Sunday links

6th December 2020

John Wyver writes: I’m a little late in posting this week, but here’s the latest clutch of pointers to articles, videos, radio programmes and the occasional Twitter thread that have engaged me this week.

Beethoven Unleashed: on Friday on BBC Radio 3 Donald MacLeod’s Composer of the Week series came to the end of this year’s epic journey through the life and works of Ludwig van Beethoven. For five hours every other week I have been entertained, educated and generally entranced by a model mix of essay writing, conversation, analysis and performance, and it has been one of the things that has most definitely kept me going though these miserable months.

Thanks to BBC Sounds I’ve listened to every minute, and the last two groups of full programmes remain available for a few weeks, while cut-down podcast versions (with much less music) of the rest continue to be accessible online. Bravo, maestro MacLeod and the production team – and my warm thanks. (Above, a detail of Joseph Karl Stieler’s 1820 portrait of the composer.)

Archival treasures – Anna Mae Wong in Hollywood and China: a UCLA Film and Television blog post by Shirley Jennifer Lim about the Chinese American actor, who starred in the glorious two-colour Technicolor feature The Toll of the Sea (1922) [link: to the full film at the N`ational Film Preservation Foundation].

The rise (and inevitable fall) of Citizen Kane as the greatest movie ever made: Bilge Ebiri for Vulture on the way in which reputations are won and lost.

Shadows and fog: for CineOutsider Slarek reviews, in exhaustive but fascinating detail, the Indicator Blu-ray box-set Columbia Noir #1 which is going to be my Christmas treat for myself.

Crash – the wreck of the century: a remarkable response to David Cronenberg and J.G. Ballard’s masterwork by Jessica Kiang for Criterion.

How Francis Ford Coppola got pulled back in to make The Godfather, Coda: Dave Itzkoff for The New York Times

Take a deep dive with Francis Coppola & Al Pacino into Godfather mythology as Paramount fetes 30th anniversary with Coda, The Death Of Michael Corleone release: and just as interesting is Mike Fleming Jr’s essay for Deadline.

The juridical Is libidinal: from the First Amendment to Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Maggie Hennefeld for Los Angeles Review of Books.

Curating reality – cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt and Mank: whatever you think of David Fincher’s opus, this is a rich conversation with Nicolas Rapold for Mubi.com.

HBO Max isn’t the future of movies — but it is a panicked plan: fascinating background to the tectonic shifts in the moving image industry from Peter Labuza for Polygon

WarnerMedia’s HBO Max gambit overcame internal doubts at AT&T: … and more from Lucas Shaw, Kelly Gilblom, and Scott Moritz for Bloomberg – this really feels like a profound shift in our image world.

The Crown‘s majestic untruths: for The Atlantic Helen Lewis offers thoughts that are rather more nuanced than most on the question of ‘what responsibility The Crown has to history’:

Oliver Dowden’s intervention might inspire groans, but it is not philistine or unsophisticated to challenge what a writer has chosen to pull from the messy stuff of mere events.

A short history of the British music video: Emily Caston with a somewhat revisionist, surprising history, courtesy of the BFI.

• I thought this image was simply wonderful – and gosh, did it make me want to return to Assisi:

How pandemics shape town planning: Ken Worpole for New Statesman asks, ‘What will our cities look like after Covid-19?’

Virtual: Susan Meiselas: Through a Woman’s Lens: an exceptional virtual tour of a major exhibition by the great photographer, created by the Herzfeld Center for Photography and Media Arts, Milwaukee Art Museum.

Ann Quinn’s stalled talkers [£, but limited free access]: writing for New York Review of Books, Becca Rothfeld will likely make you want to read the experimental novels of the British writer of the 1960s and early 1970s.

Blank screen: Tess McNulty for The Point on Don DeLillo’s The Silence, a book I’ve promised myself for the coming holiday’s reading.

The mystery of the Gatwick drone: such a good Guardian Long Read, by Samira Shackle.

We read the paper that forced Timnit Gebru out of Google. Here’s what it says: Karen Hao for MIT Technology Review on the dispute involving the acclaimed AI researcher — but about so much more too.

You have misunderstood the threat to liberal democracy: really good from Rafael Behr for Prospect:

The real threat… comes less from fascistic doctrines that explicitly repudiate liberalism than from the loss of a common public frame of reference in which ideas of any kind can be civilly debated… Trump did not plot to abolish political opposition. It was the digital engine of radicalisation and the corrosion of a shared vocabulary of truth that weakened the constitutional order and made it vulnerable to Trumpism. 

End in sight [£ but limited free access]: ‘We’ve been skilful, but we have also been lucky.’ Cautiously optimistic yet concerned words from Rupert Beale for LRB.

Letters from an American: I am much taken with the progressive historian Heather Cox Richardson’s Substack daily newsletter, which has a free option as well as paid choices.

Rising: a beautiful short film directed by Antonia Luxem, with Marie Astrid Mence (Ballet Black) and Maxine Kwok (First Violin, London Symphony Orchestra) performing a new composition by composer Darren Bloom – background from theartsdesk here:

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