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#49 February 9, 2011

Marie writes: They call it "The Shard" and it's currently rising over London akin to Superman's Fortress of Solitude and dwarfing everything around it, especially St. Paul's in front. I assume those are pigeons flying over-head and not buzzards. Ie: not impressed, but that's me and why I'm glad I saw London before they started to totally ruin it.Known as the "London Bridge Tower" before they changed the name, when completed in 2012, it will be the tallest building in Europe and 45th highest in the world. It's already the second highest free-standing structure in the UK after the Emley Moor transmitting station. The Shard will stand 1,017 ft high and have 72 floors, plus another 15 radiator floors in the roof. It's been designed with an irregular triangular shape from base to top and will be covered entirely in glass. The tower was designed by Renzo Piano, the Italian architect best know for creating Paris's Pompidou Centre of modern art with Richard Rogers, and more recently the New York Times Tower. You can read an article about it at the Guardian.  Here's the official website for The Shard. Photograph: Dan Kitwood.

Roger Ebert

Mickey Rourke lets his Indie Spirit fly

Based on his show-stopping speech at Saturday night's Independent Spirit Awards, if Mickey Rourke wins an Oscar on Sunday night the Oscarcast is going to be a lollapalooza. As his comeback film "The Wrestler" won for best film, male actor and cinematography, Rourke brought the show to a halt and the audience to its feet with an acceptance speech that was classic Mickey. The Indie Spirits are telecast live and unbleeped, which added considerably to the speech's charm.


Synecdoche, acting and re-enacting

A man who has received a large sum of money hires people to re-enact scenes from his own life, staged on the actual locations and on sets he has constructed for the purpose.

That's a selective synopsis of the premise of "Remainder," a 2005 novel by Tom McCarthy. As I was sitting through "Synecdoche, New York," I couldn't help feeling that I'd somehow seen this done before (yeah, I know -- the movie is in part about that feeling)... and then I remembered "Remainder." The first-person narrator, who has suffered brain damage in an accident, becomes obsessed with meticulously reconstructing the events surrounding it. Having turned his apartment building, and the blocks around it, into a living set -- available round the clock for command performances, he stages a run-through of one sequence in a warehouse at Heathrow:

I'd had a raised viewing platform built, a little like an opera box, because I'd enjoyed watching the action in my building from above and wanted a similar option here. I'd established that I might roam around the re-enactment area itself, and that the re-enactors shouldn't be put off by this. I chose to begin watching the re-enactment from the platform, though.

Later, he describes his living role as actor, director and audience, revising and perfecting the re-enactment, which becomes a more-or-less permanent project: