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In a recent essay published in Literary Hub, Madelaine Lucas shares her experience of reading Sam Shepard‘s personal notebooks at the Harry Ransom Center in Austin, Texas:

“In Sam Shepard’s notebooks there are lists of trees: cottonwood, dogwood, apricot, willow, polar, locust, crab apple, silver maple. There are guitar chords with Spanish lyrics, passages of prose that could be read as diary-entry confession or script, and unattributed quotations that might be lines picked-up from conversations overheard on the road or dialogue for a work-in-progress. In the back of one notebook, a photocopied review of Shepard’s 1983 play Fool for Love is folded up with an article about fly-fishing. Taped inside the dirt-red cover of another—a business card for Ray E. Ortiz ‘Horseshoeing’ in La Cienega. Between these pages, there is no separation between what makes up art and what makes up life.”

Literary Hub

Stephen King, Needful Things (1991)
Stephen King, Needful Things (1991)
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lood. Someone’s reflection in a bathroom mirror. A man in a wide-brimmed hat. These are my fragmented recollections of the 1993 adaptation of Stephen King’s Needful Things, which starred Ed Harris and Max Von Sydow. I caught the end of it on television late one night when I was around ten years old, and these anxious impressions are all that I remember. Actually, that’s not true. I also had the impression that the film’s themes were somehow too grownup for me at the time, remote from the day-to-day concerns of a child still in primary school. Marriage, relationships, mortgages and finance, that sort of thing.

By the age of ten I was already familiar with King’s novel, which had been published back in 1991. In fact, I owned two copies. A shiny paperback published in the mid 1990s, and a hardback that came my way shortly after that. There was a period during my childhood and adolescence when King was about the only author that I read; I avidly collected his books and ordered them neatly on a shelf in my bedroom. But I didn’t read Needful Things back then. I got my kicks reading about killer clowns and supernatural forces, and just wasn’t interested in the idea of a demon shopkeeper mortgaging people’s souls. (more…)

Celebrating the women’s civil rights movement

Today marks International Women’s Day, which has commemorated the struggle for women’s civil rights throughout the twentieth century. The day was originally known as International Working Women’s Day, and for most of its history has been connected with socialist movements and communist states such as China and Soviet Russia. In the mid-1970s, during the height of Second Wave Feminism, the UN recognised International Women’s Day and invited its member states to do the same.

Reads for IWD 2018

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“When asked why it makes her emotional, Chastain said that she ‘was playing a character who was the embodiment of love, so every day was just filled with so much joy.’

‘I was meditating on expanding my heart space and living with an open heart,’ she says. ‘Of course it affects you and how you treat other people. I loved those little boys so much, and I loved Terry so much. Watching the movie and seeing Mrs. O’Brien running through the streets with those little boys, I remember how wonderful it was. I’m heartsick for it.'”

IndieWire

Cinephilia & Beyond

Eric Schlosser (The New Yorker) reveals the surprising historical accuracies of the film, which celebrates its sixtieth anniversary this month
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Stanley Kubrick (right) plays chess with George C. Scott on the set of Dr Strangelove: Or, How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

“Despite public assurances that everything was fully under control, in the winter of 1964, while “Dr. Strangelove” was playing in theatres and being condemned as Soviet propaganda, there was nothing to prevent an American bomber crew or missile launch crew from using their weapons against the Soviets. Kubrick had researched the subject for years, consulted experts, and worked closely with a former R.A.F. pilot, Peter George, on the screenplay of the film. George’s novel about the risk of accidental nuclear war, “Red Alert,” was the source for most of “Strangelove” ’s plot. Unbeknownst to both Kubrick and George, a top official at the Department of Defense had already sent a copy of “Red Alert” to every member of the Pentagon’s Scientific Advisory Committee for Ballistic Missiles. At the Pentagon, the book was taken seriously as a cautionary tale about what might go wrong. Even Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara privately worried that an accident, a mistake, or a rogue American officer could start a nuclear war.”

