Monthly Archives: November 2009

20 posts

In My Father’s Shadow by Chris Welles Feder

Orson had become so famous for his villainous role as Harry Lime in The Third Man that the moment he appeared in public, somebody whipped out an instrument and began playing the theme song. When an organ-grinder began playing the theme while Chris and Orson were crossing Piccadilly Circus, Orson had had it with London. His driver took them way out in the country to picnic in an isolated spot surrounded by hedges. A man on a bicycle saw them, stopped short, and suddenly whipped out his harmonica to play The Third Man theme song.

The Scarpetta Factor by Patricia Cornwell

She’s developed an enjoyable way of beginning novels in the middle of a story, letting her audience watch the characters carry out conversations and actions which they don’t yet understand, but which will be unravelled as the book continues. This must be an even harder trick than it looks, and The Scarpetta Factor is driven by the reader’s need to find out what the heroes know, as well as what the villains have done.

Brian Jungen: Strange Comfort at The National Museum of the American Indian

The first piece you see upon entering is Shapeshifter (2000), an enormous, abstracted whale skeleton built entirely out of white plastic chairs. Jungen’s leviathan is hung in front of a simple black wall and the contrast of colors intensifies its extraordinary power. Shapeshifter has the pristine, flawless texture of a mass produced object, yet somehow feels organic. You can easily imagine the enormous tale with its graceful, individually-carved vertebrae swinging to life.

Cranioklepty: Grave Robbing and the Search for Genius by Colin Dickey

The 19th century science known as phrenology — which posited that the human skull conforms to the shape of the brain within, which in turn expresses in physical form one’s innate moral and intellectual faculties (crudely, that by feeling the shape of a person’s head you could tell whether he or she had great intellectual or creative powers, or was more likely a criminal) — had a brief but rich heyday. It influenced the thought and writings of the Brontë sisters, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, and especially Walt Whitman, as well as scientists and physicians of the time.

Movie Review: The Maid

It’s in this last third of the film that Catalina Saavedra’s performance as Raquel carries the film to excellence. Raquel’s character could easily have devolved into caricature. Instead, Saavedra allows her to experience these newly discovered truths with equal measures of joy and regret. Often, it’s just a face – a momentary expression of the eyes and mouth – that say so much about Raquel’s life in the shadows, the years lost to servitude.