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.

[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.

[Film Review] Nocturnal Animals, by Tom Ford

I’m so biased in favour of Michael Shannon, I’ll go see anything he stars in. Especially the Jeff Nichols stuff. If you haven’t seen Take Shelter or Shotgun Stories or any of the others, do it now.  Having seen Arrival twice in the last couple of weeks, I also started the year curious to see more of Amy Adams’ acting, so one viewing of the Nocturnal Animals trailer was enough

[Film Review] Jodorowsky’s Dune, by Frank Pavich

Alejandro Jodorowsky, experimental film director with mystical ambitions, wished to turn Dune, that monument of science-fiction, into an even more monumental film, a film sacred and beautiful, that would set off mutations in young minds all across the globe and forever alter the course of film history like 2001 did before it. Had his ambitions come to fruition, we are told they would have in fact eclipsed Kubrick’s work, and put Star Wars to shame. Fifteen minutes into Jodorowsky’s Dune, I am ready to believe it.

[Book Review] Common Ground, by Rob Cowen

One night, feeling an urge to escape the sickening smell of fresh paint and beckoning boxes waiting to be unpacked, Cowen wanders out of his new home in Harrogate, North Yorkshire. On the edge of town, he discovers a half-forgotten forest and fallow field hemmed in between housing and countryside, a place to which he feels a connection from the first instant. He begins to explore each part of this

[Book Review] Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature, by Janine Benuys

Science and technology are a triumph of human ingenuity over nature. Or so we tend to think. Propelled by this idea, researchers and inventors of the past century have endeavored to subjugate the chaotic forces of nature to meet human needs. Their efforts have been met with such success that we now live in a time of arguably unprecedented technological prowess and copious material wealth. This has come at an