Sunday, 14 November 2021

The shortest book I've read this year - a very slim novel indeed, I started it in bed last night and finished it this morning - but quite the most compelling. Published in 1938,it's a series of letters between a Jewish art dealer in San Francisco and his cultivated, liberal German friend - who very quickly becomes a Nazi - and the disintegration of their friendship. The postscript by the author's son describes how the story was inspired by real events. The twist at the end of the book is simply breathtaking. It was a best-seller in America and England, a prescient indictment of Nazism - and then largely forgotten after the war. There was a film in 1944 which I see is on YouTube. You know when sometimes you want to jump up and down, and press a book on all your friends and say, 'You simply must read this...'

Wednesday, 3 November 2021

Just what we need ... Silent Night: a movie full of cheer for the second Christmas of the pandemic. Spoiler alert ... Think Nevil Shute's On the Beach - the Yuletide version, with Keira Knightley and designer frocks. The planet is doomed, poison gas will be here before Santa, the water is a funny colour so there's nothing to drink but Fanta or prosecco - and do you fancy a sprout with your government-issued cyanide tablet? Would you really forget to cook enough roasties for your last meal on earth? Surfacing into a gloomy, grey afternoon - yes, I felt quite depressed. Might need to watch It's a Wonderful Life, or even Love, Actually to take the taste away. Luckily I'm off to a concert tonight at the Festival Hall. Though it was depressing, the film did keep me amused and gripped ... which is more than I can say for The French Dispatch last week when I confess I slumbered through most of it.

Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Still enjoying Mary Lawson, and the jacket art has improved, although I think I preferred Road Ends. (Has anybody read A Town Called Solace? It slightly fell apart for me because I couldn't understand how the adults, including a policeman, could be so ineffectual about tracking down a local teenager who might have information about a missing girl.) I heard a radio interview with Mary Lawson talking about how she didn't start writing until her 50s - when she felt she had something to say. If only some of the much-hyped young graduates of creative writing-by-numbers classes felt the same.

Tuesday, 19 October 2021

Well, I wouldn't recommend Mothering Sunday which was soporific - snooze through it in your own armchair if you must. But I made good use of my afternoon on the South Bank and saw the Tate jellyfish which seemed quite menacing in a John Wyndham kind of way ...
And the much-hyped Infinity Mirror Rooms, now sold out until April - although bizarrely there was hardly anyone there. I'd seen one of the rooms before - at an exhibition some years ago when if I remember rightly, you could just walk in - but I did find the Chandelier of Grief was quite entrancing, especially as I went back for a second go and found myself in there quite alone. But you're allowed two minutes ...two rooms, two minutes each, a few videos and photos - as exhibitions go, it was a bit in-and-out. The previous exhibition was much more informative - this is one for the Insta-crowd. But nice.
Then I rounded off the afternoon with Sophie Taeuber-Arp - wishing I could hire her to design and furnish a house. With stained glass windows. Her lovely tapestries far surpass the raggedy textile offerings at the Summer Exhibition.

Wednesday, 13 October 2021

Ohhhh, what a lovely film - Belfast, Kenneth Branagh's semi-autobiographical reminiscence of his childhood,is simply stunning - as beautiful as a Cartier-Bresson photograph, brilliant performances all round, and my money is on Best Picture, Best Actor (the little boy) and Best Supporting Actress (Judi Dench as the old granny). Quite a starry night at the Festival Hall as everyone turned out - Branagh himself, Jamie Dornan, Caitriona Balfe in a stunning gold Stella McCartney frock, Ciaran Hinds - and Judi Dench, but she's so tiny and as the whole of the Festival Hall stood up to clap, I didn't even catch a glimpse of her from the back of the stalls.

Monday, 11 October 2021

So pleased to see London Film Festival back to normal after last year's somewhat restricted offering - and, once you've survived the scrum/Covid soup of ticket collection at the BFI (possibly my least favourite building in London), the Festival Hall is a massive improvement on that chilly marquee with rickety seats at the Embankment. My first excursion wasn't a huge success - whatever induced me to book for The Souvenir Part 2 and how on earth had I managed to forget how bored I was by part 1? But what do I know, it failed the Mrs Miniver snooze test but it's 5* from the Guardian. Nothing daunted, I have booked tickets for Mothering Sunday - which I thought looked promising although I now see that the same Guardian reviewer was underwhelmed by its 'tasteful ennui' (which is exactly what I disliked about both Souvenirs). Colin Firth, Glenda Jackson, Olivia Colman ... I'll report back. And I've also booked for Kenneth Branagh's autobiographical film Belfast - which sounds delightful. Alas - in one of those eye-opening moments when you realise you're no spring chicken of 50-something any more - I pondered the George Clooney movie that didn't start until 9.15pm and thought 'That's a bit late.' The spirit is willing but the knees are starting to creak on a chilly evening!

Sunday, 3 October 2021

It has been many years since I read this and I'd forgotten how terribly sad it is - but tonight I came across this old Book at Bedtime read by Juliet Stevenson and had a good autumnal wallow!