Here are some movies and books that I have watched/read recently that left a lasting impact on me. If I post it here, that's because I highly recommend it (unlike so many other generic movies and books I fly through out of boredom).
Last Train Home
2009 Chinese documentary following one factory working family in China as they participate in the world’s largest annual human migration: 130 million workers heading home from big cities for New Years holiday. The movie did not seem like a documentary because of the way that it was shot and because of how unbelievable the story is. To support Western demand, Chinese factories draw people from the villages who are desperate to make a living and sacrifice everything to become slaves to a factory. Parents leave children with grandparents in the country, children struggle with the options presented to them: pushing through school in a dead end town, or dropping out and moving to a big city to work in a garment factory. This aspect of consumerism is tragic and it points out how much Chinese families are torn apart to support Western consumerism.
This is a 2010 film from Canada, although it takes place largely in Lebanon, both in modern day and during their civil war from 1975 to 1990. A brother and sister are read the will of their mother after her death from what seems like an apparent shock. Their mother (who is from Lebanon and speaks Arabic) wants them to deliver letters to their father and missing brother. The problem? The brother and sister were under the impression their father was dead and did not know they had a brother. Also, they only speak English and French and will need some help navigating their Lebanese background. This leads them on a journey through their mother’s past (of which they know nothing about, apparently) and many old villages of Lebanon. What they discover about their past is horrifying and enlightening. If you like Middle Eastern culture or history, you should check this out!
Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch
This book was a collaboration between Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman back in 1990. I stumbled across Good Omens on a shelf in Books A Million when I was home and had to pick it up. I’m actually really surprised I hadn’t read it already, considering the fact that it is right up my alley. It is an apocalypse novel, a twisted comedic version of The Omen. Angels and demons, helldogs, the Antichrist, witches, War, Famine, bikers, witchhunters, and a hodgepodge of other crazy characters come together to take you on an adventure: the end of the world! None of the characters involved really want the world to end, but are set out on a path because of the prophecies of a crazy witch from a couple centuries prior. I plan on reading this book again in the near future because it is so outright hilarious and I feel like I could get a lot more out of it the second time around. I hear Terry Gilliam has been trying to turn this into a film for quite some time and I think that would be incredible.
A mesmerizing 2011 book by Karen Russell, after the first chapter I could see why HBO bought up the rights to this book. It’s the story of Swamplandia!, an alligator theme park on the SW coast of Florida amidst the mangroves and melaleucas. It renewed my appreciation of the Everglades and the unique environment that I grew up in. The family in the book is a family of alligator wrestlers, dreamers, mystics, and bizarros with some serious delusions, struggling to keep the park up after their main act (and mother) dies of cancer. My only issue with this novel was that something really disturbing happens to the main protagonist, Ava Bigtree, 13 year old alligator champ extraordinaire, and it isn’t really addressed properly, or at all for that matter. However, the future is looking ahead for this family as the book closes, although you might have a little lingering sadness.