As I write, the city I live in, Berlin, is throwing a party for itself. As it should. Few events in the lifetimes of most of us deserve to be celebrated as heartily as the fall of the Wall. And while I don't mean to rain on anyone's parade (I wouldn't have to, actually; it's been coming down lightly but steadily all day), the noise crescendo'ing all throughout the run-up to this 20th anniversary has been so deafening (at least over here) that a carefully applied touch of sobriety just might help us appreciate the (mostly) peaceful revolutions of 1989 that much more.
Composer John Adams (Nixon in China, Doctor Atomic) has been blogging for a couple of months now, and damn if he isn't great at it. He's also been "dipping into Adorno lately, mostly by way of preparing for the talk on Mann's Doctor Faustus I gave last week at Yale. Adorno can irritate you big time with his eternal fault finding and what seems like a chronic unwillingness to see anything positive in our modern lives, especially here in market-driven America. I'd even gone so far as to defend our market culture, saying in effect that we in America have the benefit of popular culture to act as a 'bulwark' against the kind of societal sterility that Thomas Mann said was the theme of his novel. But there is nothing like a night out in an American movie theater to remind you how inexorable is the grip that the laws of commodity capitalism have on so much of our waking lives."
A very amusing rant follows. Turns out, the movie that's sparked it, The Men Who Stare at Goats, is currently being worried over for reasons that are not amusing at all. Vanity Fair's Julian Sancton notes that "there is a scene where a disturbed soldier runs amok in Fort Bragg, firing at troops during their morning exercises." He asks: "Should the scene be cut?"
As we head into another busy week, you may be in need of procrastination fodder, so I'll pluck just a few highlights from the @theauteursdaily stream. Within the last couple of days, Catherine Grant (@filmstudiesff) has pointed out a new issue of Image & Narrative, for starters, with a "Thematic Cluster" on Chris Marker.
Nominations for the European Film Awards were announced on Saturday, with A Prophet leading the pack with six, and In Contention's Guy Lodge offers his take on the batch as a whole.
The November issue of the Brooklyn Rail is up, featuring, for example, Ethan Spigland's interview with Roy Andersson and David N Meyer's New York Film Festival roundup.
"David Fincher's Fight Club, a movie that stirred vitriolic ire when it came out 10 years ago and today inspires obsessive, often worshipful scrutiny in both lowbrow and highbrow quarters, is surely the defining cult movie of our time," writes Dennis Lim in the New York Times. "The secret to the enduring allure of Fight Club may be that it is, as [Edward] Norton put it, quoting Mr Fincher, 'a serious film made by deeply unserious people.' In other words, a film as willing to take on profound questions as it is to laugh at and contradict itself: what is Fight Club if not the most fashionable commercial imaginable for anti-materialism?"
Fincher's in the news, by the way. It looks like he may be reuniting with Se7en screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker on a second adaptation of Max Ehrlich's The Reincarnation of Peter Proud.
At Not Coming to a Theater Near You, Leo Goldsmith and Evan Kindley have a long talk with Richard Brody about "Godard's life and work, the function of the biography and the process of writing one, and some of the criticisms of his book," Everything Is Cinema: The Working Life of Jean-Luc Godard.
Jonathan Rosenbaum on Sergei Paradjanov.
Online listening tip. Aaron Hillis and Andrew Grant take us full circle, that is, back to Berlin, with their discussion of Wim Wenders's Wings of Desire. Which is where the image above comes from, of course. Earlier: "DVDs, 11/3."