The Local View ? Neighbourhood Cinemas and Alternative Film Projects

Many small neighbourhood cinemas invested in the future. The digital options for showing films are opening up new vistas for alternative projects. Not all of them are legal.... more more

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13/05/2009

Magazine Roundup

Magazine Roundup, which appears every Tuesday at 12 p.m., is originally published by Perlentaucher.

The New York Review of Books | Le Nouvel Observateur | Tygodnik Powszechny | The Guardian | Observator Cultural | London Review of Books | Le point | The Times Literary Supplement | Polityka | Das Magazin | The Economist | Rue89 | The Nation | Elet es Irodalom | The New Republic

The New York Review of Books 28.05.2009 (USA)

Madame de Stael is suddenly all the rage again. With good reason, writes Richard Homes, who reviews a long list of books about the grande dame. But first he introduces the phenomenon: "She was the only daughter of a Swiss banker, and one of the richest and cleverest young women of her generation in Europe. She wrote among much else one celebrated novel - Corinne, or Italy (1807) - which invented a new heroine for her times, outsold even the works of Walter Scott, and has never been out of print since. She personally saved at least a dozen people from the French revolutionary guillotine. She reinvented Parisian millinery with her astonishing multicolored turbans. She dramatically dismissed Jane Austen as 'vulgaire.' She snubbed Napoleon at a reception. She inspired Byron's famous chauvinist couplet, 'Man's love is of his life a thing apart,/'Tis woman's whole existence.' And she once completely outtalked the poet Coleridge at a soiree in Mayfair. For these things alone she should be remembered."

The reviews cover three books about the connections between talent, luck and success: one on Warren Buffet, one by Malcom Gladwell and one by Geoff Colvin; and two books on the founding of Israel by historian Benny Morris and Gudrun Krämer.


Le Nouvel Observateur 08.05.2009 (France)

In a conversation about a new French publication of a collection of essays, "L'Holocaust comme culture' (Actes Sud), literary Nobel laureate Imre Kertesz explains why he was less traumatised by his concentration camp experience than writers such as Romain Gary, Jean Amery and Primo Levi: paradoxically because then went on to live in a communist system. "As a child I knew nothing outside the totalitarian regime. When I returned to Hungary, I didn't find it too hard to understand what was going on there. I saw how people were turned into cogs in the machine. The signs were identical. In 1956 I saw the Uprising in Budapest. You don't intellectualise this sort of thing, you just live it. Everything was a lie, the whole world was a lie. But most of the time you were clear-headed in the midst of absurdity. I felt as if my identity was deformed, as if I'd lost my normality. But I was never able to explain it. I asked myself if my 'anomaly' had become normal. Or whether I had become someone else."


Tygodnik Powszechny 11.05.2009 (Poland)

At last, one of Andrzej Stasiuk's books ("Tales of Galicia") has been made into a film. Director Dariusz Jablonski's film "Wino Truskawkowe" (strawberry wine), writes Michal Walkiewicz approvingly, steers clear of the stereotypes of an idyllic provincial life that resists all change in the big wide world. "Jablonski has succeeded in capturing the atmosphere of provincial Galicia at the same time as situating it outside reality. He has not shied away from a dialogue with Stasiuk – toning down here, shedding light there, bringing in some tragicomic elements from Czech cinema." (Watch the trailer )

Other articles: Elzbieta Sawicka was swept off her feet by the Basel exhibition: "Vincent van Gogh Between Earth and Heaven. The Landscapes." And Jakub Puchalski remembers the Handel year, which is being celebrated somewhat late in Poland, and notes that his first Handel records came from the GDR.


The Guardian 09.05.2009 (UK)

Feminist critic Elaine Showalter asks why America's women writers are so notoriously underrated, and why it's always men like John Updike or Philip Roth who are credited with writing "the great American novel". She looks at eight great living women US writers, from Joyce Carol Oates to Marilynne Robinson and Annie Proulx and lists a number of reasons why they have remained in the shadow of their male counterparts: "Serious women writers are much less likely than men to celebrate themselves, like Whitman (who anonymously and ecstatically reviewed Leaves of Grass) or to advertise themselves, like Mailer; and women are judged much more harshly if they are seen as self-promoting or self-important attention-seekers. As a result, they have lower public profiles and less name recognition. They do not marry models, actors or movie stars; they do not get chosen for People magazine's 'most beautiful' people of the year; they do not run for political office; they do not stab their spouses or get into brawls on the street; they do not carry sawn-off shotguns in the front of their cars."

Angelique Chrisafis met Isabelle Huppert, who is on the jury at Cannes this year and clearly favours art over glamour. "'Perhaps one year we shouldn't tell the jury who made the films they are watching. Cover their eyes and ears for 10 days.' To her, Cannes is about waiting for the great surprise, the anonymous masterpiece. 'Something you least expect … That curiosity and openness, I don't think Cannes could be any other way. It's a place that celebrates the intrinsic value of film.'"


