Boxing Day links

26th December 2021

John Wyver writes: a relatively modest selection (with perhaps more to follow later) of readings and videos that may engage you on the day after the day before – and beyond. We hope everyone is having a safe and happy holiday season.

Joan Didion and the opposite of magical thinking: Zadie Smith for The New Yorker on the wonderful writer who we lost this week…

Didion’s prophetic eye on America: … and Michiko Kakutani for The New York Times. I could, of course, have filled the whole column with tributes to Joan Didion.

An update about our blog: news from the wonderful film writers Kristin Thompson and David Bordwell, to whom we send our very best wishes for a speedy recovery.

Box office blues – Marty was right: do read Farran Smith Nehme on super-hero movies and film history.

Studios in the festive season: an entertaining STUDIOTEC blog post that looks at how the festive season was acknowledged by film studios in Germany, France, Italy and Britain.

Film noir’s early days – how studios resisted, then embraced, the genre: Thomas Doherty for The Hollywood Reporter with some fascinating historical reflections.

Murky waters – submerging in an aesthetics of non-transparency: a fine, complex video essay by by Jaap Kooijman and Patricia Pisters from the latest issue of Necsus, with comments from the authors here.

OK cupid – reopening Vermeer’s love letter to contradiction: Kristian Vistrup Madsen for Artforum on Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window, c. 1657–59, as ‘both artwork and metatext, a floodgate for meaning’.

When pop culture raids art – and the reverse: Peter Schjeldahl for The New Yorker is terrific on the Met’s show on Walt Disney and French decorative arts (which has a great video, below), and the Cooper Hewitt’s on the modernist poster designer E. McKnight Kauffer (link takes you to a wonderful collection of images).

Oxford Street buildings through time: a Guardian photo-essay and more, with rich social history about five key buildings by Sarah Butler and Arnel Hecimovic.

The final days of Bill Evans: Ted Gioia with an eye, or ear-opening, essay about the great jazz pianist, who is one of my favourite musicians.

• Twitter thread of the week:

BBC R&D – 2021 highlights: lots of interest in this round-up of cutting edge digital research from the BBC.

Was Elizabeth Taylor the best British novelist of the postwar era?: for The New York Times, Geoff Dyer makes a convincing case.

• George Orwell outside the whale [£, but limited free access]: Ian McEwan for New Statesman.

Selling my hair on eBay: one of the annual end-of-year joys [£, but limited free access]: Alan Bennett’s LRB diary from the past year.

Header image: Claude Monet, ‘Surroundings of Honfleur. Snow’, 1867; courtesy of the Louvre, Paris.

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