Bits of Film, Adventures with a Highwayman, and Dystopian Fiction

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Website: Crossframed.com:

This website is a real gem. An anonymous cinema fan from Portugal created a website where he provides hundreds of selected film clips from classic, to foreign, to popular movies. There are clips from Star Wars, Dr. Strangelove, Fellini’s 8 1/2, and Requiem for a Dream among many more. At the bottom of the page you’ll find a link that randomly ques up one of the bits. The clips are short and sweet, some lasting up to five minutes while others are only a few seconds. This is a fantastic way to spend a minute or two, get a quick dose of cinema, and maybe find a film you didn’t know you needed to watch.

– Jessica Webster

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Book: Captain Lightfoot by W. R. Burnett

One of my good friends once told me how she spent an entire summer going to dollar book sales and filling up her bookshelves with all sorts of genres. Sometimes she would have heard of the book before, sometimes she thought the cover just looked interesting. And it was only a dollar, so it didn’t really matter. That’s what this book was for me.

Captain Lightfoot is about an Irish boy who stumbles into the life of a highway man. It’s a quick, light, adventurous read about growing up, the struggle between being a successor or your own person, and light hearted romance. If anything, you’ll at least get a few laughs over Michael and Aba’s friction. –

– Richie Gowin

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Book: The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood:

Set in a future dystopia where money is scarce and many Americans struggle to find cars to make into homes, a couple finds refuge in an experimental facility named Positron. While in Positron, individuals can lead perfectly normal lives, doing normal activities for one month, but the next they are put into a prison and switch back and forth every month thereafter. As our couple escapes the cruelty of the outside world, they believe themselves blessed to have found such ‘safety’ in Positron. However, as they discover the true intentions of the facility they begin to realize the substitution of morality for obedience. Stan and Charmaine are ‘forced’ to make decisions that beckon the reader to consider the value of comfort and whether the price paid is for pleasure or just the abstinence of pain.

Atwood’s inspection of sexuality is raw and insightful; it appears nihilistic but there is overtone of ‘carry on’ that seems indicative of the normalcy of dysfunctional relationships. The author is willing to wrestle with ‘common uncommons’ and certain scenes within the book exhibit an imaginative exercise of human depravity that is not excessive. The work is often dark and even at times repulsive but it provides a geography that tests the characters like a Honda Civic off-roading. They are broken, bent, dismayed and even tortured by circumstance but by that test become the perfect setup for what I think is Atwood’s primary question of the work: How comfortable are you willing to be?

It was a good read and there are so many great sentences and paragraphs that even if the story was not compelling it would still be worth a pass over. Enjoy 🙂

– Christopher Rodriguez

 

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A 70’s Japanese Film and a Pop Culture Podcast

 

Film: Belladonna of Sadness (Kanashimi no Beradonna)

This psychedelic, swirling, animated film was lost since its original production when the Japanese Mushi Pro company went bankrupt. It’s being re-released this year and I stumbled on it purely by accident at the Alamo Drafthouse. Directed by Eiichi Yamamoto the movie depicts a medieval world where a happy couple (Jean and Jeanne) is violently disrupted when the king rapes the woman. Her once innocent world changes forever and she soon enters a pact with the devil to save her and her new husband. Through beautiful sometimes shocking art, inspired by western artists such as Klimt and Mucha, backed by undulating progressive rock tracks the film explores themes of witchcraft, sexuality, woman, and society. While incredibly beautiful, this film is definitely not for the little ones. The imagery is explicit and intense. I left this screening feeling at once disquieted and speechless from the striking beauty and searing pain it portrays hand in hand.

– Jessica Webster

 

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Podcast: Pop Culture Happy Hour, by NPR

I know, I know, NPR is by definition nationally available for free and easily accessible, even with old technology. BUT, did you know that they have some programs that aren’t on the radio? Pop Culture Happy Hour (PCHH) is a web-only show covering the week in – you guessed it – pop culture! I know I’m getting kind of meta here (I hope I used that term correctly) because the purpose of the Conversation Collective is to offer note-worthy cultural-media tidbits as well, but so far, I’m just not as smart or funny as the hosts and guests on this show. Also, there’s no such thing as too much of a good thing when it comes to recommendations by people with excellent taste. Sure, maybe good books will pile up even higher beside your bed, but there are worse problems to have. Considering that it’s their job to review every new piece of media that comes their way, these ladies and gentlemen have a host of recommendations and commentary on every genre and subject imaginable. Need a graphic novel for girls between the ages of 8 and 12? Want to know why “guilty pleasures” aren’t real? Unable to articulate all the things you did or didn’t like about the latest superhero movie? Look no further than PCHH. Each week, the show covers a recent popular movie, show, book, conference, celebrity etc. (something making a buzz), a topic of conversation (such as the Bechdel test) and personal recommendations from each panelist. There’s also the occasional trivia quiz or other segment. I have to be honest, it’s been a while since I listened to this podcast because it’s really hard to pay attention to anything for more than 5 minutes with two young kids running amuck, but I long for the day when I can get back to taking furious notes and cackling over what PCHH recommends or bashes.

– Karissa Tucker