Sunday links

3rd September 2017

Once more, I return to the blog with, I hope, sufficient energy to see us through at least part of the autumn. So to start with, as I’ve contributed in the past (even if not too often recently) here are recent links to articles and videos that I have found interesting. My thanks to all those who brought them to my attention. No Brexit and no Trump (or at least not much) this week, but Vietnam instead.

• Ken Burns and Lynn Novick tackle the Vietnam War: the new 10-part, 18-hour documentary series The Vietnam War – ‘carefully evenhanded’ in tone – begins screening on PBS in the States on 17 September; and it’s likely to be a highlight of the BBC schedules this autumn too – here’s an initial primer from Jennifer Schessler for The New York Times.

• Why The Vietnam War is Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s most ambitious project yet: further background from David Kamp for Vanity Fair.

Ken Burns’s American canon: Ian Parker profiles the filmmaker for The New Yorker.

• Shot by shot: building a scene in Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s Vietnam epic: a fascinatingly detailed analysis of how The Vietnam War created the nearly-15 minute sequence about the battle of Binh Gia, which took place in late December 1964, 40 miles southeast of Saigon.

The official website is here, and this is a PBS preview:

• A courtyard of love and politics – Close-Up on Jean Renoir’s The Crime of Monsieur Lange: in a feature tied to films screening on Mubi (in the States), Blake Lucas writes on Renoir’s 1936 masterpiece.

• Facing film: a beautiful, short, simple, resonant video essay drawn from John Ford’s Stagecoach (1939) by Johannes Binotto.

FACING FILM from Johannes Binotto on Vimeo.

• Flickers of passion – Celia Johnson in Brief Encounter: for The Criterion Collection Dan Callahan on the peerless actress and her greatest role.

• Taylor and Burton in The Taming of the Shrew: Jennifer Barnes posts from The Bill Douglas Cinema Museum at the University of Dundee about the holdings there of material linked to the 1967 Zeffirelli film.

• Stumbling through pixel blizzards – recent books on Post-Cinema: Holly Willis at LA Review of Books considers Drone Age Cinema: Action Film and Sensory Assault by Steen Ledet Christiansen; Compact Cinematics: The Moving Image in the Age of Bit-Sized Media, a volume edited by Pepita Hesselberth and Maria Poulaki; and Shard Cinema by Evan Calder Williams:

Each of these books tackles a new era of the cinematic, offering perceptive readings of the evolution of the cinematic image as it becomes digital and computational. The assault of the action film, the diminution of space and time into a compact cinematics, and the celebration of the shard collectively constitute tropes that herald, almost didactically, the dissolution of traditional cinema and the haphazard formation of a post-cinema.

Out of the archives: Luke McKernan pays tribute to the late and great film researcher Christine Whittaker.

Last ciggie at Marienbad: David Cairns has been searching for the quirky television commercials directed by Richard Lester in the 1960s, and this is his greatest prize to date – courtesy of Steven Otero: a L&M advertisement spoofing Alain Resnais’ Last Year at Marienbad:

• Netflix Versus Hollywood: from Oscar frontrunners to A-List TV creators, Ted Sarandos reveals his master plan: a very good piece for IndieWire from Ann Thompson.

Reality TV’s wildest disaster: the best piece I’ve read on the Channel 4 farrago Eden, by Sam Knight for The New Yorker.

• Relaunching a British icon – BBC Studioworks re-opens Television Centre Studios: David Conway, MD of BBC’s Studioworks, on the return of production to part of the sadly diminished TVC.

• Warhorses, hosiery and cricket cups: Shakespeare and the King James Bible in P.G. Wodehouse, Thomas Hughes and Anthony Trollope: an extract from Jem Bloomfield’s new book Shakespeare and the Psalms Mystery, in which the author explores how the language of Shakespeare and the Bible pervaded many novels of nineteenth century in Britain and the United States.

• A most American terrorist – the making of Dylann Roof: one of those long read pieces from an American journalist, in this case Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah for GQ, that leaves you open-mouthed in admiration.

• Taylor Swift’s Look What You Made Me Do is the first pure piece of Trump-era Pop Art: Mark Harris for New York magazine is very good on this (with just the 158 million Youtube hits to the moment of writing this:

• How Taylor Swift played the victim for a decade and made her entire career: … and this is very good background – a Ellie Woodward essay for Buzzfeed from January.

You are the product: if you haven’t already you absolutely need to read John Lanchester on Facebook for London Review of Books.

• Remember Second Life? Now it’s being reborn in virtual reality: Rowland Manthorpe reports for Wired on Philip Rosedale’s new vision.

• Abandoned states – places in idyllic 1960s postcards have transformed into scenes of abandonment: … and finally, this is really quite astonishing – a NYBG Chihuly report with numerous beautiful animations of the project by photographer Pablo Iglesias Maurer to photograph precisely scenes today that advertised holiday resorts in the Poconos and Catskills resorts in the 1960s. Do take a look.

Image: Marines marching in Danang, Vietnam, in 1965. Credit Associated Press, via PBS.

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