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Jon: Culture Consumption #7

  • I Feel Bad About My Neck, Nora Ephron
  • Edda, Conor Kostick
  • Code Name Verity, Lizzie Wein
  • I Remember Nothing, Nora Ephron
  • How to Be a Woman, Caitlin Moran
  • The Amazing Spider-Man, Marc Webb
  • Jarhead, Sam Mendes
  • Dark Knight Rises, Christopher Nolan
  • The Intouchables, Olivier Nakache & Eric Toledano
  • Step Up Revolution, Scott Speer
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I feel like my months are falling into mini-themes. May was dystopian, June was middle grade, and now July, heavy on friendship and feminism. For example, Caitlin Moran is being touted as the next Nora Ephron but that's really unncessary. Moran doesn't need to be the next anything. Her How to Be a Woman is hilarious and thought provoking without having to attach it to anybody who came before her. What's important is that both Ephron and Moran write essays that I could read over and over.

Next month I'm gonna go back and read Ephron's older essays and then turn my attention to whatever the male equivalent of this sort of writing is. Confessional, smart, and funny. (What is the male equivalent of these books?) Or I'll just stay in this lane and go either lighter with Sloane Crosley or heavier with Joan Didion. It's about time I went Didion right?

  • On the Intersection of Race & Feminism: A Conversation With Neesha Meminger and Ibi Zoboi

As for Code Name Verity, let me just say "wow." One of the best books I've read this year and I don't even want to tell you anything about it because it's much better going in without knowing much. Nominally it's young adult but it's not like any YA I've read. I don't know who was the lone dissenter giving this a three star review on Amazon but they were dead wrong. Code Name Verity is so great, and even if it doesn't sound like it's up your alley, you should read it. Man, I wish I could forget it so I could read it all over again.

And a quick head nod for Conor Kostick's Edda. A science fiction / fantasy YA that actually has some depth and interesting world building. Most of the YA stuff I read in this genre has only a light glossing of sci-fi, but Kostick's series actually has ideas and depth behind all the action and plot. That would make sense since he was "a designer for the world's first live action role-playing game." Plus he is a former European champion at Diplomacy, a board game I love and long to play often. Respect. I headed into Edda expecting some generic-ness and emerged wanting to check out Saga and Epic.

For the Dark Knight fanboys in the audience. Here's the deal: Dark Knight Rises wasn't that good. I'll come right out and say I'm not a huge fan of the franchise in general -- Batman's growly voice kills me -- but I can concede that it's done great things for the comic book movie. But this one especially was so hokey and littered with so many plot holes and inconceivables that afterwards I had to nitpick at each one.

Having said that, I did go back and watch it again. Upon rewatch, the first hour or so of the movie is spectacular. Christopher Nolan pushes the tempo, sets up the current day situation, and introduces Bane in a great way. However, when Bane becomes the star of the movie, putting Gotham under siege -- and Bruce Wayne gets tossed into the pit -- the movie lost me. Also, where was the fighting? Nowhere! Dark Knight Rises wasn't bad by any stretch of the imagination, and I loved Anne Hathaway, but I think it was a clear letdown.

Also, while we're here, I wish Fox would just stop making Spider-Man movies so the rights could revert back to Marvel. Not that Amazing Spider-Man was bad, not with Emma Stone in it, but it's totally unnecessary. Let Spider-Man join The Avengers please! And while they're at it, let Wolverine scurry back to Marvel too.

One movie I will recommend from this past month: The Intouchables. Originally the trailer put me off because it seemed like too much of a sappy feel good story. But upon a trusted friend's recommendation, Lilly and I went to go see it.

And we loved it!

The movie had so much wonderful energy, an opening featuring "September," and an utterly charming Omar Sy. The Intouchables played like a light version of The Sea Inside or The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Actually those movies had quite a lot of humor in them too, but more subtle.) It was nominated for all sorts of awards in its native France and it's definitely a perfect Sunday matinee.

There is some debate about The Intouchables' broad racial characterizations and its use of the black man as cultural liberator trope. The criticism is impossible to dismiss because the movie certainly plays into those stereotypes. While philosophically I agree 100% with those criticisms, I still think The Intouchables was delightful and worth a watch.

Also, Driss in real life is Abdel Sellou, an Arab from Algeria, conveniently blackwashed for the movie. Is that, like, a first?

[Crossposted from]


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