August Miscellany!

It’s that time when I look back at my cultural highlights from the previous month!

My reading this month has been focused on finishing my 20 Books of Summer challenge, so extra reading has been minimal. In keeping with my attempt to read more poetry this year, I did manage to read My Darling From the Lions by Rachel Long.

Rachel Long was nominated for the Forward Prize for this, her debut collection, and it is easy to see why. The collection is striking and razor sharp, creating short dramatic narratives that contain uncomfortable truths about growing up in London as a mixed-race girl and young woman. Exploring emerging sexuality, family, blackness and legacy, this collection is intimate and accessible without sacrificing depth or technique.

The corners of my eyes have been stitched into my hairline.

All the sheep’s wool they love to touch and say eww to at school

has been harvested into rows at the top of my head;

black crown or web.

‘Mum, my scalp burns!’

‘Ungrateful! Look at you, beautiful as Winnie Mandela!’

I don’t know who this is,

but it doesn’t sound like someone Ben Clark will fancy.

from ‘Jail Letter

We have been on a bit of a horror kick in our house this last month, which has been unintentional, but very enjoyable.

I’m a big fan of Ben Wheatley’s work, particularly Kill List and High Rise, but would say that A Field in England is probably his most inaccessible film, yet is no less enjoyable for that. Set during the English Civil War of the 17th century and shot in black and white, A Field in England is about a diviner (Reese Shearsmith) and a group of deserters who are captured and forced to aid the enigmatic necromancer O’Neil (Michael Smiley) in his search for gold, which he is sure is buried in one particular field. That’s about as coherent as the film gets as the men take mushrooms, dig for gold and pose stock still in ‘tableux’ at certain points throughout the film. It didn’t make much sense to me, but the performances, subversive imagery and stunning cinematography made it completely fascinating.

I’ll be very interested to see what Wheatley does with his Netflix adaptation of Rebecca, which feels like the last movie I would expect him to direct.

The actor Alice Lowe has worked with Ben Wheatley before, co-writing and starring in his film Sightseers. Prevenge is her directorial debut, which she wrote, directed and starred in while 7 months pregnant! A pitch black, wryly funny revenge thriller, Prevenge follows pregnant widow Ruth as she avenges the death of her husband, spurred on by her unborn daughter. Like Rosemary’s Baby, Prevenge plays on the fears and anxieties that arise from pregnancy – the lack of control and the need to put the needs of the baby before those of the mother at all times. Surprisingly funny despite the tension and the gore, Prevenge is a striking debut.

I’m a big fan of zombie movies this month we caught up with Brad Pitt vehicle World War Z which featured impressive special effects, but a plodding script and lacklustre performances which drained it of any scares. Much more impressive was Korean zombie flick Train to Busan which features, as you would expect, zombies on a train. It’s tightly focused and frenetically paced, with a surprising emotional depth, and benefits from some genuinely frightening moments.

Train to Busan is one of the best zombie movies I’ve seen and I look forward to watching the sequel Train to Busan: Peninsula when it is released later this year.

This month I have been mostly listening to the gorgeous new album Voices by Max Richter, one of my favourite composers. His new work is based on the ground-breaking Universal Declaration of Human Rights, established in 1948. Richter has brought together recordings of people in over 70 countries reading the document against the backdrop of his luminous orchestral arrangements. Beautiful, moving and timely.

So, those are my cultural highlights from August – what have you been reading, watching and listening to this month?

Monthly Miscellany

Cathy746books View All →

I am a 40 something book buying addict trying to reduce the backlog one book at a time!

18 Comments Leave a comment

  1. I’ve missed going to live classical concerts during lockdown, not to forget participating in them myself, so it was nice to catch up on the progress of the BBC Young Musician competition though of course no substitute.
    Bookwise, your Summer Reading meme has been a good focus, more so that usual, and it’s been good to see the successes or near successes of bloggers I’ve followed who also participated.
    Having recently succumbed to Netflix we’ve been catching up on Schitt’s Creek and unexpectedly bonding with the characters in what should merely be an extended farce. Terrestrial TV highlights have included the addictive Staged (with Michael Sheen and David Tennant) and A Suitable Boy. In fact television has been a real lifesaver in lockdown, whether total or partially lifted, and a welcome distraction in a world gone mad.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Everything here is completely new to me, thank you! The Max Richter is very beautiful and timely as you say but it just makes me wonder even more, what is going on?

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  3. Alas, it’s the first year I did not complete 20 Books – I attribute it to a combination of COVID-lockdown-lethargy and choosing too many long books (although I should be experienced enough to avoid that by now!).

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  4. I’ve been re-watching TV and movies mostly, probably seeking comfort. Recently I’ve re-watched Groundhog Day and Clueless, two of my favorite 90’s movies, and they held up pretty well! I’m also almost done with Schitt’s Creek, well into the last season. So brilliant!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Prevenge; Killing for Two cracks me up.
    The best thing I’ve watched lately (out of very little) has been Unorthodox, about an orthodox Jewish woman who runs away. I’m only halfway through and am dying to find out what happens!

    Like

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