John Wyver writes: It’s been quite a week. As I said on Twitter, the response to Drama Out of a Crisis has been more extensive and enthusiastic than to almost anything I’ve made in nearly forty years as a producer. Which may explain why Sunday links is (a) a bit late, and (b) a bit shorter than usual. Thanks as ever to those in my Twitter feed for recommendations.
• The UK government is trying to draw museums into a fake culture war: an important piece for the Guardian from Dan Hicks, professor of contemporary archaeology at the University of Oxford:
Museums are not neutral. The built environment is constantly changing. Community values must lead curatorial decision-making. People are more important than objects. These aren’t revolutionary critiques; they are long-established professional standards in the arts, heritage and culture sectors. How to fight the culture war? By stepping away from its divisive framing – and by resisting interference in democratic, locally accountable heritage management and curatorial practice.
• The last thing the BBC needs is a civil war: Roger Mosey is very good for Prospect on the state-of-play at the Corporation.
• Broken news for broken Britain: an urgent piece by Ian Dunt for Persuasion:
Where neutral sources of news vanish, truth fades into irrelevance. The government amasses more power than it could secure through propaganda alone: the power to escape scrutiny, to never be held to account, to no longer care about the veracity of its claims.
• And this is the most enlightening Twitter thread of the week, posted in response to a question from Armando Ianucci…
• End our national crisis: this is very powerful from The New York Times.
• Little stabs at happiness 6: Breathe: David Bordwell is very good on this excellent video from the Lincoln Project to Demi Lovato’s wonderful ‘Commander in Chief’:
• A West Wing Special review: HBO Max reunion plays handsomely to a hidden audience: a thoughtful response by Ben Travers for IndieWire to the best hour of television for a long time (if you can access it):
Even with greats like Allison Janney playing pranks and Martin Sheen whipping off his tortoiseshell glasses (fresh frames for his signature move), the star of “A West Wing Special” is its director, Thomas Schlamme… it all adds up to a masterclass on maximizing a minimal space; directors doing the opposite — adapting stage plays for the screen, rather than TV shows for the stage — should look to this special for tips.
• Has peak TV already peaked?: an interesting argument from Sonia Saraiya for Vanity Fair:
We live in a vast universe of mere “content”; it’s fine, but it exists primarily to take up space. The platform’s imperative is to fill hours with a diverse array of material. The business strategy is quantity.
• In a world without movie theaters: James Emanuel Shapiro for The Bulwark makes some important points.
• As @dave_kehr wrote on Twitter, ‘It’s a good day for humanity when a lost Leo McCarey film turns up… Pure bliss.’:
• An oral history of Requiem for a Dream: a great piece for Vulture by Alison Willmore about Darren Aronofsky’s second feature, released in 2000.
• “These Stories Needed to Be Told” – Steve McQueen and the golden age of resistance: only just found this important Paul Mendez interview for Esquire about the filmmaker’s forthcoming BBC series Small Axe.
• Sixty-two films that shaped the art of documentary filmmaking: this, my friends, is what a great film list looks like, from Richard Brody at The New Yorker – learned, capacious, surprising, and with lots of links; you could do worse than spend the next month exploring these riches.
• Chris Killip – Skinningrove: the great British photographer died this week, and here the sparkly new website of The New York Review of Books introduces and presents Michael Almereyda’s short film made from a slide lecture of Killip’s pictures from the village of Skinningrove in North Yorkshire…
• Chris Killip, hard-hitting photographer of Britain’s working class, dies aged 74: … while here for the Guardian, Sean O’Hagan pays tribute – and then writes a very fine obituary…
• Sprouts, skinheads, Sundays and supermarkets: Chris Killip – in pictures: … and here’s a terrific Guardian gallery, including this:
• The Philip Guston controversy is turning artists against the National Gallery: more on the fall-out for wrong-headed decision to ‘postpone’ the Guston show at Tate Modern and elsewhere, from Sebastian Smee for The Washington Post.
• The East Village, home of punks and poets – here’s a tour: all of Michael Kimmelman’s virtual walks around Manhattan for The New York Times have been great, but this is especially good, not least as his virtual companion in author Luc Sante.
• ‘On Virtual Auras: The Cultural Heritage Object in the Age of 3D Digital Reproduction’: … and while we’re in the virtual, @melissaterras on Twitter this week drew my attention to a 2019 .pdf link to a chapter from the collection The Routledge International Handbook of New Digital Practices in Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums and Heritage Sites which she co-edited – and it’s fascinating.
• Emily of fire & violence: the first of two wonderful essays from the new LRB (and this one is free currently, plus there’s lots of other great stuff too) – Paul Keegan reads T.S. Eliot’s recently released letters to Emily Hale and writes beautifully about love and life writing…
• We know it intimately: … and [£] my friend Christina Riggs contributes to LRB a dazzlingly erudite essay on Egypt, archaeology, colonialism and ethics.
• Don DeLillo: ‘I wondered what would happen if power failed everywhere’: Rachel Cooke for the Guardian talks to the peerless American novelist about his latest (short) novel, The Silence – ‘a horrifyingly resonant book’.
• We need a new Walt Whitman to imagine a virtual public space: for the Guardian John Naughton riffs on Eli Pariser’s important essay for Wired, ‘To Mend a Broken Internet, Create Online Parks’.
• Andreas Malm: “The likely future is escalating catastrophe”: George Eaton for New Statesman talks with the Swedish author and activist about why the climate crisis is dramatically increasing the risk of future pandemics.
• Review: Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Letter to You’ is the album we need right now: sounds like The Boss hasn’t lost his touch — Jay Lustig for NJArts.net on the album released 23 October:
At a time when foolishness runs rampant, it’s a work of wisdom. At a time when everything seems so empty and meaningless, it’s grandly ambitious. At a time when people feel isolated, it celebrates unity and a shared sense of purpose. At a time when new art of any kind is hard to come by, it’s a major work from a major artist.
Header image: Bradley Whitford and Allison Janney in A West Wing Special; courtesy HBO Max / Eddy Chen (and I’m entirely unrepentant about featuring the series in this spot two weeks returning – might even do it again next week).