A Film For August: Do The Right Thing

Set on one street in Brooklyn on one boiling hot day, Mookie (Spike Lee) delivers pizza for Sal (Danny Aiello) the owner of ‘Sal’s Pizzeria’, while Mister Señor Love Daddy (Samuel L Jackson) is the DJ watching the street and providing the soundtrack.

Smiley (Roger Geunveur Smith) wonders along the street trying to sell pictures of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X; a Korean couple have opened a convenience store; Radio Raheem (Bill Nunn) blares Fight the Power from his boombox and three men sit like a Greek chorus opposite Sal’s passing comment. As the camera follows them through the day we get to know them all and watch as the temperature rises and hate and bigotry smoulder. It’s hot, bold and provocative from the very beginning when Tina (Rosie Perez) dances to Public Enemy’s Fight the Power, from then on its like a ticking bomb.

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The Salt Path

the salt path

Within a week in 2013 Raynor Winn and her husband Moth lose their home and livelihood and receive the news that Moth has a rare and terminal illness for which there’s no cure ‘Don’t tire yourself, or walk too far, and be careful on the stairs.’

Instead they pack their rucksacks and walk and wild camp The South West Coast Trail, England’s longest way marked long-distance footpath, 630 miles from Minehead in Somerset along the coast of Devon and Cornwall to Poole Harbour in Dorset.

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Love Medicine

medicineThe Kashpaws and the Lazarres, the Nanapushes and the Pillagers and the Morrisseys. Love Medicine is a series of interrelated vignettes that follow generations of Ojibwe families, loosely chronologically, from 1934 to 1984 and their interconnected lives on a fictional reservation in North Dakota

It opens in 1981 when June Kashpaw dies, frozen to death in a snowstorm on her way home to the reservation, it’s her spirit that propels the narrative and is woven through every story as the river of memories flows, often meandering, running in and out of each other. Continue reading “Love Medicine”

Nightwood

nightwood2Written in 1936 I wanted to read this as a counterpoint to This Side of Paradise, one from the beginning of the Jazz age and one from the end. But it wasn’t quite that neat, the atmosphere of the jazz age is here but I think Nightwood is set in its own world and not trapped by any particular time. I found this a demanding and difficult read.

The plot is very slight.  Baron Felix Volkbein is married to Robin Vote they divorce and Robin falls in love with Nora Flood who eventually loses her to Jenny Petherbridge.  At the centre of these characters is the doctor, Matthew-Mighty-grain-of-salt-Dante O’Connor. In Paris, they’re all strangers and misfits, knotted together by Robin and her effect on them.

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A Film For July: Elephant

elephant 2

Written and directed by Gus Van Sant, Elephant chronicles the events of an ordinary day in a fictional high school in the suburbs of Portland, Oregon – a day when two of the students carry out a shooting based in part on the Columbine High School Massacre.

Using new and unprofessional actors who largely keep their own names, the characters are introduced by name and then followed through their day but in a fragmented style that goes over the same events but from multiple points of view. The camera catches up with the students as they walk along corridors, meet up in the cafeteria or the locker room or the library and we hear snatches of frivolous, inane conversations which are often quite funny. Of course we feel tense because we know what’s going to happen and an early scene of the gunmen walking towards the school, before the camera skips off to show another group, is an example of how we can try and piece the fragments together to build up some sort of time line; but what’s extraordinary is the blankness.

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Random Sunday

For a long time I’ve been thinking that I should have a ‘filler’ post, something that keeps me in touch especially when I’m having a dry patch with reviews.  I’m inspired by so many brilliant regular posts that I see, but I can’t decide what mine should be about, I have decided though that it’s time to stop thinking and time to get on with it. So no themes to start with just a miscellany of indulgent randomness that hopefully will build into something of a scrapbook and maybe a pattern will start to emerge.

In my recent review This Side Of Paradise I mentioned that Amory Blaine included Edward Carpenter in his list of forward thinkers and that he was one of my hero’s too, so my first random post is going to be:

Edward Carpenter 1844-1929

ed carpenter signed

Social reformer, poet and writer Edward Carpenter was a pioneering supporter of womens rights and an early campaigner for gay rights. Strongly influenced by Walt Whitman, his home which he shared with his life long partner George Merrill became an informal refuge and is where E.M. Forster was inspired to write Maurice. Continue reading “Random Sunday”

The Summer Book

the summer book2

Based on Tove Jansson’s own summers in the cottage she built with her brother Lars on a tiny island they discovered  in the gulf of Finland in 1947; The Summer Book follows a companionable summer shared between 6 year old Sophia and her grandmother, characters inspired by her own artist mother, Signe Hammarsten and her niece Sophia.

In the introduction Esther Freud describes how on a visit it takes her precisely 4½ minutes to walk around the island, but after being there for a couple of days she falls into ‘island time’ and realises ‘it would need a whole summer to discover everything there is to do’.  And I felt that this was true of the reading. The short chapters with titles like ‘The Neighbour’ or ‘The Pasture’ or ‘Playing Venice’ entice you to slow down, don’t rush and dip into the adventures and conversations that Sophia and her grandmother are having, reading and absorbing in island time. Continue reading “The Summer Book”

This Side Of Paradise

this side of paradise

Published in 1920 This Side of Paradise charts the coming of age of Amory Blaine, born on a spring day in 1896.

I was going to start by saying that it begins with his being a snot of a little boy but I realised that wouldn’t be very fair because he just is what he is. And that’s an only child bought up by his mother, Beatrice, ‘whose youth passed in Renaissance glory’ and is now ‘versed in the latest gossip of the Older Roman Families’ her husband Stephen is sometimes in the background but it’s Amory who is her companion. He is absurdly handsome and his mother parades him before her friends ‘she fed him sections of the Fêtes galantes before he was ten; at eleven he could talk glibly, if rather reminiscently, of Brahms and Mozart and Beethoven.’  Beatrice is charming and beautiful and delicate with a body that’s a mass of frailties and a soul to match, ‘next to doctors, priests were her favourite sport.’ She wafts around until she just wafts away when Amory decides he wants to go to school.

‘Amory wondered how people could fail to notice that he was a boy marked for glory, and when faces of the throng turned towards him and ambiguous eyes stared into his, he assumed the most romantic of expressions and walked on the air cushions that lie on the asphalts of fortune.’ Continue reading “This Side Of Paradise”