Title Comment Comment Date Comment Link
Best novels (that I've read)

The Golden Bowl is definitely at tricky starting place; I’d say the best point of entry for his dense, late writing is the short stories: "The Beast in the Jungle", "The Altar of the Dead", "The Figure in the Carpet", etc. The best work to begin with overall is probably The Portrait of a Lady. Incidentally, it has perhaps my favourite opening sentence ever… though I also love "Many years later, as he faced the firing squad…"

I have ambivalent feelings about Eliot myself--Adam Bede is a qualified success as far as debuts go, Silas Marner is a delightful fairy tale, Daniel Deronda is essentially two novels shoe-horned into one, one being brilliant, the other not so much--but Middlemarch is easily one of the best books ever written.

Thanks for the White Noise tip, I’ll have to give that and Bleak House a go.

2/25/2015 View
Best novels (that I've read)

Some favourites here... In Search, Ulysses, Don Quixote, Disgrace... I love War & Peace, but definitely prefer Anna Karenina. I've really neglected some of the postmodernists like Gaddis and DeLillo. I've never quite cottoned onto Dickens--he has flashes of brilliance, my absolute favourite being David Copperfield visiting his mother when the Murdstones aren't around--but I find the novels fail to sufficiently sustain interest for extended periods. I have not read Bleak House, though. Have you given Henry James, George Eliot or Melville a go? Moby Dick, especially, with its proto-modernism, seems like a book you might go for. Interestingly, Faulkner was saying how it was one of the best books ever written in 1911, a good eleven years before the rest of the world caught on.

2/25/2015 View
Film Log

Err... School of Rock, Bad News Bears and Fast Food Nation are the only ones. I missed the boat on the Sun series... Me & Orson Welles looks promising as well. One of these days!

2/23/2015 View
Film Log

Thanks for the tip; you and HumanEmotions have mitigated my expectations so if I ever get around to watching it hopefully I'll be pleasantly surprised...

...but I suppose that's just another expectation in itself :(.

2/23/2015 View
Media Log 2015

Two of my favourite poems! Robert Frost is a marvel; this is one of the most indispensable books that I own. He distills more truth and beauty into a few lines than most writers manage in hundreds of pages.

A scent of ripeness from over a wall.
And come to leave the routine road
And look for what had made me stall,
There sure enough was an apple tree
That had eased itself of its summer load,
And of all but its trivial foliage free,
Now breathed as light as a lady's fan.
For there had been an apple fall
As complete as the apple had given man.
The ground was one circle of solid red.

May something go always unharvested!
May much stay out of our stated plan,
Apples or something forgotten and left,
So smelling their sweetness would be no theft.

I melt...

2/21/2015 View
Piero Scaruffi's Best Rock Albums

Ha! I completely agree with the low rating of Irrlicht, what a dull album. I do think Faust is pretty good, though; and Velvet Underground is the best album on his list.

2/20/2015 View
Film Log

Thanks! I'll look into them.

2/17/2015 View
Movie Log, 2012-2015

Hmmm... perhaps something will come to me, but I'm struggling to think of a really suitable comparison. Probably Tarr would be the most congruent: both have stunning photography (there may be a bit of Ford in Zvyagintsev's landscapes), both are brutally emotive, and both have caustic visions of life. Yet, for all that, for example, Satantango has to say about a socially volatile time, its engagement with political culture is relatively indirect as compared to Leviathan. I'd say more in that respect, but I think it's better to be surprised by the baldness of his images. The mise en scène is unforgettable, intense, and--at times--downright disturbing.

2/16/2015 View
Film Log

I'm not at all familiar with his films, and it's hard to imagine a bigger compliment than being heir to Ozu. I'll have to check.

2/15/2015 View
Film Log

I haven't seen too many of his films myself, but I--without hesitation--recommend A Time to Live and a Time to Die, Café Lumière and Good Men, Good Women. It's hard to rank them because they all cover different ground, though I will say A Time has some of the greatest moments I've ever seen in art. Shigehiko Hasumi wrote "Ozu’s talent lies in choosing an image that can function poetically at a particular moment by being assimilated into the film, not by affixing to the film the image of an object that is considered poetic in a domain outside the film." The same can be said of Hou: his pace is slow, his vision nuanced, and he allows us the privilege of seeing the subtleties that compose daily life but don't normally register.

2/14/2015 View
Top 10 Movies, Music & Visual Art of the Week (2015)

If you can stand to listen to more Kanye I'd suggest Late Registration; that's probably my favourite of his. The Dean had a good review, in his typically idiosyncratic manner.

2/13/2015 View
Movie Log, 2012-2015

Ha! I had initially done the same. Don't neglect last year's Leviathan, though; an incredible film that deserves to be seen on the big screen, if possible.

2/10/2015 View
Top 10 Movies, Music & Visual Art of the Week (2015)

How'd you like The Apartment? I had considered it a great film, but rewatching it recently was an absolute drag.

Giotto and Michelangelo are both undeniable, but it would be a shame to neglect Massacio, who paved the path to the future.

2/6/2015 View
Film Log

Thank-you for the recommendation! What Tarkovsky has, which Vlacil and Tarr do not, is an overwhelming sense of spirituality. That's why for all the darkness that we encounter in Andrei Rublev its final vignette is all about faith (the same could, I think, be said about the conclusion of The Sacrifice). Vlacil and Tarr's worlds are much blacker, and the Czech's relative lack of finesse is suited to this vision.

I'm interested in seeing more of Vlacil's work... and, hell, more Czech films in general. This may be the first I've seen, aside from Milos Forman's Hollywood work.

2/6/2015 View
Film Log

While the critical excitement, its conceptual ambition and numerous recommendations have piqued my interest I admit it's a low priority; too many other films are on my radar. That said, I haven't written it off. How did you like it!?

2/4/2015 View