O Lucky Man!

Malcolm MacDowell first appeared on screen as Mick Travis in If?, Lindsay Anderson's 1968 film about rebellion in an English private school. Five years later, Anderson and MacDowell brought Travis back in O Lucky Man!, a film exhilarating contradictions: intricately structured yet with a improvisatory feel, it tells an allegorical tale of the evils of capitalism with a sardonic mind and a light heart. Imagine Voltaire's Candide restaged by Bertolt Brecht, then redeemed by performers (Rachel Roberts, Ralph Richardson, a very young Helen Mirren) who seem to be having the time of their lives. As the fable unfolds, the ambitious Travis embarks on a career as a coffee salesman only to find himself falling into a bottomless pot of hot water, scalded by seduction, duplicity, greed, betrayal, and corruption. Throughout, the musician Alan Price (a founding member of The Animals) comments on the action in on-screen renditions of the superb suite of songs he composed for the film. For all its black humor, watching the film is a joyful experience, in no small part because of Price's presence. -

April 24: "[The HST] lifted a curtain from our view of the universe, changing it so profoundly that no human can look at the stars in the same way..."

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysley Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
In the Light of What We Know

Zia Haider Rahman's mystery of a brilliant Bangladeshi mathematician's past barrels through the Ivy League, London high finance, and spy-haunted Afghanistan in a page-turning tale of exile, intrigue and the price of friendship. A Discover Great New Writers selection.

The People's Platform

Once touted as the foundation for tomorrow's digital democracy, the Internet is increasingly ruled by a few corporate giants, while millions of contributors till its fields for free. Astra Taylor looks at why the web has failed to deliver a communitarian cyberscape, and offers a compelling case for restoring its original vision.

A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.