Something for the weekend

Something for the weekend

George Whitman died on Wednesday. He was 98 and the legendary proprietor of the most romantic bookshop in the world, Shakespeare and Company on the Seine in Paris. Do read James Campbell’s Guardian obituary, and also Jeanette Winterson’s short tribute. Like many another, long ago thanks to his generosity I slept a couple of nights in one of the beds among the shelves. I remember it was the best of times (to be young and in Paris was very heaven) and the worst of times (the bedbugs were truly vicious). Thanks to the invaluable Brain Pickings, I was charmed by the Spike Jonze animated short Mourir auprès de toi (co-directed with Simon Cahn and made with designer Olympia Le-Tan) that is set after hours in Shakespeare and Company (that’s a framegrab above). Across the jump, you’ll find – as usual (at least I can keep up with the weekend blogs, if not the weekday ones) – nine other recommendations for alternative viewing online.
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Something for the weekend

Something for the weekend

Launched this week, with 200 hours of  freely accessible streamed video, is the immensely welcome new website of the East Anglian Film Archive. The archive’s collection (about which there is more here) features films from 1896 to the present; among the highlights of the available selection are programmes from Anglia Television and the BBC’s output for the East of England. There are countless treasures – to some of which we’ll return in future weeks – but today’s choice is the cherishable Introducing Anglia, the first programme shown by the new regional ITV station on 27 October 1959. Host Drew Russell, with the accent of a mid-Atlantic Scotsman, cues up delights to come, including what he calls ‘a torrid love scene’ from the rehearsals of Anglia’s first television drama The Violent Years starring Laurence Harvey and Hildegard Knef (we see a rather less-than-torrid kiss). There’s much here of interest for the television historian, as well as a good deal of innocent amusement, not least courtesy of children’s television presenters Roger Gage and Susan Hampshire (long before The Forsyte Saga) singing ‘Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off’. Below, nine more treats freely available online as alternatives to ITV’s offerings more than fifty years on.
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The best just got better

The best just got better

What’s the best museum or gallery in the world? You can say it depends what you mean by ‘best’, or you can respond by asking ‘best for what?’ But however you spin it, there’s really only one answer: The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Its collections, from the ancient world to the contemporary, are simply unparalleled. The scholarship is exemplary. The exhibitions, essential. The displays, immaculate. The whole kit and kaboodle unrivalled. (For a taste, see my A Sunday at the museum post.) And now, with the press opening this week of fifteen (and this is the Met’s preferred title) Galleries for the Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia and Later South Asia – very roughly and problematically, ‘Islamic Art’ – the best just got a whole lot better.
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