Ten years ago, Jonathan Safran Foer’s “Eating Animals” proved to be instrumental in shifting me towards vegetarianism, so naturally I gravitated to his altogether new take on the subject in “We Are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast“.” But whereas the first was a polemic for vegetarianism, “We Are the Weather” turns out to be a remarkable philosophical exploration of the terror and meaning of climate change in the Anthropocene Era. Sure, Foer is now recommending we all just skip meat for breakfast and that this alone would greatly impact global carbon emissions, but that fades before the power of his intelligence and prose in addressing the heartbreak and attendant nihilism that any sensible appraisal of our future entails. His penultimate chapter, “Dispute with the soul,” is extraordinary, a dialogue of one mind with itself, oscillating between despair and various forms of hope. I felt the author had a direct line into my head as I read it, and I’ve returned to the teasing, looping discussion again and again. Throughout the book, Foer’s prose is personal and precise and elegant: “There is a far more pernicious form of science denial than Trump’s: the form that parades as acceptance. Those of us who know what is happening but do far too little about it are more deserving of the anger.” Ah, so true. I predict this lively, wise reflection will remain a classic for years. Go grab it, it won’t fail you.
Having come to this noir black-as-pitch series late, I found the first episode of Season 2 of “Mr Inbetween” to be slow. Little did I know. From the second episode, the season slides into a tense, aching momentum that had me delighted, shocked and baffled simultaneously. Nash Edgerton’s direction is sublime but the star of the show is indubitably Scott Ryan, both in his completely believable portrayal of hit man Ray Shoesmith and in his brilliant, underplayed script. The “in-between” world of Ray is the contrast between him as father, brother, and friend, and his profession, a profession chosen because of his warped personality, a personality both mysterious to himself but also, as shown in scene after scene, very keenly weighed. The eleven episodes ebb and flow between domesticity and flaring, unemotional (but hey, so, so, emotional in impact) violence. I’ve spent much of my life pondering evil and violence – this series brought my up close to it. The writing and directorial team managed to achieve the impossible, leaving me at the edge of tears for a human being I hope to never have anything to do with. Watch it and be amazed at the power of cinema. One closing scene, a bare minute klaxoned by Nick Cave’s “Tupelo” is the most unforgettable of the year.