Tag Archives: Tom Hardy

Miscellany #47: 10 August 2015

10 Aug

One of the few reasons to watch the Red Sox

I am in the small camp of people who think its a waste of verbiage and pixels to attend to short fingered vulgarian. John Oliver sums it up brilliantly:

Now, if you want to hear more on the Trump/Kelly showdown, you can basically tune in to any news network because it is all they’re fucking talking about,” Oliver continued. “But we are going to move on, and I’ll tell you why: This whole debacle was meaningless. The 2016 election will not depend on this because it’s 457 days away. There will be actual babies born on Election Day 2016 whose parents haven’t even met yet. So everyone pace yourselves

Child 44

Tom Rob Smith’s trilogy Child 44, The Secret Speech and Agent Six set in the Soviet Union (Stalin era and post Stalin)in addition to being a page turning crime story is a skillful survey of life under in a dreary and fear-fraught so called socialist regime with an addition patina of paranoia provided by genocidal megalomania of our late WWII ally Uncle Joe.

Secret Speech

Agent 6

Now comes a Ridley Scott produced, Richard Price scripted film iteration of Child 44 with a well cast ensemble of actors lead by the increasingly visible Tom Hardy* (my favorite of his roles is Jewish gang leader Alfie Solomons, in the oddly inexplicably-underappreciated BBC seriesPeaky Blinders). Had I not been aware of the books it would have been some time before I came to this film as there was virtually no press attached to it—though its good enough that it will find its audience and credence sooner rather than later

Apparently the Ruskies are aware of Child 44 and reverted to a Soviet era response.

A few years ago I conversed with Nigerian novelist Uzodinma Iweala about his debut novel, Beasts of No Nation. It’s a harrowing story set in an unnamed West African nation beset by a civil war and being waged by child soldiers, a tragedy in and of itself. It’s cinematic version is coming soon with the redoubtable Idris Alba as the very scary military leader.

Some NY Times person thought this was clever? Useful? Amusing? Maybe the question should have been, “Name the Supreme Court Justices” Or “Who won the Battle of Mukden?”

Aerial photo of Nagasaki after Atom Bombing [Library of Congress]

Aerial photo of Nagasaki after Atom Bombing [Library of Congress]

images-1

No doubt there is a strong predisposition to forget about US deployment of nuclear weapons at Hiroshima and Nagasaki but here’s a piece from Lapham’s Quarterly that talks about efforts to add to the dustbin of history:

Contradicting the new constitution’s guarantee of freedom of expression, and its explicit wording that “no censorship shall be maintained,” the occupation’s Civil Censorship Detachment (CCD) carried out broad media restrictions…Across the country, movie theaters could only show films approved after stringent review by the CCD; among other criteria, any challenges to the terms of Japanese surrender,…

No specific censorship rules referred directly to the Nagasaki and Hiroshima atomic bombings, but the CCD nonetheless eliminated most statements about the nuclear attacks in print and broadcast journalism, literature, films, and textbooks. Public comments that either justified the United States’ use of the bombs or argued for their inevitability were sometimes permitted, but subjects that continued to be censored included the extent of physical destruction in the two cities; technical details about the bombs’ blasts, heat, and radiation; death and casualty counts; personal testimonies from atomic bomb survivors; and any reportage, photographs, or film footage of survivors suffering from atomic bomb injuries or radiation effects. Even phrases such as “Many innocent people were killed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki” were banned. Nagasaki named its annual commemoration of the bombing “The Memorial Day for the Restoration of Peace,” calling it a “culture festival” to appease U.S. officials

Artist José Luis Vargas, in his Santurce studio [Christopher Gregory for Al Jazeera America0

Artist José Luis Vargas, in his Santurce studio [Christopher Gregory for Al Jazeera America0

I love Puerto Rico especially the strip of coast in the west, from Aguadilla to Mayaguez. It hasn’t escaped me that the poor benighted island (which was added to the US empire after the Spanish American Cuban War)has been under greater strains and burdens of late. It was encouraging to read

Baffler Issue #23

Baffler Issue #23


Frankly I don’t understood what LinkedIn is. In Baffler #23 Ann Friedman does a fine job of explicating what it isn’t.It seems I haven’t missed anything:

LinkedIn merely digitizes the core, and frequently cruel, paradox of networking events and conferences. You show up at such gatherings because you want to know more important people in your line of work—but the only people mingling are those who, like you, don’t seem to know anyone important. You just end up talking to the sad sacks you already know. From this crushing realization, the paradoxes multiply on up through the social food chain: those who are at the top of the field are at this event only to entice paying attendees, soak up the speaking fees, and slip out the back door after politely declining the modest swag bag. They’re not standing around on garish hotel ballroom carpet with a plastic cup of cheap chardonnay in one hand and a stack of business cards in the other.

* Hardy’s role as Bob Saginowski in The Drop is also compelling:

Bob: There are some sins that you commit that you can’t come back from, you know, no matter how hard you try. You just can’t. It’s like the devil is waiting for your body to quit. Because he knows, he knows that he already owns your soul. And then I think maybe there’s no devil. You die… and God, he says, Nah, nah you can’t come in. You have to leave now. You have to leave and go away and you have to be alone. You have to be alone forever.

