Tuesday, December 25, 2018



3) CAKES INSPIRED BY ART Thiebaud, Mondrian, Klimt 
4) BOOKS INSPIRED BY ART Naipaul, Tartt, Chevalier. 
5) ART INSPIRED BY BOOKSPicasso, Millais, Dali. 
6) LIVING WITH GREAT ARTPicasso, Bacon, Uccello. 
7) THREE FRENCH NUDES     –  Duchamp, Léger, Picasso. 


2) SHARP OBJECTS by Gillian Flynn. I liked this more than Gone Girl. Unusual, scarred protagonist with a thing for words. Unlikely but interesting supporting cast. 
3) THE ENGLISH PATIENT by Michael Ondaatje who paints a passionate picture of the desert (beautifully reproduced cinematically by Anthony Minghella) and of obsessive count Almasy's searing affair with a colleague's wife. This is a grand, tragic story that would make a great opera.
4) CHANSON DOUCE by Leila Slimani. This won the Prix Goncourt and was a huge best-seller in France. It starts with a ghastly crime scene, which I suppose was the reason for its success, and then goes on to provide the reasons for the crime. The characters are unsurprising and so is the plot. There was nothing lawyerly about the mother, nothing musical about the father, nothing touching about the nanny. Paris didn't even feel like Paris. A predictable, disappointing book with no delights.
5) CAT’S EYE by Margaret Atwood. Too many skippable details on art (not unlike Proust) but a compelling story of bullying, strength and a revenge not pursued but delivered. Sparkling wit, humor and Atwoodian brilliance.
6) LADY ORACLE by Margaret Atwood. A backward unfolding of a woman’s efforts to be herself. Not as boring as that might sound.
7) BAISE-MOI by Virginie Despentes. The ferocious writing of Ms. Despentes drags her raw, damaged characters roaring and raging across the pages and leaves you breathless and feeling a bit milquetoasty. 
8) AMERICANAH by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche. I immediately related to the immigrant experience her character shares with such amused grace. Ms. Adiche’s style is smooth and easy to read and her plots and characters always unexpected.
9) CRAZY RICH ASIANS by Kevin Kwan. Brand-name snobs are wowed by immense wealth. The best thing about this book is the many educational mentions of Chinese traditions and customs. 
10) HALF A YELLOW SUN by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche. We feel complicity with her finely-observed characters full of quirks & flaws, as they yearn and strive while huge political events sweep over them.
11) THE CUCKOO’S CALLING by Robert Galbraith. JK Rowling is a very meticulous writer who provides a plethora of information about place, character and plot but, no matter how exotic the details, her characters don’t come alive for me, they’re like nicely costumed puppets.
12) THE ODYSSEY by Homer, translated by Emily Wilson. Kindle’s formatting makes a mess of her iambic pentamers: we get half a page of empty space or a vertical word down the right side which ruins the rhythm. There are some odd choices of language for a classical work, like: “Stepping foot” on land and “dove in” and a few other strange words and phrases.  
13) THE NAÏVE AND SENTIMENTAL LOVER by John le Carré. This may be another attempt at something Graham Greene-ish, like his Our Man in Havana-inspired The Tailor of Panama. The secondary characters steal the show at first, being far more exotic and lovable than the stodgy protagonist but we come to respect him in the end even though we still don’t really like him that much.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018



1) DEAR BASKETBALL (Glen Keane Productions, USA - PENCIL - Directed by Glen Kean, written by Kobe Bryant, music by John Williams!) Kobe Bryant's basketballs dreams voiced by himself. Stunning pencil drawing by Glen Kean. A beautiful celebration of pure pencil animation. Oscar Winner and a win for pencil animation

2) GARDEN PARTY (MoPA, France - CGI - Written and directed by : Florian Babikian, Vincent Bayoux, Victor Caire, Théophile Dufresne, Gabriel Grapperon, Lucas Navarro) Froggy seduction in a grand villa where nature takes its course.

3) LOU (Pixar, USA - CGI - Written and directed by Dave Mullins.) Lou, a very original protagonist, lives in a kindergarten lost-and-found box and takes care of toys and bullies. Superbly designed and animated, as always.    

3) NEGATIVE SPACE (IKKI FILMS, MANUEL CAM, France - STOP-MOTION - Directed by Americans Ru Kuwahata and Max Porter) A unique father/son bonding process based on a poem by Ron Koertge.

5) REVOLTING RHYMES (MAGIC LIGHT PICTURES, UK - CGI - Directed by Jakob Schuh and Jan Lachauer - based on the wonderful book by Roald Dahl and the equally wonderful illustrations by Quentin Blake. The writing is the star here as are Blake's inspirational drawings and I can't help wondering why Blake's gorgeous style wasn't used with hand-drawn animation for this. CGI is not the medium for Dahl or Blake.


1) THE BREADWINNER (Cartoon Saloon, Ireland. International co-production:Canada, Ireland, Luxembourg - HAND-DRAWN - Directed by Irishwoman Nora Twomey) Based on the best-selling novel by Deborah Ellis, Parvana, a young Afghan girl must dress as a boy to support her family under patriarchal Taliban rule. 

2) BOSS BABY (really?!) (DreamWorks, USA - CGI - Directed by Tom McGrath) Tough baby brother is not warmly welcomed by his big brother.

3) COCO - (Pixar, USA - CGI - Directed by Lee Unkrich. Screenplay by Adrian Molina) Heartwarming and culturally-correct tale of young Miguel's, search for answers during Mexico's Day of the Dead celebrations. Stunning lighting, gorgeous design, lots of skeletons, fine animation. The biggest ever animated hit in Mexico. (Will the new Oscar rule make this an automatic winner or will Academy members vote more judiciously for the winner than they have for the nominations? New Oscar rule: voting for Best Animated Feature is now open to all Academy members who tend to favor big American studios, unlike the animation branch that has more eclectic and educated animation tastes.) Oscar winner.

4) FERDINAND (again, really?!) (Blue Sky/20th Century Fox Animation, USA, CGI - Directed by Carlos Saldanha) - Ferdinand, the giant but sensitive bull escapes his fate. 

5) LOVING VINCENT (BreakThru Productions Trademark Films - Poland/UK - HAND-PAINTED - Written and directed by Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman) The story of Vincent van Gogh's death told in rotoscoped oil paintings.  Won Best Animated Feature Film Award at the 30th European Film Awards in Berlin.