WHAT HAVE I BEEN UP TO, YOU ASK? You probably haven’t asked but it’s actually really hard to think of a non-sequitur for silence. As this page may tell you, any absence from the site indicates time spent on portfolio work. I have in fact been chipping away at stories for postgraduate applications – consistently and with erratic measures of success. None of this means that I have stopped consuming, so here’s a quick look at a few highlights of this past month or two.
FIRSTLY and most recently there is acclaimed iOS (Android version imminent) puzzle application: Monument Valley. Long time readers will know that my hours were once better occupied by video games than they were by movies – a more interactive medium of expression that for many years now has been blurring the lines between itself and film/art. Monument Valley doesn’t quite aspire to the epic nature of console gaming but has created an aesthetically pleasing Escheresque puzzler while carrying a subtle and touching narrative. Gameplay is instinctive; deceptively simple logistics give way to some challenging paradoxes while most of the levels are relatively straightforward. My only complaint is that we could have done with even more levels!
TL;DR? Its wide appeal and delightful graphics makes Monument Valley a remarkably easy game to recommend. A pleasure to have, even.
SECONDLY and unsurprisingly is BBC’s original British drama The Musketeers. I love the book. In fact, I adore it. There exists a sense of heroism and camaraderie, which Dumas exudes even over the dangerous waters of translation. However. I would be the first person to admit that there is also an archaic moral calibre in the novel that would not agree well in our age of universal human rights and feminism.
FORTUNATELY the writers at BBC agree with this sentiment. Dumas fangirls and fanboys: this isn’t just another adaptation of a beloved tale. It has transformed the three (um, four) musketeers into something that embodies the moral ideal of our age but the heroism of its source text. D’artagnan and Co. are not just the king’s guard but vigilantes of their personal consciences. In a way, this makes more sense to me – their distinction is derived not only from skill and/or camaraderie but a united sense of superior moral character.
TL;DR? Those well acquainted with the book will notice only vague outlines of its original plot. Nonetheless I promise you The Musketeers offers a terrifically entertaining yarn. A touch corny, in the best way possible. Bear in mind it may take a couple of episodes for them to really get going.
THAT’S RIGHT, Wes Anderson drew inspiration for The Grand Budapest Hotel from the writings of alarmingly engrossing Austrian author – Stefan Zweig. The Society of Crossed Keys is both a fictional organisation featured in the movie as well as the title of Anderson’s selected writings from Zweig’s publications. I held only curiousity in mind when I picked this up, and was rewarded with something… altogether unexpected.
PERSONALLY I thought the meatiest sections of the book to be in those chapters taken from Zweig’s personal memoirs (The World of Yesterday) – here we have what must be an unequalled personal description of Europe in the early 1900s. What surprised me most was how dauntingly relevant his words are in our contemporary age, even in the face of a vaster global stage. It’s difficult to read such an earnest account of past societies and not believe that history does indeed repeat itself.
BUT LET’S NOT GET AHEAD OF OURSELVES. I’ll save that ramble for another time. The Society of Crossed Keys isn’t what I would call light reading but it has a style that would certainly compel an average reader to push ahead regardless. The book features an interview between Anderson and George Prochnik – I recommend it to any fan of the director who isn’t already familiar with Stefan Zweig. It sheds a fascinating light on M.Gustave as well as the narrative form.
TL;DR? If you’re a dedicated fan, then you already own this. If you aren’t… well. It’s a fantastic introduction/sampler to the writings of a gifted storyteller. Zweig’s memoirs aside, The Society of Crossed Keys also features the opening chapter of his book Beware of Pity and the entirety of his novella Twenty-four Hours in the Life of a Woman.