— Eric Schlosser, The New Yorker

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American writer visited director John Huston at his Galway estate five months before she died. — The Irish Times

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Open Culture lists the 11 films that Ingmar Bergman admired above all others:

  • Andrei Rublev (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1971)
  • The Circus (Charlie Chaplin, 1928)
  • The Conductor (Andrzej Wajda, 1980)
  • Marianne and Juliane (Margarethe von Trotta, 1981)
  • The Passion of Joan of Arc (Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1928)
  • The Phantom Carriage (Victor Sjöström, 1921)
  • Port of Shadows (Marcel Carné, 1938)
  • Raven’s End (Bo Wilderberg, 1963)
  • Rashomon (Akira Kurosawa, 1950)
  • La strada (Federico Fellini, 1954)
  • Sunset Boulevard (Billy Wilder, 1950)

Robin Holland
Robin Holland

“Last week we were saddened to learn that photographer Robin Holland had passed away at the age of sixty. In the work she did for a long list of collaborators and clients, including publications like the Village Voice and the New York Times, Holland shot everyone from politicians and celebrities to ordinary New Yorkers. But she had a particularly keen eye for artists, and her unfailingly perceptive portraits of some of the world’s greatest directors—David Lynch, Lucrecia Martel, Chantal Akerman, Werner Herzog, Spike Lee—demonstrated a deep passion for cinema and a sensitivity to its creators, making her a trusted figure in New York City’s film culture.”

— The Criterion Collection

sam-shephard
Sam Shepard

Sam Shepard‘s final work, Spy of the First Person, has been published this week by Knopf. In an early review for USA TodayJocelyn McClurg describes it as “an autobiographical work of fiction” with a “fragmentary, disjointed narrative”. McClurg goes on to offer a pithy summary suggesting a debt to the Irish writer, Samuel Beckett, calling Shepard’s novel “Waiting for Godot in the desert.” (more…)

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David Lynch recently attended the Rome Film Festival 2017, where the artist and filmmaker received a lifetime achievement award. In a Q&A session addressing his return to the Twin Peaks franchise, Lynch also brought up a separate project that had long been close to him:

“Another project that the director has been cultivating for a long time is an adaptation of Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis, which seems to have arrived at a halt. ‘Once I finished writing the script for a feature film adaptation I realised that Kafka’s beauty is in his words. That story is so full of words that when I was finished writing I realised it was better on paper than it could ever be on film,’ Lynch commented.”

— Gabriele Niola, ScreenDaily.com

“As prompts for the actors, Malick shared representative works of art and literature. For [Ben] Affleck, he suggested Fitzgerald, Tolstoy, and Dostoevsky. (Affleck read Martin Heidegger on his own, having known that Malick had translated one of the German philosopher’s works as a grad student.) For [Olga] Kurylenko, he also recommended Tolstoy and Dostoevsky — specifically, Anna Karenina, The Brothers Karamazov, and The Idiot. ‘Those books were, in a way, his script,’ she says. But he did more than give the actors the books; he suggested ways to approach the texts and characters to focus on. So, for example, he recommended that Kurylenko read The Idiot with a particular eye on two characters: the young and prideful Aglaya Yepanchin, and the fallen, tragic Nastassya Filippovna. ‘He wanted me to combine their influences — the romantic and innocent side, with the insolent and daring side. ‘For some reason, you only ever see that combination in Russian characters,’ he said to me.'”

— Bilge Ebiri, Vulture

Buster Keaton on the set of Samuel Beckett's Film
Buster Keaton on the set of Samuel Beckett’s Film

Editors Paul Stewart and David Pattie are seeking contributions to Pop Beckett, a new collection of essays to be published by Ibidem Press:

“The subsequent presence of Beckett in popular culture – both the works and the figure of the man himself – covers a wide array of fields that, as Emilie Morin has suggested, might lead us to re-think Beckett’s continuing position in neoliberal capitalism. Moreover, the boundaries of popular and ‘high’ culture are open to contestation.”

— Source: The Samuel Beckett Society
Abstracts for possible submissions are requested by 20 December 2017, and, upon acceptance, the deadline for full-length essays is set at 30 May 2018. For more information about the projected book, visit the announcement on the Samuel Beckett Society website.

Hannah Fitzpatrick and Anindya Raychaudhuri discuss a topical podcast that covers politics, power, and pop culture

What is the State of the Theory podcast?

Hannah Fitzpatrick: Like most podcasts, State of the Theory is a manifestation of our narcissism. It began as an optimistic hope (albeit with few expectations) that our casual conversations might be of interest to, and spark debate among, our friends and colleagues. We used to commute together a few times a week, and the car became a sort of impromptu seminar venue, but without the audience. After the last research auditing exercise undertaken by the UK government in 2014, Impact and Public Engagement became quantifiable entities that might be used for or against us later in our careers, so the podcast is a sort of compromise, a way for us to demonstrate that our thoughts have value beyond the walls of the Vauxhall Astra, while still doing it on our own terms. A way of selling out without entirely selling out, if you will. Also, we missed the long drive, where all we could do was chat, and we could have these long, multi-stage conversations over the course of a week or two, so the podcast was a way for us to recreate that time. (more…)