Friday, February 5, 2010

February 5

I finished watching The Hurt Locker last night -- these days I generally spread my viewing of films longer than 90 minutes over more than one evening -- and while anything I would say to add to the general chorus of praise would be superfluous, I'd like to single out one moment that particularly delighted me -- and reminded me of Kathryn Bigelow's roots in the art world. When Jeremy Renner finds himself flummoxed by the proliferation of products in the breakfast cereal aisle, the image is immediately recognizable as an homage to Andreas Gursky's large-scale photographs of such proliferation, and that gave me a real kick:

New Horizons in Theater: "Gatz is a word-for-word presentation of the entire text of The Great of the most exciting and improbable accomplishments in theater in recent years."

Novelist Janice Y.K. Lee presents a stimulating list of the "five best books" set in the British colonial East, although it would be wiser to call it "five good books," since this is a vast field -- those Brits wrote a lot. Specifically, I wouldn't leave out George Orwell's great novel Burmese Days (which I happen to be reading just now):

Concentrating on another part of the world, the blog Reading California Fiction, which reviews books published about that state up to the year 1960, is a great favorite of mine:

Curious Pages discovers a forgotten children's book with exceptional graphics, William Wondriska's Puff:

John Kenneth Muir struggles interestingly with Lars von Trier's Antichrist (full of spoilers):

Duncan Sheik's next musical is going to be American Psycho: "And, really, what could be more subversive fun than murderous bankers breaking into song?”

Among notables born on this date are actors Christopher Guest, Red Buttons, Laura Linney, John Carradine, Tim Holt, Barbara Hershey, Michael Sheen (not Martin), Charlotte Rampling, and Jennifer Jason Leigh -- imagine them all cast together! (Actually, the four women would make a very interesting cast, and I would go see that movie.) Also born on this date are film directors Michael Mann and Errol Morris, dramatist John Guare, novelists William S. Burroughs and Joris-Karl Huysmans (France), painters H.R. Giger and Carl Spitzweg (Germany), Finnish poet Johan Ludvig Runeberg, Polish composer Grazyna Bacewicz, tenor Jussi Bjorling, statesman Adlai Stevenson, aviation pioneer Hiram Maxim, and baseball great Hank Aaron. Since I taught the Beat Generation this fall, I read quite a lot about William S. Burroughs, and I've got to say, the guy creeps me out. That whole bit about "accidentally" killing his wife in a "William Tell" game -- I don't know, seems pretty shady. And watching video of WSB being interviewed is unnerving: he always reminds me of "The Tall Man" played by Angus Scrimm in the horror classic Phantasm -- a cadaverous patrician.