Best Books & Fabulous Films

Reviews and More

Breaking New Ground: Liberating Lomie by Saloma Miller Furlong

By Sabrina Völz

In 2011, Salo­ma Miller Furlong’s Why I Left the Amish: A Mem­oir appeared dur­ing the mem­oir boom that gave agency to invis­i­ble, mar­gin­al­ized, or mis­rep­re­sent­ed groups. Why I Left the Amish was one of the first mem­oirs writ­ten by a for­mer Amish woman that pro­vid­ed unfet­tered per­spec­tives on the Amish. While many Amish groups today lead a sim­ple life much like many rur­al Amer­i­cans in agri­cul­tur­al com­mu­ni­ties did in the 19th to ear­ly 20th cen­turies, Amish cul­ture is any­thing but sim­ple as Furlong’s newest mem­oir shows.

Read more »

How to Break a Bookworm’s Heart

By Sara Cepollina

Michael Fass­ben­der, Marisa Tomei, and Alexan­dra Dad­dario: What do these three actors have in common?

You may not know all of them, but what you need to know is that they’ve all played a char­ac­ter from a book or a com­ic, and that they don’t look like their book-alikes at all! For some peo­ple, this may not be rel­e­vant, but for book fans, who’ve lived side-by side with their fic­tion­al char­ac­ters, it’s high­ly impor­tant that an actor who some­what resem­bles the pro­tag­o­nist in the book plays the role. I’m an avid read­er, and when­ev­er the rights to one of my favourite books are bought, I begin to think about the per­fect actor who would best fit the role.

“Jane” is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

Read more »

The Mesmerizing and Alienating Experience Called Mulholland Drive

By Mahsa Pakzad

Have you ever felt like not watch­ing movies for a while just because you saw one that’s so damn good you knew watch­ing any­thing else after it would just dis­ap­point you? This is the spell that Mul­hol­land Dri­ve has cast on me.

David Lynch’s 2001 movie was cho­sen by a BBC poll as the best of the 21st cen­tu­ry, yet for me, it’s more than that. For me, it’s the def­i­n­i­tion of art. Maybe that makes me too much of a New For­mal­ist, but I do believe that what counts in a work of art is not the ‘what’ but the ‘how’. Lynch takes what could sim­ply be a les­bian love sto­ry and explores its oth­er dimen­sions – jeal­ousy, tox­i­c­i­ty, rival­ry, and betray­al – while at the same time inter­twin­ing it with a Hol­ly­wood dream. Though this is fas­ci­nat­ing, it’s not what sets it apart. What ‘does’ set it apart is how Lynch tells this sto­ry in the form of an unnerv­ing, haunt­ing, sur­re­al­is­tic, Freudi­an mystery/thriller.

Read more »

The ‘Woke’ Cinderella Recipe: A Dash of Queerness, a Pinch of Feminism, and a Sprinkling of Fairy Dust

By Veronika Heinrich

Once upon a time, there was a young woman named Cin­derel­la (Cami­la Cabel­lo). In the 2021 film, she loves to design dress­es and wants to make a busi­ness out of it. When the prince (‎Nicholas Gal­itzine) announces a ball, her step­moth­er Vivian (Idi­na Men­zel), want­i­ng to pro­tect her from the patri­ar­chal world out­side, destroys Cinderella’s dress to keep her from poten­tial­ly mar­ry­ing a man she’d just met. The prince, how­ev­er, is in love with his best friend (Jenet Le Lacheur) but can’t real­ly admit it – not even to him­self. Also, he’s not qual­i­fied to rule the king­dom. The patri­archy, how­ev­er, wants him to become king and will nev­er agree to his smart sis­ter (Tal­lu­lah Greive) becom­ing queen.

When Cinderella’s fairy god per­son (Bil­ly Porter) arrives, they not only turn one of her designs into real­i­ty, but they also throw a par­ty at Cinderella’s place. When the prince and his best friend arrive, the pres­ence of the fairy god per­son gives them the strength to admit their feel­ings for each oth­er. The prince’s sis­ter becomes heir to the throne, and Cin­derel­la finds a queen with whom to trav­el around the world and sell her designs. And they all live hap­pi­ly ever after.

Only that’s not what happens.

Read more »

Cancel Field Trips, Cancel Forest Rangers: The Every by Dave Eggers (2021)

By Sebastian Tants-Boestad

Dave Eggers’s best­selling tech dystopia, The Cir­cle (2013), has final­ly received a sequel. While The Cir­cle described the rise of a fic­ti­tious tech and social media com­pa­ny and its protagonist’s steady descent into the mael­strom of sur­veil­lance cul­ture, The Every now picks up a cou­ple of years lat­er, after the Cir­cle has acquired a big online retail­er “named after a South Amer­i­can jun­gle.” The result­ing mega cor­po­ra­tion, called the Every, is pret­ty much the monop­o­list in all things dig­i­tal tech – from apps to online shop­ping to cut­ting edge hard­ware. Of course, it’s every bit as scary and unlike­able as one would imag­ine it to be. 

Read more »

The Reviews Are In: Babylon Berlin Sets the Scene for Unusually Visionary Television, Intercontinentally

By Hannah Quinque

CC BY-SA 4.0, Lear 21

Grant­ed, Baby­lon Berlin has at its dis­po­si­tion all the means nec­es­sary to become a true block­buster. But it isn’t every day the view­er gets to expe­ri­ence just how phe­nom­e­nal­ly a big bud­get can be spent on a TV series – with­out com­pro­mis­es between bom­bas­tic mon­tages and cin­e­matog­ra­phy for lovers, between fast-paced sto­ry devel­op­ment and cred­i­bly com­plex char­ac­ters, that is.

For Baby­lon Berlin, pro­duced in Ger­many by Ger­man pro­duc­tion com­pa­nies, the com­mit­ment to an unflinch­ing and unre­served depic­tion of a nation on the verge of fas­cism pays off. As a bit of an inside tip, the show’s spec­tac­u­lar efforts are appre­ci­at­ed far beyond its coun­try of ori­gin, as demon­strat­ed by almost exclu­sive­ly glow­ing U.S. reviews.

Read more »