Weekend links

22nd January 2012

Here’s a little campaign that is well worth supporting: Save the 35 Ken Russell BBC Films. Or, as the Facebook page (above) also – and more accurately – argues, Free the 35 BBC Films of Ken Russell. The late, great director made wonderful documentaries and drama-documentaries for the BBC between 1959 and 1968 (for details, start with Michael Brooke’s BFI ScreenOnline page). These include the much-loved Elgar, produced for Monitor in 1962 and repeated on BBC Four last week (available on iPlayer until 30 January). But thanks to extortionate commercial expectations from BBC Worldwide, not one of these films is legally available in the UK on DVD (although a number have been released in the USA). A decade back the BFI partnered with the BBC on releases of Elgar and Song of Summer (1968), but when it came time to re-licence these, the terms expected were such that the BFI had to discontinue the titles. So it’s a wholly worthwhile aim to try to get at least some of the films out into the world. Go to the campaign’s Facebook page for more – and go below for further links to interesting stuff.

• The television moment: a stimulating post at Critical Studies in Television online from Steven Peacock reflecting on ‘the moment’ in contemporary television and distinguishing what this might mean from ‘the moment’ in film.

How Twitter saved event TV: a good piece by Lucy Mangan for the Guardian.

Birdsong – an epic in the making: did you watch the BBC adaptation of Sebastian Faulks’ novel? Still awake? This is an interesting 2009 Independent article by Geoffrey Mcnab about the earlier attempts to make the book into a movie. You might also want to compare BBC head of drama Ben Stephenson’s claims for the project back in May 2011: ‘It’s about fighting back against any perception that we don’t make the best drama in the world.’

A newly restored Wings: how much are we looking forward to this? Smithsonian.com reports on the restoration and DVD release of William Wellman’s 1927 classic of the First World War.

Sidney Lumet – experimental filmmaker?: a very good essay by Fergus Daly for Experimental Conversations.

George Lucas is ready to roll the credits: a richly interesting profile of George Lucas facing retirement by Bryan Curtis for The New York Times.

Hand jive: yet one more absolutely unmissable David Bordwell post, this time about hand gestures in All the King’s Men, The Magnificent Seven and more.

Hammer restoration blog: just getting up and running, but definitely one to watch, as the team behind the restoration of many of Hammer’s horror classics promise a close-up chronicle.

Space exploration: filmmaker Patrick Keiller is interviewed by Leo Goldsmith for the blog of New York’s Museum of the Moving Image.

Elsevier – my part in its downfall: smart title for an important post by renowned mathematician Tim Gowers on why he is no longer prepared to publish in an Elsevier journal – and on academic publishing more generally.

The wrong Leonardo?: Charles Hope in the New York Review of Books is very good on the Leonardo show, and especially on the two versions of the ‘Virgin of the Rocks’.

The new American Wing: the Metropolitan Museum of Art has just opened what looks like a glorious and spectacular suite of galleries for their American collections; Holland Cotter’ review for The New York Times, The Met reimagines the American story, is an intelligent take, and in Berth of a nation the Financial Times (is there a byline on this piece?) is similarly enthusiastic.

Walkerart.org: The Walker Art Gallery in Minneapolis has produced a potential game-changer among museum websites (and really impressive it is too), as as Nina Simon explores in her Museum 2.0 post Digital museums reconsidered (which also has some other very useful links).

Bill T. Jones discusses Story/Time: also from the Walker, the exceptional choreographer talks about John Cage with the museum’s performing arts curator Philip Bither McGuire…

Marcel Breuer’s Whitney Museum: I liked this vlog with educators Andrew Fisher and Christine S. Kim taking a look at Breuer’s iconic architecture.

Museum of Contemporary Art to create original programming for YouTube: watch out Tate and the V&A, The New York Times says that the LA institution is promising ‘a documentary-style show about street artists; a weekly news roundup to be called the Art News Network; an “MTV Cribs”-style show that visits artists’ studios; an educational series called MOCA University; an art comedy series; and a show hosted by the antic video artist Ryan Trecartin, described as a “post-reality and talk show.” ‘ Hmmm.

The longest photographic exposures in history: thanks to @toddmacd for pointing me to this fascinating piece (with great images) by Stefan Klenke about shots taken with months-long exposures.

Theatre talkback – the stage, the screen and the screen on stage: interesting reflections from Ben Brantley for The New York Times.

Blowing up the book: Alexandra Alter offers a useful round-up in the Wall Street Journal of some recent enhanced e-books and apps.

Václav Havel (1936-2011): a terrific tribute from Paul Wilson for The New York Review of Books.

Mrs Winterson’s daughter: Adam Mars-Jones submits Jeanette Winterson’s recent memoir to a fascinating raw and revealingly personal close reading.

Music Matters: … and finally, a lovely video in which Tom Service discusses a recently discovered Brahms piece with pianist András Schiff and conductor Christopher Hogwood…

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