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Archive for July 25th, 2021

by Sam Juliano

We are in a strange place right now.  The virus numbers have spiked again yet most of us who have been doubly vaccinated are circulating without masks unless we have having blood drawn, getting our hair cut or visiting doctors or dentists.  Such was the case on Saturday night when Lucille, four of our kids and I saw a movie in a multiplex.  A few of us wore the mask, and a few of us did not.  Please say a prayer for my longtime friend and FB polling tabulator Angelo A. D’Arminio Jr. who apparently suffered a severe heart attack this morning, after just spening three hours with me Saturday afternoon for lunch and chatting.  He is presently in Engelwood Hospital.

This past week J.D. Lafrance published a terrifuc review of The Woman Chaser, and the first entry in the 2021 Caldecott Medal Contender series was also posted.  Also, Allan Fish’s stupendous review of London published.  I am continuing to write my second novel Irish Jesus in Fairview, which is nearly two-thirds done, but still months from publication as I want to give enough space to Paradise Atop the Hudson.  As always I can’t thank Valerie Clark enough for her passionate interest, support and comments on the book’s ongoing creation.

Lucille and I saw two films this week, though the second one will be seen Sunday night, meaning I will update this MMD on Monday morning.  We did see one film in the movie theater on Saturday night. (more…)

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London (UK 1994)

by Allan Fish

London (UK 1994 81m) DVD2

A testimony to Rimbaud

p Keith Griffiths d/w Patrick Keiller ph Patrick Keiller ed Larry Sider narrated by Paul Scofield

The style is a familiar one. Patrick Keiller’s equal part billet doux and j’accuse to the capital introduced us to the fictional alter ego of Robinson, or at least did so by proxy. Keiller would make more films about Robinson, but the first remains easily the most poignant.

A narrator, a weary traveller, working as a seaman on a cruise ship, docks back in London on the request of his old friend, cohabitee and lover Robinson, whose urgent summons has our traveller guessing at what is troubling him. He hasn’t seen Robinson for seven years when he arrives in January 1992, and finds him in despondent mood, hoping for a change of government in the forthcoming General Election, but fearing the worst. We are told that Robinson lives meagrely, not because he has to, but because he prefers it that way, eking out an existence on the money he earns lecturing in art and architecture at the University of Barking.

What follows is a document of the expeditions, as they are termed, and events of 1992 in London, as seen through the eyes of a melancholy narrator, who feels he’s there to chronicle the upcoming months in Robinson’s life, acting as Plato to his Socrates, Boswell to his Johnson, Watson to his Holmes, Virgil to his Dante. Yet he’s not only delivering Robinson’s death sentence for London but his own, referring to “dirty old Blighty; under-educated, economically backward, bizarre, a catalogue of modern miseries.” It would be easy to dismiss these as the rants of a grouchy old man, but there’s a real sense of the elegy to Keiller’s film, a sense of something passing. History is always there on hand in London, and ‘Robinson and I’, as it might have been called, takes time to visit the site of the execution of Charles I outside Banqueting House, as well as visiting landmarks only notable for being places where writers, artists and philosophers once stayed when in London, stopping off occasionally to engage in something altogether English, like a session’s play in a county championship game at The Oval, with the now gone gas tower casting its shadow over the ground. Then there are remembrances of the Blitz, either via recollections of Humphrey Jennings documentaries with the then Queen listening to a Myra Hess concert with Kenneth Clark, or via the erecting of a statue to Bomber Harris, and our commentator remarks on the Queen Mother being heckled at the ceremony. No monarchist, then, but that was taken for granted, for we’re told early on that Robinson is a passionate believer in constitutional reform, and mourns the failure of the 1649 revolution and how it still casts a shadow on the imperialism that led to the troubles in Northern Ireland. And while on the subject let us not forget that this was documenting the height of the IRA mainland bombing campaign.

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