Russia-Ukraine: Two years of war
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Hump day recommendations, Jan. 2, 2023

Watch: “The Anatomy of a Fall.” This highly acclaimed French psychodrama surrounding the trial of a writer suspected of playing a role in her husband’s death is a masterful meditation on the ambiguity of memory. The trial lawyers play with social biases around gender roles in relationships to fabricate two separate versions of events: One, a murder by a controlling and overbearing spouse; the other, a suicide following a life of bitter disappointments. The version of events I consider most likely — that he simply fell by accident while doing attic renovations — is dismissed casually by the defense lawyer. What jury would believe it, after all? – Matt

Read: A well-written goodbye. Ever since the Soviet Union fell apart, Eastern Europe has become a “place that no longer exists,” says Jacob Mikanowski, whose book “Goodbye, Eastern Europe” is a sweeping, personal, and colorfully written chronicle of what for more than a thousand years has been a uniquely messy mashup of empires, faiths, empires, nomads, nations, and languages. A few highlights for me are the origins of werewolves and vampires (both are originally Eastern European exports), the “alphabet wars” of 19th-century nationalist orthographers, the pomade advertisement that inspired Hitler, and the “potato-bug” craze in Stalinist Czechoslovakia. Plus did you know that in 19th-century Ukraine you had to be blind to get licensed as a traveling musician? – Alex

Watch: “Godzilla Minus One”This Japanese-made film is guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish – it is incredibly emotional and thought-provoking for a monster flick. I was not prepared to see a movie starring a giant lizard that would make me think deeply about PTSD, nuclear weapons, and government censorship! Can’t recommend it enough. – John

Listen: “Murder on the Dancefloor This disco-pop banger by British artist Sophie-Ellis Bextor has been on repeat since my viewing of the Indie darling Saltburn over the holiday break (If you’ve seen it, this the song is from that daring finale dance scene). Originally released in 2001, the song just entered the Global Spotify Chart for the first time after largely ignored by American audiences upon its release. I say better late than never…the synths are an instant serotonin boost that makes it quite possibly the best “dance around your living room” song of all time. – Billy

Run and reflect: If anyone else is trying to pick up running in the new year, I recommend trying the Nike Run Club’s guided run, “Best of the Year Run.” My mind often wanders (i.e. I get bored) during a long run, but the prompted questions every two minutes helped the time fly, and it was a fun way to reflect on the last year. – Riley

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