Sunday links

5th July 2020

John Wyver writes: more links to more stuff that has engaged and interested and informed me over the past week, much of which is thanks to Twitter recommendations for which I remain very grateful. PS. I realise these collections feature a lot of pieces from the United States, which I rationalise by the fact that they may be less familiar to readers in Britain and because some (most?) of the most interesting and challenging and distinctive cultural writing comes from across the Atlantic – not to mention some of the most interesting culture.

‘The most ignorant and unfit’ – what made America’s worst ever leader?: I know we’re all exhausted reading about Tr*mp but for New York Review of Books David Rothkopf is very good on the historical context.

The Hamilton movie swings open the doors of Broadway: at Vulture, theatre critic Helen Shaw and columnist Mark Harris reflect on watching the show on screen in the age of Tr*mp.

historical accuracy is Good, Actually: on Hamilton and more, this is really good from Hailey Bachrach (and, yes, the capitalisation is correct).

American degeneracy: Michael Lobel for Artforum on links between Confederate memorials and the Nazis’ conception of ‘degenerate art’.

Negative monuments – memory and forgetting in Sofia: Dimiter Kemarov for The Point with an instructive tale from Bulgaria in 1999 and today.

Britain on lockdown – the online videos shaping the crisis #6: Jez Stewart for the BFI on inspiring and inventive video diaries from the past months.

Publicising the studio: cigarette cards – How Films are Made: a lovely Studiotec post from Richard Farmer about a 1934 series of cigarette cards produced with the assistance of the Gaumont-British Picture Corporation.

The pioneering filmmaker who broke the mould for women in Hollywood: Pamela Hutchinson on Dorothy Arzner for Little White Lies; see also Sheila O’Malley for The Criterion Collection on Arzner’s 1940 movie Dance, Girl, Dance, gotta dance (above).

Anna/Nana/Nana/Anna: a video essay by Mark Rappaport about Anna Sten and female film actors, with an introduction here.

The lost art of the British public information film: Robert Hanks for Sight&Sound, linked to the new DVD release, The Best of COI: Five Deceades of Public Information Films.

Charlot v. Hulot: for LRB, David Trotter is richly interesting on Jacques Tati, a director whose work has never greatly appealed to me.

Nations of one and Tokyo Olympiad: Charles Taylor is terrific for LA Review of Books on Kon Ichikawa’s 1964 documentary.

• This profile of Charlie Kaufman has changed: super-smart self-referential writing from Jon Mooallem for The New York Times Magazine marking the screenwriter and director’s first novel, Antkind.

In search of the female gaze: terrific analysis by Erika Balsom for CinemaScope on Vertigo, Laura Mulvey, Iris Brey, Céline Sciamma’s Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019) and more.

Seeing paradise from behind a dashboard: Peter Ramsey on the romance of the drive-in, from The New York Times.

Musical marvels – the Wigmore lockdown concerts: Geoff Brown pays tribute to June’s exceptional series of live broadcasts from Wigmore Hall and BBC Radio 3.

Ten Thousand Birds / Ten Thousand Screens: a reimagining for a socially distanced world of John Luther Adams’s work Ten Thousand Birds (usually a 60-minute immersive piece) by Alan Pierson, Paul Melnikow and Alarm Will Sound, with great background by Garth Greenwell for The Paris Review; as he says, this is ‘a strangely beautiful, moving, charmingly wacky experience’.

Woman with a camera – Lettice Ramsey (1898-1985): Ann Kennedy Smith on the photographer and her close associate Helen Muspratt.

Rex Stout – logomachizing: a rather wonderful, near-book-length essay by David Bordwell on the now little-known mystery writer, together with a much shorter preface.

The sea, the sea: touching reflections from Luke McKernan.

‘This Land is Your Land’: I am sure I’ve posted this before, but as The Boss says, Woody Guthrie’s poem is ‘about the greatest song ever written about America’; this version is from the Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, on 30 September 1985, which was the penultimate show of the “Born In The U.S.A.” tour.

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