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Archie Reloaded – Riverdale

By Kai-Arne Zimny

Photo credit: Twitter @CW_Riverdale

“Our story is about a town. A small town. And the people who live in that town” are the first words we hear on Riverdale (2017 – present). These words are spoken by a narrator who turns out to be a seventeen-year-old boy – with a beanie that looks sort of like a crown – sitting in a diner booth, typing away at his novel in the works.

His name is Jughead Jones (Cole Sprouse), and the people living in the small town of Riverdale are Archie Andrews (KJ Apa), who’s torn between being a high school jock and a sensitive musician; the good girl Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart) as well as rich rebel Veronica Lodge (Camila Mendes). And, of course, all their friends, enemies, frenemies, and parents.

These names may or may not ring a bell because Riverdale and its ensemble of characters are based on the Archie Comics, which have been published since 1942 and have reached iconic fame in the USA. Since then, the characters have appeared in several shapes and forms, even as a virtual band called “The Archies” with their most popular hit song “Sugar, Sugar” from 1969. Read more »

Under Dark Skies: A Review Essay

By Michaela Keck

The End of the Night

On Friday, October 16, our group of five – two master students, three bachelor students, and I – set out from the Institute of English and American Studies at the University of Oldenburg for a four-day excursion to the ecological field station of the University of Potsdam in Gülpe. This small village is located approximately 70 kilometers northwest of Potsdam, or circa 85 kilometers northwest of Berlin, along the eastern border of the Nature Park and Dark Sky Preserve Westhavelland. Here, we wanted to study, debate, and directly experience darkness in an area that still afforded a phenomenon that is increasingly lost to our brightly illuminated European continent: dark night skies. The plan for this long weekend was to have the afternoons set aside for text discussions and to venture out into the dark after the moon had set. The mornings were free to either recover from our nocturnal activities or to explore the wetlands of our immediate surroundings.

Included in our considerable amount of luggage – the ecological field station requires self-catering – were three seminal texts for our ecocritical studies of darkness: Richard Louv’s Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder (2005); Paul Bogard’s The End of Night: Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light (2013); and the chapter entitled “Ridge” from Robert Macfarlane’s The Wild Places (2007). Although the titles of the first two books express a sense of loss and therefore suggest a yearning for an earlier, better, more “natural” life, Louv and Bogard both investigate the Anthropocene with an attitude that combines curiosity, fascination, and pragmatism rather than regression, nostalgia, and moralizing. Read more »

Star Wars – The Last Jedi: No Light without Darkness?

By Kai-Arne Zimny

Photo Credit: NEPA Scene

“A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…”

The bright blue letters appear on the big black screen. Reverent silence fills the movie theater. Maybe you’ll hear the sound of cheering somewhere in the back, but mostly you can feel the tense thrill of anticipation. After two years of waiting, STAR WARS – THE LAST JEDI, the eighth episode of the most beloved sci-fi fairy tale of all time and the second movie of the new trilogy, is only seconds away … Read more »

American Hustle

By Kai-Arne Zimny

“As far as I could see, people were always conning each other to get what they wanted. We even con ourselves. We talk ourselves into things. We sell ourselves things we maybe don’t even need or want by dressing them up. We leave out the risk. We leave out the ugly truth.”  – Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale)

Photo Credit: Wolg Gang

New Jersey, late 70s – Fraudulent duo Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) and Sydney Prosser aka “Lady Edith Greensly” (Amy Adams) get caught in the act by FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper). Smelling an opportunity for fame and recognition, the agent decides to offer the crooked couple a dishonest deal that would force them to gather incriminating evidence against four other people. To avoid prosecution, Irving and Sydney agree, not knowing the object of the FBI’s investigation: several corrupt congressmen, ruthless mafia boss Victor Tellegio (Robert DeNiro), and most spectacularly Camden’s popular and big-hearted mayor Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner). Polito’s ambition to create jobs by revitalizing Atlantic City’s casinos might make him susceptible to bribes by a fake Saudi sheik. A game of deceit and conflict ensues, not making Irving’s personal dilemmas – evolving around his unpredictable wife (Jennifer Lawrence) and his beloved adoptive son – any easier …

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Beatriz at Dinner: Comedy, Tragedy, Portrait?

By Bobbie Kirkhart

We first see Beatriz (Salma Hayek) going through morning chores, feeding her dogs, and lighting a candle for deceased loved ones, including her dead goat. She’s in a rush to her work in a holistic healing firm. Her last patient of the day is a house call for a massage for Kathy, a wealthy woman in a gated community.

After the house call, Beatriz’s car won’t start, so Kathy invites her to stay for the small dinner party she’s hosting for her husband’s business associates.

It’s the stuff of comedy, a movie you’ve all seen before: The wealthy matron invites an employee to an important dinner party she’s hosting for even wealthier associates. We have rollicking fun watching the crude manners of the outsider exposing the pomposity of the wealthy. At the end, everybody realizes that the simple ways of the poor employee are superior to the smug frivolity of the privileged. Everybody is happy. Everybody learns something.

Spoiler alert: They didn’t go that way.

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