As per annual Collage tradition, here are our favourite cultural moments of 2019!
Booksmart is fun! It’s nice! It’s a coming-of-age story that’s about being (platonically) in love with your friends! It made me cry in a sad way, it made me cry in a happy way, and it made me want to squeeze my friends tight and tell them that I love them. The cast is great, with the loves of my life Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever pitching the mix of quirk and emotion perfectly. A remarkable directorial debut from Olivia Wilde, with a killer soundtrack and beautiful cinematography, Booksmart reminds me that the kids are alright.
The enigmatic Elizabeth Holmes, the subject of Alex Gibney’s unsparing documentary, The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley, almost duped the entire world with her bunk healthcare company. In her Steve Jobs-esque attire, Holmes seduced investors and the publishing world (Fortune and Forbes fawningly placed her on their magazine covers) with false promises and fake data. In the hands of another documentarian, Holmes could have come across as a pantomime villain; instead, Gibney delicately crafts a human portrait of a young woman driven by hubris and greed.
Best Television of 2019: Years and Years
A co-production of both the BBC and HBO, the show follows a run-of-the-mill Manchester family. Set over the next fifteen or so years, Years and Years starts with a punch in the gut as Trump gets elected in 2020. It follows political, social, and technological changes, toeing the line between what feels like fact and fiction. A more realistic version of Black Mirror, this show floored me. I couldn’t tear my eyes away and watched it in two sittings.
‘Ghosteen’ is the title track of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ 17th album, Ghosteen. It is the first Bad Seeds album written and released since the tragic death of Cave’s son in 2015, which shaped interpretations of Skeleton Tree, the group’s last release. ‘Ghosteen’ builds on the previous album’s sombre, sparse sounds, but in light of this personal tragedy pushes through grief to find a grand, abstract re-evaluation of life. It’s grotesque – in that Bad Seeds way – but positive and full of empathy that feels defiant and timely.
– Tin Do
Vampire Weekend’s fourth album (and the first in six years!) frog-leaped into the ears of the world in May – and it hasn’t been off my mind since. Emanating the aesthetics of ‘90s environmentalism, utility wear, and the lush, tasteful palette of 70s rock, this album is as full of Easter eggs for VW fans as it is of riffs and lyrics good enough to entice any lover of (‘indie’) rock.
The reputation that precedes Arthur Miller’s work for his scathing social critique and richly drawn characters does not let up in A View from the Bridge. An incredibly heart-wrenching piece where the themes and ideas portrayed about migrants, love, and honour still ring true in our society today. The State Theatre Company did an excellent job enlivening Miller’s evocative words. I would definitely re-watch again and again.
Brought to Adelaide as part of the OzAsia Festival, Outwitting the Devil showcased the skills of six astounding dancers who retold the epic of Gilgamesh through movement. The passion was palpable, and the agility was flooring, creating a hypnotic effect on the audience. The set, lighting, and distinct sound design also had a powerful impact on the overall reception of the piece. Safe to say, I’ve yet to see a dance performance that has matched the quality and complexity that I witnessed in Outwitting the Devil.
Best Fiction of 2019: The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
It is already a cliché to pick this book, and, as the Booker Prize Committee shows, it is tough to choose one when incredible works like Bernardine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other are out there. But reading The Testaments this year gave me hope in an increasingly less hopeful world. Reading this novel makes you question your reading of The Handmaid’s Tale in an exciting and compelling way. It makes you think about the links between the novel form and television formats, and how these mediums feed into each other in a cultural landscape that values these mediums differently.
From surviving a household of violence and drug and alcohol, to going through the scary and uncertain rollercoaster of the Australian foster care system, Corey White’s upbringing was far from idyllic. This memoir will make you gasp aloud, and you’ll have to re-read paragraphs just to comprehend the extremity of his situation. The Prettiest Horse in the Glue Factory is raw and unapologetic with generous lashings of dark humour.
Best Podcast of 2019: Off Menu
The winning combination of Britain’s rising comedy talents (James Acaster and Ed Gamble) and food fandom makes this my favourite podcast of 2019. The show’s conceit, a “genie” that grants guests all their food and drink wishes, allows Acaster and Gamble to draw poignant food-related memories from their pals (i.e. Nish Kumar and Aisling Bea) and culinary heroes (i.e. Tom Kerridge and Marcus Samuelsson). Do seek out the Joe Lycett episode featuring a stroppy Acaster who explodes at Lycett’s selection of Special K cereal for dessert.
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