Observator Cultural 10.05.2009 (Romania)

The latest focus of the magazine's laudable Translation Project is the writer Filip Florian, whose novel, "Little Fingers", comes out in the USA in July. Read an excerpt from Florian's "Days of the King", a novel (full synopsis) about a Berlin dentist who travels to Bucharest in 1866 to become the dentist to Prince Carol I (more here).

It begins: "In June, when the solstice is nigh, dawn shows itself earlier than ever. Then, however, on a Wednesday, the sunrise did not come into sight. The coach laden with suitcases, bags and chests set into motion with a jolt, one of the horses (a tallish grey mare) whinnied and chomped at the bit, the other (a sorrel with a scar on his throat) puffed out his chest, and, from a wicker basket with a lid, Siegfried the tomcat mewled dreadfully. The dentist lost sight of the green shutters of the boarding house, the massy door, the water barrel in the yard and the clump of daisies by the gate, but he did see a stripy cat running along the fence tops, with fleet and nimble steps, leaping over broken pales, stubbornly keeping pace with the horses. She seemed to him pretty and large-bellied."


London Review of Books 14.05.2009 (UK)

Novelist Colm Toibin reads the correspondence between the two poets, Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell, which testifies to their close friendship. Toibin concludes: "The letters make clear that Lowell was a cross between a fox and a puppy dog. He knew many small things, and was often filled with hope for his poems, his plays, his friends, his wives and children. He did a great deal of physical and intellectual gallivanting. Bishop, on the other hand, was a cross between a hedgehog and a snail. She knew, or tried to become acquainted with, one large thing; she left silvery and ambiguous traces."

Andrew O'Hagan ponders Susan Boyle's transformation (here) from heffalump to heroine and other YouTube phenomena: "Her success is not difficult to understand: we love to imagine that talent is hidden, and it lives among our deepest fantasies that the least prepossessing, the least styled, the most innocent among us may carry the power to amaze the world. That notion lies at the sentimental heart of showbusiness."

Further articles: Lawyer Gareth Peirce who, since the 1970s, has represented individuals accused of involvement in terrorism from both the Irish and the Muslim communities, writes about torture and Britain's dangerous state secrecy. Jenny Turner reviews some self-help books on making the best of the economic downturn. Michael Wood watched the Swedish vampire teen movie (website) "Let the Right One In".


Le point 07.05.2009 (France)

Post-colonial comedian Dieudonne caused quite a scandal at the end of last year in France, when he awarded the Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson a prize for political incorrectness. Now Dieudonne has announced that he will be presenting an 'anti-Zionist' voting list for the European parliamentary elections in June (more here). Le Point profiles the stand-up comic: "He is playing with the 'marketing of scandal', which is something he loves to theorise about and which he compares with the contemporary art strategies... He sees himself as something of a Marizio Cattelan of laughter and refers to that artist's controversial installations (a child-size statue of Hitler praying, an elephant in Ku Klux Klan costume). It is in this spirit that he nominated Jean-Marie Le Pen to be the godfather of his youngest child."


The Times Literary Supplement 08.05.2009 (UK)

The latest posthumous publication of J.R.R. Tolkien contains two poems which attempt to fill a crucial gap in the Niebelung saga. Tom Schippey analyses what Tolkien's conjectures mean for the epic, and asks what readers can expect: "Many will stumble over the archaisms, for the poems are seventy years old at least, and written by a man closer in time and spirit to William Morris than to modern readers. Those who persevere will learn much about Eddic poetry and the great legend of the North, and feel something of the 'demonic energy' they project and the 'new literary sensation' they created on rediscovery. This is the most unexpected of Tolkien's many posthumous publications; his son's 'Commentary' is a model of informed accessibility; the poems stand comparison with their Eddic models, and there is little poetry in the world like those."


Polityka 08.05.2009 (Poland)

Adam Krzeminski pulls apart some political myths, from Germany, England, France and, of course, Poland. "While Communist states sought legitimation in historical myths, the Western states (including France and the Federal Republic) initiated a complete break with the past. De Gaulle's France completely erased the defeat of 1940 and the Vichy collaboration from collective memory, and Germany dissolved its classical national mythology. The myth of the Nibelungs, who were true to the point of self-destruction, was discredited by Stalingrad and the victorious battle of the German tribes against the Romans in the Teutoburg Forest was blotted out by Adenauer's handshake with de Gaulle. The myth of Emperor Barbarossa, who would awake from his sleep to defeat Germany's enemiesm was deflated by the founding of the EEC and NATO."


Das Magazin 12.05.2009 (Switzerland)

If predictions about the rise in sea levels have any truth to them, the Maldives will disappear below the waves before the end of this century. Guido Mingels visited its young President Mohamed Nasheed, who spent many years as a political prisoner under the former regime. Does he really intend to buy his people a new land? "We are already in contact with Sri Lanka, Australia, India." 'The Israelis bought land in Palenstine,' Nasheed says. He plans to invest a percentage of the country's tourism revenues in funds that will generate enough cash in the next few decades to buy a dry new homeland when the flood comes."

