ONE YOUNG Englishman was exhilarated by the queen’s Diamond Jubilee, as he had been ten years earlier when the Golden Jubilee had celebrated her first half-century on the throne. Then twelve years old, he had written to his mother: “P.S. Remember the Jubilee,” followed by a series of letters begging to be taken to see the great event. They were signed, “Your loving son Winny.” That Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria, in the summer of 1887, had seen European royalty gather in Westminster Abbey, while across the land, bonfires were lit. In A.E.
It has been widely acknowledged that HBO’s “Girls” features what is likely the worst sex ever seen on the small screen—or, at least, the worst sex with a female mind at its emotional center. This is fumbling, incompetent sex, performed on a dirty couch in yellowish lighting and filmed from unforgiving angles. Hannah, the character played by Lena Dunham, who is also the show’s creator, gets mounted from behind by her terrible not-quite-boyfriend, Adam.
The Steins Collect Metropolitan Museum of Art Van Gogh: Up Close Philadelphia Museum of Art Van Gogh: The Life By Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith (Random House, 953 pp., $40) Nobody in the history of culture has known more about the art of persuasion than the avant-garde painters, sculptors, writers, composers, choreographers, and impresarios who transformed European art from the end of the nineteenth century to the middle of the twentieth century.
The Bars of Atlantis: Selected Essays by Durs Grünbein Reviewing this collection of essays by Germany's pre-eminent contemporary poet, Helen Vendler wrote that "If Yeats’s aim was to hold in a single thought reality and justice, then Grünbein’s is to hold in a single thought poetry and philosophy." This book contains my favorite quote of the year.
Police, Adjective IFC Films The Young Victoria Apparition The Romanian director Corneliu Porumboiu shows once again that, for him, film is a means of looking at an idea. The operative word is “looking.” The subtitles of Police, Adjective convey that his dialogue is reasoned and seasoned, but it rarely seems primary. Chiefly, it enhances what we are watching. Ideas are hardly a novelty in films, but some such works present their ideas visually, as do Porumboiu’s. He provides just enough plot to assure us that he hasn’t forgotten about it.
Films Worth Seeing Before Tomorrow. Imperfect film-making but a warm and interesting experience. Life among the Intuits in their Arctic homeland as it was before the white man came. Ice and snow and harpooning and primary eating never seemed so congenial. (12/30/09) The Messenger. This truly memorable war film takes place entirely in the U.S. We follow two veteran soldiers who are in the bereavement notification service. The drama is less in the notification scenes than in the slow but sinuous way that the work affects these two. Excellent performances, lithe dialogue, knowing direction. (12/
Right in a prominent location in yesterday's New York Times, there's a big story by Abby Goodnough, spread out over two pages, telling us that the Democratic candidate to succeed Ted Kennedy may lose. A big and really desperate photo, too, of the late senator's widow, Victoria, and Robert Kennedy's smiling (but probably still irascible) son Joseph, who used to be my congressman, and Teddy's successor-for-four-months Paul Kirk endorsing Martha Coakley, now attorney general of the Bay State. Don't get me wrong: I intend to vote for her on January 19.
Victoria Burnett of The New York Times recently wrote a fascinating piece about Spain's entry into the wild world of high-speed rail. The country's first route, between Madrid and Seville, opened in 1992. Since then, the national rail network has grown to some 2,000 kilometers of track, and it's proven so wildly popular that politicians from all parties are tripping over themselves to bolster service—the current plan calls for 10,000 kilometers of track by 2020.
As if the holiday shopping season didn't already promise to be depressing, now Victoria's Secret is facing a Lingerie Lawsuit. --Michelle Cottle