Slaughterhouse 58

February 14, 2020 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | HISTORY |

We recall the bombing of Dresden on 13-15 February 1945 By then, the War had reached a point where cruelty and violence was indiscriminate, a mad point born of seemingly ceaseless battle. And Auschwitz had been ‘discovered’ shortly before. And Dresden did have some sorts of military value as a target.  And the German army were fighting a spirited rear-guard action. “And so it goes.” “It seems to me that the moment has come when the question of bombing of German cities simply for the sake of increasing the terror, though under other pretexts, should be reviewed. Otherwise we shall…

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The Lighthouse (dir. Robert Eggers)

February 10, 2020 | Posted by Lesley Jakobsen | Drama Film, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

(2019: Australian Release February 2020) If, like us at The Varnished Culture, you’ve pictured yourself tending a lighthouse on a breezy, picturesque island away from the rat race; climbing the steps with a dainty lantern; reading by the fire at night while the rain tinkles against the windows, this film will give you something to think about. [And finishing that novel, as in Poe’s unfinished lighthouse story, or else something like an action / adventure / comedy, perhaps called “The Big Heist” – Ed.] We saw The Lighthouse with a theatre full of excited film students who tittered and crackled…

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Marriage Story (dir. Noah Baumbach)

February 10, 2020 | Posted by Lesley Jakobsen | Drama Film, FILM, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

(2019) Baumbach’s second Academy-Award nominated feature begins with a to-camera monologue by Nicole (Scarlett Johansson) and then the same from her husband Charlie (Adam Driver), each telling a mediator what they first liked about the other. The close-ups are inter-cut with scenes from the marriage, all undercut by sentimental music which rises to a cloying crescendo whenever we see the couple – either together, or independently- cosseting their over-indulged, bratty son Henry (who, at eight years of age is rewarded with a present each time he ‘poops’). The mediator to whom the couple are talking (Robert Smigel) is helping them…

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Kirk Douglas

February 6, 2020 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classic Film, FILM, Ulalume |

(1916 – 2020) Born Issur Danielovitch Demsky, his new name suited him down to the ground: he was one of the post-war film types who looked like businessmen (like Burt Lancaster). He formed his own production company in the 1950s and was instrumental in bringing works and talents to the fore (he gambled in giving script work to blacklisted Dalton Trumbo; he saw the potential in Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and took it to Broadway in 1963). As an actor, he was a strong presence; at times, he was almost too intense.  That drive worked very well…

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A Gentleman in Moscow (Amor Towles)

(2016) In 1922, at the age of 33, the urbane Count Rostov is exiled by the People’s Comissariat for Internal Affairs to the Hotel Metropol, Moscow for life upon pain of death.  He is spared immediate execution only because he is known as the author of a poem in praise of the pre-revolutionary cause:- “Alexander Ilyich Rostov, taking into full account your own testimony, we can only assume that the clear-eyed spirit who wrote the poem Where Is It Now? has succumbed irrevocably to the corruptions of his class – and now poses a threat to the very ideals he…

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