Hell on Earth

medieval demons
So I went to the movies and finally saw the critically acclaimed Leviathan.

The movie does take its time and it felt a bit long, but I was not bored and there are some memorable characters in it. I didn't love it, and I guess that I will forget about it pretty soon, but I liked it.

The trailer above shows some of the best moments in the movie, including the line about "historical perspective" (which is even better and more pun-y with the French subtitles saying "recul historique" given that they are shooting guns!). I won't spoil you but there's something very classical in the plot which suits the idea that the more things change in Russia (political regimes, presidents, economic system) the more they remain the same.

Also I kept thinking that Alexey Serebryakov who plays Kolia, kinda looked like Sting.

When I left the cinema I didn't know whether I was hangover or craving a glass of vodka with some borscht...probably a little bit of both.


Vermeer, woman in yellow
I loved, loved the latest episode of Doctor Who!

In my book "Flatline" was pretty perfect. Not only it was clever writing as a standalone, but it also offered a lot of continuity and made a lot of sense in the big scheme of things.
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Autoportait ?

Vermeer, woman in yellow
I like photography I don't like selfies.

Call me old-fashioned or reactionary but I don't take selfies and I don't like how it's become a "thing" and what it means about our self-obsessed society, and I hate the trendy word "selfie" even more than I dislike the phenomenon....

...but this one is pretty cool and worth it!

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"I can make it painless and perfect"

Vermeer, woman in yellow
I'm done with marking the first batch of papers  --Tibère was next to me, on the top of his cat tree, and observed the whole process, when he wasn't sleeping or watching pigeons in the street -- which was the easiest to mark, but still it's done....so I rewarded myself with watching the latest episode of The Knick. I knew it was a good episode for I had caught reactions to it on twitter by Sepinwall and Todd VanDerWerff, who said that it gave him Deadwood vibes!

And wow, it's indeed a terrific and thrilling episode. "Get the Rope" was well directed, but also memorable for many reasons. The pace, the tension, the shots!!!! The show was on fire, which makes sense for a riot episode. Once the episode started it never stopped moving and left you breathless. It was E.R set in 1900. I haven't been excited by a tv episode like that since Breaking Bad.

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Books, always books

Vermeer, woman in yellow
I have a question for flisters from all over the world. I've been wondering...

French television is known for its émissions littéraire (programmes about books). The most famous -- and the one I grew up with -- was Apostrophes (and its beginning credits with Rachmaninov's concerto) that was on tv from 1975 to 1990. The special Nabokov is online (with Spanish subtitles)in which Nabokov speaks a perfect French. So is an extract of the show with Charles Bukowsky in which he brought his own bottles, was completely drunk and had to leave the set!

We no longer have a great and popular show like Apostrophes, or its sequel Bouillon de Culture, but still curently have 5 programmes on literature:

- La Grande Librairie is a one hour long live talk show on literature on France5:

- Au Field de la Nuit that is unfortunately showed very late and is also a one hour talk show, on TF1. I can't find a vid that isn't 1 hour long!

- Un livre, un jour (One book a Day)that is only about books, on France 3 is a short programme (about 2 minutes) that actually introduces and promotes one book:

- while ça balance à Paris is a talk-show where columnists discuss everything culture (books, plays, movies, exhibitions). It is  showed on the cable.

- Bibliothèque Médicis is also on a cable network (the senate channel). it consists in a discussion between the host and several authors.

Do you have similar tv programmes in your countries? How many? What do they look like? Are they talk-shows or are they more documentary-style?

Y. A initials

Vermeer, woman in yellow
When I first saw the Y.A acronym I didn't understand it. Because we don't have such catgeory in France in bookstores. We have books for children and young teens(with subcategories depending on the age), and we have ...just books that are not for children and young teens.

These days I see the acronym more and more on the Internet  -- I guess that France will follow the trend eventually, for publishing business reasons, and since sociologists have coinded the term "adulescent" for a while anyway --, and apparently there's some sort of controversy/debate on the fact that more and more adults actually read Y.A books.

