“Beady-Eyed Sneer”

January 9, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classic Film, FILM, Uncategorized |

Lee Van Cleef (9 January 1925 – 16 December, 1989) In The Fifty Worst Films of All Time (1978), the authors, citing Return of Sabata (1972), quote Van Cleef as stating: “being born with a beady-eyed sneer was the luckiest thing that ever happened to me.”           His was not a filmography to commend itself to posterity.  However, we respectfully suggest the following to the canon: In bit parts: High Noon (1952), Gunfight at OK Corral (1957), The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962): As a spaghetti anti-hero / villain: For a Few Dollars More (1965),…

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Gob’s Grief (by Chris Adrian)


Chris Adrian’s qualifications in literature, medicine and divinity and he doesn’t avoid the big issues.  His first novel, Gob’s* Grief is not as fabulous as his second, the magnificent, The Children’s Hospital, but it is still gob-stopping.  TVC were put off of the book by its apparent subject – the American Civil War. But, although the war is a bloody, reeking presence in the book, the novel is about much more than that. Adrian’s obsessions – lost brothers, angels, the mind-body fusion are all stirred together in an unholy alchemy in this story of the terrible grief of the bereaved, the attempt to fuse nature and mechanics, mortality and…

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Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

January 6, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Comedy Film, Drama Film, FILM, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

(Dir. Martin McDonagh) (2017) This hefty slice of southern-fried Grand-Guignol, redolent of Flann O’Connor, one of whose novels a character is seen clutching early on, resolves into a mature, thoughtful, at times shocking and occasionally hilarious exposition upon man’s desire for avengement and intense disregard for due process. Mildred (Frances McDormand) has lost her daughter, who was, we hear more than once, not raped and killed, but raped while being killed.  It’s been seven months with no leads in the case, for which Mildred holds Sheriff Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) fully accountable.  In order to stir the Ebbing police to greater efforts (whether consistent…

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Palais Garnier

January 5, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | ART, OPERA, Uncategorized |

This superb example of Beaux Arts neoclassical Opera House was inaugurated on this day, 5 January, in 1875. Charles Garnier’s design is splendid, even more so when one appreciates that it was despised and detested by that box-building fraud Charles-Édouard Jeanneret (aka Le Corbusier).           The Varnished Culture has only seen one production there, but it was well worth it: Kata Kabanova. Such a bleak and shabby piece may have seemed incongruous but your correspondent, amid Parisian dowagers rattling their jewelry, was untroubled by the surrounding sumptuousness.           The decorative figures adorning the main façade include bronze…

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The Best Drunk Films

January 3, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | FILM, Ulalume |

The Lost Weekend (1945) We recall this great performance by Ray Milland on his birthday, 3 January (1907).  Amid a fairly ho-hum career, this is a genuinely authentic turn by Ray as a hopeless drunk. 2. Leaving Las Vegas (1995) Nicholas Cage decides to check in and then check out.  Drinking yourself to death may sound like fun, but…               3. Flight (2012) Denzel Washington is first-class as the kind of pilot you’d like in a crisis, but not on a normal flight, because he’s always hammered.             4.  Under the Volcano…

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