Sunday links

12th November 2017

It’s unlikely that anyone will have noticed, but whether about links or anything else I have not posted here for some six weeks. Moreover, my contributions in the months before that were, well let’s just say… sporadic. Maybe they are destined ever to remain so, but the run-up to Christmas looks less insanely busy and so my intention is to return here more often. Let’s see. But at least I can contribute today a new list of links to recent articles and videos that I have found interesting. With thanks, as always, to those who alerted me to many of these, whether on Twitter or in other ways.

• Putin’s Russia wrestles with the meaning of Trotsky and revolution: Joshua Yaffa for The New Yorker on a new Russian television drama series about Trotsky, which complements…

• Revolution, what revolution? Russians show little interest in 1917 centenary: … Shaun Walter’s Guardian report from St Petersburg.

• St Petersburg – the city of three revolutions: Owen Hatherley on the traces of history, for The Architectural Review.

Warren Beatty’s Reds: ‘A long, long movie about a communist who died’: Tim Pelan for Cinephilia & Beyond on Beatty’s 1981 masterpiece about 1917, co-written with Trevor Griffiths; this invaluable post includes a bunch of great photos and a .pdf of the script; here’s the original trailer:

• “Where did you get this old fossil?” – Michael Powell’s first film rediscovered: Geoff Brown for Sight & Sound on the legendary director’s debut, a 1930 talking pictures adaptation of T.W. Robertson’s comic play Caste.

• Walter Lassally obituary: from British Free Cinema to ‘Walter the Greek’: also for Sight & Sound, Philip Kemp and David Robinson mark the passing of the truly great cinematographer; there’s also a terrific tribute in pictures here.

• Biomechanics goes to the big house: Brute Force on the Criterion Channel: a fascinating essay about acting in film noir by David Bordwell, which draws on a longer video that we can’t access in the UK, although here’s an extract from it:

A Clip from Observations on Film Art: BRUTE FORCE—The Actor’s Toolkit from Criterion Collection on Vimeo.

• Under His Skin: Raw Deal: … and another recent video essay engaging with film noir, focussed on Anthony Mann’s 1948 thriller, from Cristina Álvarez López and Adrian Martin for Mubi.com, with background here:

Watching the remarkable series of works forged by the collaboration of director Anthony Mann and cinematographer John Alton—including T-Men (1947), Raw Deal(1948), and Border Incident (1949)—we encounter a fine-grain aesthetic in which storytelling and abstraction are hard to separate. While the plotting follows a hardboiled minimalism familiar from many B movies, the compositions, lighting schemes, and mise en scène of bodily movements pushes into startling, ultra-stylized territory.

Archaeology on television, 1937: a very good journal article from Public Archaeology (open access) by  Sara Perry about two significant pre-war television broadcasts.

On not liking David Attenborough: a strong argument from Luke McKernan about Blue Planet II being ‘at a profound remove from the reality to which I feel I belong’.

• Steven Soderbergh’s new app will change how you watch TV: a Wired report by Angela Watercutter about Mosaic, the director’s interactive, branching narrative drama series for your smartphone – if, that is, you live in the States.

• How Netflix works: the (hugely simplified) complex stuff that happens every time you hit Play: Mayukh Nair with a fascinating tech-y piece for Refraction: tech + everything.

• The United States Of American Media, Inc.: a rich, deep four-part dive – perhaps surprisingly from Popbitch, written by Chris Lochery – into the story of the corporation that owns National Enquirer, and what that tale tells us about the United States today…

• British gossip writer is an unlikely Trump whisperer: … complemented by one of those “making of” articles at which Columbia Journalism Review excels, by Alexandria Neason.

Cézanne’s radical portraiture: curator John Elderfield for Apollo on the absolutely sensational show that he has put together for the National Portrait Gallery (on until 11 February).

• Hugh Edwards: curator, mentor, friend: for the New York Review of Books the great American photographer Danny Lyon offers a moving tribute to the curator and fellow photographer who died in 1986; among the illustrations is the glorious image, of which a significant detail is reproduced above, taken by Lyon in California, near Yuma, in 1962.

Tearing free: theoretical reflections on photography from Jonathan Morse at the Print Platform blog of Modernism/modernity

The Cherry Orchard, Nottingham Playhouse: Florence Bell is well worth reading on Chekhov, Brexit and the Left.

• When Pierre Boulez went electric: for New York Review of Books, Christopher Carroll writes beautifully about the great composer and conductor, and especially about his Répons, an electronic composition written in the early 1980s.

• Digital is more than a department, it is a collective responsibility: Loic Tallon, chief digital officer at the Met Museum in New York, on digital practices in cultural organisations.

The president and the bomb: essential, but probably not a piece to be read just before going to sleep, as it’s pretty much guaranteed to give you nightmares – Adam Shatz for London Review of Books on Trump and the threat of nuclear war.

• Teen girl posed for 8 years as married man to write about baseball and harass women: this is such a weird story, by Lindsey Adler for Deadspin.

Kommunisten: not for everyone this, but in its own way remarkable – Jean-Marie Straub’s most recent film, released in 2014 and now available on Youtube; it is composed of 6 sections, 5 of which are derived from earlier films by Straub and his lifelong partner Danièle Huillet – for background (which you’ll need), see Ted Fendt’s 2015 Mubi Notebook feature, The dream of a thing: Straub’s Kommunisten.

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