My favorite scene in Icelandic film Metalhead is the last one. I guess it’s only appropriate a film about music ends with awesome music, right? The movie follows Hera, a young woman who turns to heavy metal as a coping mechanism after the death of her brother. However, her rock lifestyle contradicts with the rest of her conservative village, making her an outsider. As the rest of her peers settle into boring jobs working on farms, Hera has dreams of becoming a rock star. After her demo tape lands on the desk of three foreigners, the four of them decide to perform an original song together at the town’s only music venue. The last scene in the film is Hera performing “Svarthamar,” a song so good that after watching the movie I went online to search for the full version.
The song is produced by Icelandic musician Petur Ben, who also produced the film’s soundtrack. Surprisingly, Ben’s personal music sounds quite different. In the movie, Hera wins over her town with this song, which playfully balances fragile vocals with the more abrasive side of heavy metal. However, the song’s a lot more powerful if you watch it within the context of the film. Regardless, if you’re interested in either the film or the soundtrack, I recommend you check out both. You can find the film through some creative Google searches, and the soundtrack is streaming via Bandcamp.
|Recommended by Tiffany White||Monday, March 2nd, 2015||No Comments »|
Teenager Aysel is a physics nerd with a difficult home life. Her father has committed a violent crime and she has a dysfunctional relationship with her mother, too. Aysel struggles from mental illness and often thinks about committing suicide, but she’s not sure she can take her own life alone. That is, until she stumbles across a website and meets Roman. The two make a suicide pact, but as the pact becomes more concrete, Aysel starts to have doubts.
Jasmine Warga’s thought-provoking debut young adult novel My Heart and Other Black Holes takes on depression, suicide, and mental illness. Whether you struggle from depression or know someone who does, Warga shows mental illness in all of its ugly light. Unlike other teen novels, she doesn’t glamorize suicide but instead shows how all consuming it is for a sufferer.
|Recommended by Amanda Ferris||Monday, March 2nd, 2015||No Comments »|
Emory Douglas was just a college student when he joined the Black Panthers as their art director. Inspired by revolutionaries from across the world, his bold illustrations became the party’s visual identity. Most of his art was created for the Black Panthers newspaper, a visually rich publication that made art its central focus. The idea was that by using art, the Panthers’ message could be easily understood by everyone, regardless of economic background or reading level.
Although the Black Panthers disbanded in the early ’80s, Douglas’s art lives on. From books to art exhibits, Douglas’s art is as much a history lesson as it is a mirror of society’s repeated mistakes. The above images are a selection of curated works taken from Black Panther: The Revolutionary Art of Emory Douglas. Weirdly enough, despite being more than 30 years old, his art seems more relevant today than ever before. If you’re a lover of history or revolutionary art, Douglas is an artist you must know.
|Recommended by The Absolute Staff||Monday, March 2nd, 2015||No Comments »|
In the wake of great Latin American authors like Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Mario Vargas Llosa, a new generation of writers have emerged that has captured the attention of the public, albeit more sporadically than their predecessors. One of these writers is Isabel Allende, a Chilean woman whose most famous work, La Casa de los Espiritus (The House of the Spirits), brought her great praise, to the point of being compared to the aforementioned literary giants. But today’s recommendation will be about another well-received writing venture of hers: Cuentos de Eva Luna.
Published in 1989, the stories in Allende’s collection are encapsulated by the classic ‘framing’ technique of having character Eva Luna (who previously appeared in another novel) narrate the tales to her lover. The stories themselves are a joy to read, having a colorful cast of characters that could only belong in the world of Latin American magical realism. Allende sure borrows some of Garcia Marquez’s style, but all good artists know that nothing is ever original. You can tell her stories are unique and from a fresh perspective, and are a bit more in tune with the contemporary world.
|Recommended by Stefano Llinas||Monday, March 2nd, 2015||No Comments »|
For many aspiring cartoonists, the effort of launching, creating, and maintaining a webcomic is a solo undertaking. It’s a long process that, while a labor of love, can prove arduous, especially if those creators are trying to make an income off of their work. For a long time there was no formal support system for these creators, whose work would likely never get picked up by a major print publisher and whose readership and revenue were entirely dependent on internet notoriety.
However, the comics collective Hiveworks, founded in 2011, is vastly improving the experience for online comics creators. Branding themselves as a combination publisher and studio, Hiveworks is offering the support and mentorship necessary for turning webcomics into sustainable businesses. The group provides a wide array of services including web hosting, ad placement (which increases both readership and revenue), facilitating web stores, marketing and product design, and even participating in Kickstarters. The result is a vast and diverse collection of comics and creators who can focus on the quality of their work, rather than the confusing and often overwhelming task of marketing that work.
I was fortunate enough to be able to speak with professional illustrator and Hiveworks Co-CEO Isabelle Melançon, whose popular webcomic Namesake I recommended last year. Here’s what she had to say about her work with the collective:
|Recommended by Marie Anello||Monday, March 2nd, 2015||No Comments »|
Mideau (pronounced “Mid-doh”) is an indie pop duo that consists of Libbie Linton and Spencer J. Harrison. Their name is constructed from two words that loosely translate to “middle of the water,” a phrase I’m sure music journalists are gonna love trying to decipher. But I’m less interested in forced meanings and more interested in demonstrable talent. “Maude,” a single that appears on their upcoming debut, is one of those tracks that entice you with its familiarity before switching gears and going in a different direction. In a genre already saturated with too many boy/girl duos, Mideau proves they can stand out from the pack with a sound that’s as original as their name. For more, check out their EP, Way With Words.
|Recommended by Tiffany White||Friday, February 27th, 2015||No Comments »|
Petrichor–a word that Google tells me means the smell of rain after a long dry spell–is a moody, slightly melancholy puzzle platformer. A young girl sits dry and warm in front of a fire under a ledge. Outside, the rain comes down steadily. Does she stay safe or does she go?
It’s a game, so she goes. The developer’s logs discuss the concept of “casual magic,” perhaps best exemplified when she gains her first item–a red umbrella. Triggering it protects her head from the cascading waterfalls that block her path. Because it’s a game, she can’t just walk around them, so the umbrella is crucial and, yes, weirdly magical in this regard.
|Recommended by Melody Lee||Friday, February 27th, 2015||No Comments »|