The Sunday dozen

14th January 2024

John Wyver writes: the regular (if this week, a little late) numerically specific number of recommendations of articles and other stuff that have engaged and amused and challenged me over the past week. For some reason there are a lot of film links this time.

Q&A: Le Monde climate editor Nabil Wakim envisions an ‘all-climate newsroom’: a fascinating Covering Climate Now / Columbia Journalism Review interview with Nabil Wakim, a climate and energy journalist, about climate-focussed initiatives at the French media company :

The idea is to make our journalists working on climate the cool kids of the newsroom: If you work at Le Monde, and if you want to be associated with interesting projects—if you want to work with colleagues from different sections and learn to do cool stuff with social and video and podcasts—covering climate change is how you do it.

The two most-broadcast BBC programmes of all-time – the Grand Final: a long, rich and richly nostalgia post as the culmination of Mark Gibbings-Jones’ Brokentv blog about, well, the BBC’s most-broadcast programmes – except that No.1 isn’t really a BBC programme at all. A wonderful project grounded in great research.

Roy Battersby RIP: one of the finest writers on British television, W. Stephen Gilbert, posted on Facebook a heartfelt tribute to one of the very finest drama directors, Roy Battersby, whose death was announced this week.

Break your bleedin’ heart: for London Review of Books [£, but limited free access], Michael Wood on translations of Proust.

Revisiting Madonna-ology in the era of Taylor Swift studies: I enjoyed Michael Django’s essay for LA Review of Books on the academic conjunction of ‘the year introducing the first symposia on Swift [being] also the 30-year anniversary of the first edited volume of academic essays on the elder entertainer, The Madonna Connection: Representational Politics, Subcultural Identities, and Cultural Theory.’

The 2010s – a decade of revolutionaries without a revolution: for The New Statesman [£, but limited free access], the invariably excellent William Davies reflects on politics and personality over the past decade, while musing much on Russell Brand, and asks, ‘what exactly did the left achieve during those years?’

The ten best films of… 1933: welcome as ever, Kristin Thompson’s annual review explores the great releases 90 years ago. She writes that, ‘Last year’s list was easy to fill with marvelous films. Surprisingly, 1933 proved to be a thin year for masterpieces. The major auteurs of Hollywood and France created relatively minor films and German filmmakers were busy finding safe places to live and work.’ Choices include two films by Yasujiro Ozu, Ernst Lubitsch’s Noel Coward adaptation Design for Living, King Kong and Busby Berkeley’s Footlight Parade, from which this astonishing sequence comes:

The best action scenes of 2023: Jonah Jeng for Mubi.notebook with a remarkable and hugely entertaining series of extracts from movies that are mostly well beyond my ken ‘ranging from tokusatsu to wuxia, Kensuke Sonomura to Ma Dong-seok, India to Vietnam’; there’s a different and distinct way of looking at and thinking about cinema here.

The playwright has a few more changes: a terrific profile for The New Yorker [£, but limited free access] by Julian Lucas of the brilliant playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, whose dazzling An Octoroon, which I saw at the Orange Tree, Richmond, has long rattled around most productively in my head.

Seeing movement in cinema: an introduction to Laban movement analysis: a dense but absolutely delightful and brilliant video essay by Jenny Oyallon-Koloski using classic Hollywood musicals (including Singin’ in the Rain (above), An American in Paris and Meet Me in St. Louis) to illustrate the basic concepts of Laban movement analysis; this explores elements of her forthcoming book Storytelling in Motion: Cinematic Choreography and the Film Musical (h/t Catherine Grant)

That’s entertainment – variety and me: in five short and immensely engaging contributions to BBC Radio 3’s The Essay, Amanda Dalton has been reflecting on aspects of traditional variety; available on BBC Sounds (the link is to the first programme) for more than a year.

Seen/read 2023: there’s something oddly fascinating about director Steven Soderbergh’s daily record of what he saw and read throughout the past year; I’m very taken with his system and might try to apply it here shortly.

And finally… because I’ve been writing this week about the great Nina Mae McKinney’s early appearances on British television, here she is with with Eubie Blake and his Orchestra in 1932 (even if the image and sound quality is slightly sub-optimal):

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