Culture Update 6/12/2012

Book of this Week: New graphic novel: PETROGRAD.

Super badass cover protects the graphic novel version of the conspiracy surrounding the assassination of Father Grigori, more commonly known as Rasputin. I’ve always been interested in the history of the Russian tsars, particularly concerning the last generation of Romanovs. The story of Rasputin has been a bit overplayed in the media, with its most colorful manifestation being his place as the villain of the film Anastasia (1997); he was a fascinating figure (and notoriously hard to kill), but come on, there WERE other reasons as to why the reign of Tsar Nicholas II (and the whole Russian monarchy) ended disastrously. However, I’ve never read the assassination story as a spy thriller comic book, so I figured, why not?

DVD of the Week: A family friend gave me the complete miniseries The Kennedys (2011).

© 2010 Kennedys Productions (Ontario) Inc. and Zak Cassar

I had heard about this miniseries last May, when I read this intriguing article from Boston Magazine. The article (written by Richard Bradley) discusses how practically anybody who touches the topic of the Kennedys in a less than positive light is at risk for their reputations to be dragged through the mud. The article references a New York Times piece written back in January 2011, which presented a neat little summary of much of the early criticism. It’s kind of amusing to think that the show was called a “character assassination” of the famed family before it was even cast. Also, I think it’s a shame the History Channel dropped it; it may have renewed my faith in a channel that once used to show amazing programs like Russia: Land of the Tsars, and now seems just as obsessed with reality shows as [insert any popular entertainment channel here]. Whether or not the rumors of a politically conservative conspiracy are true, I’ve watched two episodes of The Kennedys and am certainly being pulled in.

Rediscovery of the Week: One of my favorite box sets of all time is the 3 season, 18 episode Canadian TV show Sling and Arrows, which ran from 2003 to 2006. The show is set in the fictional town of New Burbage, and follows the antics, anxieties, and artistic (and financial) up and downs of the town’s eponymous Theatre Festival. Hilarity ensues as Geoffrey Tennant (played by Paul Gross), former New Burbage star actor gone madman, returns from 7 years of self-imposed exile to take over as artistic director of the Festival after the previous director, Oliver Welles (Geoffrey’s ex-mentor) is killed by a pig truck. A must-see for Shakespeare (and general theatre) geeks.

As I looked for some inspiration for an upcoming Shakespeare production I’ll be involved in, I was happy to re-watch a few episodes of the show (Scotch in hand, of course; seriously, the characters in this show drink quite a bit. Who wouldn’t in the theatre?).  Each season is based on the flagship Shakespeare production being put on: Hamlet, Macbeth, and King Lear. Starring Martha Burns, Stephen Ouimette, and Mark McKinney (who, FYI, was in Spice World; who knew?), the only downside to this show is that there are only 18 episodes. Go watch it. You can thank me later.

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