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Cultural Update: February

Before we start with this short roundup to reflect this short month, here is a cool link which shows you films compressed into a barcode and gives you a sense of the overall colour scheme of the movie. The Matrix one is totally distinctive.

And now to business.

Books

The Windup Girl Paolo Bacigalupi Dark. The book is set in a fascinating world; I love the ideas of calorie powered energy stored in springs – but it does rather beg the question of what happened to tidal/solar/wind power and the like. The concepts around genetic engineering it introduces are also fasntastic and the ideas of the windup girl herself and the cheshire cats were brilliant. Overall though the book lacked something; too many of the characters weren’t likable (at all) and it just took a bit too much time and effort for it all to completely hang together. Parts of it were page turning and gripping and other bits somewhat less so. I also really didn’t like the Jaidee conceit in the second half of the book and didn’t think it added a lot. The book is, however, a clever and layered discourse on inclusion and exclusion, on difference and othering where none of the characters completely fit and the powers of belonging are literally life and death.

Movies

Unstoppable Simple, straightforward thriller that had me tense throughout. Strong performances in a clear storyline with an added dose of working man versus US corporate evil. A little stereotyped, but the writing and directing was enough to keep it from cliché. A well made thriller that maintained believability. An enjoyable ride.

True Grit Good but not amazing. Strong performances from the three leads – Jeff Bridges was still over-acting, but at least  the over-acting was suited to the role. Weirdly I didn’t think that the cinematography and shot composition as impressive as I would have expected from the Coen Brothers when there are fabulous landscapes to work with. There was humour and the film sustained my interest….but overall it just seemed to lack something. But I wouldn’t say it wasn’t good. It was. Just not brilliant.

 

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