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Star-dazed: the June update
Ad Astra, Air, and a 200th milestone. Here's what's new at thehaughtyculturist ...
Ah, there you are. Hello! Here’s this month’s update of new content at thehaughtyculturist.com, featuring a fresh look at familiar books, films and storytelling.
New to the site last month.
1. Ad Astra: to the stars … and back again
When I saw Ad Astra back in 2019, I was entirely underwhelmed - largely thanks to a trailer that promised a very different movie to the one on-screen. Look past the action tropes, though, and this is a universal tale of love and loneliness.
“what lurks beneath the bombast is a story that says something meaningful and moving about the human condition. Ironically, in the end, that’s classic sci-fi."
2. Air (2023) | Review
Can you turn a billion-dollar corporate behemoth into the underdog? How Air - the story of Air Jordan - is a masterclass of movie myth-making.
“Air may be grounded in history, but it’s tight-lipped about just how contested that history is …”
3. Her: AI and the puzzle of beautiful, handwritten letters
The tale of a lonely letter writer who falls in love with his computer’s operating system, Her foreshadows our big romance with artificial intelligence.
“Like Ex Machina, Her imagines a future in which technology replicates and then replaces love and sex. Outlandish? Hardly. In 2023, an AI virtual girlfriend service has, at time of writing, a 96-hour waiting list. ”
4. Peeping Tom (1960): sex, death and sinister cinema
Peeping Tom effectively ended director Michael Powell’s career, but unpacking its motives for murder reveals the movie’s visual poetry.
“From critical repulsion to its now masterpiece status, Peeping Tom is evidently powerful cinema. If there’s a question that can help unpick the film’s dark art, it’s this: why does Mark Lewis kill at all?”
To celebrate the site’s 200th article, this month I bring you a selection of my favourites. These are the stories I’ve loved discovering and writing about. Here’s to the next 200.
1. The Omen (1976)
Classic horror, still chilling - and stuffed with mirrored images and inverted realities.
2. Project Hail Mary, by Andy Weir
A soon-to-be cinema blockbuster, Project Hail Mary is completely fantastical, utterly likeable, and surprisingly moving sci-fi.
3. Rope (1948)
From the lovers in the closet to the body in the box: unpacking Hitchcock’s stunningly dark drama.
4. The Shining, by Stephen King
A possessed hotel hankers for a little boy with the shining – an ability to see dead people … everywhere.
5. Sphere (1998)
Sphere is one of those ‘good, bad’ movies, but regardless, it’s a cracking story, complete with monsters, madness and manifestation.
The best of the rest in brief
Minority Report (2002)
The Fly (1986)
Alien: Covenant (2017)
June is … Sheffield DocFest, a film festival devoted to documentary, rolls into view on June 14-19. Not in the UK? Not to worry - I’m hoping to cover select highlights on the site very soon. Watch this space.
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That’s all for this month!
Ruth / The HC
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Pic credit: Greg Rakozy
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