Must Do's: What we like this week

A writer loses her family in a tsunami, a serial killer is on the loose, and a teen show turns the volume way down


Kera Bolonik
March 9, 2013 8:00PM (UTC)

BOOKS

Laura Miller was deeply moved by  Sonali Deraniyagal's incredible, spare memoir, “Wave,” about losing her parents, husband and children in the 2004 tsunami during a family vacation:

Deraniyagala’s account of this nightmare, but the tsunami itself only takes up a handful of this spare, radiant book’s pages. The rest is what came after, months in that darkened room contemplating suicide, then a period of getting drunk every day and conducting a demented campaign of harassment against the Dutch family to whom her brother rented her parents’ house. Deraniyagala, an economist at the University of London and Columbia University, had been living with Steve and the boys in London, but she wasn’t able to set foot in their English house for two years.

And in her Listener column this week, Miller is grateful for the opportunity to revisit an old fantasy favorite, T.H. White's "The Once and Future King":

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"How sad to think I might never get the chance to revisit 'The Once and Future King'! ... Then I came across the audiobook, an option made irresistible by the fact that it is narrated by Neville Jason, whose sensitive rendering of Proust’s 'Remembrance of Things Past' has helped me get past the famous second-book hump in that series of novels. The ideal place to revisit White’s masterpiece: Lying in bed in the dark at night, with my iPhone set to turn itself off in a half hour. Soon, however, I found myself squeezing in bits of listening as I waited for the bus or baked a friend’s birthday cake … 'The Once and Future King' is more ravishing when read in adulthood, when the seasoned melancholy of the final volumes is all too recognizable."

 

TV

Willa Paskin taps into her inner Amy Jellicoe in a plea to save Mike White's excellent HBO series "Enlightened":

"The New Yorker’s TV critic Emily Nussbaum, inspired by Amy [Jellicoe], wrote a piece about 'hummingbirds,' a new female archetype: 'They’re idealistic feminine dreamers whose personalities are irritants. They are not merely spunky, but downright obsessive.' Their numbers include Amy, 'Parks and Recreation’s' Leslie Knope, and first season 'Homeland’s' Carrie Mathison, among many others. It’s very touching to me that 'Enlightened' has amassed its own army of hummingbirds, a cadre of advocates (not just women, but a lot of women) who, for the moment are, like Amy, intent on trying to make change, idealistic that a huge media corporation will see reason if they raise their voices, and who are willing to bang the drum for the show even at the risk of causing 'Save this Show' fatigue. It may not work, I hope that it does. Either way it’s sweet that 'Enlightened,' a show all about the cost of caring too much, should inspire such dedication."

Paskin was also blown away by the innovative and daring episode of ABC Family's "Switched at Birth" that was almost entirely done in American Sign Language:

"The episode was truly political — political in a way I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a teen show get — perhaps because questions about hearing vs. not hearing have not been politicized for the vast majority of the country and so are 'safe' to show on TV. The students, while making a list of demands, question whether hearing kids, like Bay, should be allowed to attend the school, with Bay fiercely fighting with a boy who wants the school to be 100 percent deaf. Daphne doesn’t say anything. Later, she and Bay get into it about what Bay thinks Daphne owes her because they are family, and what Daphne thinks she owes her principles. Bay may be a part of a minority at their high school, but she’s part of the majority in the world, and there’s some things she just doesn’t, can’t get. Needless to say, when '90210' was defending Donna Martin, it was not gesturing in the direction of anything so complex."

 

MOVIES

Andrew O'Hehir was mesmerized by the David Lynchian German serial-killer thriller "The Silence":

"This adaptation of a bestselling novel by Jan Costin Wagner (which is being published next week in an American paperback edition, as 'Silence') throws in an inside-out twist that isn’t entirely original but adds some tragic and philosophical depth … In the end 'The Silence' is more like an intriguing work of misdirection than a great crime film, but it has a dreamlike and disturbing undertow you won’t soon forget, and Odar is unquestionably a director to watch."

O'Hehir couldn't get behind Sam Raimi's "bloated" "Oz the Great and Powerful." His pick of the week was a crazy, disgusting smorgasbord of horror, "The ABCs of Death":

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 "How do I even begin to summarize an anthology of more than two dozen mini-movies, which average about five minutes long apiece, when there’s nearly zero continuity in terms of theme or style? Let’s start with the fact that the premise is kind of dumb — each director was assigned a letter of the alphabet, and told to address the subject of death – and the final product, at two hours-plus, runs pretty long. OK, but that said: Wow, what a weird, anarchic, energetic and exciting display, from claymation to puppetry to crazy postmodern collage to regular old live action! There are not one or two but three movies about toilets and the embarrassing mishaps they can provoke – what could be more horrifying? – and on the other side of the ledger there are at least three films that have no relationship to conventional horror movies, and come closer to experimental cinema."

 


Kera Bolonik

Kera Bolonik, a writer, critic, and editor, is the executive editor of DAME Magazine. Her writing has appeared in Elle, Glamour, New York magazine, Salon, Slate, and the New York Times Book Review, among other publications. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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