Month: March 2016

Book & Film Notes: Dubliners (1914) by James Joyce & The Dead (1987) directed by John Houston

Dubliners (1914) by James Joyce

Dead Dodo Vintage, 2013. Format: Kindle edition. File size: 1659 KB Print length: 182 pages. First published in 1914 ASIN: B00EDWB5IC

51JGWDaZYtL._SX309_BO1,204,203,200_ Dubliners was completed in 1905, but a series of British and Irish publishers and printers found it offensive and immoral, and it was suppressed. The book finally came out in London in 1914, just as Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man began to appear in the journal Egoist under the auspices of Ezra Pound. The first three stories in Dubliners might be incidents from a draft of Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and many of the characters who figure in Ulysses have their first appearance here, but this is not a book of interest only because of its relationship to Joyce’s life and mature work. It is one of the greatest story collections in the English language –an unflinching, brilliant, often tragic portrait of early twentieth-century Dublin. The book, which begins and ends with a death, moves from “stories of my childhood” through tales of public life. Its larger purpose, Joyce said, was as a moral history of Ireland. [Source: Penguin Classics taken from Amazon]

As I’ve already said, I took the opportunity to read Dubliners, the last short story in particular, taking advantage of St Patrick’s Day, of which I don’t regret at all. I must say however that the rest of the short stories included in this collection are rather unequal and, in my view, are not worthwhile except for the last story, a novella in length, entitled The Dead. The Dead is set in Dublin in the early years of the twentieth century. Two elderly sisters and their niece are giving a Christmas party. The two sisters have been devoted to teach music. The action begins when the first guests arrive. The story follows the behaviour of most of them at the party. Towards the end, when all the invitees are slowly leaving, a particular melody, reminds to one of them of an event that happened years ago, and she tells her husband something she had never told him before. In the final paragraph Joyce enters the mind of the husband, who has been left thinking over what his wife has just told him.

A few light taps upon the pane made him turn to the window. It had begun to snow again. He watched sleepily the flakes, silver and dark, falling obliquely against the lamplight. The time had come for him to set out on his journey westward. Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, on the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling, too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.

This is an excellent short story that must be read leisurely, to be able to savour it up to the maximum.

Dubliners has been reviewed at FictionFan’s Book Reviews

The Dead (1987) directed by John Huston

UK – IE – US / 83 min / color / Channel 4, Delta Film, Liffey Films, Vestron Pictures, Zenith Entertainment Dir: John Huston Pro: William J. Quigley, Wieland Schulz-Keil, Chris Sievernich Scr: Tony Huston, based on The Dead by James Joyce Cine: Fred Murphy Mus: Alex North Cast: Anjelica Huston (Gretta Conroy), Donal McCann (Gabriel Conroy), Dan O’Herlihy (Mr. Browne), Donal Donnelly (Freddy Malins), Helena Carroll (Aunt Kate), Cathleen Delany (Aunt Julia), Ingrid Craigie (Mary Jane), Rachael Dowling (Lily), Marie Kean (Mrs. Malins), Frank Patterson (Bartell D’Arcy), Maria McDermottroe (Molly Ivors), Sean McClory (Mr. Grace), Kate O’Toole (Miss Furlong), Maria Hayden (Miss O’Callaghan), Bairbre Dowling (Miss Higgins), Lyda Anderson (Miss Daly), Colm Meaney (Mr. Bergin), Cormac O’Herlihy (Mr. Kerrigan), Paul Grant (Mr. Duffy), Paul Carroll (Young Gentleman), Patrick Gallagher (Mr. Egan), Dara Clarke (Miss Power), Brendan Dillon (Cabman), Redmond Gleeson (Nightporter), Amanda Baird (Young Lady) Release Date: 3 September 1987 (Venice Film Festival); 11 December 1987 (United Kingdom); 18 December 1987 (United States); 30 March 1988 (Spain) IMDb Rating: 7.4

Movie Info (Source: Rotten Tomatoes) The final film of legendary director John Huston was based on the closing story of James Joyce’s Dubliners. Anjelica Huston is top-billed as Gretta Conroy, the niece by marriage of turn-of-century Irish spinsters Kate Morkan (Helena Carroll) and Julia Morkan (Cathleen Delany). At the home of these two curious ladies, Gretta is prodded into remembering her long-dead lover. She tearfully reveals to her husband (Donal McCann) that the deceased boy may well have died on her behalf. Her tale of woe bespeaks the sentiment shared by James Joyce: no matter how long in their graves, the dead will always influence the living. Adding to the film’s elegiac quality, it stars Huston’s daughter Anjelica and was co-written with his son Tony Huston.

