“Culture: the cry of men in face of their destiny.”
– Albert Camus
Liberty Nation’s Culture Corner: The place to sit back, get yourself a coffee, and find inspiration for the next book, play, movie, album to go on your To Do list.
Casablanca – As American As Apple Pie
There is a reason why the 1942 motion picture, Casablanca, remains near the top of the American Film Institute’s list of greatest movies of all time. It’s that damn good! Today’s class of moviegoers may look to the Film School Generation’s myriad of iconic films, such as Star Wars and The Godfather, as classic American cinema. But the one picture that will stand the test of time and excels in every category of filmmaking – acting, scoring, writing, and direction – is Casablanca.
It is impossible to top its stellar cast. Humphrey Bogart plays the anti-hero Rick Blaine, Claude Rains portrays the hilarious but corrupt Captain Louis Renault, Paul Henreid stars as the debonair freedom fighter who has evaded the Nazis, and Ingrid Bergman is the strong romantic lead. What makes the picture even more special is that you can always find something new to admire with each viewing, whether it is the fine directing of Michael Curtiz or the excellent performances of supporting thespians, including the incomparable Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, and Conrad Veidt.
The film is an old friend that you can depend on for two hours of entertainment. To paraphrase the historic line: We’ll always have Casablanca.
- Recommended by Andrew Moran
Shōgun – Political Intrigue Like You’ve Never Seen Before
A Novel by James Clavell
This is an epic in every sense of the word. Shōgun tells the story of John Blackthorne, an Englishman cast ashore in Japan around the year 1600; it offers swashbuckling, political intrigue, a fascinating glimpse into the cultural practices of Japan at the time, and endless teases and plot-twists. Coming in at over 1,200 pages, it is a novel that captivates from the start and makes you wish it were even just a few hundred pages longer.
Perhaps the most astounding factor to this tome is that it is loosely based on the life of William Adams, who not only became a successful trader in the region, but also the first non-Japanese Samurai. The story oozes character, giving each individual an almost visceral sense of realness that few other writers manage.
Told by a master storyteller, the key concept here is duty. Can Blackthorne do his duty to his country, his Shōgun, and most importantly, to himself, when he is beset on all sides by turmoil, trouble, and war?
- Recommended by Mark Angelides
Enrico Caruso – A Tenor’s Tragedy
August 2021 will mark 100 years since the passing of the great Italian opera tenor Enrico Caruso. His voice showcased everything that is both tragic and beautiful about life, whether it is his performance of Gaetano Donizetti’s heartwrenching aria Una Furtiva Lagrima or George Bizet’s haunting Mi Par D’udir Ancora.
Caruso’s singing requires more than passive listening; it demands your heart and mind’s complete attention. Even if it is just for three minutes, you will be rewarded with emotions you might not have experienced for quite some time. Be it a tear or a smile, Caruso’s range is incomparable.
Many people are cleaning up his recordings, but there is nothing more pleasurable than lounging around on a cloudy day with a cup of coffee and indulging in a scratched vinyl record, even if you need to stream it on YouTube.
- Recommended by Andrew Moran