What to watch, read and listen to this season.
Watch. Good movies season is here. After months and months (about six, to be exact) when good, and even watchable films were on hiatus, it’s time for the big premiers of the year. Many of the movies of 2016 which I am interested in were launched at Cannes and Venice (you can read my thoughts about all of them here and here) and I hope they will arrive in our theaters, too, as soon as possible. Apart from all of those listed there, Manchester By the Sea, directed by Kenneth Lonergan, and starring Michelle Williams and Casey Affleck, and Gold, directed by Stephen Gaghan (the screenwriter behind Traffic and director of Syriana), with Matthew McConaughey in one of the leading roles, may be two other films to keep your eyes on this season. And, lastly, there is one other movie I’d like to mention, Warren Beatty’s Rules Don’t Apply. The trailer is meandering, but that really does not matter, because Beatty is finally back after 18 years as director (he also acts in it, as Howard Hughes, no less), after that wonderful Bulworth.
Now, that I am trying to squeeze in a classic as often as possible goes without saying. There is still to go until “Noirember”, but the truth is any time of year is a good time for film noir as far as I’m concerned. Shadow of A Doubt remains a favourite and I love to revisit it the most in fall. I have watched it many times and the thing that still intrigues me the most about it is the contradiction between the strong sense of family life depicted and the dark underlay, something very unusual for the genre, and for Hitchcock, as a matter of fact.
Listen. I am gearing up to start my own vinyl collection. I had a few vinyls in my teenagehood, then got rid of them, because I wanted to replace them with something more “modern” (although I am pretty happy about our cd collection at the moment). But the idea is that I hadn’t yet learned that classic is the way to go, always, and that a classic will forever remain timeless. Starting a vinyl collection from scratch is very intimidating, not to mention time- and money-consuming, but the good thing is that the start is always the most difficult part. So, I think this list is a good starting point, as it also includes movie soundtracks, like American Graffiti (I watched it only a few months ago for the first time and loved it, with music being such an integral part of the storytelling), as well as albums such as London Calling (one of the greatest music albums and album covers ever), Tommy (The Who), Surfer Rosa (Pixies), It’s Too Late to Stop Now (Van Morrison), and the omission of The Beattles (sorry, not the biggest fan).
PS: I just won’t admit what I am listening to the most these days (and weeks), thanks to my son.
Read. Books on films, design and art in general, travel memoirs and biographies/autobiographies of all sorts are my thing right now (they have been for quite some time actually – in the past couple of years I simply haven’t been keen on re-reading classics or even try new fiction). New in my library are:
Andrei Tarkovsky’s Sculpting in Time: Reflections on the Cinema (very philosophical, just like his movies, and although I may never come to fully understand his movies – is it a must, really? – I will keep on trying). Andrei Tarkovsky: Elements of Cinema, by Robert Bird, is on the way, too, and I think it will be a good companion to the first one.
John Huston: Courage and Art, by Jeffrey Meyers. I can’t say that John Huston is among my favourite directors, but The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is among my favourite movies of all time, and there is something about Huston’s persona and work that pushes me to keep looking, like I may be missing out on something. This tome has proven to be an interesting read so far.
Next on my list:
WKW : The Cinema of Wong Kar Wai, by Wong Kar Wai and John Powers. The first volume on the film-maker’s entire body of work (released last year) is structured as six conversations between Kar Wai and Powers, discussing the director’s films and distinctive elements. I believe In the Mood for Love is one of the most visually stunning and best films of all time.
Frank Sinatra Has A Cold , by Gay Talese. The synopsis reads: Talese’s “profile Frank Sinatra Has a Cold went down in history as a tour de force of literary nonfiction and the advent of the “New Journalism.” Its incisive portrait of Sinatra in the recording studio, on location, out on the town, and with the eponymous cold, revealed as much about a singular star persona as it did about the Hollywood machine.” I have read passages from the magazine article, but the idea of a book, in a limited edition, is so much more appealing, especially given the subject.
Also on my radar:
Derujinsky: Capturing Fashion (out in October), the first monograph to celebrate the major contributions of photograher Gleb Derunjinsky to the history of both fashion and photography. I have been looking forward to this one for a while, since Andrea Derujinsky, the author and daughter of Derujinsky, kindly dropped me a note in spring to tell me about the up-coming release of the book. This is a title I am very excited about, and from the incredible response I have had to this blog post over the past two years, I know others will feel the same.
Giorgio Armani (out in October). Armani’s long awaited biography, published in the fall of last year, is now available at a new, lower price.
collage by me, photos: clockwise from top left: 1,4,5: by me (4-of the book John Huston: Courage and Art) / 2-Depot 96 AW 2016 / 3-Heidi Merrick (edited) / 6-movie still from Shadow of A Doubt (Universal Pictures)