Posts by flares

I am a critic and researcher of sf, with interests in queer theory, postmodernism, psychoanalysis and other long words. I have various blogs.

I Love Lucy N

Lacombe, Lucien (Louis Malle, 1974)

At the start of the movie, seventeen-year-old Lucien (Pierre Blaise) kills a bird with a catapult. As it is war time and this is occupied France, I at first assume this is food. (Later, he shoots rabbits and breaks the necks of chickens.) But there’s not a lot of meat on a song bird, even if you are desperate.

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Not the Typeface

Kjell Ola Dahl, The Courier (2015, Kureren (translated by Don Bartlett))

I had a moment of panic as I reached the last twenty pages of this book.

There appared to be a ten page leap, when in fact a cluster of pages had come adrift and had been wrongly inserted. After about 300 pages I was definitely worried that I’d miss something vital from the denouement.

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Justitia or Dike

Anne Holt, Blind Goddess (Blind Guddine (1993), translated by Tom Geddes)

I’ve temporarily stopped reading Kjell Ola Dahl‘s Gunnarstranda and Frølich novels — which I wasn’t writing up — but then I’ve only read about two books this year, both catalogues. Noodling around Bigsouthamericanriver.con I found Anne Holt, who wrote the books (including Frukta inte, on which the Copernhagen-set Modus was based). A ex-lawyer, ex-journalist, ex minister of justice in the Norwegian government, this is her first novel.

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A New Rose By Any Other Name

‘“A New Rose Hotel is a New Rose Hotel is a New Rose Hotel”: Non-Places in William Gibson’s Screen Adaptations’, William Gibson and the Futures of Contemporary Culture. Edited by Mitch R. Murray and Mathias Nilges. Iowa City: The University of Iowa Press, 2021, 97-109.

There is a moment in an interview with William Gibson when he says that “Being a screenwriter was never part of my game plan, and I never would have gone after it; it never occurred to me that it was something people did or that I would be asked to do it.” Inspired by watching teenagers play arcade video games, Gibson had been writing about the realm behind computer screens, of colors and space, claiming that he “Assembled [the] word cyberspace from small and readily available components of language […] Slick and hollow – awaiting received meaning.” Cyberspace has no fixed identity, relationships, or history and it lacks authentic height, width, depth, and mass and can be thought of as an addition to the catalog of “non-places” of supermodernity identified by the French anthropologist Marc Augé.

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A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Thanet

Ruby Blue (Jan Dunn, 2008)

Jan Dunn returned to the Isle of Thanet for her second feature, again on a low budget, but this time illuminated by Bob Hoskins’s last big screen appearance. We appear to be — and forgive me if this is a cliché of my reading of British film — in Ken Loach territory, as Kes seems to be in the mix.  I will be circumspect, but there are hints of spoilers.

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Look like th’innocent flower, But be the serpent under’t

Lady Macbeth (William Oldroyd, 2016)

I confess I downloaded this assuming it was something entirely different and indeed Korean, but I was assuming it was a variant on The Scottish Play with a focus on Lady M. It was an odd experience, revising my sense of the film’s setting, from eleventh century to Elizabethan to mid-nineteenth century. I was, to be honest, tempted to give up, but I am glad I persevered.

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I Think You Mean Roma

Gypo (Jan Dunn, 2005)

Dunn’s debut low budget feature is Dogme 37, the first UK Dogme film, and is the three intersecting stories of Helen (Pauline McLynn), Paul (Paul McGann) and Tasha (Chloe Sirene). Helen is in a loveless marriage to carpet layer Paul, with a couple of kids, and befriends Czech refugee who is on the run from a bad relationshio with her mother Irina (Rula Lenska).

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Beyond the Pail

The Lunchbox (Ritesh Batra, 2013)

This romantic-comedy is an unexpected bitter-sweet gem. Neglected by her husband, Rajeev Sehgal (Nakul Vaid), Ila Sehgal (Nimrat Kaur) tries to woo him back with new recipes with the aid of her unseen aunt (Bharati Achrekar). Unfortunately, the lunchbox goes to retiring insurance claims clerk and widower Saajan Fernandes (Irrfan Khan), who loves the food and falls in love with her via a series of notes, as does Ila.

It is a long-distance relationship — for much of the film neither lead character is in the same room, nor does the aunt appear on screen. The alienation of contemporary Mumbai is evident — all those lonely people etc. — and we are prepared for some dark tones, even as we can’t seriously contemplate the happy ending you would expect. But the film is more gripping than a series of shots of people reading notes might suggest.