Sunday links

7th March 2021

John Wyver writes: maybe it’s lockdown lassitude, but Links is a little late this week, and is still a work in progress; nonetheless, with my usual thanks to those on my Twitter feed, here is another selection of articles and videos that have engaged and informed me over recent days.

Brexit unhinged: I feel like I should start every set of recommendations with Chris Grey’s Friday blog post, which is the smartest and best-informed exploration of the Brexit process that I know of (and there’s a book on the way) – I’ve been following him throughout this whole, hideous story and my admiration for his writing is unbounded; here’s this week’s takeaway:

So two months in things aren’t looking at all good. The government is reduced to planting disingenuous stories in the press about the success of Brexit, its ministers and backbenchers don’t understand or don’t accept the Brexit deals they voted for, and it now again proposes to break international law by flouting part of what it agreed to. Relations with the EU are more fraught than ever. The Northern Ireland peace process is under strain. The Ultras are proposing a trade war with the EU, whilst trade with the EU is in chaos with SMEs especially suffering, billions of pounds of assets have fled the UK, the Brexiters’ iconic fishing industry is close to collapse, and many of the new restrictions on trade haven’t even been implemented yet. We’re not even at the end of the beginning, and, no, vaccines don’t give Brexiters a get out of jail free card.

Strong on rhetoric, weak on substance – so much for the ‘vision’ of Global Britain: punchy, powerful analysis from Will Hutton for the Guardian.

Sir David Barclay obituary – Farewell to A ‘Stinking Mobster: a month old but new to me, John Sweeney’s buccaneering Byline Times essay is fearless and formidably entertaining.

A piece of American film history in Norway: such a great archival story from the A.Frame blog of the Academy, about this 48-second William Selig film from 1898…

Something Good – Negro Kiss (1898) – alternativ versjon:

• Mädchen in Uniform – Women and sexuality in Weimar cinema | BFI video essay: Chrystel Oloukoi looks smartly and sexily at the portrayals of women in Weimar-era cinema, tied to the BFI’s Blu-ray release:

Notebook Primer: Pre-Code Cinema: Caroline Golum for Mubi with an intro to the particular pleasures of pre-1934 Hollywood.

Spike Lee sees the parallels: a wide-ranging, very enjoyable conversation with the filmmaker, by Vinson Cunningham for The New Yorker.

• The power of music – when film and music meet: the wonderful Neil Brand writes for The British Council, and it’s just as great as you hope it might be.

• Filmscalpel: there are some really terrific video essays linked in this thread…

More than movie theaters – why aren’t we talking about exhibition?: Karin Chien’s piece for Distribution Advocates is valuable for asking the question ‘What are new and different structures of exhibition where our films and different audiences can thrive together?’, and also for a host of links to initiatives that may have some answers.

The rise of the deep fake: an exemplary round-up of videos – and concerns – by Dominic Lees for Sight & Sound, including this:

• Fake accounts and the reality of fiction – a conversation with Lauren Oyler: for LA Review of Books, Sean Hooks speaks with the writer of the novel Fake Accounts, which, Hooks suggests, ‘riffs on social media, identity politics, and millennials, alongside larger interrogations of class, gender, romantic relationships, and the ineffability of reality.’ Rob Doyle recently responded here to the book for the Guardian.

Stories that might have been told [£ but limited free access]: for TLS, Anne M. Thell is very good on The Great (header image with Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult|© Ollie Upton/Hulu/Thruline Entertainment/Alamy) and Bridgerton, of which she writes:

The real problem with Bridgerton is that it pretends to critique a period and a value system that it actually endorses. In its depiction of female characters in particular, it illuminates the hostility, misogyny and unfair power relations that underpin patriarchy, but ultimately still peddles outdated gender tropes and conventional outcomes as eternal ideals.

Speaking of which, there’s so, so, SO much in this thread…

Simon Akam’s The Changing of the Guard exposes the failures of the British army: Anthony Loyd for New Statesman on an ‘excoriating study of the British military establishment since 9/11… [and its] inability to acknowledge and correct the repeated errors made by commanders on the path to losing both the UK’s most recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan’.

The Victorian adventurers who pitched their tent for eternity: I enjoyed Sophie Barling’s Apollo article about the eccentric tent-like tomb of Richard and Isabel Burton at the church of St Mary Magdalen, Mortlake, built in 1891.

How one looted artifact tells the story of modern Afghanistan: compelling journalism by Matthieu Aikins for The New York Times Magazine about the international trade in stolen antiquities.

Joan Mitchell [£ but limited free access]: a pair of Artforum articles from the latest issue about one of my favourite painters.

Palace intrigue at the Louvre, as a paint job leads to a lawsuit: such an interesting New York Times story by Doreen Carvajal, on Cy Twombly, renovations at the Louvre, “Marron Côte d’Azur”, the colour of the Aegean, Second Empire style and droit moral.

Sir Alan Bowness obituary: Michael McNay for the Guardian on the profoundly influential curator and administrator who I have always admired, and who in my limited dealings with him was always helpful, friendly and unfailingly nice.

Britten and Pears Perform Britten Folksong Arrangements, Japan 1956: a discovery this week, fascinating as an early fragment of Japanese television, but just beautiful too:

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