Ursula Le Guin is dead. I've been reading her essay collection The Wave in the Mind - I hoped to have finished it this week - but there is a hole in my heart and I've had to put it down. A woman of strong convictions and wide-reaching ideas, a maker of elegant connections. It seems so strange to me, so wrong, that she shouldn't be out there in the world any more. At least with Terry Pratchett we had a run-up, we had time to prepare ourselves. The world is a slightly less brave place without her in it.
So no completed books this week. And no albums either - this has been a week of Argentinian tangos, and podcasts (which I'm going to have to work out how to log at some point), and re-listens.
15. Julie & Julia (film, dir. Nora Ephron, 2009)
16. The Lover (play, dir. Fleur Darkin and Jemima Levick, Lyceum Theatre; adapted from novel by Marguerite Duras)
17. Inside Hana's Suitcase (documentary, dir Larry Weinstein, 2009)
18. Darkest Hour (film, dir. Joe Wright, 2017)
19. Jupiter's Moon (film, dir. Kornél Mundruczó, 2017)
Put a pin in both of the first two; you'll hear what I thought about them both in the near future.
Darkest Hour is a weird fish for me - I like Joe Wright's style, and I adore his composer, but his source material (Austen aside) generally leaves me cold. On the one hand, I like films with peace negotiators in them. On the other, I watched it a couple of hours after I saw Inside Hana's Suitcase, which is about a Jewish girl who died in Auschwitz. British films about the Second World War are so insular - you'd be forgiven for thinking there were only three countries involved before 1944, and that's Us, the French (but they're about to surrender so do they even count, also Belgium is basically France isn't it??), and the Germans. Mussolini makes a brief appearance in this one but it's like the only time British WWII filmmakers veer any further east than Dunkirk is when they're yelling "GALLIPOLI!" at each other to win an argument. Everything else is mid-Blitz London or panning across the cliffs of Dover.
I am not interested in this. It is boring.
Gary Oldman was fine, I guess; he slurred his way competently through the requisite yelling about Gallipoli. According to the end of Darkest Hour, Winston Churchill was somehow the amalgamation of a Lone Male Genius and a populist hero. (Give the Oscar to Daniel Kaluuya, say I.) Kristen Scott Thomas is iridescent and needs more screen time. The Bechdel test is not passed.
Inside Hana's Suitcase, by the way, is lovely - it follows a Japanese teacher who receives a suitcase from Auschwitz for teaching purposes, and tries to track down information about its owner. The Holocaust is overwhelming to me - because I think it's the sort of thing where you should pour all your emotional energy into it when you get the opportunity. But I like watching researchers and I like seeing other people pour their emotional energy into remembering forgotten victims. Incidentally, I do not believe this Weinstein is related to those Weinsteins, so I think you're okay.
Jupiter's Moon is a Hungarian film about a Syrian refugee who discovers he can fly. For all the angel imagery, it owes less to the Bible and more to H. G. Wells's The Invisible Man, of which I wholeheartedly approve. It has things to say, and it tries to say them, even if it's not always successful. This is what magical realism is for - or it's one of the things. If you maintain a healthy scepticism about the association between refugees and terrorism, and ignore the gratuitous boob shots (this one doesn't pass the Bechdel test either, by the way), it's a decent film. Worth watching.