Ukraine links

6th March 2022

John Wyver writes: To compile the usual Sunday list of links to articles and videos concerned with film, art, performance and writing, seasoned with a sliver or two of politics, seems somehow a touch pointless, even tasteless, given the current horrendous conflict in Ukraine.

I’ve been reading and watching a range of exceptional reports, analyses and speculations, many of them by desperately brave writers and filmmakers, and I thought it might be interesting to compile these into a list that I keep updated over the coming days, adding new elements and removing ones overtaken by events.

So here’s the start of that experiment, with a couple of Twitter threads that I have found especially useful. I welcome additional recommendations, either in the comments below or via email to

PS. Yes, I have kept the same image as topped the last post to this blog.

PPS. I’m still collecting my other kinds of links, and I’ll return to these at some point in the future.


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Sunday links

27th February 2022

John Wyver writes: I’ve spent so much of the past few days reading and listening to informed and important analysis of the dreadful events in Ukraine, and of course I could have filled today’s selections with many of those links. Things are happening so fast and furiously, and so perhaps the best thing I can do is to recommend the Guardian, The New York Times, Politico, New Statesman, The New Yorker, and The Atlantic among many other sources, and choose instead to highlight a handful of alternatives. If I have the heart and energy I’ll add some more suggestions later.

Mark Ravenhill on Blackmail – the sensational thriller that shook Hitchcock and me: the playwright writes for the Guardian about the filmmaker and the source for his classic thriller in Charles Bennett’s original play.

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde – Hope Dickson Leach on her immersive new take on the gothic classic: an interview with Heeyeon Park for the BFI website about a hybrid version of Stevenson’s classic that embraces a live event in Leith and a screen version for cinemas.

• One of my favourite Twitter threads of the week:

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Sunday links

20th February 2022

John Wyver writes: welcome to another collection of articles that have engaged and interested me over the past week, starting off with three very different but highly recommended articles about aspects of cinema.

The weirdness of zoetropes: another wonderful post from Stephen Herbert’s blog The Optiloque, this time exploring the 19th century device that conjured the illusion of moving images from animated strips; for more on this see Herbert’s dedicated website The Wheel of Life.

Investigate the sock [£, but limited free access]: the somewhat obscure headline conceals a wonderful LRB review essay – of Robert Gottlieb’s Garbo – by David Trotter about the glorious Greta (above).

Can Francis Ford Coppola make it in Hollywood?: a great profile of the great filmmaker by Zach Baron for GQ.

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Sunday links

13th February 2022

John Wyver writes: our break in Northumberland was glorious – thanks for asking – and I’m returning now with today’s list of recommended reading, listening and viewing.

In Our Time – Walter Benjamin: let us now praise, and to the skies, the essential BBC Radio 4 series hosted by the indefatigably curious Melvyn Bragg; the subject this week was the great German critic and theorist, from whose collection of translated essays, Illuminations, we took our company name – the guests are Esther Leslie, Professor of Political Aesthetics at Birkbeck, University of London; Kevin McLaughlin, Dean of the Faculty and Professor of English, Comparative Literature and German Studies at Brown University; and Carolin Duttlinger, Professor of German Literature and Culture at the University of Oxford. And of course you know this but there is a wondrous archive of all the programmes since 1998. The header photograph by Gisèle Freund is Benjamin in the Bibliothèque nationale de France in 1937.

The Wings of the Dove: … and while we’re with BBC Radio 4, Linda Marshall Griffiths’ wonderfully imaginative 2018 adaptation of Henry James’ great novel is back for a month on BBC Sounds, compiled in two omnibus editions, the second of which is broadcast today.

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Sunday links

6th February 2022

John Wyver writes: I’m on holiday this week (in Northumberland, since you ask) but to mainciontinuity here’s a shorter-than-usual list of recommended reading, listening and viewing.

What made Buster Keaton’s comedy so modern? [£, but limited free access]: reviewing for The New Yorker recent books by James Curtis and Dana Stevens, Adam Gopnik is excellent on the comedian and modern times.

“There is nothin’ like a dame:” female stardom and performance in pre-code cinema: for Olympia Kiriakou writes about the MoMA film programme curated by Farran Nehme of early 1930s American movies, ‘Dames, Janes, Dolls, and Canaries – Women Stars of the Pre-Code Era’; for those of us who can’t make it to Manhattan, Nehme’s notes introducing each film are well worth your time, as is her introductory article. (Above, Leila Hyams, with Edmund Lowe, in Part-Time Wife (1930), directed by Leo McCarey).

Céline Sciamma’s quest for a new, feminist grammar of cinema: another exceptional New Yorker essay about film, this time by Elif Batuman, who writes with quiet passion about the French filmmaker.

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Sunday links

30th January 2022

John Wyver writes: another round-up of recommendations of articles, audio and video that have engaged and interested me over the past week.

William Friese-Greene – Close-up: Stephen Herbert at The Optilogue begins a series of posts (to which we’ll undoubtedly return) with a great deal of new research about the ‘moving image’ pioneer (and the inverted commas are Herbert’s).

