Inside Llewyn Davis
"Inside Llewyn Davis" is the most satisfyingly diabolical cinematic structure that the Coens have ever contrived, and that's just one reason that I suspect it…
Of all the gizmos forced upon us by the modern world, is any more melancholy than the leaf-blower? The device is manifestly useless. It blows leaves from one place to another, and then the wind blows them back again.
One day not long ago in the country I gathered a small pile of dried leaves and started a little fire. Then I closed my eyes and remembered. The aroma was a trigger as intense as the taste of Proust's madeleine, the little cake from childhood that summoned his remembrance of time past. It evoked nostalgia but it also evoked curious excitement and desire.
For me it is not spring but autumn that is the season of new beginnings. Spring, in school, is a time of taking final exams and saying goodbye to friends. Autumn is the start of a new year, and for me at least it always held the promise of new romance. I was now a freshman, or a sophomore, or whatever, and had left behind childhood things, and perhaps Marty would be at the Tiger's Den on Friday night and we could slow-dance to "Dream" by the Everly Brothers.
It has been argued that universal health care is an offense against individual liberty. I've been told by readers that they'll deal with their own health care, thank you very much, and have no interest in government interference. At root this is a libertarian argument; conservatives are more likely to oppose it on the grounds that it undermines the free enterprise system. They warn of a Nanny State.
But what, I ask libertarians, about your families? Your children? What if the day comes that you lose your job-based health insurance and can't afford your own? What if you're denied coverage? That's their business, they tell me. I should butt out.
But it won't remain their business if a family member suffers a major illness. I know from personal experience that few people have the financial resources to deal with such an illness, and I suspect no one reading this is ready to deal with two. You and I will end up paying for them, even though they were unwilling to help pay for us.
Passes go on sale Nov. 1 for Ebertfest 2010, which will be held April 21-25, 2010 at the restored Virginia movie palace in Champaign-Urbana. The cost is $125, which covers all 12 screenings. The panel discussions are free and open to the public.
I met a man who didn't sleep. This was in the summer of 1988. I was in Toulouse, France, to visit a friend I'd made some years earlier in London, Dominique Hoff. Her sister, Marie-Christine, told me: "There is a man you must meet. He's the smartest man I know. He was my professor in dental school. He invents dental tools, and he can fix anything with his hands. He and his wife have converted a big old barn in the country into a home and workshop and a place for his collection." His collection? I said. The sisters laughed. "You'll see."
Toulouse à partir de la fenêtre d'Hervé
Paul Delprat and his wife Danielle Moog did indeed occupy a vast old barn somewhere in the countryside. They called it Cambolevet. They were a jolly middle-aged couple, waiting for us in the farmyard. A dog came to investigate. They exuded that sense of two people who know they belong together.
In 1975 an artist named Chris Burden announced that he would lay down on the floor beneath a large sheet of plate glass on the floor of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. He did not say what he would do then. I covered that story for the paper, not because it was assigned, but because the concept held an eerie fascination for me. It still does. I have no idea what he was trying to prove. But, surely, he was proving something?
I recently had occasion to read The Hunger Artist, by Franz Kafka. It involves a sideshow performer who goes without food for long, long periods of time. This becomes a futile exercise, because while he's starving there's nothing much to see, and most people assume he isn't really starving; a man need only be thin to lock himself in a cage and say he is fasting. Who watches him at night or when the show is moving to another town? The story has a famous ending that is savage in its implacability. I've linked to it below.
Bloodletting man, from the Calendar of Regiomontanus (1475)
Reading Kafka, I was reminded of the article I wrote about Chris Burden, and looked it up. It engaged and perplexed me. I will quote from it here, and then in italics I will think some more about Chris Burden.
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Tina Mabry's "Mississippi Damned," an independent American production, won the Gold Hugo as the best film in the 2009 Chicago International Film Festival, and added Gold Plaques for best supporting actress (Jossie Thacker) and best screenplay (Mabry). It tells the harrowing story of three black children growing up in rural Mississippi in circumstances of violence and addiction. The film's trailer and an interview with Mabry are linked at the bottom.
Kylee Russell in "Mississippi Damned"
The winner of the Audience Award, announced Friday, was "Precious" (see below). The wins came over a crowed field of competitors from all over the world, many of them with much larger budgets. The other big winner at the Pump Room of the Ambassador East awards ceremony Saturday evening was by veteran master Marco Bellocchio of Italy, who won the Silver Hugo as best director for "Vincere," the story of Mussolini's younger brother. Giovanna Mezzogiorno and Filippo Timi won Silver Hugos as best actress and actor, and Daniele Cipri won a Gold Plaque for best cinematography.
by Roger Ebert
When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes. -- Erasmus
One afternoon in Cape Town I sat in my little room at University House and took inventory. This must have been in June, winter in the southern hemisphere, and it had been raining steadily for most of a week. I was virtually alone in the student residence; the others had packed off for vacation. With an umbrella and plastic slicker I'd ventured out once or twice to the Pig and Whistle, where I favored the Ploughman's Lunch, but to sustain life I'd laid in a supply of tinned sardines, cheddar and swiss cheese, Hob Nobs, apples, Carr's Water Biscuits, ginger cookies, Hershey bars, biltong, sausage and a pot of jam. I had a little electric coil that would bring a cup of water to a boil, a jar of Nescafe, a box of sugar and some Instant Postum.
Not my office, but very close
I wrote in my journal: "I have not spoken to anyone since Monday. The radio is playing 'Downtown' by Petula Clerk. I've been reading some Shaw -- Man and Superman. I'm wearing jeans, my cable knit sweater and my Keds. I've made coffee and am waiting for it to cool. Let it be recorded that at this moment I am happy."
by Roger Ebert