Monday, 4 March 2013

WATCH THIS, READ THAT, TRY THIS: Two superb culture picks – and one surprising fun fact

MUST SEE: Based on the acclaimed novel by Kazuo Ishiguro and filmed with sumptuous flourishes and the usual meticulous attention to detail of films from Ismail Merchant and James Ivory, this 1993 release is a well-acted, well-wrought triumph. Anthony Hopkins impeccably plays Stevens, the work-obsessed butler to a prosperous 1930s British household. He is so unswervingly devoted to serving his master, a well-meaning but callow British lord (James Fox), that he shuts himself off from all emotions and familial relationships – even when new housekeeper Miss Kenton (a fabulous Emma Thompson) tries to warm him up and awaken his humanity. 

RECOMMENDED READ: At the heart of this riveting debut novel from Andre Dubus III is a small house in the California Hills and the three people – new owner Colonel Behrani, once a former wealthy man in Iraq; former owner Kathy Nicolo; and the sheriff obsessed with helping in her fight to reclaim her home). Doomed by a tragic inability to understand one another, the three converge on an explosive collision course that lends this acclaimed novel (now a major motion picture) its winning mixture of tragedy and film noir. 

DID YOU KNOW: The few seconds of absolute quiet between symphonic movements or song tracks actually engage the brain more than the music itself, according to researchers at McGill University and Stanford University School of Medicine. “It’s a moment when the brain can enjoy what you’ve already heard and anticipate what you’ll hear next,” says Stanford neuroscientist Dr. Vinod Menon. That stimulates areas of the brain that control mental focus and memory, studies show. For mental workout, queue up music you haven’t heard before, from composers of bands with varying styles, and listen to the entire album.




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