No Sunday dozen

17th February 2024

John Wyver writes: I’m sorry, but personal stuff and a professional deadline mean I just have not had the time to compile this Sunday’s recommendations. Apologies. I hope normal service will be resumed next week. In the meantime, here’s a 2016 video of Zubin Kanga performing ‘Hitchcock Études’ for piano, electronics and video by Nicole Lizée. I heard the composer talking on a recent edition of BBC Radio 3’s The New Music Show, and I was entranced both by her ideas and her music. I think this 16-minute piece is sensational. (Image of Nicole Lizée by RPMTelevision – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0)

The Sunday dozen

11th February 2024

John Wyver writes: another dozen articles and elements of audio, mostly about digital stuff and cinema, that I have found intriguing, informative and challenging over the past week.

Time Canvases – Morton Feldman and Abstract Expressionism: composer Samuel Andreyev presents an edition of The Radio 3 Documentary that I found fascinating, about Feldman’s relationships with, especially, painters Philip Guston and Mark Rothko; it’s very timely too, since the glorious Philip Guston retrospective at Tate Modern has just a fortnight to run and tomorrow night at King’s Place Lucy Railton and Joseph Houston perform Feldman’s 80-minute composition for cello and piano, ‘Patterns in a Chromatic Field’.

read more »

The Sunday dozen

4th February 2024

John Wyver writes: welcome to the usual mix of articles and audio that captured my attention this past week.

Bite-sized Godard – read along with the French New Wave auteur: for MUBI Notebook, Jonathan Rosenbaum reviews a new volume of 109 three-page essays by 50 writers from a dozen countries, Reading with Jean-Luc Godard; above, of course, is Anna Karina in Alphaville (1965):

As someone who often regarded both his talk and his filmmaking as playful experiments—a means of testing ideas and the meanings of words rather than making any simple or final declarations with them—Godard typically confounds efforts to tie him to any single game plan. The most that many entries in this book can accomplish is to show how much fun these forays can be. Like one of Godard’s spidery, web-spinning blankets of wordplay suggesting other routes that imagination, coherence, or even ideology might take, Reading’s entries are brief interludes, fleeting fancies designed to illuminate and then, very politely, evaporate.

read more »

The Sunday dozen

27th January 2024

John Wyver writes: as usual, I’m pleased to share twelve of the articles and audio contributions that engaged and challenged and intrigued me during the past seven days.

How the government captured the BBC: this is excellent from Alan Rusbridger, late of the Guardian and LMH and now editor of Prospect [£, but limited free access] – here’s the set-up, with the handy cutout-and-keep diagram above also coming from the article:

This is a story of wheels within wheels. It takes us into the clouded intersection between UK politics and media. We meet a cast of characters who have long wished to control, abolish or diminish the BBC and its public service broadcasting cousins. We peep into the shadowy world of how public appointments are fixed. We learn how fragile some of our great institutions are. And we discover that Sir Robbie Gibb, until 2017 a -middle-ranking TV executive, may well now be the most important journalist at the BBC, and therefore in the country.

read more »

The Sunday dozen

21st January 2024

John Wyver writes: for your enjoyment and edification, herewith this week’s selection of articles and audio that have engaged and challenged and enriched me over the past week.

The fatal flaw in Mr Bates vs The Post Office: I don’t agree with David Aaronovitch’s conclusions but this essay from his Notes from the Underground Substack is among the best things written on the ITV drama series (above) and its fallout.

The Post Office scandal and machine morality: Jamie Bartlett reflects productively on broader questions raised by the ‘lethal mix’ of faulty software or human dishonesty:

The most immediate risk from the machine age is not that they go rogue – that’s for Hollywood. It is that we stay in charge of our machines but blindly follow their outputs, no matter how idiotic or immoral, because it’s easier.