 

I can’t decide which one is better; they are both masterpieces, each one on its own merits. What is curious to note is that the novella is a youthful work while the film is not only a mature work, but the author’s last will. Maybe this terminology is not suitable for some artistic expressions.

OT: Madrid Realists

Yesterday, Begoña and I visited Madrid Realists, a temporary exhibition that will be on show in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Paseo del Prado, 8 (Madrid) until 22 May 2016

20160331_111759 With the collaboration of the Comunidad de Madrid the Thyseen-Bornemisza Museum presents an exhibition on a historic group of realist painters and sculptors who have lived and worked in Madrid: Amalia Avia, Francisco López, Julio López, María Moreno, Esperanza Parada, Isabel Quintanilla and Antonio López. The latter was the subject of a major retrospective at the Museum in 2011 and on this occasion shows recently created works.

20160330_130512 The exhibition includes 90 works ranging from oil paintings and sculptures to reliefs and drawings, loaned from the collections of the artists and from international institutions and private collections, particularly in Spain and Germany. It is curated by Guillermo Solana, artistic director of the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, and María López, daughter of Antonio López.

The exhibition is structured in different sections. Each includes works by various artists with the aim of emphasising the points they have in common, both with regard to their choice of subjects and their way of approaching them, connections that are strengthened by the close relations that exist between them –personal, family and friendship– and by shared aspects of their academic training. (Source: Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza)

For additional information click here.

Review: Maigret and his Dead Man, 1948 (Inspector Maigret #29 ) by Georges Simenon (Trans. David Coward)

Esta entrada es bilingüe, para ver la versión en castellano desplazarse hacia abajo

Penguin Classics, 2016. Format: Kindle edition. File size: 4300 KB. Print length: 240 pages. First published as Maigret et son mort, Presses de la Cité, 1948. This translation by David Coward first published in 2016. ASIN: B016LOZZGM ISBN: 978 0 141 98129 1.

51TIrQCEBIL._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_

A man wants to talk to Detective Chief Inspector Maigret insistently over the phone. He claims he’s being followed by several men waiting for an opportunity to kill him. All the phone calls are abruptly cut off and, even if Maigret sends someone to help him, the unknown man doesn’t appear anywhere. The calls are generally made from different cafés and brasseries, until they finally fade away entirely. That night the body of a man is found in Place de la Concorde, near Quai des Tuileries and Maigret has no doubt that those who were following his anonymous caller have finally achieved their purpose. The only thing clear is that he was not killed where he was found. And almost without a clue, Maigret begins to investigate what will be soon known as the case of Maigret’s dead man.

Maigret’s Dead Man is the twenty-ninth novel in the series. On 20 November 1947 Simenon had finished writing Les Vacances de Maigret and less than a month later on 17 December he completed another Maigret novel entitled Maigret et son Mort which is very different from the previous one. Maigret et son Mort unfolds in Paris, with Maigret once more very much in charge of his department on Quai des Orfèvres. At the centre of this story, the author uses a theme, or rather a variation on a theme that he has used twice before. This theme concerns a gang associated with a series of vicious attacks on the occupants of isolated farms in Northern France that always ended with their assassination. The reason for the attacks was to steal as much money as possible from the farms and the murders were carried out to eliminate any witnesses.

Maigret’s Dead Man is an interesting police procedural where the reader can observe the particular way of thinking, acting and behaving of Maigret when he has to face one of the most difficult cases in his career. The story, full of suspense, is not exempt of humour, which combined with a meticulously detailed prose, I’m sure will delight any crime fiction lover.

