Prim and Improper

Joanna Moorhead, The Surreal Life of Leonora Carrington (2017, revised edition)

The journalist Joanna Moorhead knew that she had an older cousin, Prim, who was estranged from the rest of her family and was some kind of artist in Mexico. At a party, she discovered that Carrington was not only an artist, but one of the most respected artists in Mexico and was still alive. Moorhead decided to travel across the Atlantic to meet her and the two became friends, with Carrington agreeing that she could write a biography.

Continue reading →

Don’t Try This at Home. Or at Work

Druk (Another Round, Thomas Vinterberg, 2020)

Supposedly, the Norwegian psychiatrist Finn Skårderud suggests that humans are born with a blood alcohol 0.05% too low. In this comedy, four middle aged, jaded, male teachers decide to keep drinking to ascertain what the psychological effects are and whether it improves their work and personal lives. After initial success, they increase their intake.

Continue reading →

The Write Off Spring

David Hockney, The Arrival of Spring, Normandy, 2020 (Royal Academy of Arts, 23 May–26 September 2021) 

You have to admire Hockney for his prolificness and his ability to reinvent himself in a sixty-odd year career. The Tate retrospective was great but, the 1960s rooms aside, you could imagine at least two surveys of his work that didn’t overlap with that one. Having made art with paint, pencil, charcoal, various kinds of prints and Polaroids, it was hardly surprising that he’d embrace iPads and for some years he has been using them to make landscape images. 

Here we have 116 works drawn on iPads around his newish home in Normandy during the early Covid weeks of 2020, printed above their created size on paper and on the walls of three of the rooms in the Main Galleries (and they will move in August to the slightly smaller Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler Galleries). But are they any good? 

Well, they’d look good on a fridge.  

Continue reading →

Sssshhhhhhh!!!

A Quiet Place Part II (John Krasinski, 2020)

I confess to a bit of a hazy memory of part one — there are some kind of aliens or critters who react to sound and are menacing an American family in the wilds of New York State. Alongside bearded Lee Abbott (Krasinski) and heavily pregnant Evelyn Abbott (Emily Blunt), there are various kids, including the hearing impaired Regan Abbott (Millicent Simmonds) who is, of course, used to communicating nicely. It seemed a bit of a back to basics one damn thing after another thriller, without the tongue in cheek of Tremors or the social commentary of Blumhouse horrors.

Continue reading →

Daddy, Daddy

The Father (Florian Zeller, 2020)

So Anthony Hopkins bags an Oscar for playing disabiity — Anthony (Hopkins) is an elderly man, suffering from some kind of Alzheimer’s, has fallen out with his carer, and now lives with his daughter Anne (Olivia Colman) and her boyfriend Paul (Rufus Sewell). The film is moreorless — but insufficiently – focalised through Anthony’s eyes, as the flat changes subtly or less so and Anne turns into Olivia Williams and Paul into he’s-the-new-Tony-Slattery Mark Gatiss. At times it feels like he is being gaslighted — has his watch been stolen? has his art been sold? — and that would be somewhat more interesting.

Hopkins is ok, and I’ve not seen Boseman’s performance, but Ahmed was better in Sound of Metal. Meanwhile, Colman confirms her place on the list of actors I’d watch in anything — with here her astonishing ability to have to performances on her face at the same time.

Oslo Blues

Anne Holt, 1222 (2007, translated by Marlaine Delargy)

Anne Holt, Salige er de som tørster (Blessed Are Those Who Thirst, 1994, translated by Anne Bruce)

Anne Holt, Demonens død (Death of the Demon, 1995, translated by Anne Bruce)

Anne Holt and Berit Reiss-Andersen, Løvens gap (The Lion’s Mouth, 1997, translated by Anne Bruce)

I prefer, where possible, to read series in order — but not all novels necessarily get translated and I found a copy of 1222 so figured I should go for it, although this is several titles after the first. So, the detective Hanne Wilhelmsen is in a wheelchair, she seems to have split from her girlfriend and a minor character has been killed off. I’ve missed a lot.

Continue reading →

Clang!

Sound of Metal (Darius Marder, 2019)

I’d noticed Riz Ahmed in a couple of films and been impressed, and of course he’s in Chris Morris’s Four Lions, so here he is in pretty well every scene, if not shot, of this film. Heavy metal drummer Ruben Stone (Ahmed) is in the middle of a low budget tour with his thinly-drawn girlfriend Lou (Olivia Cooke) when he begins to lose his hearing. Whilst he is determined to get cochlear implants, first he has to check into a school for the hearing impaired and learn to sign. Here he reluctantly learns from Vietnam vet Joe (Paul Raci, stealing every scene) and befriends Jenn (Chelsea Lee).

Continue reading →

What You Can A ford

Nomadland (Chloé Zhao, 2020)

This film is easy to love — Faye (Frances McDormand), recently widowed in a small Nevadan town ruined by the gypsum company which had owned it, buys a van and heads out into deep, marginal America, it what could be a feminist western (and clearly references The Searchers). Faye finds work in an Amazon warehouse, a burger bar, a trailer park and a sugar beet plant, along the way meeting other boomers who have lost homes and families and livid the nomad lifestyle. Many of these are based on real people, who play version of themselves — the exception being David (David Strathairn), who she meets en route and he forms a transient, tenuous, almost relationship. McDormand is in every scene — almost every shot — with only Patricia Clarkson coming close to her for this kind of unglamorous role in Hollywood. The scenes with Strathairn are especially strong.

Continue reading →

To Tie Firmly

Daphne Du Maurier, Rebecca (1938)

Rebecca (Alfred Hitchcock, 1940)

Rebecca (Ben Wheatley, 2020)

It may be, of course, that I read Rebecca years and years ago — I know I started it and I studied the opening paragraph, the dream of the Manderley mansion from years later, but I’m not sure I got much further. And when I bought two Du Maurier boxsets, I don’t think Rebecca was part of them. It took me a while to track down a copy — although naturally I found several since, as a battered paperback 1992 reprint got more battered as it got carried around.

The conceit should be familiar: lady’s companion Rebecca meets aristocratic widower Maxim de Winter in Monte Carlo and the two have a whirlwind romance, before returning to the ancestral pad in … where we take to be Cornwall but it isn’t named in the book. The new bride finds life at Manderley difficult and the ghost of the dead Rebecca hangs over her, especially through the behaviour of housekeeper Mrs Danvers. A ball would be useful, perhaps, but Mrs Danvers persuades her to wear the same costume as Rebecca had and then it seems as if a wedge has been driven between the loving couple. Then a body is discovered in a sunken boat… Continue reading →