If anyone needed any further reason - and they can't - to completely dismiss the Oscars as a genuine arts prize then the fact that Steve McQueen's Shame is not nominated for a single one of them should do it.
By my reckoning, of films released in the last 12 months, this one contains the best performance by both an actor and actress, the best direction, the best cinematography, the best score (albeit with a large tip of the hat to The Thin Red Line) and it is, without doubt, the finest film.
The subject matter is sordid. The treatment superb, The performances wrought with unspoken pain with McQueen apparently subscribing to Hemingway's dictum that 9 tenths of the iceberg is underwater, therefore a work gains power by what is unsaid as much or more than what is. This film speaks its depths with a series of subtle poetic gestures, not surprisingly as McQueen started out as a visual artist, and indeed its best scenes contain no dialogue at all (the one thing the director doesn't do terribly well is dialogue), but at told in the faces of Fassbender and Mulligan and the movement of McQueen's camera.
Tinker, Tailor ... is nominated plenty. Which is telling of the people who judge such prizes: I can only assume their thinking goes something like this: British intelligence in Cold War = serious; New York professional with a sex addiction = not serious. Ergo, the former goes through. Tinker, Tailr, despite the gravity of the men's faces in frame, despite the grandiosity, is nothing more than an amusing cerebral game, every Agatha Christie book is as good. And to make the whole business a complete joke, that great turkey slap of a film The Tree of Life is nominated.
In fifty years time people will still by watching Shame; they'll probably be remaking Tinker, Tailor or something very like it with concessions to the nostalgic tastes of the day (I was 4 years old in 1980 - people didn't dress like they do in that movie - didn't see any crimped hair or tie-dye in frame); and the Tree of Life will come on once a decade on a community channel in Venezuela at 2 in the morning.
This first collaborative effort by Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson, Bottle Rocket, is a kind of road, outlaw, comic romance with modern day Don Quixote, Dignan (Owen Wilson), in the lead. Never has the romantic spirit, that very best quality of America, though it cause them ever so much trouble (think Jack Kerouac, Jesse James, John Muir) been so crystalised in a film and in a character. Throughout the film Wilson delivers some of the most beautiful, touching and hilarious lines you’ll ever hear – you can’t quote them, they need Wilson’s note perfect delivery, but after seeing Bottle Rocket you’ll know why people call out ‘Ka kaw ka kaw’ in public (and in other films) and think it’s tremendously funny. I can't watch those films where multiple casinos, banks, governments are knocked off by teams of supernaturally gifted experts - more fantastical and far more unrelatable than unicorns; there are just two heists in this film: a successful one of a book shop after hours and a disasterous one of a chemical plant. Bottle Rocket has cult status these days, and it deserves it.
The introduction of the most recent translation of Meyrink's Golem reminds us that the author brilliantly reproduced the atmosphere of 19th Century Prague. Kafka agreed. The introducer goes on to say, however, that 'if this were all it did, then the novel could only have limited interest for us today. More importantly, The Golem was an assault on the values of the bourgeoisie of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in its last days.'
What an extraordinary thing to say. Do even the great grandchildren of the Austro-Hungarian aristocrats care about the socio-politics of the day? But who among us would not like to have walked among the stalls of the alchemists and Jewish magicians in the Jewish Quarter of Prague, or met an eastern girl in a tryst in view of Charles Bridge or Hradcany Castle as the dusk gathered and lamps were lit.
How and why do academics learn the inability to read?
Pensees - spelling and punctuation mistakes and all ... I believe at least three quarters of what I say. ... And the good stuff only stays posted for an hour or two.