Personally, I tend to think that such labels are nothing but a marketing thing, but I have admittedly never read a Y.A book (I think). Today Daniel Mendelsohn recommended on twitter this article from The New Yorker, calling it a "terrific piece about why grownups should read grownup books".

I too recommend it. I learned some stuff about Henry James and the current American debate about Y.A books.

This bit kinda baffled me:

"And it does seem that many books have the Y.A. label slapped on them purely because of their subject matter. (After all, there is little cost to a publisher for labelling something Y.A. if the label doesn’t put off adult readers.) But, in these cases, the label is simply a marketing tool, which isn’t something that a critic ought to be paying attention to. On the other hand, the label is sometimes wielded to make a real literary distinction. It is obviously possible to give a subject a treatment that is more appropriate for a young audience. For the most part, this involves simplifying things—first the diction and syntax, but finally the whole picture of life. There is nothing dishonorable about this simplification—it is a way to make material accessible to children."

Shouldn't those simplified books just be labelled Children books then? In France, the Harry Potter novels belong to children/young teens category. So methinks that the Y.A label is a marketing tool in both instances, whether it's a matter of subject or of treatment.

The idea is to aim at an audience larger than just children, even though some of the books in question are written in a way to make them accessible to children. It's a rather clever label, because it may appeal to teenagers -- even young teens who'd love to be adults already--, as well as to adults who are kinda reassured by the A. in it. The age limits are blurred enough so a huge size of potential readers can feel entitled to read the books.*

From my little corner of the world, the Y.A label seems to be a very American thing to do. Not only because it's so capitalist but also because it insists on dividing works in various categories according to certain communities of readers -- which btw is very capitalist in intent --, not according to just literary genres. It also surprises me a lot every time I see anyone writing something about "literary fiction" as opposed to other genres like Sci-Fi, detective, etc. To me what makes a book "literary" has nothing to do with its genre or subject; everything with the way it is written. It is about aesthetical matter.

I'm a reader who enjoy various genres, and I totally subscribe to James's point of view that he expressed writing: "There are bad novels and good novels, as there are bad pictures and good pictures; but that is the only distinction in which I see any meaning.”

In my opinion, we all need, from time to time, to read things that are not necessarily literary, just like we need to watch tv programmes that are entertaining but not that good. Not because reading literary books or watching great tv shows is not fun -- in my experience they provide much more pleasure actually --, but because it's a question of context. After a long day of teaching on Mondays I crash on the sofa and watch Castle (or Rizzoli and Isles) on French tv, as silly as it is, because it's easy and the actors are charming, or some talk-show about television because the columnists are funny, and I have read a few crime novels, either in bed, on the subway or on the beach, that I would not necessarily call literary...

Now if those were what I read and watch most, I would say that my reading/tv watching life is rather poor.

But there, I digressed.

At the end of the day, I can't help agreeing with the conclusion of the article because it's sooo true. I leave you with it (but you should read the whole article):

"Much is taken from us as we pass out of childhood, but other human beings who have suffered these losses have created great works of art, works that can only be truly appreciated by those who have suffered the same losses in turn. These works are among the great recompenses that experience offers us. Putting down “Harry Potter” for Henry James is not one of adulthood’s obligations, like flossing and mortgage payments; it’s one of its rewards, like autonomy and sex. It seems to me not embarrassing or shameful but just self-defeating and a little sad to forego such pleasures in favor of reading a book that might just as easily be enjoyed by a child."

* Oh the irony of such society that considers teenagers as "children" when it comes to (underage) sex and criminal affairs, but that creates that Y.A label that confuses things in order to sell more stuff!

ETA: Sorry for all the typos and mistakes, I'm still suffering from that bloody flu-like bug.

Checking in...

Vermeer, woman in yellow
Hello LJ how are you?

Me? Working, waiting for my supervisors to give me a feedback on the thesis chapter I sent -- which finally was 43 page long with 138 footnotes --, catching up with my tv shows.

Funnily after DW's "Listen", I finally watched the second episode of Boardwalk Empire's final season, which was titled "The Good Listener"!

