A coherent ‘Dune’ is a good ‘Dune’

One of the satisfactions I thought the World of Dune offered was the lack of proper names as ridiculous as the Star Wars universe did. No Boba Fett, Commander Cody, and Kylo Ren here. Halfway into the second adaptation of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi novel I dropped my pen. Duncan Idaho. Not Jones Indiana — DuncanContinue reading “A coherent ‘Dune’ is a good ‘Dune’”

Checking out Fromm, some Sartre, Camus: The best songs about writing

As a music writer who values Aurora Leigh as much as Lou Reed’s chords and Ghostface’s metaphors, I’m loath to value literary allusions for their own sake. But listening to “Thieves in the Night” this morning provoked me into wondering how many songs I love refer to literary figures and aren’t stuffy about it. VanContinue reading “Checking out Fromm, some Sartre, Camus: The best songs about writing”

September reading

Why I spent a week with two books about Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath my readers will need to ask on my deathbed. I admire Ariel as much as anyone, am mightily sick of Anne Sexton, John Berryman, Adrienne Rich, Theodore Roethke, and the rest of Plath’s death-haunted generation, and don’t much cop to HughesContinue reading “September reading”

‘The page is printed’

Among the most notorious figures in twentieth century poetry, Ted Hughes will forever remain Sylvia Plath’s husband. They never officially divorced, leaving him heir and literary executor, so he couldn’t escape anyway. To quote Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven, “deserve”‘s got nothing to do with it. Writing a craggy, gnarled poetry about animals at their mostContinue reading “‘The page is printed’”

Ballet drama ‘Birds of Paradise’ dances in place

Filmmakers can’t leave ballet pictures well enough alone. Allegorized beyond their capacity to withstand the effort, reduced to a soap opera in which ambition and femininity make for an unholy mishmash, they rarely settle down long enough for readers to enjoy the pure movement they’re supposed to record. Blame Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s TheContinue reading “Ballet drama ‘Birds of Paradise’ dances in place”

Reckoning with E.M. Forster’s ‘Maurice’

Reviewing E.M. Forster’s much-fussed-over posthumous novel, the first by a major literary personage of his generation to write explicitly about homosexual love, I wrote: “Tougher than I remembered, E.M. Forster’s Maurice treats its titular hero with some measure of objectivity; this burgher-in-training isn’t a proxy for the novelist. Nor is the book a mooncalf’s swoonContinue reading “Reckoning with E.M. Forster’s ‘Maurice’”

In Clint Eastwood’s ‘Cry Macho,’ gentleness is its own reward

N. Richard Nash’s novel Cry Macho has kicked around as a Hollywood option since the 1970s; Nick Schenk’s script sounds like it, and Clint Eastwood’s direction treats it as such. There’s a comfort, albeit an eerie one, watching this adaptation. Its approach to character and visual storytelling — Eastwood fans during the Every Which WayContinue reading “In Clint Eastwood’s ‘Cry Macho,’ gentleness is its own reward”

Half a century ‘listening to the male version of events in both books and records’

In a review of Tracey Thorn’s My Rock ‘n’ Roll Friend, Gina Arnold writes that the memoir of her friendship with the Go-Betweens’ Lindy Morrison works as “a corrective is at least partially because so little has changed for women in rock ’n’ roll bands.”

The ponderous ‘The Green Knight’ takes too long to tell story

© A24 / courtesy Everett Collection[/caption] The emergence of the Delta variant has quashed my interest in returning to live movie experiences, though several colleagues have claimed that if anything this skittishness has emptied theatres, thus reinforcing their safety. How I might’ve responded to The Green Knight on the big screen I’ll never know.