CULTURE

  • What I learned from reading female writers from every country in the world
    by Sophie Baggott on March 8, 2021 at 2:00 pm

    In three years, I’ve been enchanted, surprised and shocked by the stories told by women of all nations – and inspired by the solidarity they showThree years ago, when I set out to read writing by a woman from every country in the world, I had no idea of the ways in which this journey would surprise me, challenge me and, as life became smaller, sustain me.What I did know was that I needed to broaden my bookcase far beyond the canon. So in June 2018, I started a blog where I would chart my way, gather tips from readers and review all 199 books, poems and stories. (I was more inclusive than some official lists – bringing in Palestine, Tibet and Kosovo, for instance). It felt surreal in December last year when I closed Le Déserteur by Hélène Kaziende from Niger, the very last country on my list. Taking the form of a letter to Africa, this short story explores the fraught decision to leave a place of origin. I had learned of Kaziende’s work through my research into Nigerien literature, and it took months for me to track down a secondhand copy of the 1992 collection, Kilomètre 30, where her story is printed. The pandemic meant it took another six weeks to land on my doorstep, and an additional afternoon to freshen up my French, before I could read it. It was well worth the wait. Continue reading…

  • WandaVision women’s acceptance of grief is what makes them truly super
    by Hanna Flint on March 8, 2021 at 1:07 pm

    Vengeance so often motivates Marvel’s superheroes. But while Wanda finds solace first as a villain, it is love that redeems herThe Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) may be a CGI frenzy of action, excitement and witty one-liners, but underneath the glow of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes is a sad old bunch. Its latest series, WandaVision, is indicative of that: it focused on how Elizabeth Olsen’s Wanda Maximoff processed her grief after Avengers: Endgame. But the franchise has long been informed by stories founded in the loss of a place, a person or a time its superheroes hold dear.In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Steve Rogers mourns the 40s era from which he was ripped, as well as the people he left behind. In Black Panther, T’Challa grieves for his father as he steps up to lead Wakanda against a would-be usurper. Thor goes through Avengers: Infinity War carrying the pain of the destruction of his home world, Asgard, the killing of his brother, Loki, and the knowledge that every member of his family is dead. The entire plot of Avengers: Endgame, to bring back half of the universe, is motivated by survivor’s guilt and the anguish felt by those left behind. Continue reading…

  • ‘Yo homes, smell ya later!’: is the TV theme doomed?
    by Louis Staples on March 8, 2021 at 1:00 pm

    The elaborately composed songs for shows such as The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air are a distant memory in the era of punchy title cards and Spotify soundtracksIn the Guide’s weekly Solved! column, we look into a crucial pop-culture question you’ve been burning to know the answer to – and settle it, once and for allIt has been two years since geeks, masochists and “narrative arc” experts across the world gathered to sing “Dun dun, dun-dun-dun dun, dun-dun-dunnnn …” for the last time as Game of Thrones finally ended. Now, due to the small matter of a global pandemic, “event TV” is mostly binged in seclusion, with the long gaps between government-mandated walks filled by inhaling as much telly as possible. Lockdown binge-watching has sparked an important realisation: TV themes – such as GoT’s epic 1 min 40 secs of title music – are becoming much rarer. Is the once-great TV theme tune doomed? Continue reading…

  • More wins for Nomadland and The Crown at Critics’ Choice awards
    by Andrew Pulver on March 8, 2021 at 12:23 pm

    Chloé Zhao’s drama and TV’s The Crown repeated Golden Globes wins, though Frances McDormand lost out as best actress to Carey Mulligan Nomadland boosted its position as Oscars frontrunner and The Crown confirmed its dominance of the TV awards cycle after the pair repeated their Golden Globes success in the Critics’ Choice awards, handed out by the group for TV, radio and online critics in the US and Canada in a largely virtual event hosted by actor Taye Diggs.Nomadland, the drama about retirees roaming the US in search of work after the 2008 financial crash, won four awards, including best picture and best director for Chloé Zhao; however, Frances McDormand, long considered an Oscar favourite, lost out in the best actress category to Carey Mulligan for Promising Young Woman. Continue reading…

  • Raya and the Last Dragon: why it’s time to retire ‘Asian’ as a film category
    by Steve Rose on March 8, 2021 at 9:00 am

    60% of the world’s population lives in the continent – but in Hollywood it’s still regarded as one homogeneous place. Can Disney’s new film change things?It should be cause for celebration that we have reached the stage where we can have a Hollywood movie with an all-star cast of Asian-descended actors. Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon (out now on Disney+ at a premium price) is voiced by the likes of Star Wars’s Kelly Marie Tran, Awkwafina, Gemma Chan, Daniel Dae Kim, Sandra Oh and Benedict Wong. We are in a good moment for representation in movies in general, when you factor in awards contenders such as Chinese director Chloé Zhao’s Nomadland and the Korean-American tale Minari. But might it also be the time to retire “Asian” as a category? As an adjective that applies to 60% of the world’s population, from Turkmenistan to India to China, it’s not exactly fit for purpose. Was it ever? Related: The Guide: Staying In – sign up for our home entertainment tips Continue reading…

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