What You Missed

18 Nov

It had to happen—for years I have been railing against the lazy journalism that relies on lists to provide serviceable information and now I am about to offer a list of my own. In the spirit of the devil quoting scripture for his own purpose, I recall that poet Paul Zimmer’s reading of his “Zimmer Imagines Heaven” legitimizes lists. And, of course, garrulous Italian author and semiotician Umberto Eco’s The Infinity of Lists exhibits the possibility of something original attaching to list making. But I digress…

Netflix is, of course, a boon to cinema lovers, procrastinators and agoraphobics. Not to mention the ostensive evidence of how many wonderful films apparently are not (so it is alleged) sufficiently commercially viable to make it to the limited number of screens in the USA. And thus go unheeded by film audiences. Needless to say (but it must be repeated)the juncture of art and commerce is a tough enterprise and in the show business commerce regularly trumps everything.

Blackthorn

A great vehicle for the non-pareil Sam Shepard as Butch Cassidy who survived the ambush portrayed in the Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Fine performances by Eduardo Noriega and Stephen Rea and additionally vivid Bolivian locations make a eye catching background

Perfect Sense

A chef (Ewan McGregor) and an epidemiologist (Eva Green) meet against the backdrop of a worldwide epidemic of the loss of the sense of taste. And more.

Night Catches Us

1976, Philadelphia. A former Black Panther (Anthony Mackie) returns to his boyhood home and takes up with his martyred dead brother’s widow (Kerry Washington). He’s been labeled a snitch and additionally his hood is still a volatile battleground policed by racist honkie pigs.Great newsreel footage of real Panther activities. Images of murdered Chicago Panther Fred Hampton may bring tears to those who remember him.

United States of Amnesia

The inimitable Gore Vidal shines in an informative survey of his accomplished life—his famous tiffs with crypto fascist William Buckley and pugnacious Norman Mailer, his political campaigns and clear eyed commentary from both friends and foes.

The Conspirator

Robert Redford film depicts the woman Mary Surratt (Robin Wright) tried by a military kangaroo court in the aftermath of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination.The film is a plausible depiction of the state of the union in the tense post assassination period that feels much like the post 9/11 period.

Killing Emmett Young

A young Philadelphia homicide detective(Scott Wolf)is in pursuit of a serial murderer—when he learns that he is terminally ill. He arranges to have himself killed at a time unknown to him. He then finds out that there has been a medical test mixup and he is not dying. He plods on working the murder cases His problem: how does he call off his imminent assassination? And can he solve his big case? Gabriel Byrne and Tim Roth are the bad guys and smooth-as-silk Khandi Alexander is Wolf’s partner.

Night Train To Lisbon

A professorial type finds an odd clue in an old Portuguese memoir and leaves his responsibilities and takes a train to Lisbon to track down the mysterious circumstances of people depicted in their lives under the dictator Salazar. Jeremy Irons’s restrained portrayal makes solving the mystery both a historical and personal triumph.

Unfinished Sky

A widowed Australian farmer finds a distressed vagabond woman who speaks no English on his land. He discovers she is a Afghan refugee employed as a sex slave by the local thugs. She has come to Australia to find her child. Does she avoid recapture by the thugs from whom she has escaped? Does she find her child? I won’t tell.

Berlin Job

Also entitled St George’s Day. Who doesn’t love a good criminal enterprise? Two highly successful London gangsters lose a $50 million shipment of a ruthless Russian Mafioso’s cocaine— he once shot a man to see if his gun worked.Needless to say, mayhem and foxfire ensue. Smart, funny and honest thieves— they scheme a job in Berlin to earn the money to honor their debt to the Rusky.

Just a Sigh

A British man (Gabriel Byrne) takes a train to Paris for a funeral; Emmanuelle Devos plays an actress also on the train to Paris. An improbable love story (maybe they all are) follows.Well nuanced with hearty rending performances by fine actors.You’ll cry and you may laugh.

Layer Cake

Perhaps every smart crook understands their criminality has a shelf life and thus they ruminate on an exit plan. Coke dealer Daniel Craig (who sees himself as a businessman) is looking for that last deal to take him out of the game. But he has to answer to the volatile and hinky Jimmy Price. And then the even more ruthless Eddie Temple (Micheal Gambon).On the other end he has to deal with some really stupid crooks and an intractable Serbian assassin. Colm Meaney is turning into an Irish Robert Duval and some unknowns (at the time)— Sienna Miller, Tom Hardy Ben Whishaw show their thespian chops.

David Thomson circa 2004 [photo: Robert Birnbaum]

David Thomson circa 2004 [photo: Robert Birnbaum]

Though I rarely read reviews of anything (unless I enjoy a writer’s style and point of view expressed in other genre—essays, poems, novels) but obviously many people do. David Thomson, who happens to be an astute film scholar and historian,
(and shares my appreciation for Nicole Kidman) is the kind of writer I refer to above and amongst his prolific output are 3 editions of the quintessential A Biographical Dictionary of Film ,his illuminating The Whole Equation: A History of Hollywood and his very useful and insight laden “Have You Seen…?”: A Personal Introduction to 1,000 Films . I am pleased to have spoken to David a number of times. Here and here.

Currently reading Us Conductors by Sean Michaels (Tin House Books)