This holiday season, with a little bit of downtime just around the corner, you might want to catch up on some reading and television. Here’s our very own holiday infotainment list — a few film, book and TV series suggestions that are as entertaining as they are insightful, especially when it comes to understanding creativity.
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear
Written by Elizabeth Gilbert, this book is about learning to embrace creativity with courage, passion and practicality. The book is written in the style of a self-help book, divided into six sections, and advising the reader on techniques and approaches towards living life as a creative individual in the present era. Besides this book, Gilbert has addressed being comfortable with creativity as a career in several of her talks, including TED talks like this one:
Why read it?
Big Magic is full of anecdotes and smart little revelations that are both charming and courageous. Although her approaches to creativity can be confusing at times (for instance, Gilbert believes that ideas have a life of their own and can approach or leave a person at will), she makes a number of interesting points, including asking readers to differentiate between creativity as a calling and a career. This is definitely a good read for those who don’t mind a little magic and creativity with their coffee.
A book about the music and recording industry, Sound Man is written by Glyn Johns, a musician, record producer and a recording engineer. Having worked with Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin, The Eagles, Ryan Adams and a number of other artists, Johns has an intimate understanding of the music business. In this memoir, he records some of his experiences, capturing the glamour and the controversy of the industry.
Why read it?
Sound Man is an interesting take on an industry that never fails to captivate us. A book about the rigours and the magic of the music business, it is an interesting read owing to the fact that it comes from an industry perspective. Read it for the anecdotes and snapshots from a music industry veteran.
Directed by Tim Burton, this movie stars Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in the lead roles. Big Eyes tells the story of real life painter and illustrator, Margaret Keane — an American artist who was famous for her distinctive artistic style that featured renditions of children with big doe eyes. Margaret’s career began after she moved to San Francisco, following a separation from her first husband. She then met her second husband, Walter Keane, a realtor and painter. Margaret signed her works under her married names, and so her first set of works were signed under her first husband’s name, Ulbrich, and later, her second husband’s name, Keane. This later became the basis for Walter taking credit for Margaret’s work all through the 1950s and 1960s. Margaret’s work steadily caught the attention of famous artists and art critics, but owing to her husband, she spent a number of years declining credit for her works. Years later, with the dissolution of her marriage, Margaret sued her husband — a libel and slander law suit of epic proportions.
Why watch it?
Big Eyes was made in 2014, and features an interesting cast and an even more interesting plot line. Apart from exploring Margaret Keane’s work, the movie says a great deal about the art world in the 1960s, as well as the role of women in society at the time, raising questions about feminism, originality, artistic integrity and legal action in the art world. This is definitely a great movie to watch, also because it will pique your interest in the life and work of Margaret Keane herself.
Black Mirror is an anthology series beginning in 2011, now in its third season. The series deeply examines the role of technology and media in our society through storylines that are contemporary, futuristic and often dystopian, highlighting the ways in which technology can be misused, skewing our own perceptions of life, relationships and governance, and often serving to disconnect rather than connect.
Why watch it?
Black Mirror adopts an anthology approach, reminiscent of other series like The Twilight Zone, which was also lauded for its portrayal of the absurd in day-to-day life. Each episode stands alone, which means that you do not have to worry about a bigger story arc (although it is highly unlikely that you will want to miss an episode). Watch this series to be both entertained and disturbed at the way in which technology and new media continue to numb us to the world around us.
Hopefully the above list has given you a few suggestions on what to do this holiday season. If you’re interested in more recommendations, you can always look back at our 2015 Holiday Infotainment List or our Watch & Learn series. Here’s wishing you and your dear ones a very merry Christmas and a happy new year from all of us at Artistik License.