Read Viewed Consumed |2020-09

Cultural consumption (what I read and viewed) continued during the month of September at a slightly slower pace than August, although I did see more films, with two absolutely excellent ones at that—Powell and Pressburger’s Pygmalion and The 49th Parallel, both of which star Leslie Howard.

Quantum of Solace (2008): For some time the title had completely mystified me. This second viewing has increased it in my estimation, in particular, the the fact that it continues the narrative of Casino Royale. Matthieu Almaric‘s eyes are kind of disturbing, no? Kurylenko as Bolivian. Right.
NRYB on animals as sovereign: mind blown.

Film Still from Quantum of Solace, a film viewed not read
Daniel Craig and Olga Kurylenko’s characters in the midst of the Bolivian desert.

GBBO, 2.8
Galileo, Sidereus Nuncius, Preface, Introduction: Quite interesting.

sidereus nuncius

GBBO, 2.9
NYRB Darryl Pinckney on the BLM, …

GBBO, 2.10
Bell, 25 pp.

Bell, The First Total War, 15 pp.
Cinderella (2015): I knew where this was going five minutes in. So obvious! But more seriously, given how important Cinderella’s character is to the trajectory of the story, how can we excuse the father’s horrible failure in judgment?
GBBO, 1.1

Promotional image for Inception (2010)
Note the promotional image has the major characters armed

Bell, 20 pp.
Inception (2010), 40 minutes: It was nice to watch this again, although I do wish that I could have watched it all in one sitting. As interesting as this film is, its spectacle is at least as (if not much more) important than the conceit itself. Yet the spectacle is most impressive not in the gunplay and action but in the settings where the action takes place. Yet an effective action film, as I think this should at the very least be categorized, unfolds through continuous action that disrupts the opportunities a viewer has to think through the conceit.
GBBO, 1.2

CivilWarLand In Bad Decline cover, which I read during the month of September

Bell, 15 pp.
George Saunders, “Civilwarland in Bad Decline,” “Isabelle”: For more on the title story, see this.

Inception, 20 minutes
Tolstoy, 15 pp.
Bell, 5 pp.
GBBO, 1.3

Finished Inception

GBBO, 1.4
“Civilwarland in Bad Decline”
Tolstoy, 15 pp.
Pippin, Modernism as a Philosophical Problem, 20 pp.: a great book, but one that makes me frequently wonder about the value of judgments made from its considerable altitude.

The Mechanic: September Consumption
Movie posters are frequently better than the film. The scene this poster visualizes was not memorable, although “someone” did drive a motorcycle over a cliff.

The Mechanic (1972), all but 20 minutes: Yana “watched” some of this with me, complaining at once that the dialogue and acting were weak. A just characterization. Yet I find myself fascinated by it. The ending in particular.
GBBO, 1.5-6

The Mechanic final scene
The 13 second filament circuit has been broken. Honestly, I think this scene may be the only reason why I like this movie.

Ted Chiang, Exhalations, “The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate”: A story about the paradox of time travel within the frame of 1001 Nights, except that there is no paradox. One may not change the past or future by traveling. Individuals are equally participants and audience in their own lives.—that’s a version of a line in the story.
Saunders, “400 pound CEO,” “Ruth’s Failed Reign of Terror”, “Offloading Mrs. Schwartz”
GBBO, 1.7

Hegel, Encyclopedia, 5 pp.

The Comfort of Strangers (1987), 30 minutes: Granted, the conditions of my consumption were suboptimal, but I found myself lacking the motivation to continue.
Saunders, 40 pp.
Joaquim Machado de Assis, The Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas, 5 pp.: Began with the intention of finishing for the Philadelphia Classics Book Club, of which I am nominally a part. And yes, these are a man’s memoirs written/composed after he is dead and therefore able to offer insights across the fascinating narrative of his life as well as the way that the dead relate to the living. See the reviews of the New York Times or The New Yorker or the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Machado, 10 pp.
Finished Saunders
GBBO, 1.9
Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 10 pp.: Began reading this book at least last month at a slow pace because the meeting to discuss this had never been seriously schedule until I agreed to host the meeting. This is the book in which Kuhn introduces the concept of paradigms to describe the “development” of science. His concept is meant to offer a corrective to the heuristic but misleading notion that sciences continually progresses from achievement to achievement, one on top of the others, in a ceaseless narrative of progress. Despite claims to the contrary (from Lucian Frederick Vaught, no less), paradigms are not chicken nuggets.
Hegel, 1 p.

NYRB On Eimear McBride
Michael Kohlhaas (2013): I had some notion I’d read this novella by Heinrich Von Kleist, but now having seen the film I am less certain. Despite the bait title, this is actually an interesting movie, mainly for the main character’s realization of his own culpability and fear in the moment of his execution. The American title of the film is Age of Uprising: The Legend of Michael Kohlhaas, which is undoubtedly an indication of the doubt this film had of achieving marketability without …

Chiang, 20 pp.

Pygmalion (1938) movie posters
Experiments with human beings …

Pygmalion (1938): You know that feeling when you are watching a film and are uncertain if it is worth of the experience and then something happens and you’re like, this is really good. I could probably name the films during the watching of which I had said experience (one would be Jesus’ Son [1999], which I saw at the Ritz back in 1999 itself).

Henry V (1944) before he attacks France.
Laurence Olivier in Henry V (1944): Not his best role, IMHO.

Henry V (1944), all but 5 minutes
Kuhn, 15 pp.
Machado, 25 pp.

Joaquim Machado de Assis
Machado de Assis, author of The Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas

Machado, 30 pp.
Kuhn, 25 pp.
The 49th Parallel (1940), 1.5 hours

Early scene in The 49th Parallel (1944)
Ruthless German soldiers seeking supplies from the Canadians

Machado, 35 pp.
Finished The 49th Parallel
Acts of Violence (2018): I feel so disgusted with myself. In part I watched this because of the 96% Netflix algorithm. I had to go take a shower after watching this feel-good-vigilante murder film. Wanna enjoy watching people get killed? Make the victims into human traffickers.

NYRB on the fall of Rome, the Cuban Five, Chechov, literary history old and new, will he go
Machado, 30 pp.

Kuhn, 20 pp.

Kuhn, 10 pp.

Kuhn, 25 pp.
Chiang, 110 pp.

Chiang, 10 pp.
Kuhn, 15 pp.
Tolstoy, 3 pp.

Midnight Special (2016)
Described as Spielbergesque/80s science fiction film, yet with the 21st century’s obsessions with firearms.

Midnight Special (2016): Michael Shannon continues to impress me. Kirsten Dunst disappoints (she was awesome in Bring It On! [2000]). Joel Edgerton has an interesting character, but little range. One of Sam Shepard’s last roles. Adam Driver’s character was mainly one-dimensional.
Kuhn, 10 pp.
Directed the Seattle Analytic Philosophy Club Zoom Reading Group on Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Chaps. 1-5