Welcome to the Cultural Reads Newsletter with book, music, and movie recommendations from around the world.
In this week’s newsletter: French Movies, 2024 Goals, Diplomat News, Raï Music, Narcos Brazil & Ministry for the Future.
We all know the Cannes Film Festival.
But after the Hollywood stars are gone, many forget the link between the festival and French cinema.
This is a shame because France is the 3rd biggest cinema in movie productions.
That’s why I want to highlight the best 10 French movies.
Not every day, you come across a music genre as controversial as Raï.
The genre is Algerian folk music with Bedouin roots and comes from the Arabic word raï (“opinion” or “advice”), allowing each singer to give their touch by improvising lyrics.
It was popular among the poor in the port city of Oran and sang about the adversity of urban life in a raw, gritty, sometimes ‘vulgar’ way.
The ‘vulgarity’ and liberalness of these songs made them very unpopular amongst Islamic fundamentalists, and this tension led to several arrests, exiles, and murders of Raï singers/producers like Cheb Hasni.
If you want to listen to Raï, I’d recommend one of my recent favorites: Ya Rayah by Rachid Taha.
Are you a Narcos fan?
If so, did you know that the actor who plays Escobar is Brazilian?
Yes, his first language is Portuguese.
Wagner Moura is one of the best actors in Brazil and played in some of the best Brazilian movies like:
Check out more of Wagner’s works on IMDB.
Barack Obama called his one of his favorite 2020 books. And rightfully so, because Ministry for the Future is one of the most impactful books you’ll ever read.
Kim Stanley Robinson is a legendary science fiction author who published over 22 novels, including various climate fiction books.
Ministry for the Future takes place between 2025 and 2035 and depicts a world dealing with the consequences of climate change. In Kim’s words: “The book is not utopian; it’s anti-dystopian and realist to its core.”
It’s incredibly impactful and shows the sense of urgency we should feel around climate change and how it can completely reshape and destabilize society.
It’s a must-read for anyone who lives on this planet.