Posts Tagged ‘puppetry’

Madness at the turn of the millennium: Salman Rushdie’s ‘Fury’ chronicles a disaffected writer’s experiences in New York and abroad

February 6, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
Feb. 6, 2017

New York City at the turn of the millennium, writer Salman Rushdie not unreasonably posited in his 2001 novel Fury, was full of motion and spectacle. The opening paragraph gets right to business:

Professor Malik Solanka, retired historian of ideas, irascible dollmaker, and since his recent fifty-fifth birthday celibate and solitary by his own (much criticized) choice, in his silvered years found himself living in a gold age. Outside his window a long, humid summer, the first hot season of the third millennium, baked and perspired. The city boiled with money. Rents and property values had never been higher, and in the garment industry it was widely held that fashion had never been so fashionable. New restaurants opened every hour. Stores, dealerships, galleries struggled to satisfy the skyrocketing demand for ever more recherché produce: limited-edition olive oils, three-hundred-dollar corkscrews, customized Humvees, the latest anti-virus software, escort services featuring contortionists and twins, video installations, outsider art, featherlight shawls made from the chin-fluff of extinct mountain goats. So many people were doing up their apartments that supplies of high-grade fixtures and fittings were at a premium. There were waiting lists for baths, doorknobs, imported hardwoods, antiqued fireplaces, bidets, marble slabs. In spite of the recent falls in the value of the Nasdaq index and the value of Amazon stock, the new technology had the city by the ears: the talk was still of start-ups, IPOs, interactivity, the unimaginable future that had just begun to begin. The future was a casino, and everyone was gambling, and everyone expected to win.

The opening is somewhat misleading, however. Although Fury immediately and vividly captures the frenzy that was New York circa 1998–2001, the novel is quite coy about revealing many of the details of the life of its protagonist. This is, of course, an intentional choice by Rushdie: Solanka has deliberately suppressed major episodes from his childhood, to the point where repressed trauma threatens to destroy his entire life. Moreover, the character suffers repeated blackouts, prompting him to wonder whether he may have committed a series of vicious fatal assaults on wealthy young women that command the full attention of the tabloids.

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‘Good going, FAG’: The uneven, sporadically amusing satire of ‘Team America: World Police’

December 6, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
Dec. 6, 2015

Team America: World Police is a sporadically amusing musical action-adventure movie spoof enacted with puppets by the creative team behind the ribald animated show South Park. If that sounds appealing to you, then by all means, make sure you watch this 2004 movie. (Actually, if that sounds appealing to you, then you probably watched this 2004 movie when it came out, or shortly thereafter.)

I’ve seen a few South Park episodes — enough to know that Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s creation is not exactly my thing. I find the show to be quite funny in parts, and there are a few episodes that I’ve really enjoyed, in particular “The Fellowship of the Lord of the Rings,” which is the episode with which I’m most familiar.

But South Park traffics heavily in coarse language, toilet humor and other vulgarities to an extent that makes me uncomfortable. (Call me a prude if you must.) That same tendency influences Team America: World Police, which I can’t recommend despite enjoying at times.

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