The Arrival

Harbour gates from Shaun Tan’s The Arrival

Ideas for an ELT class on emigration based on Shaun Tan’s graphic novel The Arrival

One of the few positive things about Twitter is that, if you follow the right people, you are brought into contact with culture that had never before appeared on your radar. I had the great pleasure of such an experience this week when I was alerted to the work of Australian artist-illustrator and filmmaker Shaun Tan, and particularly his epic 2006 graphic novel The Arrival. Continue reading

Love in the digital age

Copyright Jori Bolton

Communicative English class about romance and smartphone app obsession, based on short film 97%

One of my favourite films of the last ten years or so is Spike Jonze’s Her (2013). It is at once science fiction and science present, with many of its ideas about artificial intelligence and its effect on relationships already seeming quite plausible. What I feel is the strength of Her is its uncynical view of love in the digital age. A dystopia it may be, but it is neither judgemental or preachy. Continue reading

Pop portals and prepositions

Communicative English class about portals and prepositions of movement featuring an iconic pop video and the work of visual artist Michael Patterson

I’m a big fan of portals into other dimensions. Watching the David Lynch/Mark Frost television series Twin Peaks on BBC2 in my second year of secondary school was something of a gateway drug – if you’ll pardon the pun – to all manner of strange and surreal culture. Dale Cooper’s final disappearance into the Black Lodge, a kind of purgatorial antechamber peopled by backwards-speaking dwarves and taciturn giants, tapped into a long tradition of portals into other realms, notably in children’s literature, horror and science fiction. Continue reading

Protest songs and lords of war

ELT class about protest music based on Buffalo Springfield’s For What It’s Worth and its use in cinema

Following my last post about the exploitation of natural resources and Seth Boydon‘s animated short film An Object at Rest, I have been thinking of films and scenes which chart the progress of an object through time. The Hudsucker Proxy‘s key scene does something similar with the hula hoop, as I described here, while the canonical movie of this type might be said to be Albert Lamorisse’s classic 1954 short The Red Balloon (Le ballon rouge). Setting aside these fine works for the moment, a scene that belongs to this tradition is the opening credits to Andrew Niccol’s 2005 movie Lord of War, starring Nicolas Cage. Continue reading