Chat to WORLD’s Benny Castles about well, anything, and you’ll quickly learn he is a walking encyclopaedia of knowledge.
This is probably because he consumes a lot – books, news, films, travel – the man’s quest for new information knows no bounds. Thus, we wanted to know which books and box sets he put in his top 10 this year, and this is what he said:
1. The ultimate Christmas movie is Eyes Wide Shut…yes, weird choice I know, but there’s nothing like a little holiday Kubrick, in an indefinable last film that has about as many theorists as the Kennedy assassination as to what it is about. There are plenty of Christmas trees and a festive atmosphere to put you in a suitably weird headspace for the holiday season.
2. The book I try to read every summer is A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole, whose only book printed whilst living stars Ignatius J Reilly and is a vitriol of sloth, rant and contempt – my favourite holiday topics. Easily the funniest book I’ve ever read…you’ll have to stay weird for this one, too.
3. My favourite book of the year was Thus Bad Begins by Javier Marias, the celebrated Spanish author. This is a taut, intelligently-crafted book that draws you in slowly, but once it has you in its grip, you’ll be dreaming in Castilian intrigue and unsure where to set your emotion. A genius writer at his best.
4. The crucial box set this summer must be Star Wars, including a trip to the movies to see Rogue One…possibly before you begin. However, the real argument begins with: which order to watch these films? That’s three hours before you begin watching! The most celebrated piece of parenting I can claim was making my daughter watch all six films back to back to back and so on, prior to seeing the last Star Wars release.
5. The book I’m most looking forward to reading this summer is Christopher Clark’s The Sleepwalkers, a detailed account of the atmosphere, situations and technicalities that lead to the First World War. His book Iron Kingdom, which was a history of Prussia, was magnificent and this I’m sure will leave me well sated to enter a late evening historical-booze-conversation…and win!
6. If I need a late night marathon, accompanied by six beers and a bottle of whiskey, I will certainly sit down and re-watch (again) the first season of True Detective; eight beautiful episodes one-by-one, practising my McConaissance quotes until the rest of the house wakes up in Carcosa!
7. The next series of TV I am dedicating myself to will be the new season of Transparent. It is a reinvention of the family sitcom with the intelligence and fortitude to explore our modern world and all personalities that make it what it is. The acting is incredible and such a joy to see the Mum from Who’s the Boss (Judith Light) back on TV. Note: Tony Danza is not in this show.
8. School holidays cannot go unanswered without re-watching Freaks & Geeks, a spot-on creation of the anti-Hollywood American high school story. The birthplace of James Franco and Seth Rogen (and others) were all under the creative eye of Paul Feig who went on to make Bridesmaids, amongst other more nuanced comedic masterpieces. Kids today need to understand what school was really like.
9. If you need a box set of books, Marcel Proust is my favourite, and his book In Search of Lost Time (or Time Regained, depending on your translator) is six beautiful tomes of the most educated and aesthetically-pleasing prose to ever pass this imagination. With such effortless elegance and thoughtful musings it is important to not look at Proust’s world with your eyes, but look at your world with Proust’s eyes.
10. A Wes Anderson box set is the ultimate family watching mission for languishing days and evenings… Yes, you have to start at Bottle Rocket, which serves to put you in the correct headspace to understand and appreciate being off school in Rushmore; joining the family in The Royal Tenenbaums; putting on your swimsuit for A Life Aquatic; taking a road trip with The Darjeeling Limited; seeing if you can stay at Hotel Chevalier; visiting the wildlife with Fantastic Mr.Fox; enjoying the outdoors with Moonrise Kingdom; and experiencing some luxury at The Grand Budapest Hotel. If you don’t change your wardrobe, start speaking more eloquently and nestle deep in your own hard-fought eccentricities after this, you are a lost cause. Go back to work.