So I was thinking I would find something a bit different as the lead for this week’s Links. Not Shakespeare again, nor movies or television. Then I read one of the scariest pieces of prose to have come my way in a very long time. Remarkably, it’s in the form of a Tim Flannery review of an academic volume in the latest edition of The New York Review of Books. Title: They’re taking over! Subject (I kid you not, and not least because I have been scared of them for decades): JELLYFISH. This is what the author of the book (and serious researcher), Lisa-ann Gershwin, says:
We are creating a world more like the late Precambrian than the late 1800s—a world where jellyfish ruled the seas and organisms with shells didn’t exist. We are creating a world where we humans may soon be unable to survive, or want to.
The aim of Picturegoing is to document the experience of going to see pictures. It reproduces eyewitness testimony of watching films, from the 1890s to the present day. The intention is to be global in reach and to cover all time periods, but to begin with it mostly focusses on the UK to the 1940s. The documents cited include (or will include) diaries, memoirs, essays, film trade papers, newspapers, works of fiction, poems, interviews, official reports, web texts, photographs, cartoons and artworks. Texts therefore have been chosen whether they are contemporary or retrospective.
Bravo – I know this is going to offer much enjoyment and be an essential research resource.
• Passing the test: a terrific read by Imogen Sara Smith at the blog of New York’s Museum of the Moving Image about their (almost) complete Howard Hawks retrospective.
• Hawks and Godard and Contempt: ‘Contempt is Godard’s most Hawksian film’ – Richard Brody (who else?)… and just in case you need reminding, it had one of the greatest of all trailers:
• Sokhurov – living ghosts: a guide to the films of the mysterious Russian master, by Aaron Cutler for Fandor.
• Summer’s Fall – White House Down: Joshua Clover for The Nation is good on the two White-House-under-attack-movies of the year:
The happy ending once celebrated what Stanley Cavell called ‘the comedy of remarriage,’ in which people fell apart, suffered many travails and finally got together again. Hollywood now pivots around the comedy of re-employment, the picaresque adventure that ends when a man and his job are reunited.
• Are the studios trying to kill Blu-ray?: it’s a good question, and Helen O’Hara for Empire asks it well.
• Ealing on air: Sheldon Hall at the Network blog on the first sales to television of British feature films in the 1940s and ’50s.
• Doctor Who: Warriors Gate (1981) – Jean Cocteau and the realm of videographic fantasy: so I wasn’t at Walking in Eternity, the three-day academic conference this past week about the BBC’s longest-running fantasy series, but I am delighted that the Spaces of Television blog gives me the chance to read Dr Billy Smart’s paper, which treats in depth the narrative, stylistic and technological strategies of a particularly oddball four-part story.
• Varieties of disturbance: for The New Yorker, John Lahr profiles Claire Danes – what more do you need to know?
• The networks’ House of Cards – Kevin Spacey’s salvo and the new ‘Netflix effect’: at Gigaom, Chris Adams from Spondo.com on why the future belongs to Netflix.
• No theoryheads allowed – my 2000s and Wayne Koestenbaum: on The Hairpin Anne Helen Petersen hymns a critic whose writing is ‘pungent, replete, intoxicating, infectious’.
• Building imaginary worlds – an interview with Mark J.P. Wolf – part one, part two and part three: a fascinating interview by Henry Jenkins with the author of a new book that starts ‘with a core background in game studies and science fiction/fantasy and expands outward to develop an encyclopedic account of the place of imaginary worlds in contemporary narrative practice.’
• Transmedia storytelling and entertainment – a new syllabus: … and while we’re with the doyen of transmedia studies, here is Henry Jenkins’ syllabus for his USC course. What’s transmedia, I hear you ask?
A transmedia story represents the integration of entertainment experiences across a range of media platforms. A story like Heroes or Lost might spread from television into comics, the web, alternate reality or video games, toys, and other commodities, etc., picking up new audiences as it goes and allowing the most dedicated fans to drill deeper. The fans, in turn, may translate their interests in the franchise into concordances and Wikipedia entries, fan fiction, vids, fan films, cosplay, game mods, and a range of other participatory practices that further extend the story world in new directions.
• As if life depended on it: John Mullan once nearly met the formidable Cambridge don F.R. Leavis; now he tells the tale and muses on the legacy of the teacher who ‘taught his students that great literature is a test of the reader, endlessly renewable.’
• A lone bandit and the mystery of France’s greatest diamond heist: just a terrific piece of reporting by Ryan Jacobs for The Atlantic.
• Quadruple take masterclass: so what that in just over a week more than three million people have watched Patrick Stewart instruct his partner Sunny Ozell in comedy techniques – why aren’t you one of them?
Header image: A fried egg jellyfish, Nigei Island, British Columbia; from David Hall’s book Beneath Cold Seas (via The New York Review of Books).