Asta Nielsen, the silent film star who taught Garbo everything: ahead of her hugely welcome BFI season in February and March, curator and film historian Pamela Hutchinson introduces the spectacular Danish actor (above, in A Militant Suffragette (1913)) whose astounding debut, the erotic melodrama The Abyss (1910), can be found here.

Asta Nielsen: A Cosmopolitan Diva is a further fine article by Helle Kannik Haastrup at the essential Danish Film Institute site, which is a model online resource of articles, many fine prints freely accessible, and more.

Free Thinking: Asta Nielsen: an edition of the ever-dependable Radio 3 discussion series was given over to Nielsen, and to fascinating exchanges between Pamela Hutchinson; Emma Smith, Professor of Shakespeare Studies at the University of Oxford; Dr Erica Carter, Professor of German and Film at King’s College London; and Lone Britt Christensen, Denmark’s Cultural Attaché. All are warmly recommended.

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Sunday links

23rd January 2022

John Wyver writes: herewith a further batch of links to lighten any winter gloom (with minimal mainstream politics this week), put forward with my weekly expression of gratitude to those on Twitter who continue to highlight interesting stuff.

The best video essays of 2021: the BFI’s invariably wonderful drawing together of much great visual scholarship and imaginative engagement with sounds and images – there’s so, so much to explore here, including

Screening Room – on digital film festivals, Jessica McGough’s imaginative 9-minute meditation on recent events…

Thrills and melodrama from the 1910s: it’s especially great to have a new blog post from film historian David Brodwell (although the epithet hardly does justice to the riches and range of his writing); here he writes about ‘the virtually unknown 1915 Italian feature Filibus: The Mysterious Air Pirate [and] the famous but little-seen 1919 serial adventure Tih-Minh, by Louis Feuillade’.

Chuck Jones & gender performance: for Reverse Shot, Caden Mark Gardner is persuasive on Bugs Bunny in What’s Opera, Doc? and Rabbit Seasoning:

Perhaps one of Bugs Bunny’s greatest attributes is that he transcends the rational to become one of Hollywood entertainment’s greatest anti-establishment heroes.

• “It had nothing to do with me” – Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation: a essay about one of my absolute favourite movies, above with Gene Hackman.

Immortal technique: from Steve Macfarlane’s Element X Cinema, ‘[a] conversation with Nyika and Dávid Jancsó about their father Miklós, his legendary long takes, a hundred years of Hungarian cinema, and everything in between’.

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Sunday links

16th January 2022

John Wyver writes: Today’s selection is a little late as I’ve been watching the dismal end of the Ashes saga. And I wish I could suggest that the following choice of articles and more that I’ve appreciated over the past week is what we all need to cheer ourselves up. But given the state of the world that’s not a promise I can make, although there are moments of hope and joy. With my usual thanks to those on Twitter who , wittingly or not, contribute.

Another country – not the one I represented as a diplomat for 30 years: Alexandra Hall Hall’s thoughtful, finely written lament started as a Twitter thread, and it’s to the great credit of Byline Times that they picked it up and gave it prominence – do read; with its quiet, polite but white-hot anger, it encapsulates much of how I feel about my country.

In France, an extraordinary musical interview sparks a debate on ‘infotainment’: for Columbia Journalism Review, Jon Allsop writes really well about an extraordinary moment on French television, below.

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Sunday links

9th January 2022

John Wyver writes: two political articles to kick off this week’s selection, both wonderfully written, even if their content is so familiarly depressing; there are more cheerful recommendations below the fold, and as ever I’n grateful for those on Twitter whose recommendations pop up in my timeline.

PS. The previous selection was Tuesday, which perhaps accounts for a certain sparseness (is that a word?) and austerity here.

How Britain Falls Apart: Tom McTague for The Atlantic, with exceptional photos by Robbie Lawrence (including ‘Morning traffic crosses Westminster Bridge, London’, above); this is the compelling lede:

The grim reality for Britain as it faces up to 2022 is that no other major power on Earth stands quite as close to its own dissolution. Given its recent record, perhaps this should not be a surprise. In the opening two decades of the 21st century, Britain has effectively lost two wars and seen its grand strategy collapse, first with the 2008 financial crisis, which blew up its social and economic settlement, and, then, in 2016, when the country chose to rip up its long-term foreign policy by leaving the European Union, achieving the rare feat of erecting an economic border with its largest trading partner and with a part of itself, Northern Ireland, while adding fuel to the fire of Scottish independence for good measure. And if this wasn’t enough, it then spectacularly failed in its response to the coronavirus pandemic, combining one of the worst death rates in the developed world with one of the worst economic recessions.

Boris Johnson leaves a scar on all who deal with him: brilliant writing from Matthew Parris in The Times.

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Tuesday links

4th January 2022

John Wyver writes: to start the new year after the holidays, don’t forget my review of the year, and here’s another selection of articles, videos and more that engaged or interested me over the past 10 days or so, beginning with pairs of essays amnd a related Twitter thread, about two recent releases, both of which I enjoyed enormously, that have prompted critical controversy:

… and this from Paul Poast, political scientist at the University of Chicago and a dab hand at Twitter threads tackling complex issues of international relations.

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