Sunday links at 100, part 1

1st November 2020

John Wyver writes: this is the one hundredth set of Sunday links since we over-hauled our website back in 2014. The feature took a number of forms before that, including ‘Links for the weekend’, and there was a long period when I stopped posting each week. Lockdown, however, sent me back to format and I’ve really enjoyed compiling them recently. I collect the links during each week – many come from Twitter recommendations, while others suggest themselves from my own reading and watching and listening (and I know I have pretty limited musical tastes).

For this modestly celebratory set I have responded to the suggestion, or rather challenge, from my friend Luke McKernan, whose posts I often feature here, and I am compiling a set of 100 links, with a host of new ones and a sprinkling of favourites drawn from recent posts, indicated with an [R]. But – and here’s the rub – only the first 50 are featured here – I’m aiming to post the second part on Wednesday (when we’ll all need something to distract ourselves). And I have included some headings to help manage such an unwieldy list, plus a handful of musical interludes.

Enjoy – and if you’re eligible on Tuesday, VOTE!

The Cure at Troy by Seamus Heaney | Joe Biden for President 2020: there’s only one way to start this week — probably the most beautiful political campaign ad ever:

Pandemic Media – Preliminary Notes Towards an Inventory: a rich and vital new open access collection of responses to events of the past months; this a project initiated by the Graduate Research Training Program (Graduiertenkolleg) Konfigurationen des Films, and hosted by the Institute of Theater, Film and Media Studies at Goethe University Frankfurt.

With its unprecedented scale and consequences the COVID-19 pandemic has generated a variety of new configurations of media. Responding to demands for information, synchronization, regulation, and containment, these “pandemic media” reorder social interactions, spaces, and temporalities, thus contributing to a reconfiguration of media technologies and the cultures and polities with which they are entangled. Highlighting media’s adaptability, malleability, and scalability under the conditions of a pandemic, the contributions to this volume track and analyze how media emerge, operate, and change in response to the global crisis and provide elements towards an understanding of the post-pandemic world to come.

Film

Still hanging on: the authors of my favourite film blog, Kristin Thompson and David Bordwell, look back delightfully on the occasion of their 1000th post. [R]

This Thing of Darkness by Joan Neuberger: I’m very much enjoying Joan Neuberger’s recent study of Sergei Eisenstein’s unfinished masterpiece Ivan the Terrible, and this Pushkin House Q&A with the author should help you decide whether you might too.

The dark side of Lolita: a grimly fascinating story by Sarah Weinman for the Air Mail newletter [£, but with limited access for registering]; as the subhead has it, ‘Sue Lyon was 14 when she starred in [Stanley Kubrick’s 1962] film. The producer slept with her anyway.’

In a lonely place: on I’m Thinking of Ending Things and Love, Guaranteed: Annie Berke is oblique and smart in her response for LA Review of Books to Charlie Kaufman’s latest and a schlocky rom-com, both new on Netflix:

Watching these two films together reminded me of those Netflix binge-induced depressions that, lately, are most easily, if temporarily, assuaged with more Netflix. Even the lightest, dumbest romcom cannot resolve the loneliness it professes to treat.

• Mirror neurons and cinema – further discussion: this is pretty specialist, but I find it fascinating – David Bordwell offers a space for discussion of cinema and cognitive neuroscience from Vittorio Gallese and Michele Guerra, and from Malcolm Turvey. I can’t begin to summarise this here, but do take a look if you’re interested in how we respond to films, and how they are designed to have effects on us. [R]

First on the road with the Anglia: Joseph Losey directs a promotional film for the launch of the Ford Anglia 105E in 1959 – and see also The intruder – Joseph Losey’s artistic exile by Scout Tafoya for Mubi.com:

[Losey] films the Ford Anglia like all of the art objects that clutter the frame in his mid-career films, a beautiful frivolity around which empty lives are lived. It’s one of the more strange car commercials you’ll ever see, set to the jazz music he so loved, no dialogue, all the laughter in a vacuum, a car full of people packed tightly and trying to project fun.

