Culture Update 07/29/13: “Difficult Women,” Bulgakov, A Late Quartet

Article of the Week

Emily Nussbaum’s “Difficult Women” (The New Yorker)

There has been a lot of discussion about the rise of the anti-hero in American cable television, most of the coverage arising from the recent death of James Gandolfini, better known as TV’s Tony Soprano, as well as from the release of Brett Martin’s book Difficult Men: Behind the Scenes of a Creative Revolution: From The Sopranos and The Wire to Mad Men and Breaking BadConsidering my television watching is incredibly limited, this blog is not the place to look for interesting insights on the evolving state of television, American or otherwise. In search of other articles I could recommend, I accidentally found this piece by Alyssa Rosenberg from Slate.com arguing why we could not have a “female Tony soprano.” Rosenberg concludes that:

Instead of female antiheroism, maybe what we need is television storytelling that deals with our preconceived ideas about femininity in the same way that antihero dramas have served and challenged our understanding of what it means to be an American man.

The most interesting article I read last week argues we’ve already seen a show that has done just that; it has been hiding right under our noses in the form of HBO’s Sex and the City.

Emily Nussbaum argues that despite the fact that Sex and the City “was pigeonholed as a sitcom…[i]n fact, it was a bold riff on the romantic comedy.” It rejected the notion of female protagonists as “vulnerable and plucky and warm” and made them “jagged, aggressive, and sometimes frightening figures, like a makeup mirror lit up in neon.” Read on to find out just how the show proved subversive and a refreshing change of pace in female protagonists.

Book of the Week

Mikhail Bulgakov’s A Country Doctor’s Notebook

Last week, I finished Bulgakov’s wry collection of stories exploring the rural medical mishaps and unexpected victories of the eponymous young Russian doctor. Imagine my surprise in discovering this New York Times article describing a new TV mini-series to be released on Ovation Channel (in a bold attempt to rekindle arts programming), starring these guys:

Colin Hutton/Ovation

Jon Hamm and Daniel Radcliffe (Colin Hutton/Ovation)

Enough said.

Film of the Week

A Late Quartet (2012)

The DVD cover.

The DVD cover.

Starring Catherine Keener, Christopher Walken, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Mark Ivanir, this film explores the exaltation that pours from perfectly synchronized, collaborative musical genius, and the heavy personal price that is often paid for it.

I highly recommend both the film and the soundtrack; the film revolves around Beethoven’s Opus 131, and along with the original score, the film’s soundtrack includes Opus 131 exquisitely performed by the Brentano Quartet.

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One Response to Culture Update 07/29/13: “Difficult Women,” Bulgakov, A Late Quartet

  1. Pingback: Culture Update: February 24th, 2014 | The Educated Procrastinator

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