Showing posts from January, 2021

Giovanni's Room (1956)

by James Baldwin A young American in Paris is tortured by his sexual  desire for men and his conflicting belief that he should live a conventional heteronormative life.   James Baldwin was castigated by many in the black community for this exploration of social isolation and closeted homosexuality that seemed like such an abrupt departure from his earlier, powerful explorations of the black experience.   James Baldwin His publisher told him he should burn the book because it would destroy his career.   Nevertheless, he bravely persevered, and today it is deservedly recognized as a classic work that explores the deep fear that can arise from conflicts between identity and social pressure as well as the utter, soul-destroying desolation that can be the result. "Giovanni's Room" (German) "Giovanni's Room" (Portuguese) "Giovanni's Room" (French) "Room in Paris" (Finnish) "Giovanni's Room" (Turkish) "Giovanni's Room&

The Browning Version (1951)

Director: Anthony Asquith Writer: Terence Rattigan Stars: Michael Redgrave, Jean Kent, Nigel Patrick, Wilfred Hyde-White, Brian Smith, Bill Travers In a magnificent performance, Michael Redgrave  plays a Latin teacher who has arrived at a sad station in life.   Forced to retire by ill health, he has been denied his pension.  His unfaithful wife despises him.   He has not fulfilled his early promise, instead stagnating as an uninspiring teacher who is detested by his students.   Humiliations are heaped upon him until it seems he must break under their pressure.  However, he does exit with a measure of respect and we are given a glimmer of hope that he may yet reveal hidden talents.   I had thought that I was watching a 5-star film, but the conclusion was just a bit too restrained and tidy to capitalize on the powerful buildup.  Nevertheless, this film is well worth watching.  

Hitch-22 (2010)

by Christopher Hitchens Sometimes there are public figures whose voices and  viewpoints are so complementary to our own that we allow them to become a part of our lives in a way that only today’s technology, such as the internet, can make possible.   When they die, we feel their absence, although the technology that permitted us access to them also grants them a sort of perpetual afterlife.   Roger Ebert was such a person to me.   "Hitch-22: Confessions and Contradictions" (Spanish) Another was Christopher Hitchens.   Christopher Hitchens It was a pleasure to listen to the audio version of his excellent memoir, read in his own voice.   "The Hitch: Confessions of an Indomitable" (German) Although I didn’t always agree with him, I admired his quick wit, his debating skills, and his passionate defense of skepticism and rationality.  However, he always seemed somewhat cold to me.  This book dispelled some of that feeling.  It is more the story of his development as an i

The Butlerian Jihad (Legends of Dune #1) (2002)

by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson A lot of controversy and disappointment about this  one.  Not unexpected, given the legendary status of Frank Herbert's original series.   It's been a good 25 years since I read the originals, and I intend to read them again after working my way through the prequels.   What to make of this effort by Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson?   Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson They've definitely decided to go the route of space opera in this story of the great conflict between humans and thinking machines that would result in the taboo against artificial intelligence that the elder Herbert alludes to in the original books.   "War of the Machines" (French) The great care taken by him in developing coherent systems of philosophy and ecology is not evident here, which undoubtedly contributes to much of the disillusionment. "Servant Jihad" (Czech)  Frankly, though, I felt that the original series sometimes got too bogged down