My rating: A (I loved it)

Penguin Classics publicity page

Penguin Random House publicity page 

Maigret et son mort

Maigret et son mort  (in French) 

Maigret of the Month: May, 2006 

George Simenon UK website 

Maigret y su muerto de Georges Simenon

Un hombre quiere hablar insistentemente por teléfono con el Detective Inspector Jefe Maigret. Afirma que está siendo seguido por varios hombres en espera de una oportunidad para matarlo. Todas las llamadas telefónicas se cortan abruptamente y, aunque Maigret envía a alguien para ayudarle, el desconocido no aparece por ninguna parte. Las llamadas se hacen generalmente desde diferentes cafés y cervecerías, hasta que desaparecen por completo. Esa noche, el cuerpo de un hombre es encontrado en la plaza de la Concordia, cerca del Quai des Tuileries y Maigret no tiene ninguna duda de que los que estaban siguiendo a su comunicante anónimo, finalmente, han conseguido su propósito. Lo único claro es que él no murió donde fue encontrado. Y casi sin ninguna pista, Maigret comienza a investigar lo que pronto será conocido como el caso del muerto de Maigret.

Maigret y su muerto es la vigésimo novena novela de la serie. El 20 de noviembre de 1947 Simenon había terminado de escribir Les Vacances de Maigret y menos de un mes después, el 17 de diciembre completó otra novela de Maigret titulada Maigret et son Mort, que es muy diferente de la anterior. Maigret et son Mort se desarrolla en París, con Maigret una vez más, responsable en gran medida de su departamento en el Quai des Orfebres. En el centro de esta historia, el autor utiliza un tema, o más bien una variación sobre un tema que ha utilizado dos veces antes. Este tema se refiere a una banda asociada a una serie de ataques violentos contra los ocupantes de granjas aisladas en el norte de Francia, que siempre terminaban con su asesinato. La razón de los ataques era robar tanto dinero como sea posible de las granjas y los asesinatos se llevaron a cabo para eliminar cualquier testigo.

Maigret y su muerto es un interesante procedimiento policíal donde el lector puede observar la forma particular de pensar, de actuar y de comportarse de Maigret cuando tiene que enfrentarse a uno de los casos más difíciles en su carrera. La historia, llena de suspense, no por eso está exenta de humor, lo que unido a una prosa meticulosamente detallada, estoy seguro que hará las delicias de cualquier amante de la novela negra.

Mi valoración: A (Me encantó)

Film Notes: Carol (2015) directed by Todd Haynes

UK – US / 118 min / color / Karlsen/Woolley/Number 9 Films, Killer Films Dir: Todd Haynes Pro: Elizabeth Karlsen, Stephen Woolley & Christine Vachon Scr: Phyllis Nagy, based on the novel The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith Cine: Ed Lachman Mus: Carter Burwell Cast: Cate Blanchett (Caril Aird), Rooney Mara (Therese Belivet), Kyle Chandler (Harge Aird), Sarah Paulson (Abby Gerhard), Jake Lacy (Richard Semco), John Magaro (Dannie), Cory Michael Smith, Carrie Brownstein, Kevin Crowley, Nik Pajic Release Date: 17 May 2015 ( Cannes Film Festival [in competition]); 20 November 2015 (United States); 27 November 2015 (United Kingdom); 5 February 2016 (Spain) IMDb Rating: 7.3

Begoña and I have recently seen Carol. The film stands out mainly because it is very well told, and counts with some excellent performances (both on their leading roles as on their supporting roles).

Carol_film_poster The Price of Salt, Highsmith’s second novel (after Strangers on a Train), was published under the pseudonym Claire Morgan. It garnered wide attention as a lesbian novel because of its rare happy ending. She did not publicly associate herself with this book until late in her life.

Synopsis: Set in 1950s New York, two women from very different backgrounds find themselves in the throes of love in Carol. As conventional norms of the time challenge their undeniable attraction, an honest story emerges to reveal the resilience of the heart in the face of change.

A young woman in her 20s, Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara), is a clerk working in a Manhattan department store and dreaming of a more fulfilling life when she meets Carol (Cate Blanchett), an alluring woman trapped in a loveless, convenient marriage. As an immediate connection sparks between them, the innocence of their first encounter dims and their connection deepens.

While Carol breaks free from the confines of marriage, her husband (Kyle Chandler) threatens her competence as a mother when Carol’s involvement with Therese and close relationship with her best friend Abby (Sarah Paulson) comes to light. As Carol leaves the comfort of home to travel with Therese, an internal journey of self-discovery coincides with her new sense of space.

