John Wyver writes: Today’s selection is a little late as I’ve been watching the dismal end of the Ashes saga. And I wish I could suggest that the following choice of articles and more that I’ve appreciated over the past week is what we all need to cheer ourselves up. But given the state of the world that’s not a promise I can make, although there are moments of hope and joy. With my usual thanks to those on Twitter who , wittingly or not, contribute.
• Another country – not the one I represented as a diplomat for 30 years: Alexandra Hall Hall’s thoughtful, finely written lament started as a Twitter thread, and it’s to the great credit of Byline Times that they picked it up and gave it prominence – do read; with its quiet, polite but white-hot anger, it encapsulates much of how I feel about my country.
• In France, an extraordinary musical interview sparks a debate on ‘infotainment’: for Columbia Journalism Review, Jon Allsop writes really well about an extraordinary moment on French television, below.
• Kodachrome, stained glass and photographica: a fascinating post by Stephen Herbert at his essential blog The Optilogue; with some wonderful illustrations, this effortlessly makes links across centuries and media in the most delightful way.
• Pip, Lean and Cinderella: Luke McKernan on Dickens, the landscape of the Hoo peninsula, and fairy stories – this is a lovely piece that I warmly recommend.
• Time is a rabid dog: there’s still time for a round-up of last year’s films, especially when it’s as informed and as quirky as this from A.S Hamrah for The Baffler.
• Shakespeare noir [£ but free registration available]: James Shapiro for NY Review of Books is predictably fine on Joel Coen’s Macbeth, a film he liked a whole lot more than I did.
• The metaphysical world of Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s movies: a rich and rewarding profile by Hilton Als for The New Yorker of the Thai filmmaker, whose Memoria (above) opened in cinemas this week…
• Apichatpong on Memoria, his odyssey into the soundscapes of Colombia: … and do also read the great Tony Rayns on the film and its director for Sight & Sound – and here’s the trailer.
• If there are any film or media scholars among this column’s readers, may I strongly recommend this thread, please? That’s in addition to the article itself, of course (and special thanks to @girishshambu for alerting me to this):
• In Station Eleven, all art is adaptation: this New Yorker review by Katy Waldman really makes me want to see the 10-part HBO Max screen version of Emily St. John Mandel’s 2014 short novel of a post-apocalypse world, as does the trailer below – but I think it’s only going to be available in the UK via StarzPlay from 30 January.
• A bit of good news: an engaging (and positive) round-up of what one of the media scholars I most admire, Jason Mittell, has been doing in recent months.
• Amateur Darkroom Practices, 1880s-1910s: a shout out for a terrific new website by my Westminster colleague Sara Domenici which “examines the relationship between amateur processes of making and the socio-cultural role of the darkroom in Britain”.
• Back in the USSR: 1920s Soviet film posters – in pictures: wonderfully bold images courtesy of the Guardian and Taschen’s Film Posters of the Russian Avant-Garde.
• How a gray painting can break your heart: explore slowly and spend time with one of the very finest of Jason Farago’s interactive ‘Close Reads’ of a painting for The New York Times, in this case Jasper Johns’ 1961 ‘In Memory of My Feelings — Frank O’Hara’.
• Everyone’s a critic: I enjoyed Richard Joseph for LA Review of Books.
• How to bring down a prime minister: Dominic Sandbrook at unherd on the fall of Lloyd George and more…
• To serve my friends: … and Lloyd George features in Jonathan Parry’s LRB review of Mark Knights’ Trust and Distrust – Corruption in Office in Britain and its Empire, 1600-1850, as does this tightly-argued conclusion:
In any case, it’s a fair bet that ‘Boris’, the beneficiaries of his patronage and his media cheerleaders will come to be seen as symbolic of the shortcomings of a political generation, in the same way that ‘Old Corruption’ is inseparable from ‘Robin’ Walpole and his ‘Robinocracy’.