The Long Read

For a while, in the 1990s, I read all the Stephen King novels I could get my hands on. Killer clowns, pet revenants, rabid St. Bernards: I devoured them all, most of them repeatedly. It’s safe to say that I was a fan – but in spite of that, it wasn’t the telekinetic teens or the possessed Plymouth Furies that scared me most. No, it was the sheer length of those massive tomes: hundreds and hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of pages of horror, Americana and thinly veiled author stand-ins.

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Behind the scenes at the library

Frederick Wiseman has done it again. Two years ago, I wrote about National Gallery, a three-hour long documentary that brought us an all-encompassing view of the National Gallery in London. I’ve recommended it at the time, and I still recommend it. Now Wiseman has made an even longer movie about one of the best-known institutions in New York: Ex Libris: The New York Public Library. I have to warn you: it’s 197 minutes long, and it turns Wiseman’s completist tendencies into a disadvantage. Continue reading

Fear of a Black Panther

You don’t often come away from a Marvel movie thinking more about the ideas it tackles than about its snarky one-liners or its action setpieces. You don’t often read reactions to a Marvel movie that mention cultural critics, intellectuals and political thinkers. You don’t often see a Marvel movie being taken this personally by this many people, both among its supporters and its detractors. Obviously Black Panther must have done something right.

Black Panther

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A Damn Fine Cup of Culture Podcast #7: The Florida Project

d1ad56da-abce-4afe-9f45-79294aede9e3Tune in for episode 7 of A Damn Fine Cup of Culture, most of which we spend with Moonee, Jancey, Halley and Bobby at the Magic Castle motel, discussing Sean Baker’s The Florida Project. We also stop by Charlotte, Tennessee for a quick chat about Logan Lucky and take a quick glimpse at the upcoming Academy Awards. Continue reading

Walk as an Egyptian

Video games are great at allowing you to walk in the footsteps of any- and everyone. Want to be a burly, 100-foot creature destroying a metropolis? Play Rampage and you’re even given a choice of monster. Want to be H.R. Giger’s indelible toothsome ray of sunshine? Various generations of Aliens vs Predator games let you get in touch with your inner secondary jaw. There’s many games that let you slip into the physique of lithe, scantily-clad warriorettes, and I won’t even try to count all the titles that put you in the futuristic boots of space marines.

Yet there are some identities we’re very rarely asked to assume – so it’s nice when a game actually gives you such an opportunity.

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They create worlds: Assassin’s Creed Origins

One of the things that video games can do magnificently is create worlds. These posts are an occasional exploration of games that I love because of where they take me.

I have have climbed the cathedral of Acre. I have swum in the canals of Venice. I have prowled the streets, and the roofs, of Renaissance Rome. I have hobnobbed with the Borgias and with Robespierre, I have fought alongside George Washington, plundered with Blackbeard and listened to Charles Dickens tell tales.

And, just lately, I’ve added to my repertoire: I have run away from an angry hippopotamus – straight into the jaws of a Nile crocodile. Oh, and I’ve slid down the Great Pyramid, but it’s the tussle with the crocodile that sticks in my mind, much like I stuck in its teeth.

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