Delicious December 2023: Read, Watched

Undoubtedly the best things that I watched and read this month were Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra, Broken Code by Jeff Horwitz, My Darling Clementine by John Ford and Memories of Murder by Bong Joon-Ho. Only the last had I consumed previously.  This time it was just as delicious.

Undoubtedly the best things that I watched and read this month were Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra, Broken Code by Jeff Horwitz, My Darling Clementine by John Ford and Memories of Murder by Bong Joon-Ho. Only the last had I consumed previously.  This time it was just as delicious.

December 2nd

Poster for the 2023 German film All Quiet on the Western Front

All Quiet on the Western Front (2022)
Directed by Edward Berger, it stars Felix Kammerer, Albrecht Schuch, Daniel Brühl, Sebastian Hülk, Aaron Hilmer, Edin Hasanovic, and Devid Striesow.
Perhaps not as good as the 1930s version that I remember seeing back in the theaters when it was released. But still quite good.
— C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters, 20 pp.

December 4th

Poster of the 2023 David Fincher film called The Killer, starring Michael Fassbender.

The Killer (2023)
Directed by David Fincher, starring Michael Fassbender in the title role, with Arliss Howard, Charles Parnell, Kerry O’Malley, Sala Baker, Sophie Charlotte, and Tilda Swinton. For Netflix!
I knew this would be disappointing. It was.
It’s a different kind of assassin film … right? Because when he fails in his assignment and survives the attempts to kill him … wait, what is different?
W.G. Sebald, Austerlitz, Introduction

December 8th

Front cover of the book Austerlitz by W.G. Sebald

— Sebald, Austerlitz, 20 pp.
— “You Are Good” podcast on High Fidelity (2000)
After listening to this while driving between central Va. and Philadelphia, I did a lot of thinking because this film, High Fidelity, is rather close to me. Which was not to say that they panned the film, but I guess some of the things that they discussed elicited some surprising reactions on my part.

Significantly, the hilarious line:
” […] what really matter is what you like. Not what you’re like.”

Memories of Murder (2003)

image Delicious December 2023: Read, Watched

The film begins with a murder somewhat hilariously investigated by incompetent if not idiotic detectives. The main character seems to be framing first one and then another person who happen to be near the scene when the murders occurs.

Only in the unfolding of the narrative that the story becomes genuinely tragic.

Then, in this final scene (in the image above), the former detective who claimed to be able to know guilt or innocence from a person’s eyes looks into our eyes. His eyes cloud with tears. He’s haunted.

December 9th

image 6 Delicious December 2023: Read, Watched

Memories of Murder (2003)
Directed by Bong Joon-ho, who you may know as the director of Parasite (2019). Remember, the Korean film that won the Oscars right before the pandemic hit and ruined everything. The Korean film that won “Best Picture” at the Oscars?!
That was a big deal, you may recall. Honestly, I thought Burning (2018) was better. In case you wanted to know …
Top Hat (1935)
Directed by Mark Sandrich, starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.
Watching them dance is incredible.

December 10th

Cover of the 2023 book by Jeff Horwitz, "Broken Code"

Austerlitz,10 pp.
— Finished The Screwtape Letters
— Jeff Horwitz, Broken Code, 20 pp.
Read about this book somewhere, about how FB’s faith in the benevolent powers of social media eventually had a reckoning.
The book has dramatized those moments — I’m only 120 pages in so far — with attention to a few individuals here and there and their role in trying to address problems that they encountered. It’s reportage, I think, and is immensely valuable. I do find myself wondering how some of these changes to the News Feed and whatnot really work.

December 13th

Austerlitz, 20 pp.

December 16th

Original poster for the 1980 film The Empire Strikes Back, being episode 5 in the Star Wars saga.

— Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra, 10 pp.
The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Directed by Irvin Kershner, but starring Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, David Prowse, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew, and Frank Oz.
Need I say once more how salutary is the effect of these movies is in relation to the the prequels? Yet I have wondered about the film’s title, which is so completely sedimented into our culture — and my formation — that questioning it is hard to do. I mean, isn’t it rather a dumb title?

December 12th

Promotional poster for the 2014 "The Lego Movie"

The Lego Movie (2014)
Directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, starring the voices of Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Nick Offerman, Alison Brie, Charlie Day, Liam Neeson, and Morgan Freeman.
So much of this movie is so hilarious, not least of all Chris Pratt as a comic actor. As an action star he’s really uninteresting, for example, in the latest episodes of the Jurassic Park franchise. Whereas here it all works. And of course, other standout performances are from Liam Neeson (thank God not another freaking Taken-style movie) and Nick Offerman and even Morgan Freeman. There are no false notes, no wrong turns.
I have not see the second movie, nor the Batman film …

Still from the 1946 western My Darling Clementine, directed by John Ford and starring Henry Fonda and Victor Mature
Scene from the 1946 John Ford film “My Darling Clementine,” starring Henry Fonda, Victor Mature, and Linda Darnell. Victor Mature is the man in black behind the cane, playing the role of Doc Holliday. To persuasive effect.

