of history and how they are influenced by the present in which they are produced, I was very excited to see this. Sadly, I was rather disappointed. Clearly this is one of the lesser of Kubrick’s films – perhaps influenced by the fact that he came in to it late and had less auteurial control than he did over most his films. It is sad to say, but the parts of the film which were most entertaining was the homoerotic undertones and the shiny presence of young Tony Curtis (and coincidentally we watched it the week he died). Otherwise, it does not rise much above the more plodding of Roman dramas.

 

 

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