Here and there

May 23, 2019

First, some film notes:

  • Terrence Malick’s long-awaited film, A Hidden Life, premiered this week at Cannes, and the critics seemed to like it, calling it his best since The Tree of Life and, perhaps on account of its World War II setting, something of a partner to The Thin Red Line, all of which is wonderfully good news. It’s the film I’ve been most anticipating this year, though whether I’ll actually get to see it this year is another matter.
  • Deal Hudson praises First Reformed, while sketching out its relationship to the so-called transcendental style of film-making.
  • Another good film from last year was the Coen Brothers’ The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. Ross Douthat argues that it’s “a particularly transparent window into their unique sort of metaphysical agnosticism” — which, if it wasn’t clear, he sees as a good thing. It’s a thoughtful take on the film.
  • There is a documentary from a few years ago — it never found a distributor, which tells you something — called An Open Secret which argues that the grooming system for child actors in Hollywood includes networks of sexual abuse and exploitation. The highest ranking Hollywood brass named in that film was Bryan Singer, director of several X-Men films. A few months ago The Atlantic ran a good piece in which his accusers told their stories.

Then, some book notes:

  • Will Lloyd laments the rise of politicized books for children.
  • It’s my favourite colour and yours, and now Michel Pastoureau has written a book about it. The book was in our home, courtesy the public library, where, alas, it sat in a place of honour for some weeks before being returned, unread. But I would like to read it, and in the meantime Jesse Russell has written an appreciative review.
  • James Panero writes perceptively about the ghost stories of Russell Kirk (which I read a few years ago around about All Hallows Eve).
  • Finally, I have to recommend Michael Weingrad’s superbly barbed exploration of Harold Bloom’s life-long antagonism toward the Inklings, and especially toward C.S. Lewis.

For an envoi, let’s watch Buster Scruggs’ death scene, featuring Gillian Welch and David Rawlings singing “Spurs for Wings”:

3 Responses to “Here and there”

  1. Rob G Says:

    Very much looking forward to ‘A Hidden Life’, although like you I have no idea when I’ll get to see it. Can’t wait this weekend to see Zhang Yimou’s ‘Shadow’, which is getting very good reviews after the dud that was ‘Great Wall’. ‘Shadow’ was released in Asia in September, but has only just now made it to the States.

  2. cburrell Says:

    How did you like ‘Shadow’? I also saw the good reviews and added it to my wishlist. I’ve not seen any of Yimou’s films, although I hope to change that. He seems to have a reputation as a visual stylist, which is intriguing.

  3. Rob G Says:

    Loved it! Saw it on Sunday afternoon and liked it so much I went back again last night. Maybe not the best place to start with Yimou, as it’s a good bit more intense and violent than his films typically are, but if you have the chance to see it on the big screen don’t miss it. Among other things the cinematography is fantastic.

    Yes, one of his great strengths has been his visual flair and his strong use of color. This is evident in both his dramas and his action movies.


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