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Mary Karr’s The Art of Memoir: A Review

By Sabrina Völz

The 1990s rang in an – if not the – era of memoir writing. Since then, memoir publications have surged and with them their readership as well as thartofmemoire sound of cash registers ringing up sale after sale. One reason for their popularity can be traced back to the postmodern questioning of the very foundation upon which non-fiction was based: the concept of an infallible truth. This development, combined with the rise of social media and the willingness of people to share their intimate details with everyone, has provided fertile ground for many people of all backgrounds. Yes, academics as well as average people with little or no professional training as writers do try their hand at this ever-growing subgenre of creative non-fiction. And who can blame them? Why not write something for yourself, your family and friends as well as posterity, especially if history or mainstream society has ignored, silenced, or misrepresented you? And while there are a lot of trashy, gossipy, or unfaithful memoirs, the public as well as critics and scholars are starting to agree that memoir – if done with true honesty, voice, and a dose of creativity – can be just as powerful and masterful as the best fiction writing. So, to the autobiography I would say: “Move over bacon, there is something meatier!” And its name is memoir.

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Laughing about Melissa McCarthy – Thoughts of a Conflicted Fan

By Evangelia Kindinger

melissamccarthy

Ever since I saw her as Sookie St. James in Gilmore Girls (2000–2007), I’ve been a fan of the actress Melissa McCarthy. She was one of the few fat women on TV whose fatness was not a topic of conversation within the series’ universe or a motif to narrate the character’s storyline. (If you are surprised by my uninhibited use of the word “fat,” I suggest you google Fat Studies.) She was a chef, a wife, a mother, an important member of the Stars Hollow community, and ultimately, a best friend to protagonist Lorelei Gilmore. Although the “fat-sidekick” cliché clouded my love for the series, I accepted it as the price to pay for such an unconventional representation of fat femininity on television. Read more »

The Last Tycoon: The Golden Age of Hitler’s Hollywood

By Kai-Arne Zimny

Hollywood, 1936: Monroe Stahr (Matt Bomer), co-founder of the Brady American film studio, has just begun shooting a film about – and dedicated to – his deceased wife and well-known actress, Minna Davis (Jessica DeGouw). Suffering from a terminal heart condition, the young production chief has set his mind on finishing the project – the ‘baby’ as he calls it – as quickly as possible. However, Stahr’s ‘baby’ seems doomed to become a stillbirth: “This one won’t do at all,” says German consul Georg Gyssling (Michael Siberry) in a meeting with Stahr and studio boss Pat Bradey (Kelsey Grammer). Stahr is Jewish. A movie about a celebrity who was married to a Jew “offends the racial sensibilities of the German people,” as Gyssling puts it. The German Reich has just passed a law that forbids the import of any movie that contradicts Nazi ideology. Bradey – along with most other studio bosses of the time – considers it a financial risk to produce a movie that cannot be exported to the big German market. The production of the movie so near to Stahr’s heart comes to a harsh halt; the blank check Bradey offers his protégé as compensation seems like a cold comfort to Stahr.

But then Bradey’s daughter Cecilia (Lily Collins), who has set her sights on Stahr as well as the movie business, presents the disappointed filmmaker with an interesting and provocative movie idea. Using the blank check, Stahr intends to bring the idea to life with Cecilia as the producer –albeit against the will of his boss. Read more »

Grave New World: The Man in the High Castle

By Kai-Arne Zimny

Photo credit: Abhisek Dash
Photo credit: Abhisek Dash

It’s no surprise that the advertisement campaign done in late 2015 for a then upcoming Amazon Studios’ series was considered a provocation and had to be ended prematurely due to general outrage. Posters of the Statue of Liberty with its right arm changed to a Hitler salute were hung in New York subway trains above seats changed to spot Nazi-inspired insignia. One may or may not consider that tasteless, but it does the trick by pulling viewers into the uncanny world of The Man in the High CastleRead more »

Nothing New on the Western Frontier

By Kai-Arne Zimny

Credit: Wolf Gang
Credit: Wolf Gang

Even though in folklore the term revenant stands for a being that has returned from the dead, the recent award-winning movie The Revenant (2015), directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu, is not about a ghost – at least not in a literal sense. The Revenant’s screenplay is partly based on Michael Punke’s novel of the same name as well as several other books and films of the past that recount a true story from the early 1820s: Trapper Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) sets off on a fur-hunting expedition in an unnamed and undeveloped U.S. territory together with his half-Pawnee son Hawk (Forrest Goodluck) and a group of men from the Rocky Mountain Fur Company led by Captain Andrew Henry (Domhnall Gleeson). After an attack from an Arikara war band brings the group close to annihilation, the survivors flee and Glass gets wounded – seemingly beyond recovery. What unfolds from there is a journey of adversity, betrayal, greed, loss, and a shimmer of hope. Read more »

Gone Girl

By Daria Radler

“What are you thinking? How are you feeling? Who are you? What have we done to each other? What will we do?”

gone girl

Boy loses girl — what starts with a classic opening scene of a psychological thriller turns out to be much more than that. When his wife disappears on the morning of their fifth wedding anniversary, Nick Dunne’s small town life in Missouri is about to turn upside down. Not only do the police find a crime scene in the Dunne’s living room, they also have to deal with a husband who is neither surprised nor grieving. While the public’s interest in Amy grows by the day, Nick soon loses everyone’s sympathy. He smiles at all the wrong times; he lies and is far from being a good husband.

It seems like a classic case of convicting the husband: While he desperately tries to explain himself and fight the tightening noose around his neck, Amy’s diary only confirms the growing suspicion that Nick is a mean and misogynist bully: “I catch him looking at me with those watchful eyes, the eyes of an insect, pure calculation, and I think: This man might kill me.”

Could he have done it? Could he have killed Amy?

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