On Revisiting “Big Hero 6” and “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World”

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By Alan Mattli

If, by any chance, you have been occasionally checking in on my film writing over the past few years, you might have noticed that I have a weakness for lists. Every year, I look forward to December, when the time once again comes to go through what I’ve seen throughout the year and to then choose my top ten movies of that period (while we’re on the subject: 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016).

So it might not come as a surprise that there is a special place in my mind for the year 2019 – the year in which, hopefully, I will get to pen two lists; my take on the best of 2019 and my round-up of the decade’s standout works. Fully aware that this is not the most reasonable or urgent preoccupation to entertain in the early days of 2017, I nevertheless compiled a longlist of potential contenders for the latter collection as well as a year-by-year rundown of what I have to catch up on recently. In other words, I’m always on the lookout for list material these days.

Now, the other day, I watched two movies I hadn’t seen in years. Continue reading

Aisling Ehrismann: My Favourite Books from 2016

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This post is part of a series of posts in which students of the English Seminar present their favourite books they have read in 2016. The lists are not restricted to books that were published this year. If you want to participate as well, send your list to zest.editor@gmail.com.

Today’s list comes to you from Aisling Ehrismann.

To be honest, I have no idea how many books I’ve actually read this year. I’m not the type to strategically analyse how many books, pages or words I read, and I don’t set myself a particular goal to achieve – especially when my reading has to compete with my series watching. So for me, it’s not the number that counts but the quality of books read. With some captivating and beguiling works, here are my top five of 2016.

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Review: “Arrival”

By Gabriel Renggli

arrivalThe number one priority, Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) explains, is learning why they are here. The problem with that, linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) explains, is knowing whether we are capable of asking the question, whether they are capable of understanding it, and whether we are capable of processing a potential answer.

In linguistics, the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis states that how you see the world depends on the language you use. I’m not a linguist myself (my speciality is literature), but I’m an intuitive believer in at least a weak version of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. I know from experience that I think and act differently in English than in my native language. By the end, Arrival will have asked you to accept a very strong version indeed of this idea: our physical reality itself is structured by how we speak.

The reason this rather large claim does not fall flat on its face is that Arrival is so well made. This is captivating film-making, employing a simple three-act structure to stunning effect. The first act is more or less taken up by establishing the stakes, and they are high. Aliens land on earth, twelve crafts scattered over the globe in no discernible pattern. What follows is, in a way, pretty formulaic. Yes, we focus largely on the American landing site; yes, the military rushes in to cordon off the ship; yes, they soon helicopter in a number of experts. Godzilla films use that structure. But director Denis Villeneuve’s film-making is delicate, alert to the significance of the events.

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The Best Films of 2016

By Alan Mattli

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Outside of the world of cinema, the past twelve months have been eventful, to say the least. So compiling a list of my favourite Swiss cinema releases of 2016 felt ever so slightly more significant and tied to real-life goings-on than it did in the past. But maybe that’s just another way of trying to put my opinions into a somewhat more “meaningful” context than would otherwise be the case. Ultimately, everybody can judge for themselves, which is why I will stop hedging now and, after pointing out that Oscar hopefuls like La La Land, Manchester by the Sea, Moonlight, and Jackie (which already makes a strong case for being my Film of the Year 2017) are not in the running here because of their January and February Swiss release dates, get started.

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the generation that lost

the generation that lost

the classics are long past
erudite talking too
jumps in the primordial soup
and their embellished unadorned
outcomes failed.
then came a new way of fighting
of beating lines of pox
piles of rocks
open roads in enclosed streets
elites of masters
without degree.
all is past
they all lost their vibe
the last of which
against present vibrations.
now facts not feelings
post facts not facts
feelings and nothing more
Lenore and other angels
remember without thinking
or think to think of deeds.
displaced realities
a sour land loved
rejected. objected
voices from every corner
each a wanderer.
all these
a lost generation
with or without nation
breaking grounds anew
already old marked
by earthworms
coming out of the ground
and retreating with
contaminated nutrients.

Plagiarism. Or: An Honest Mistake.

Dramatis Personae:

Student (hereafter: S)

Professor (hereafter: P)

Setting: The professor’s office. The professor is sitting behind the desk reading through some papers. A knock on the door is heard.

P: Come in please!

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A Breath From the North

A man and a man in a room with a name unknown.
Some people call it a house of terror, some
they say it’s a place of fun, of drug and liquor,
of smoke and needle. Then he’s come, alone,
from far away to feel the frenzy. – What?
– Away! Away!
– May I help you, sir?
He asked while opening the door – he had no right
to ask, the Smurfs this time were close to get him.
– I thought there was a bar, here around.
Dee doo dee doo dee doo dee doo duh
– There’s none. Now come. You’re mine. – he shut the door.

– Come out! – We know you’re there! – Show yourself!
– I do not wish to come.
– I don’t wish to come!
– Come out! – We know you’re there! – Free him!

Unharmed a man and a man from a room unknown
came out. Unknown what might have happened inside.
The side of right, the side of wrong, unknown
to all involved.

The situation resolved
in nothing still, still in nothingness,
uneducated paths of fullness.