Like many unjustly marginal books, Helen DeWitt’s The Last Samurai is a novel that makes you want to proselytize. It makes you want to blog about it, laud it to your friends, brandish it in high-transit places in the hopes that another intrepid reader, impelled by the novel’s aura of genius, will come along and ask about it. Continue reading
Luís Buñuel’s last and possibly best film That Obscure Object of Desire, begins with a scene in which Mathieu, a grey-bearded, houndstooth-suited Frenchman, dumps a bucketful of water on the head of his young lover, Conchita, as she attempts to board a train on which he is fleeing from her. Apparently shocked and pathetically drenched, she stops chasing him. Mirroring the train’s inevitable progress toward its destination, a handful of flashbacks go by, and we learn that Conchita has been repeatedly goading Mathieu with sexual promises she doesn’t keep, turning him on and frustrating him in equal and increasing measure. She’s saving herself for marriage, she says; Ma thieu, thinking gratification is just around the corner, puts up with it. One night, he discovers Conchita performing some kind of strip-Flamenco for seedy tourists. Nearly foaming at the mouth, Mathieu stops the show and interrogates her. He knew she worked as a dancer, but this?
“Oh please…” Conchita shrugs. She seems surprised that Mathieu could have been so naïve. “Even children know about this.”
And here, Mathieu’s face is priceless. Continue reading
“Master Cromwell, your reputation is bad,” a red-bearded King Henry VIII tells the protagonist of PBS’s new Tudor-era series, Wolf Hall. Cromwell, sullen and overdressed in a sunlit hedge garden, lowers his chin, prompting the king’s bemusement.
“Your majesty can form your own opinion,” Cromwell replies. By the next episode, he’s been elected to the king’s privy counsel. Continue reading
It’s of some interest to watch new music videos released in 2015 by the French rapper Booba if only to be sobered by their backwardness. The Rolls Royce-driving, Yankees-cap-wearing, 2000s-rap-troping Booba—a cultural annex of the US and of questionable originality—is arguably the most recognizable name in current French hip-hop. Sometimes he raps about how other rappers have fewer twitter followers than he. And he garners upwards of 2 million views on every stacks-and-sportscar-intensive video he puts out. Continue reading
Tired-looking women in sleek ponytails and dirty polo shirts wipe a speckled counter, elbows rigid and rags dry. The camera focuses on bright frosting in swirls—up close, constellation-like—Cinnabons spinning on silver trays. In the background, 1940’s-style swing music plays.
The whole scene runs in black-and-white, but it’s not a flashback. It’s a flash-forward, a glimpse of Saul’s fall and a reference to the Breaking Bad quip: “If I’m lucky, best case scenario, I’m managing a Cinnabon in Omaha.”