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. [R]

Newsreels and history: a Tweeter this week drew attention to Luke McKernan’s excellent 2017 presentation about why newsreels should be used to study history – and I’m happy to second that recommendation. [R]

• Even when it’s a big fat lie: Alex Abramovich’s acute analysis of Ken Burns’s Country Music, recently on BBC Four, is pretty much worth the price of a year’s sub to LRB alone. [R]

Reflections 9: Tara Judah, from the Uppsala International Short Film Festival, for Ubiquarian with poignant thoughts on cinemagoing now and next: ‘If UK cinemas were trees then their leaves have already turned, and now they are starting to fall.’

Lockdown Commission #1 – Rooftops – ‘Power’ by Huw Watkins: one of the lockdown projects that has given me most pleasure is the series of new music commissions made by and for the viola virtuoso Lawrence Power; this is the first, with a beautiful accompanying film (as the others have) by Jessie Rogers – this one is shot on the roof of St John’s, Smith Square; see below for the three others released so far…

Television

• Rewriting the history of television: an interview with Doron Galili (part one): the first part of an interview by Henry Jenkins with the author of the essential Seeing By Electricity: The Emergence of Television, 1878-1939; part two is here; and part three here.

A beginner’s guide to the golden age of live theater on TV: New York Times theater critic Ben Brantley looks back to the 1950s in a fascinating essay and set of recommendations – includes the wonderful CBS Photo Archive header image above of the cast rehearsing for the live telecast of Twelve Angry Men in 1954. [R]

Night terrors: for NYRB [£ but limited free access] Andrew Delbanco pens a fascinating review of the graphic semi-biographical tale The Twilight Man: Rod Serling and the Birth of Television by Koren Shadmi.

The long cable box-step orgy: rewatching The Deuce: for LA Review of Books Matthew Tchepikova-Treon is really good on the under-appreciated series, on HBO programming and ‘retromania’.

The BBC’s radical commissioning plan: I mostly don’t post industry news here, but this analysis from Max Goldbart at Broadcast is indicative of fundamental changes in thinking about British television.

• Lockdown Commission # 2 – ‘Quartet for One’ by Garth Knox: filmed at The Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, London.

Art and Architecture

Seeing our own reflection in the birth of the self-portrait: a rich and rewarding interactive essay of text and responsive images from Jason Farago at The New York Times about Albrecht Dürer’s ‘Self-Portrait with Fur-Trimmed Robe’ (detail above), selfies and the self; it’s something like a web-page version of a film made with a skilled rostrum camera operator that allows you to direct the pace and focus – fascinating. [R]

From daguerreotypes to glass plates: Australia’s oldest images – photo essay: a fine Guardian feature by Carly Earl about early photography in Australia, with Margot Riley from the State Library of New South Wales.

Focus 45: Spirit photography – history and creation: a very engaging George Eastman House webinar about 19th century spirit photographs with Nick Brandreth and Heather A. Shannon:

Perilous Proceedings – documenting the New York City construction boom at the turn of the 20th century: such a great presentation from the Library of Congress by David Gibson, National Audio-Visual Conservation Center, mixing text, images and early film. [R]

Strange apprentice – T.J. Clark on Pissarro and Cézanne: an essay via LRB [£] from the great, intellectually demanding critic – few writers look as intensely as Clark does, or at least manage to translate that looking into words. [R]

How memory maps fashion’s future: a terrific review by Vanessa Friedman for The New York Times of the Metropolitan Museum’s new Costume Institute show ‘About Time: Fashion and Duration’ which opens this week, and which is accompanied by this somewhat arty video preview:

Optimism, traffic, and the historic city in post-war British planning: I have just finished Otto Saumarez Smith’s deeply informative and enjoyable study of the politics of urban planning in the 1960s, Boom Cities, just now in paperback – and here courtesy of publisher Oxford University Press is free access to the first chapter. Highly recommended. [R]

• New Digital Subway Map by Work and Co: an elegant short film by Gary Hustwit about a digital redesign of New York City’s iconic subway map:

Performance

Macbeth (Big Telly) @ Zoom: another of Peter Kirwan’s detailed and deeply informed – and hence invaluable – reviews of a Shakespeare production, in this case an ambitious online offering:

What Big Telly and Creation have done, again, is demonstrate the technical possibilities of the platform for doing inventive live storytelling and offering intelligent compressions of Shakespeare. I’m still not convinced that the medium is achieving its full potential, partly because it seems to be trying too hard; the overloading of technical tricks here too often drew attention to the limitations in the jarring mismatches of scale, the disappearance of actors into virtual backgrounds, and occasionally ropey sound quality.

