1 Aug 2013

The Culture Feature | May/June/July 2013

Let me start by saying from now on, I'll stop pretending that The Culture Feature is actually ever going to be monthly. It's just a 'once in a while/surprise!' kind of event.

So, surprise! The past three months have been good to me, especially in terms of books. I've read a few great novels (mostly because I spent a whole week in a place with no Internet connection), dived right in in TV and discovered the joys of documentaries. I hope this post makes you want to get your hands on all these!

BOOKSWonder, R. J. Palacio
Wonder was a real gem and it's definitely the one that I'd recommend the most in this list. It tells the story of August, a boy with facial deformity who goes to school for the first time. Guys, we all know what school feels like. Kids are tougher than the world seems to think and bullies are a common. August has it even worse. Palacio shows what it takes to make it through hardships that no one can really imagine. August is braver and stronger than most; it's actually difficult to believe he is only ten, but then he is not everybody else... Although the book seems to think, ultimately, that we are all different. And it's good. Now that's a message I love, and after reading such a touching book I don't see how you won't love it too.

BOOKSExtremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Jonathan Safran Foer
This had been on my to-do list for YEARS. I've been lucky to not have seen the movie (since I've been told it was terrible) so I came to the story completely uninformed. Another book about a boy, this one follows Oskar, 9, in his quest around Manhattan to try and solve a mystery left by his recently dead father. With 9/11 as a background for the story, the novel asks question about family, growing up and secrets, in Foer's very poetic writing style. This book is something else; the writing is special and precious, and the story will make you think.

BOOKS | Bossypants, Tina Fey
I downloaded this to my Kindle as a beach book; it felt like it'd be great to read with my toes in the sand. Except I started it an evening after coming back from the beach and couldn't put it down! I nearly finished it before introducing to the seaside... Ok so Tina Fey is hilarious + she wrote a book about her life = this will make you laugh lots (and especially so if you're a woman.) Fey is so full of self deprecation and twisted wisdom and speaks honestly about mountain climbing, the horror of cruises and even pee jars. It's just deliciously brilliant so read it now.

TV | Breaking Bad
Who hasn't heard of Breaking Bad? I feel like I'd seen Bryan Cranston's egg head everywhere ever since the show came on but I never got around to watch it (mostly because my mum, whose advice I highly trust, gave it a "meh.") But then summer and boredom and Netflix and I'm almost done with season two. The plot: a chemist teacher diagnosed with cancer starts cooking meth to save money for his family. I have to say I find it a bit slow to start, but the story in itself is so interesting and different from what I'm used to that I kept going on. Mostly, I'm hooked onto the characters (despite almost all of them really annoying me) and want to see how bad they can get.

TV | Luther
TWO YEARS. That's how long we had to wait for season three, but everyone behind Luther is amazing and it did not disappoint. Dark and full of secrets copper Luther comes back, angrier than ever. Everyone's against him, his (few) loves ones don't trust him and seriously creepy bad guys are still out there. I cannot insist enough on 'creepy': if you're easily scared, don't watch. You'll end up sleeping with scissors under your pillow just in case. But the scenario is so well written and the cast so very talented that it'd be a terrible miss.

MOVIESCraigslist Joe
Once thing I discovered in the past month: Netflix is endless. So instead of just using it to watch TV shows, I ventured out of my comfort zone and went for documentaries... The first I watched was Craigslist Joe, about a guy who lived a month relying solely on Craigslist for food, shelter, money, transport; in short, everything. Besides very interesting, it's a moving doc that renewed my faith in humanity.

MOVIES | Exit Through The Gift Shop
If you like street-art, this one is a no miss. This documentary by Banksy describes the story of Thierry Guetta, a Frenchman established in LA who took his filming hobby to the streets... literally, and started filming the local street art scene. Through his cousin, artist Space Invader, he got to meet and film some of the biggest names of the graffiti world, from Shepard Fairey to Banksy, until he took a chance at street art himself. This is such a great docu, for its description of the street art world, of the artists' process, of the marketisation of the industry... and for Guetta's very strange transformation from nerdy passionate to annoying arrogant brat—in my humble opinion.

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