John Wyver writes: I’m not sure quite how the holidays and any additional lockdown strictures will impact Sunday links over the next couple of Sundays, so make the most of this clutch of stuff that has engaged me over the past week; thanks as always to those in Twitter feed who point me in the direction of such interesting articles.
Merry Christmas, one and all.
• Ruth Ellis’s suit: a fascinatingly rich essay from the new issue of British Art Studies by my friend Lynda Nead on the last woman to be hanged in England and the suit she wore to her Old Bailey trial – but of course it’s also about so much more: personal and national self-fashioning, gender and class in post-war Britain, blondes and, of course, the wondrous Diana Dors (header image: Carl Sutton, Diana Dors, Picture Post [detail], 22 January 1955, 24–25 (Liverpool: Hulton Press Ltd, 1955). Digital image © IPC Magazines / Picture Post (all rights reserved).)
• America is (not) cool: thanks to Katie Grant for drawing my attention to this really fine video essay responding to the original West Side Story by Jenny Oyallon-Koloski from four years ago – apart from all else, it uses split screening really well; make sure also to read the creator’s statement and reviews, with one by Katie, from [in]Transition.
• The secret history of Sesame Street – ‘It was utopian – it’s part of who we all are’: Steve Rose for Guardian.
• Under the Tuscan sun [£ but limited free access]: Matt Zoller Seitz turns in for Vulture is a terrific interview (great screen grabs too) with Mark Mylod who directed the final two episodes of the current season of Succession (as well as 10 other previous episodes):
I rarely if ever break up a scene. In three years of directing on a show, I can’t think of any examples where I’ve broken a scene up, no matter how long the scene is. Sometimes that means we’re barely getting the scene in before the film runs out but I still don’t break it up. We run it like it’s a piece of theater.
… and yes, the series is shot on 35mm film, often with two hand-held cameras.
• The (in)visible spectrum – an Interview with colorist Matt Wallach: so interesting from Alex Broadwell at Mubi.com – Wallach was the colorist on, among many other movies, No Time to Die, Sicario, Blade Runner 2049 and Ad Astra.
• Dramas of grief – television and morning: Helen Wheatley for Flow, with a focus on NBC’s This is Us which she calls ‘a striking example of the complex, messy narrative of grief made for contemporary US television;’.
• Zoom call – how the camera became the action in TV darts: the Guardian’s exceptional sports writer Jonathan Liew offers close reading and production context – a terrific feature…
• Fallon Sherrock – ‘I love to hustle people at the pub. And then I say: Google me’:… and here’s another JL darts feature (and I might say I usually have zero interest in the sport), this time in the shape of a fascinating interview:
It is the gift and the curse of all prominent sportswomen to become standard-bearers for their gender, whether they want to or not. Over the past couple of years Sherrock has got used to being judged, being talked about, being seen. But – as opponents, pundits and the startled pub patrons of Milton Keynes have discovered over the years – you underestimate her at your peril.
• A moving meditation on mortality in Brice Marden’s late paintings: Marden is one of my favourite painters, and this is a fine essay about his recent work by John Yau for Hyperallergic – the exhibition being reviewed is on until 23 December at the New York Gagosian.
• Francesca Woodman – the eerie images of a teenage genius: Andrew Dickson for BBC Culture on the endlessly fascinating work of the photographer who died forty years ago…
• Hot young corpses – why are we so obsessed with dead female artists?: … while Eloise Hendy for Elephant is prompted to her productive reflections by relics of the late Amy Winehouse.
• Jane Austen, the artful tax dodger: for LA Review of Books (and the fabled author’s birthday three days ago), Janine Barchas spins a fascinating tale of a half-size, spindle-back gig and the finances of the Austen household.
• How to save the National Trust from stifling conformity: from the first issue of Prospect with Alan Rusbridger as editor, here’s Julian Glover on the possibilities for a reinvigorated NT.
• Cancelling Coventry’s future: Owen Hatherley for Tribune is very good on the local authority’s lack of respect for the glorious post-war architecture and public art of the city.
• My favourite Twitter thread of the week:
• Ignore his lies – Boris Johnson is leading an assault on British democracy: a powerful New Statesman essay by Annette Dittert.
• Postcards from a world on fire: breathtakingly good online reporting about climate catastrophe from The New York Times.
• Reflections on an academic life: this is a dense and demanding read, but so worth it, as the radical and immensely wise geographer David Harvey looks back of gis life and work.
• On bell hooks: Sophie Smith for LRB pays tribute to the profoundly important writer, theorist and activist who died this week.
• Twelve Days of Christmas from the BFI National Archive 2021 | BFI: pure seasonal delight, courtesy of the BFI’s dream team of Jez Stewart, Kristina Tarasova (with a lavish little tribute to Cecil Hepworth), Lisa Kerrigan, a poetical Bryony Dixon, Patrick Russell (hymning a Mining Review item), Nidhi Shukal, James Bell, Claire Smith, Jo Botting, Xavier Alexandre Pillai, Rosie Taylor and Simon McCallum (with a remarkable and happy glimpse of Derek Jarman at the end of his life).