There is also an interview with neuroscientist Gerhard Roth about happy and unhappy dispositions.


The Economist 09.05.2009 (UK)

The Economist features a lengthy obituary to a most unusual character: the Austrian-American ghost hunter Hans Holzer. "Ghosts, he explained, were perfectly natural. They were simply human beings who were not aware they were dead. They had shed their outer bodies but not their more sensitive inner ones, in which they walked about much as before. They were either in emotional turmoil, trapped between the worlds of 'here' and 'there' and throwing vases to get attention, or they were placid 'stay-behinds', who had died so peacefully that they never bothered to leave the place they knew. That explained, said Mr Holzer, how a grieving family could bury Aunt Minnie at midday, and find her still sitting in her chair at three o'clock."

The reviews cover Horatio Clare's "A Single Swallow" (publisher's site) a book that follows the birds' migration from South Africa to South Wales, and Jay Taylor's biography "The Generalissimo" (publisher's site), which argues that the Chinese dictator Chiang Kai-Shek deserves better press.


Rue89 06.05.2009 (France)

It is "left-wing" to remove the computers of illegal downloaders and continue to charge them for Internet access? The French Socialist party doesn't think so, and is therefore voting against Sarkozy's loi Hadopi. Only last week, however, "left-wing" artists spoke out in support of Sarkozy, among them Michel Piccoli and Juliette Greco. In an open letter to the socialists, published in Le Monde, they write: "You once embodied the resistance to deregulation, fighting the law of the jungle that destroys cultural diversity. Now, in a strange twist of fate, you have come to advocate an unfettered capitalism which, at the point of digitalization, violated artists rights. Do not forget that copyright is a human right. The bosses of the new multinationals might wear jeans and T-shirts but this does nothing to curb their greed." In Rue89, the composer Pierre Sauveageot penned the following response: "Being left-wing means raising the debate about hunger for culture and cultural funding to a European level. Being left-wing means developing a cultural diversity which is based on public funding and ... partaking in the Internet. Being left-wing means wanting the rights of prestigious artists to fund emerging artists."


The Nation 25.05.2009 (USA)

Urbanist Mike Davis went to Mexico to meet his friend Marcos Ramirez (aka ERRE) who told him that he had thought the whole swine flu thing was a joke until the following happened: "The famous archeologist Felipe Solis suddenly died. He was the director of the National Anthropology Museum and the previous week had given Obama a tour of Aztec treasures. There were rumors that he had swine flu. [This was subsequently denied by medical authorities.] That chilled the whole scene. People didn't know what to expect. It was like the Camus novel [The Plague]. Best friends were afraid to give each other an abrazo or a kiss on the cheek."

Against the background of a raging torture debate in Washington, New York journalism professor Eric Alterman lays into Washington alpha journalist David Broder for admitting, on the one hand, that America has just passed through one of its darkest hours, while on the other, undermining anyone who is interested in what did take place, as guilty of "an unworthy desire for vengeance".


Elet es Irodalom 30.04.2009 (Hungary)

Every now and then, Hungary debates how to integrate the Roma – without any noteworthy results thus far. For ethnologist Peter Niedermüller, besides the widespread anti-Roma sentiment in the country, this is becuase integration tends to be regarded as a "one way street" – as if it was up to the Roma to make an effort to participate in society, instead of a major undertaking for society as a whole. "As long as we fail to recognise that the integration of the Roma is not simply a matter of Roma education and employment, as long as we fail to understand that this integration is linked with sustained social welfare, with the activation of society, with a process of desegregation which reaches into all aspects of life, with intercultural education and with the creation of a societal consensus against hate and prejudice, we will not make a single step in the right direction."


The New Republic 20.05.2009 (USA)

Editing this collection of Beckett's letters can have been no mean feat, writes John Banville, who is somewhat frustrated by Beckett's stipulation that it should only contain letters with a bearing on his work. Luckily the editors didn't obey orders too strictly, and Banville quotes from one letter which Beckett wrote after the death of his father in 1933 to his friend Thomas McGreevy: "He was in his sixty-first year, but how much younger he seemed and was. Joking and swearing at the doctors as long as he had breath. He lay in the bed . .. making great oaths that when he got better he would never do a stroke of work. He would drive to the top of Howth and lie in the bracken and fart. His last words were "Fight fight fight" and "What a morning." All the little things come back--memoire de l'escalier. I can't write about him, I can only walk the fields and climb the ditches after him."

Further articles: In his review of Philipp Freiherr von Boeselager's memoirs, Istvan Deak praises the men of July 20th plot, but has a few questions for the author. Adam Kirsch reviews an English anthology of classical Chinese poetry and makes a fascinating case for why ignorance can sometimes be just as valuable as background knowledge.

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