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Masters of Sex is a fine show but the latest episode wasn't the best, although there were brillant moments here and there. Bill Master is a frustrating yet fascinating character.

The Bridge continues to be delightful, especially when it comes to a certain Mexican gangster and a couple of reporters.  "Eidolon" was a terrific and breathtaking piece of television, and "Beholder" had memorable scenes as well.

Alan Sepinwall called it "the best show you are not watching".

I've been enjoying it a lot so if FX doesn't renew it for a third season I will be pissed. Fuck the ratings!

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The more I watch The Knick, the more I like it. Clive Owen is simply magnetic, some characters defy tv convention, the direction is really unique, and I totally ship' Sister Harriet/Cleary ! The supporting characters are quite strong, but this is Clive Owen show.
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The show also has an excellent reviewer on the AV Club -- all the good reviewers seem to have gone (Noel Murray, Donna Bowman, etc;) --, his reviews are spot-on. I recommend the last one, and the one before.

Did I say that Clive Owen was magnetic?

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Last but not least, just read the news about new casting for the final season of Justified!!!

Sadly, no John Hawkes, at least not in a recurring role, but any Deadwood alumn is always welcome. One last season that will start in January. I have to prep myself for losing my tv boyfriend, Raylan Givens...:-(

Take that Moffat bashers!!!!

medieval demons
"Listen" will be one of those Doctor Who episodes that will always be remembered. I don't have the time to write a proper review but I had to say something.

In so many ways, it's the ulitmate counterpart of "Blink" -- although I still prefer "Blink" for it's flawless and has Sally Sparrow -- , clever, scary, powerful and extremely moving without indulging in sentimentality and pathos. Moffat at his best. When all is said and done, he is the only writer who can provide moments like that.

A fine episode  -- playing with the idea of time and of "age", reversing roles and situations, using twists not for the sake of surprising the audience but to tell something about the characters --, true to the themes that are the core of the show, and giving the true payoff for Clara Oswald that so many viewers have waited for.


ETA: Of and Capaldi still rocks my telly. I adored him.


Aging heroes

Vermeer, woman in yellow
I'm really loving the new Doctor. Capaldi rocks!!!! Such charisma!

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Speaking of Robin Hood, here is a vid recalling another take on the legend with an aging Robin played by the legendary Sean Connery (and Nicol Williamson as Little John, before he was Merlin in Excalibur!). I am not  a big fan of romance, as a genre, but Robin and Marian by Richard Lester is one of the most romantic films ever!!!!

Robert Shaw was a fantastic sheriff and I loved his relationship with Robin, but the core of the film remains the love story. The soundtrack was perfect, even though the theme has been overused since then. Audrey Hepburn is adorable and Marian's final speech in which she explains how she loves Robin could be cheesy but it is just beautiful and poignant.

BTW I don't know Sean is doing these days but the latest polls about the Scottish referendum must please him...


North and South

Vermeer, woman in yellow
Yesterday evening, although I was very tired, I went to the movies and finally saw Enemy by Denis Villeneuve.
I can't wrap my mind around the fact that it's the same director who made this and Incendies and Prisoners. The three films are so different, even though they are all one word titled. Incendies remains my favourite, but Incendies was an adaptation of a play so maybe it's just that the stuff it was based on was better material.

But I really can't write anything about it without spoiling you big time. Let's just say that Jake Gyllenhaal delivered a good performance, playing two different characters, and that the photography director has an interesting way of shooting Toronto. That said, the writing is kinda obvious with all the clues that are given (and yet I was very tired!). If anyone else has seen it, we can discuss it in the comments.

Apparently it's World Beard Day so I leave you with a bearded Gyllenhaal in the trailer:

This morning I slept in but still had to have a nap in the afternoon...

And eventually I watched Todos tenemos un plan, an Argentinian movie starring Viggo Mortensen (I know again, he's everywhere!)...in which he plays...twin brothers.

Un Viggo es bueno, dos Viggos es mejor!

I watched it with subtitles on of course. My Spanish is too rusty, and Argentinian Spanish is not Castilian, it's much more difficult to understand. Sometimes I get everything but at other times I can't hear a thing!

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