Directed by Todd Haynes and written by Phyllis Nagy, Carol beautifully speaks to the transforming nature of characters within the road movie genre. In an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s seminal novel The Price of Salt, and with moving performances from a cast including Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Sarah Paulson, Kyle Chandler, Jake Lacy and Cory Michael Smith— Carol reminds audiences that desire is often expressed in the absence of personal joy. (Source: Cannes Press Notes)

Carol Production Notes (Source: Cannes Press Notes)

Carol vividly depicts the transitional period of the 1950s following the end of World War II. America is marked by feelings of both paranoia and optimism. As the post-war years ushered in many voices of change, 28-year-old crime author Patricia Highsmith wrote her second novel, The Price of Salt, about an unlikely attraction and love affair between two women living in New York City— Therese Belivet and Carol Aird. Published in 1952, the sexual candour explored in Highsmith’s words made the book one of the seminal pieces of literature to come out of the era.

Emmy-nominated writer Phyllis Nagy (Mrs. Harris) adapted the screenplay from Highsmith’s original novel as director Todd Haynes brought the story of Carol to life for audiences today. Haynes was driven to recount Therese and Carol’s controversial relationship with a film that captured the social climate of the 1950s.

Carol follows the unexpected love affair between two women of different ages and different social settings,” said Haynes. “A young woman in her early 20s, Therese, is embarking on life when she meets Carol Aird, an alluring older woman who has one daughter and is beginning to go through a divorce. As these two women become infatuated and entranced by each other, they begin to confront the conflicts their attraction provokes.” Haynes wanted to draw on the aspect of unforeseen love as both Therese and Carol struggle to understand the signs and signals guiding their emotions.

The film portrays a unique time in history where society “followed a prescribed path,” said Haynes. Carol realizes how unfulfilled she feels in her marriage to Harge, a wealthy investment banker. Layering into Carol’s uncertainty, Therese’s character emerges in a similar state of confusion with a devoted boyfriend named Richard by her side. A paradigm shift of prescriptive relationships quickly makes its way into the plot.

Carol is a love story that depicts how truth is the ultimate tonic. If you’re emotionally truthful to who you are and what you believe in, good things may not happen, but you will become a better person,” said writer Phyllis Nagy. The emotional turmoil central to the characters in the film is rooted in the conventional worlds both Carol and Therese have built around them.

Producer Elizabeth Karlsen saw a beautiful adaptation in Nagy’s script as she felt, “it was just such a fine piece of work.” When coupled with Haynes’ direction, the brave and fearless roles of Carol and Therese underscore the sentiment of the film’s themes. The many faces of love evolve out of pain as the characters find courage to be who they want to be, despite unchartered territory.

Haynes paints a beautiful picture of a particularly radical time in history as society’s openness to homosexual emotions and desires began to shift in the 1950s. The film gives audiences a realistic glimpse into the challenges and hardships of a love not lead by example. The contemporary relevance of the film offers a foreshadowing perspective of what it means to have true happiness in life.

Official website (The Weinstein Company)

‘Carol’: Cannes Review at The Hollywood Reporter

The Night Manager (2016) TV Series directed by Susanne Bier Episode 1

Plot Summary: Jonathan Pine (Tom Hiddleston), a former soldier working in a Cairo hotel, discovers evidence against international arms dealer Richard Roper (Hugh Laurie), but his attempt to help British intelligence to capture the criminal has disastrous consequences. Five years later, he is based in Switzerland, working at a hotel that he discovers is regularly frequented by Roper. Determined to make amends for his previous failure, he reunites with Angela Burr (Olivia Colman), his contact at British intelligence, and they form a plan to infiltrate the arms dealer’s inner circle.

Since, Begoña and I have started watching The Night Manager – the British-American television serial directed by Susanne Bier, based on the 1993 novel of the same name by John le Carré and updated to the present day- I’ve also begun to collect some material on the Internet that  I’ve found interesting to share here.

John le Carré on The Night Manager on TV: they’ve totally changed my book – but it works (The Guardian)

The Night Manager, BBC1, TV review: All the Bond boxes ticked in clichéd John le Carré adaptation (The Independent)

TV Critic Roshni Patel reviews the opening episode of The Night Manager, the latest drama miniseries from the BBC

‘The Night Manager’: Berlin Review at The Hollywood Reporter

Berlin Review: Susanne Bier’s ‘The Night Manager’ Starring Tom Hiddleston & Hugh Laurie by Jessica Kiang

The Night Manager at John Le Carré Official Website

The Night Manager: John Le Carre [The novel] by Norman Price at Crime Scraps