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Culture Index: Elif Batuman, New Horror Masterpiece ‘Raw,’ ‘T2’ and More

Our weekly look at the movies, TV, books and other assorted cultural offerings our editors can’t stop talking about right now

culture index, obsessions, must list, what to do, what to see, Elif Batuman, broadway theater, canadian play, books

Adult Swim, Shaushn & John, Courtesy of Focus World

This week, as much of the country digs out from a snow day and waits for spring to start thawing things out, we’ve got a “cannibal coming-of-age movie” that we believe is a modern masterpiece for horror film fans, two novels that both explore growing up (in their own distinct ways), a Broadway play about how nice Canadians can be, a hilarious Twitter account you should be following and the return of a cult cartoon classic for one last spin. 

Danny Boyle Brings Back the Lads for 'T2: Trainspotting'

Jaap Buitendijk

‘T2: Trainspotting’: Danny Boyle, the Lads Return

Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting (adapted from Irvine Welsh’s 1993 cult novel) emerged as one of the great British films when it debuted in 1996. Now Mark “Rent Boy” Renton (Ewan McGregor) is back in Scotland and he wants to make amends with the mates he robbed. According to Peter Travers’s review, this script, loosely adapted by John Hodge from Welsh’s 2002 literary sequel Porno, is “laced with savage laughs, the prevailing tone is regret.” 

“Nothing in the new film can match the shock and awe of the original’s toilet dive for an opium suppository and that dead-baby nightmare – but that’s the point,” Travers explains. “In showing the slowing effects of time (don’t mistake it for mellowing), much like what happens to Wolverine in Logan, Boyle and his actors offer a funny, touching and vital take on smack-addled Peter Pans facing the formidable foe of middle age.”

Modern Horror Masterpiece 'Raw'

Courtesy of Focus World

Modern Horror Masterpiece ‘Raw’

If the four stars didn’t get your attention, Rolling Stone‘s David Fear calling Raw a “cannibal coming-of-age movie” that “is a modern horror masterpiece” certainly must have. 

French director Julia Ducournau’s film caused a stir when it was screened at the Toronto International Film Festival and reportedly caused a few people to get sick enough that paramedics were called. Of course, the director wants you to look past the headlines and see that the film is more than just a gross-out fest, and if the reviews are any indicator, then you should really try your best to do that. 

Jami Attenberg's 'All Grown Up'

Jami Attenberg’s ‘All Grown Up’

Think about all the coming-of-age novels you’ve ever read or have had stacked on your bookshelf in hopes of getting to because everybody talks about them. From Catcher in the Rye to Colson Whitehead’s Sag Harbor, the whole idea of somebody “growing up” is usually reserved for characters that fit into the high school to first few years of college demographics. Novelist Jami Attenberg realizes that growing up doesn’t happen to all of us at a certain designated age, and that maybe some of us are doomed to continuous screw ups until some magical moment at an age that might not be 16 or 17 or even 21 or 25, we finally start to figure out that we need to try and grow up. 

'Samurai Jack' Returns

Adult Swim

‘Samurai Jack’ Returns

Remember those early days of this weird, new century when you turned on the TV and found equally weird and refreshing new shows on Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon? Series such as SpongeBob SquarePants, Powerpuff Girls, Dexter’s Laboratory and Johnny Bravo joined stalwarts like The Simpsons and South Park in making it socially acceptable for adults to nerd out over animation. Those shows catered in the funny, but one in particular, Samurai Jack, gained a legion of fans, many of whom probably stay up at night debating whether they love the Seven Samurai or Magnificent Seven more. 

Now, thanks to creator Genddy Tartakovsky and Adult Swim, the show is getting one more spin with an action-packed miniseries that fans will love

Aparna Nancherla's Twitter Account

Shaushn & John

Aparna Nancherla’s Twitter Account

Following Aparna Nancherla on Twitter feels like hanging out in her coat pocket as she walks around, mumbling under her breath about the weather (“Hoping for a snow day and getting a two hour delay is like asking for a piece of cake and instead getting pushed into a ditch”) to the president (“You can predict Trump’s every next move if you imagine you’re playing chess with a salad spinner filled with rotting meat.”) The comedian called her jokes “melancholic amusings” in a recent New York Times article, which is de rigueur during the Trumpening.

‘Come From Away’ on Broadway

Matthew Murphy

Canadian Uplift Courtesy of ‘Come From Away’ on Broadway

A Canadian musical about how nice Canadians can be? This new “9/11 musical” doesn’t sound like it has the makings of an artistic triumph – let alone an entertaining experience. But somehow the story of how a town on Newfoundland island embraced the 6,700 travelers whose planes were diverted there after the September 11th, 2001 attacks becomes a rare thing: a feel-good experience that doesn’t feel stupid. Actors play diverse characters – the locals with their thick, charming accents, as well as international travelers – to show a unity of spirit and purpose that reminds us that most of us share similar values and aspirations. It feels like the perfect antidote during a time when so much hate and fear is being spewed, an affirmation that people can be kind, generous and find common ground.

Currently playing at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre in New York City

'The Idiot' By Elif Batuman

‘The Idiot’ by Elif Batuman

Elif Batuman does two very interesting things with her debut novel, The Idiot. The first is that she writes a great college novel, the kind you can get into if you didn’t necessarily care much for your own post-high school educational experiences. It’s tender, funny and anybody who has ever felt like an outsider will be able to relate to her characters whether you went to an Ivy league school or not. The other thing is how well Batuman recaptures a time when we had this new thing called email and it was weird and possibly dangerous. Read this book yourself, then give it to a college freshman who was born in the 1990s and blow their minds that, yes, we were once afraid of all this connectivity. 

Susan Sarandon, Jessica Lange in 'Feud

Suzanne Tenner/FX

Susan Sarandon, Jessica Lange in ‘Feud’

Another year, another Ryan Murphy anthology series on FX. But this time it’s Feud: Bette and Joan, which unearths the human side to the story behind Joan Crawford and Bette Davis’ decades-long conflict. Camp aficionados won’t want to miss Susan Sarandon as Davis and Jessica Lange as Crawford as they chew the scenery and tell the story of how the Warner Bros. studio manipulated the stars as they filmed and promoted What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, a story of two reclusive former stars, sisters Jane and Blanche Hudson, who drive each other mad inside their Los Angeles home. The drama has been escalating now that we’re on the set with Alfred Molina (playing the movie’s director Robert Aldrich) and are hurtling toward the infamous Oscar awards ceremony. And we can’t wait until we get more scenes with Catherine Zeta-Jones as blonde bombshell Olivia de Havilland.