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Cultural Round Up: November

Another lean month. It is rather annoying that life has been getting in the way of enjoying culture. But so it is.

A link for your viewing pleasure, if you happen to like Daleks.

BOOKS

By Light Alone Adam Robert I finished this book about three weeks ago now and I am still not entirely sure what I think about it. Its premise – that the world has been radically divided between rich and poor following the invention of some sort of biological-nano-technology which turns hair into a photosynthesising mechanism allowing people to live on sunlight alone is interesting, but it is not entirely clear how the world became quite so radically divided. I don’t demand that everything is explained, but I was a little unconvinced that the premise led to the world. Putting that aside, the book seems to be permeated by a deep disgust of humanity and particularly men. At both ends of the spectrum, without  the need for work, Robert seems to envisage men doing nothing but indulging themselves, while women work on. I think it is this contemptuous view of people which ultimately made the book a bit hard at times. I think the second half is more interesting than the first, as one gets to see and understand a little more of the world, and Issa’s character has a strength which is heartening. For all that though, I am still not sure.

MOVIES

Contagion I liked this film. I liked the characterisations, I liked the little vignettes, I liked the developing drama. I particularly liked the music which really underscored the action. I thought the envisaging of the world where these things happened, how it is the panic and reactions that cause the problems, well beyond the disease itself, was well done. I liked how the film used elements and tropes of disaster films and played them down and gave them a more subtle treatment, while not feeling the need be too clever. There was probably a subplot too many, with maybe the Hong Kong/China one being the most superfluous, although it did have a point to make. And the film did peter out a little bit at the end as I have heard others criticise, however thought that was not out-of-line with the film. Overall though, it kep me engaged, it was well directed and acted and scripted and filmed, and is certainly more interesting and thoughtful than your average big ticket movie.

TELEVISION

Walking Dead Season 2.1 If the characters would talk less this would have been an awesome season. It is a bit like watching films scripted by George Lucas – the story itself it quite interesting, but the dialogue makes you want to punch someone. Admittedly, the final two or three episodes suffer less on this score and the final sequence of the mid-season finale is quite stunning. Characters develop quite significantly in these episodes, particularly Shane, Andrea and Daryl and the texture of the plot becomes quite interesting. They still don’t really know what to do with T-Dog who has virtually no role in the action, but at least Glenn stereotypical Asian-ness gets played off a little when he gets referred to as Short Round, before moving into a more interesting position in the drama. It is Shane though who makes one nervous, and he is powerfully played by Jon Bernthal. Maybe it helps that he has the fewest painful monologues as well. Worth sticking with, even if at times the dialogue makes you want to stick out your eye.

 

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2 responses to “Cultural Round Up: November

  1. Siobhan

    Certainly an interesting premise for the book. Did the man/woman divide seem to be a concious or unconcious move on the part of the author?

    • Melissa

      It seemed pretty conscious and, particularly with respect to the poor women, linked to child-bearing – the hair/light combination is not enough to sustain one through pregnancy. It was a little less marked amongst the rich, but the central female rich character certainly had much more purpose in her life, no matter what you thought of the purpose itself.

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