Tuesday, December 19, 2006

2006: Things You Loved (Part Three)

More of your recommendations -- not all of them from 2006, but all of them loved...

Untold Stories and a new Lassie

Untold Stories by Alan Bennett, a collection of sketches, diary entries, book reviews, and film articles, was easily my favorite this year, particularly his recollections of growing up in working-class Leeds in the ’40s. Poignant, funny, human, self-effacing and kind of quietly sensible – even when Bennett is writing about friends who have died or his frightening bout with cancer, he is never melodramatic.

If DVDs are included, then I must add Lassie. I'm not kidding. The film, briefly in theaters last year, has no resemblance to the treacly American version. Set in Yorkshire in the late ’30s, it is often pretty grim, in the best tradition of children’s stories. The cast is fantastic, from the marvelous, magnificent Peter O’Toole as the Duke of Rudling to Samantha Morton to Peter Dinklage as a traveling puppeteer. I never cry at movies (I sat stone-faced through both Terms of Endearment and Beaches) but I sobbed from beginning to end.
Jancee Dunn

***

Violence in diners, Tolstoy, Amis

Trying to think back to a book or movie that really stood out, I'd have to say the whole setup of A History of Violence was terrific. I'm a sucker for diners and violence (Pulp Fiction still has the best diner scene, however).

And my "I'm really kind of enjoying this more than I should" award for a book goes to Anna Karenina. I thought I’d pick it up and nod off on the couch. His characters are more real than some people I know.

The Information by Martin Amis, just to add another novel, is the funniest book I've ever read.
Matt Marinovich

***

An old thriller and Sparklehorse

The term "psychological thriller" should be permanently stricken from the English language. However, first it should be applied to Nic Roeg's Don't Look Now. Donald Sutherland (with awesome '70s 'fro) and Julie Christie go to Venice to forget the death of their daughter. There, the husband comes to believe her ghost is stalking him through the city. Moody, suspenseful, and visually hypnotic.

Good Morning, Spider by Sparklehorse – the perfect mixture of pop hooks and noise; celebration and darkness. Track five, "Sick of Goodbyes," is especially great.
Tim Lake

***

A work of art, almost seen

I've been asked to recommend something I greatly enjoyed in 2006. I can unequivocally recommend a work of art, a great work of art, that I have never seen. Let me explain. In June I went, as I have done for the past three years, to a large contemporary art fair that takes place annually in Basel, Switzerland. One hasn't nearly enough time to see all the art on view, and the average viewing time per artwork is something like .6 seconds. If you're lucky. The experience ends up a blur, of colors, shapes, names, dates and prices. After the fair ended, I found I had an extra day on my hands, a day I ended up spending wandering around Basel -- a small, quiet, idyllic canton on the Rhine, by the way -- in a zombielike state. It wasn't unpleasant. When I returned to New York, however, and told a colleague the story of that lost day, he asked why I hadn't instead gone to Colmar, France, and seen 16th-century painter Matthais Grunewald's famous Isenheim Altarpiece in the Musee D'Unterlinden. I ought to have done that; I ought to have spent some time with a work of art as stupendously great, as wrenching and exultant, as the Isenheim Altarpiece. The point is, since June I've been thinking intermittently about the thing, especially the crucifixion scene, with its strangely marmoreal, half-collapsed Mary, and the sinewy, thorn-crowned Christ, whose splayed fingers alone are proof positive of Auden's observation about the Old Masters, that "about suffering they were never wrong."
Sarah Douglas


(click to enlarge)

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nick, I could use a good laugh. Where is the Grand Sichuan, and please don't tell me in China? -- tavia

10:50 PM  
Anonymous Nick said...

There are several in the city, but the one I go to is at 50th and Ninth (close enough to HC for a long lunch). Try the soup dumplings, too.

11:00 AM  

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