Who are we talking to when we talk to these bots?: Colin Fraser with a dense but truly fascinating discussion of ‘who’ is actually on the other side of ChatGP and the like.

read more »

Forty years on

14th January 2024

John Wyver writes: Here’s a remarkable trace of my, and of Illuminations’ and Channel 4’s pasts – a programme break from 14 January 1984 with a continuity announcement and slide trailing the first documentary I produced, Six Into One: The Prisoner File. The 50-minute film, shown two days later on 16 January after a re-run of the final episode of The Prisoner itself (above), was conceived and written by Chris Rodley and directed by Laurens C. Postma, and features an exclusive interview with Patrick McGoohan. Of course, it feels like yesterday — and a very long time ago.

from Youtube via The TV Museum
read more »

The Sunday dozen

14th January 2024

John Wyver writes: the regular (if this week, a little late) numerically specific number of recommendations of articles and other stuff that have engaged and amused and challenged me over the past week. For some reason there are a lot of film links this time.

Q&A: Le Monde climate editor Nabil Wakim envisions an ‘all-climate newsroom’: a fascinating Covering Climate Now / Columbia Journalism Review interview with Nabil Wakim, a climate and energy journalist, about climate-focussed initiatives at the French media company :

The idea is to make our journalists working on climate the cool kids of the newsroom: If you work at Le Monde, and if you want to be associated with interesting projects—if you want to work with colleagues from different sections and learn to do cool stuff with social and video and podcasts—covering climate change is how you do it.

read more »

Wider Television Access today!

13th January 2024

John Wyver writes: Extraordinarily, this afternoon as a little tribute to Wider Television Access, a group I co-founded in 1980, BFI Southbank is screening a 1963 episode of ITC’s series The Saint, Teresa with Roger Moore and The Avengers: A Touch of Brimstone from 1965 with, of course, Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg. I’ll be there to intro the screenings along with another co-founder, Archive TV programmer Dick Fiddy, who has organised the show as part of the BFI’s Scala: Sex, drugs and rock’n’roll cinema season.

As the BFI listing notes, WTVA was ‘a group of enthusiasts keen on providing access to vintage TV in an era before home video and nostalgia TV channels.’ Others involved included the Scala’s Steve Woolley, Chris Wicking, Tise Vahimagi, Tony Mechele, Paul Kerr and my Illuminations colleague Linda Zuck, and we organised screenings — of Danger Man, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and music shows, amongst much else, mostly borrowed from collectors or surreptiously liberated for a brief period from company vaults. We lobbied for archive television as best we could, and published an occasional magazine, Primetime (above).

read more »

The Sunday dozen

6th January 2024

John Wyver writes: something like normal service is resumed this week with a numerically specific number of recommendations of articles and other stuff that I have been engaged and amused and challenged by over the past week.

The secret fuel that makes Ferrari such a triumph: finally, Michael Mann’s ‘sublime’ movie (above) receives the respect it so richly deserves, and from no less a critical giant than The New Yorker‘s Richard Brody [£, but limited free access]; do catch it in a cinema if you can.

[I]t’s the kind of purified, rarefied film that major filmmakers make late in their careers, in which they get to the heart of the matter plainly and present their subjects unadorned and unamplified.

read more »

2023: 50 reasons I was cheerful

31st December 2023

John Wyver writes: Two years ago I compiled a list of stuff – books, films, journalism, television, exhibitions, online elements – that I had enjoyed, appreciated, learned from and generally been cheered by over the previous twelve months. Herewith, this year’s selection (and instead of a Sunday Dozen, which will be back next week) — and yes, I missed 2022. The order is (largely) random.

What compiling this year’s list made me realise is (a) that while I listen to a lot of music, it’s mostly via certain radio strands (on BBC Sounds), a couple of which are listed below, and that I acquire only a very few CDs (and yes, I do still listen like that); and (b) I’ve read a lot of books, but more research-related non-fiction than fiction, and only a few have made it to the list.

The image is a detail from Édouard Manet’s ‘Portrait de Zacharie Astruc’, 1866, oil on canvas, seen (and photographed, poorly) in the Musée d’Orsay’s Manet/Degas exhibition.

read more »