Culture

The Good Life, Ukrainian Style

Tennis anyone? Horseback riding? A round of golf? Try your luck at the shooting range, or out on the hunting grounds? Aim clear of the private zoo, with its collection of peacocks, yaks, ostriches, deer, antelope, pheasants, and wild boar. For the motoring minded there is a lineup of antique cars to ogle, 27 in all, valued at more than $1 million. At the end of a busy day a spa awaits to offer massages (Thai, Swedish, or facial, with designated rooms for each), a tanning room of nagging clouds has obscured the Slavic sun, and a fully functional gym to tone muscles is left untried. Dinner awaits in either of two formal dining rooms or a restaurant housed in a Spanish warship afloat on a manmade lake. Before bedtime, nightcaps are poured into crystal glasses in the wood-paneled bar. Were these the delights on offer at a five-star resort on the Black Sea coast? No, they awaited guests of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych at Mezhyhiriya, the site of his country home until he fled to Russia on February 21, 2014 following a flurry of nationwide protests.

Look Closer: The Importance of Punch Drunk Love

Punch Drunk Love is a kind of movie we are all familiar with, but also one that is unlike any other. The initial shot of this movie makes director Paul Thomas Anderson’s vision clear: he aims to show us something we could not have seen otherwise. It is through his craft that the audience is treated to a subversion of the romantic comedy—a genre of film riddled with clichés. PDL is special because it is made up of things we are used to seeing and flips them on their head. This subversion of components generates something entirely different: a beautiful, intimate experience that demands that we change what we ask for from these kinds of movies.

Crystal Hearts: McDonald’s After 2am

Downtown Toronto is a paragon of late night, big city affairs. The ROM stands an eight-minute subway ride away from the CN Tower. Toronto’s extending crowds lead into the University of Toronto’s Varsity Centre and the Royal Conservatory of Music, across the street from the slimmer crowds of young adults and teens equipped with fake IDs entering their selected bars for the night. The Bloor-Yonge intersection lies just a few blocks east. Turning south on Yonge reveals a different sense of a big city: one of detachment and poverty, wonderfully depicted within the Yonge-Charles McDonald’s.

Fascism Can Be as Glittery as the Tyrrhenian Sea

Fascism Can Be as Glittery as the Tyrrhenian Sea

Last summer I visited the Amalfi Coast in Italy, the last leg of my first real vacation to Europe. Time didn’t seem to move in Amalfi. I did nothing but gorge myself on pizza and pasta, and roast in the sun on a different beach each afternoon. I turned five shades darker in the span of five days. I ate pistachio gelato until I was sick.

Literary Value and Zadie Smith’s “Tower of Shame”

Literary Value and Zadie Smith’s “Tower of Shame”

An interview with Zadie Smith recently appeared in The Guardian, and, in the title, was a quote from Smith herself: “I’ve never finished Proust or even the Brothers Karamazov.” Only in the subtitle is there any information about Smith’s responses to the multitude of dependent-clause prompts that read a little like a feedback form: The book I’m currently reading. The book I wish I’d written. The last book that made me cry. Despite the format of the interview, it still manages to provide plenty of lovely insight into the interests and reading habits of one of the world’s most famous authors.

Honey Boy Is *Literal* Therapy.

Honey Boy Is *Literal* Therapy.

The immersiveness of Honey Boy goes like this: You imagine playing your own father in an autobiopic. You imagine doing it so well that the audience believes you are not you, that you are your father, and a little boy with a different childhood is you. Maybe this pleases you in some way, because maybe you feel connected to your father only by exploring the pain he might have caused you.

Horror Movie List

Horror Movie List

Happy Halloween A.V. readers! And what better way is there to celebrate today, and the rest of Scorpio season, than with a good old-fashioned movie marathon, horror edition. Below are a few recent (and one or two older) films to put you into the spirit of the season.

What’s on at the Fisher Library?

What’s on at the Fisher Library?

This autumn’s special exhibition at the Fisher Rare Book Library for the autumn combines the art of photography with that of bookmaking. It features the work of Michael Torosian’s Lumiere Press, the only fine press worldwide that focuses exclusively on photography. The Fisher Library recently acquired the Lumiere Press Archives, including all twenty-two books that the press has published to date. The display celebrates both the craftsmanship of Torosian’s entirely handmade books and the art of some of the most influential photographers of the 20th century. 

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