The Sunday dozen

4th February 2024

John Wyver writes: welcome to the usual mix of articles and audio that captured my attention this past week.

Bite-sized Godard – read along with the French New Wave auteur: for MUBI Notebook, Jonathan Rosenbaum reviews a new volume of 109 three-page essays by 50 writers from a dozen countries, Reading with Jean-Luc Godard; above, of course, is Anna Karina in Alphaville (1965):

As someone who often regarded both his talk and his filmmaking as playful experiments—a means of testing ideas and the meanings of words rather than making any simple or final declarations with them—Godard typically confounds efforts to tie him to any single game plan. The most that many entries in this book can accomplish is to show how much fun these forays can be. Like one of Godard’s spidery, web-spinning blankets of wordplay suggesting other routes that imagination, coherence, or even ideology might take, Reading’s entries are brief interludes, fleeting fancies designed to illuminate and then, very politely, evaporate.

Josephine Baker, still moving: Emily LaBarge reports from Berlin for The New York Times [£, but limited free access] on an innovative exhibition exploring the many sides of the interwar artist and activist that I would dearly love to see.

What the world gets wrong about ‘civilisation’: Josephine Quinn is very good in the FT (the link should make it free to access) on the meanings and history of the ‘c’ word; this is linked to her new book How the World Made the West: A 4,000-Year History.

Antitheory: on Anna Kornbluh’s Immediacy and Premium Content: on Anna Kornbluh’s Immediacy: two reviews, by Grace Buron and Christina Fogarasi respectively, for LA Review of Books of what looks like an essential work of cultural criticism, now available from Verso.

Stephen Herbert: Luke McKernan pays tribute to the remarkable film historian who died recently:

His passions ranged from model aeroplanes to pinball machines, from book binding to artificial intelligence, from flipbooks to reggae, from Popeye to Samuel Johnson. The connecting theme was animation – as in film, as in liveliness, as in bringing things back to life. As I concluded in an obituary for Stephen in The Guardian, “he did what any projectionist does when they throw light on to a cinema screen: he made things come alive again.”

In Northcliffe jail – Iris Barry, film journalist: an open access journal article from Early Popular Visual Culture by Henry K. Miller about the writing for the Daily Mail in the 1920s of the celebrated critic and curator. A bit niche perhaps, but I found it fascinating given my current interest in and writing about the moving image in the interwar years.

The ‘film look’ and how The Holdovers achieved it: Devon Scott for Filmmaker online spoke with director Alexander Payne, cinematographer Eigil Bryld and colorist Joe Gawler about their use of ‘every trick imaginable to bend their footage, digitally captured via the Arri Alexa Mini, to appear as if it was not only shot on a 35mm film stock circa the winter of 1969-70, but projected on, as Gawler puts it, a “questionable release print”.’

Why I love Suits (USA, 2011-19) and I’m not ashamed to admit it: Kim Akass for CST Online hymns the series that was last year’s most-streamed show in the USA; Sam Adams for Slate is also very good on this topic.

This Cultural Life – Frank Auerbach: this rare audio interview by John Wilson with the 92-year-old artist, now available at BBC Sounds, is every bit as good as everyone has been saying.

Everyone’s a sell-out now: Rebecca Jennings for Vox is really good on the implications of ‘The internet [having] made it so that no matter who you are or what you do — from nine-to-five middle managers to astronauts to house cleaners — you cannot escape the tyranny of the personal brand.’

A circular motion: a thought-provoking LRB essay [£, but limited free access] by James Butler about the unintended, and in many cases disastrous, consequences of the 2010s’ decade of protest.

The end of Pevsner: for The Critic, Charles Saumarez Smith celebrates the completion of the second revised edition of the ultimate architectural guide, and makes a suggestion of how it might survive and thrive going forward.

And finally…: very sadly, my wonderful mother-in-law, Beryl Paterson, who has been a central part of my life for more than forty years, died peacefully this morning after a long decline; many of her last days and months in the care home were accompanied by Frankie singing, as she believed, just for her, so this is a tiny tribute:


  1. Kim Hoare says:

    Lovely Frank Sinatra number, what a sound track to go into a decline to…. Sending condolences.

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