The Weekend Specials

TV Shows & Starters

Borgen

For someone who lives on political dramas, I am surprised I haven’t recommended this yet. Borgen is a Danish drama that focuses on the lives of the first female PM, her family, her spin doctor, and a young ambitious journalist. Think House of Cards but less dirty and more riveting. The show ran for three seasons, with a total of 30 episodes, perfect for a weekend binge.
 
Sidse Babett Knudsen, who plays protagonist Birgitte Nyborg, is brilliant in her portrayal of a nervous yet firm first time PM. The show is a primer on politics in Denmark and Europe, but what works for me is how real the characters are. These multi-dimensional, complex people thriving in an extremely high stakes environment will make you root for them. For those who are waiting for the next season of Veep and can recite The West Wing Sorkinisms verbatim, this is the perfect filler.
(Roshini)
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Borgen promotional poster. [Source: IMDB]

 

Films & Main Course

The End of the Tour (2015)

The most fascinating aspect of The End of the Tour, perhaps, is that its datedness allows it to be, for a economically privileged and culturally globalised young Indian, extremely contemporary to me. Set in the United States of 1996, the philosophical questions it throws up about being “American” are extremely relatable to a global condition now. (In conjunction, I would highly recommend a speech by Wallace, titled “This is Water“, accessible on YouTube).

The film is biographical, following author David Foster Wallace and Rolling Stones writer (and also novelist) David Lipsky, as the latter interviews the former. But it doesn’t claim to help make Wallace better understood, or more accessible. It merely humanises him. The film is an adaptation of the book, ‘Although of course You End Up Becoming Yourself’ Lipsky was inspired (by the conversations the two had on the tour) to write. So it is really a view of an author who became a phenomena, through the eyes of another who wrote a novel that same year and lost all limelight to Wallace.

There are some films we watch because we are fans of the literature they are based on. There are some books we read before the films, in a race to have a more “authentic” appreciation. There are films we dismiss, as bad adaptations. This one, is a film that makes you want to read the books it talks about and the book whose adaptation it is.

All in all, it is fantastic cinema, and I could go on, but if none of this is your thing, and you have been a fan of Marshall Erickson, watch Segel dazzle you with his understated, beautifully fragile Wallace.

 (Mouli)
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The End of the Tour theatrical release poster. [Source: Wikipedia]

 

Books & Desserts

Fatherland (Robert Harris) [1992]

Alternate history in mainstream literature nearly always means a hypothetical scenario where the Nazis have avoided defeat in WWII and are now the dominant power in Europe and/or the world. It’s understandable – we have a morbid fascination with Hitler, who rouses hatred yet curiosity in most people. It also lends itself brilliantly as a novel topic, because there are so many possibilities to examine and flesh out.

‘Fatherland’ is considered one of the seminal works in this particular genre and it is easy to see why. Harris has stuck to real-life characters and real-life events as much as possible, providing authenticity to the book. History buffs will find themselves Googling or Wikipedia-ing every few pages to find out more about the people discussed in the book.

Where the book sets itself apart from its peers is in its treatment of ordinary SS/Gestapo officers & more specifically, the issue of complicity. Nazi Germany was a dark, dark period, which will likely never be surpassed in its evil in the history of humanity – but it is foolish to assume that everyone associated with the regime was aware of the brutality going on around them. This book, along with the usual nihilism & dystopic world which accompanies a book in this genre, deals sensitively with the issue of disillusionment and complicity – all in a thriller setting.

(Mihir)

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First Edition cover. [Source: Wikipedia]
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