Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Boring weekend highlights

Cinema shorts:

Sunset Boulevard struck me as a curiosity--could Oscar-winning movies from 1950 be this weird? What has happened since then?--but not particularly good. David Lean's Brief Encounter, recently reissued by Criterion, didn't connect either: handsome, but little else to recommend it. The Matrix Revolutions--thankfully stripped of its freshman-philosophy-driven plot stylings, replaces tedium with, um, implausible mechano-diplomacy by Keanu to defeat the army of Ray-Ban-clad Agent Smiths. Whatever. At least Underworld--barely interesting enough to make it past the first of many expected voiceovers--promises Kate Beckinsale in fetish knickers.

In print:

Continuum Books (New York and London) has released another eight titles from their worthy Thirty-Three and a Third series, a collection of short books on personal and critical fave LPs from the last forty years (head here for a full accounting). Cindy came back from CAA's book fair bearing Bill Janovitz's examination of Exile On Main Street, a seminal and timeless record from my youth and, it turns out, a breezy and smart read. Barely a dozen pages into the thing and the author is already discussing photographer Robert Frank's album design and its connection to 1970s America, Jagger's musical influences and savvy, a call-and-response initiated by Joe Strummer, and the album's connection to Los Angeles. Based on the quality of the other volumes I've read--the well-written account of Neil Young's recording of Harvest is concerned with studio culture, and the Beatles' Let It Be looks at the motivations that brought the group into Twickenham, and their emotional lives as the record was coming together and being recorded--they're perfect for an on-line look at the DMV. (Upcoming: David Bowie's Low!)

From A Chance Meeting: Intertwined Lives of American Writers and Artists, a lovely book of small gems; available for $5.98 at Daedalus Books (Baltimore's best bookstore), on the relationship between Joseph Cornell and Marianne Moore:

Once, he sent her a valentine in April. . . . [It] was actually a package and contained a few sheets of unusual "worm-work" paper that he'd found and thought she might appreciate. He also enclosed two ancient books, one on rare animals, that seem to have been exactly to her taste. The books "would make any valentine seem dull," she wrote in enthusiastic reply.


Hillary on the chat shows. (She'd be a disastrous nominee, but is an increasingly effective opposition leader.) Huzzah!