Blog

Updates on talks and publications. I also periodically write reviews of books and films, interview people I’m interested in talking to, or write short essays and commentaries about issues that capture my attention.

The Indigenous Design Process: an Interview with Bill Semple

Culture cannot be relegated to the margins of sustainable development policy. When I last went to the International Conference on Sustainable Development[1], the latest edition of which will take place this September in New York, it was therefore a pleasant surprise to meet Bill, who was checking in for his session on “Indigenous Approaches to Sustainable Development”. A brief conversation about his work as an architect in indigenous community contexts

Bluets, by Maggie Nelson

To focus on a single object or concept is to open a world of free association. The strength of the single theme is that it allows boundaries to be drawn, questioned, erased, altered. The obsessive turning of the object can reveal complexities where they are least expected, just as attempts to apprehend a whole world of chaos can only lead to the grossest of simplifications. To focus is to expand.

[Film Review] Grave, by Julia Ducournau

One of the first things we learn about Justine is that she was raised as a vegetarian and has never strayed. Both her parents are veterinarians, and we meet her as she is about to follow in their footsteps by joining veterinary school. Her older sister has already completed her first year there: a concrete hospital complex in a pale semi-urban area. The film unsettles quickly, as the new arrivals are hazed by the second years, forced through a series of humiliating situations. Under pressure from her peers, Justine has her first taste of meat: the raw liver of a rabbit. Horrible as the experience is, complete with red raw rashes, it sparks in her a shameful curiosity.

Rapid-Fire Reviews (III)

It’s been a great month. I got to revisit some classics in the cinema, discover directors I had thus-far unfairly neglected, reconnect with one of my favourite documentarians and with my love for Hong Kong cinema. Here’s the overview, rapid-fire reviews below.  Split, by M. Night Shyamalan (02/03 – in the cinema) Logan, by James Mangold (03/03 – in the cinema) Gattaca, by Andrew Niccol (04/05) Drug War, by Johnnie

[Film Review] The Lost City of Z, by James Gray

We are introduced to Major Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam) as he leads a deer hunt. A talented shooter and military man of ambition, his career is constrained by a shameful family history. Fawcett’s father was a gambler and a drunk, pastimes of ill repute. He may not have passed on his defects to his son, but in Edwardian England, the shame of it is still inheritable. Restrained as he is by the rigid conceptions of class structure and masculinity of the time, he finally sees an opportunity to transcend his status and prove his worth as a man when the president of the Royal Society of Geography assigns him to map an unknown part of the Amazon.

Rapid-Fire Reviews (II)

I’ve been too busy this month to write long reviews, but I sure as hell didn’t stop watching films. This month’s overview features some real heavy-hitters, not least because the 2017 update of the They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They 1000 Greatest Films list was released early in the month and it reminded me of some classics I’d meant to watch for a long time. Short reviews really can’t do them justice, but here we go anyway.

[Film Review] Loving, by Jeff Nichols

It’s a pleasure to see Jeff Nichols back on the screens so soon after Midnight Special, this time with the thoughtful, delicate beauty of a love story. It’s mid-February and I already know Loving is likely to make it on my best films of 2017 list (I know US folks saw it months ago, but it came out in France just yesterday). As residents of the state of Virginia, Richard

Rapid-Fire Reviews (I)

In the first three months of 2017, I watched an inordinate number of films. These are my reviews for January.

[Book Review] L’Incal, Intégrale

I read a lot of bande dessinées as a child. The francophone equivalent of the graphic novel or comic book, it’s most famous international emissaries probably are Tintin (popular enough to have one of its stories’ adapted into film by Steven Spielberg), or perhaphs Asterix et Obélix. Both were a given in my French upbringing, as were Les Schtroumpfs and – this one is a familial particularity – Calvin & Hobbes. As I got a bit older, I turned to Blake & Mortimer, the fantasy series Lanfeust de Troy, and Corto Maltese. I’m not entirely sure how the medium is best reviewed, and have little knowledge of its codes and history, but here’s my first attempt at a critical reading of a bande dessinée anyway: the book compiling all six tomes of the space opera L’Incal.

[Film Review] Harmonium, by Kōji Fukada

I’ve always been a fan of Japanese cinema, whether its the animations of studio Ghibli (bright stars of my childhood), the much darker animes like Akira that I watched as a teenager, or the clever social criticism of Hara-Kiri and the grand scale of Kurosawa’s epics like Kagemusha that came to me later on. Thankfully, there is always more to discover. I live in a country fascinated with Japan and its cinematic output, so much so that the large cinema chain I went to this week was showing more Japanese films (two) than American or even French films (one of each). Harmonium most likely won’t retain a high place in my personal pantheon of Japanese cinema, but I’m very curious to see director Kōji Fukada’s previous films, for in his work there is the promise of much challenging filmmaking that I am now keen to discover.