Why are TikTok teens listening to an album about dementia?: Ezra Marcus for The New York Times on the phenomenon of the use of ‘Everywhere at the End of Time’, a six-hour-plus ambient composition by the Caretaker, aka Leyland James Kirby.

Lil Buck feels the dancing spirit all over again: Gia Kourlas for The New York Times introduces the new dance video by Lil Buck, directed by David Javier and set to Pastor T.L. Barrett and the Youth for Christ Choir’s version of the gospel song – and my goodness it’s great…

Writing

Misremembering the British Empire: Maya Jasanoff for The New Yorker asks, ‘How did the British become so blinkered about their nation’s imperial history?’

• I promise that the following Twitter thread of threads will take you on a very surprising and enlightening journey…

The importance of being Ernie: Ferdinand Mount for LRB [£ but limited free access] is terrific on the subject of Andrew Adonis’ new biography of Ernest Bevin, although he’s not so keen on the book itself.

Hannah Arendt and the politics of truth: Samantha Rose Hill for openDemocracy on truth, lies and politics.

At home with Austen 2: the female gaze in Jane Austen with Jessica Volz: at the very wonderful A Bit Lit project, Emma Whipday is hosting a series of online chats about all things Jane, and I especially appreciated this one with literary scholar Jessica Volz (there are currently four other Austen talks, plus lots of other great stuff):

Eat butterflies with me?: Patricia Lockwood is rather wonderful for LRB on Vladimir Nabokov.

Roger Angell turns one hundred: New Yorker editor David Remnick pays tribute to the legendary writer and fiction editor by introducing a collection of some of his best contributions (and incidentally who knew that when he stood in as a movie critic for the magazine Jean-Luc Godard was among his fans). [R]

All of time is a grave: The Paris Review excerpts an introduction to the writing of Breece D’J Pancake, a writer I’d not heard of, by Jayne Anne Phillips, one of my favourite American novelists:

Breece D’J Pancake’s dozen stories, completed in the last four or five years of his life, include some of the best short stories written anywhere, at any time. Forty years of the author’s absence cast no shadow… His stories are startling and immediate: these lives informed by loss and wrenching cruelty retain the luminous dignity that marks the endurance of all that is most human.

From the NS archive: The man who would be Christ: this is going to be the only mention of Tr*mp this week, in the form of a recommendation for Patrick Wright’s rather brilliant 1988 piece about the man’s visit to London.

In the streets with Antifa: remarkable reporting on the ground in Portland, Oregon, by Luke Mogelson for The New Yorker.

Beyond folly: I don’t link every week to Chris Grey’s Brexit Blog but I read each informed and angry contribution and come away far better informed myself – and angrier; this week…

So we blunder on, prisoners of a series of past decisions that we do not have the wit or the will to revisit, and of a small but powerful group of ideologues we are either too cowardly or too weak to face down. It is worse than folly. It is insanity.

Lockdown Commission #3 – Esa-Pekka Salonen ‘Objets Trouvés’ for Solo Viola and Drone

Digital

It’s the (democracy-poisoning) golden age of free speech: zeynep’s ever-relevant argument about attention and censorship, published in this form as a 2018 Wired feature.

The Huawei war: now published in English by le monde diplomatique, Evgeny’s Morozov’s long read dives deep into key issues about China and technology.

Putting audience data at the heart of the BBC: read this, people, it’s important – and then explore the Taster presentation it links to; this is core to the future of public service media; by Max Leonard and Bill Thompson for BBC Research & Development. [R]

Lockdown Commission #4 – Cassandra Miller, ‘Daylonging, Slacktide’: filmed in and around Snape Maltings, and my favourite so far…

Friendless Churches: another little plug for one of my favourite Twitter follows…

And finally, there’s really only way to end a celebratory post such as this – a great new song, ‘Ghosts’, and a great new video from the great new album from The Boss – ‘Ghosts / Runnin’ through the night / Our spirits filled with light / I need, need you by my side / Your love and I’m alive…

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