In the 1986 film Caravaggio, director Derek Jarman achieves the nearly impossible—he turns the juicy, scandalous story of the rowdy, licentious, murderous, bisexual, drunken 17th-century Italian painter Caravaggio into a stupefying bore. It’s a sign of a real cinematic stinker when you can’t wait for the paintings to appear. When they do, you can see how Caravaggio performed magic with light and shadow to yank us right into his canvases. In Death of the Virgin, the corpse of Mary, swollen and stiff with rigor mortis, is illuminated from above, as if God is shining goodness on her. The scene is blasphemous and profane, even to our 21st-century sensibilities (the model is said to have been a prostitute), but it’s hauntingly spiritual, too.
The rumors are true: Stephen King has written a sequel to The Shining. And the wait is over: Doctor Sleep is already here. But why now? Surely, with his legendary hypergraphia, King could have found time to write the second installment to one of his best-loved novels earlier. The Shining came out almost 40 years ago! It was King’s third novel and his breakout success.
Britney Spears caught it. So did Madonna. Even Michael Jackson had a turn. Now the Beatles are getting the Glee treatment in a two-part season premiere, airing Thursday, September 26. A good Beatles tribute is no easy feat. Many have tried, few have succeeded. To better understand what Fox’s pop music sitcom phenomenon will be up against, I delved into Mediander Connects to find the best and worst Beatles tributes in television and film history.
Jane Austen published Pride and Prejudice 200 years ago, when the concept of the pop culture fan as we know it today—particularly as depicted in the recent novel and film Austenland, about an Austen–themed resort—had yet to be dreamed up. Nonetheless, Austen’s book got some positive reviews in its first couple of months, it sold some copies (she received no royalties), and the rest is history. Countless film, television and theatrical adaptations later, Austen’s most popular novel continues to inspire the kind of devotion that the Twilight, Fifty Shades of Grey and Hunger Games series do. What’s the secret of her book’s longevity? We suspect it has something to do with Mr. Darcy.
As a species we benefit from advances that came before us. Take 15th-century blacksmith Johannes Gutenberg, famous for inventing a printing press that used moveable type. The seemingly simple act of reproducing the written word in large volume made access to books common and inevitable. It changed the way we communicate ideas over distance and time, and it paved the way for the Renaissance, Reformation, Age of Enlightenment and Scientific Revolution.