December 17th

Shuvit (2017)
A short film by Jennifer Reeder.
My Darling Clementine (1946)
Directed by John Ford and starring Henry Fonda, Victor Mature, Linda Darnell, Walter Brennan, Tim Holt, Cathy Downs and Ward Bond.
Because this film is yet another retelling of the Wyatt Earp story I resisted watching it, thinking not again. For as you may well know, Tombstone and Wyatt Earp were released in 1994, and although I did not see them in the theaters they have been shown ad nauseum on television. The former is maybe worth it, a little, what with Val Kilmer’s performance and others.
And so, did I really want to see another?
But those films don’t really stand up to My Darling Clementine. The moment I knew this was when Victor Mature’s Doc Holliday starts reciting Shakespeare when the visiting thespian is incapable. Those are the kind of details that never make it to Tombstone, so obsessed as it is with Earp’s machismo. Nor does the latter have Earp talk about how much he loves cards, because each hand is a new set of problems. Nor does the latter have a scene devoted to square dancing. Nor does it have Linda Darnell as a Mexican woman.
(I decided to watch it in part because I noticed that John Ford was the director)
Broken Code, 10 pp.
Antony, 10 pp.

December 20th

Super Mario Bros. (2023)
OMG have I mentioned that I love my son so much that I watched such utter tripe as this? This is so dumb. Lu liked it and I had to bite my tongue.
Austerlitz, 10 pp

December 21st

cane toad Delicious December 2023: Read, Watched

Broken Code, 20 pp
Cane Toads: An Unnatural History (1987)
A documentary about the introduction of cane toads — not native to Australia — to Australia in the 1930s as a solution to the cane beetle. That is the unnatural part, I presume. But the cane toads proved more capable of dominating their new home than being a solution the cane beetles.
But some substantial part is about how attached residents are to these toads.
This is the kind of film that is perfect for a high school biology class when the teacher needed to take a break or treat the students. Which is not to say that it’s very scientifically interesting.
They will eat mice!

December 22nd

Poster for the 2019 Jordan Peele film, starring Lupita Nyong'o

Us (2019)
Directed by Jordan Peele, starring Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss, and Tim Heidecker.
L.A. Confidential (1997)
Directed, produced, and co-written by Curtis Hanson, starring Guy Pearce and Russell Crowe, Kevin Spacey, Kim Basinger, Danny DeVito, and most significantly the sadly unknown actor James Cromwell. With some 25 years perspective its interesting to see the arc of the careers of Pearce and Crowe. These days Spacey is a persona non grata.

The Rest is History, a history podcast hosted by historians Dominic Sandbrook and Tom Holland on Operation Barbarossa, in which Tom’s brother James (in fact host of a separate podcast called “We Have Ways of Making You Talk“, offers a lot of highly technical information, among which are the facts that at the beginning of the war France has a car to each 8 persons and therefore an infrastructure to support it, whereas that is not the case for the USSR and this means a dearth of petrol (how quaint) as the German Blitzkrieg (yes, I just used Blitzkrieg as a verb, I know, you’re impressed) across Russia and that Hitler’s advisors had told him ahead of time that logistically the success of this effort was impossible and that, very interestingly, the railways in the Soviet Union were of a different gauge in compatible with German trains and therefore would need to be corrected before they could be used and that the hatred of the Slavs fuelled the barbarossity of the offensive (think Einsatzgruppen) and that Stalin’s hubris was part of the reason the Red Army suffered significant early losses;


on The Library of Alexandria, about which more myth than reality appears to be circulating, including that it was burned (not likely, or at least not at one time), that it was a library — a museum would have been a better description — and that it had a prodigious collection of the kind of scientific knowledge that could have fomented a Enlightenment nearly a millennium earlier than it had, whereas in fact it was devoted to Greek literary culture and we all know that that’s a lot of pretty talk but not really meaningful in any scientific sense … did you detect my baited breath?;

on the CIA; on the Marquis de Sade;
on The Fall of the Aztecs Parts 1 and half of part 2
History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps,
434: The Eye Sees Not Itself But By Reflection: Theories of Vision
340: Footnotes to Plato: Marsilio Ficino
Broken Code, 40 pp.
FB’s complicity with the Myanmar massacre of the Rohyinga
Austerlitz, 15 pp.

December 24th

The Rest is History, The Fall of the Aztecs rest of Part 2, start of Part 3

December 26th

— Rest is History, Fall of the Aztecs rest of part 3, and half of part 3
Antony and Cleopatra, finished Act 2
Antony marries Octavia. The die is cast.

December 27th

Poster for the 1954 film White Christmas, directed by Michael Curtiz, starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera-Ellen

White Christmas (1954)
Directed by Michael Curtiz, starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera-Ellen.
While watching this I couldn’t help but narrate an alternate explanation for certain parts of the story, such as the fact that the two male characters — Broadway showman — are single. And then was assisted by the scene in which they dress in drag!
Very likely the first Rosemary Clooney film (“No wire hangers!”) I’ve seen. Meh.
And this Vera-Ellen, who lacks last name? Was a dance partner with Fred Astaire no less. And you can see it here too, when she is dancing with Danny Kaye.
— Rest is History, Fall of Aztecs, Parts 3, 4, 5, 6
This is a great series of podcasts.

December 28th

Antony and Cleopatra, 15 pp.
— Rest is History, Fall of Aztecs, 7, 8

December 30th

Promotional poster for the 2013 film Man of Steel, directed by Zach Snyder and starring Henry Cavill

Man of Steel (2013)
Directed by Zack Snyder, starring Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, and Russell Crowe.
Another disappointment. The powers of computer generated animation so intoxicate movie makers that they forget about the most important parts of the film. I know that the only reason I wanted to watch this was the scene where Superman fights Zod’s flunkies.
Truth told, Cavill is best keeping his mouth closed through this film. But it’s not all his fault. The script is so silly. I’m disappointed to learn that Christopher Nolan had a hand in its creation.