1. “My Saga, Part 1.” Karl Ove Knausgård travels through North America.
“I lost my driver’s license over a year ago. I lose stuff all the time. Credit cards, passports, car keys, cash, books, bags, laptops. It doesn’t worry me, they usually turn up eventually. The last time I was in New York, I left my backpack in a taxi. I had taken three of my kids with me, so I was a little distracted when we got out. All of our passports were in the backpack, as well as my laptop, where everything I have written in the last 20 years is stored. I never talk to taxi drivers, but this one had been so friendly that I ended up questioning him a little. At a red light he even took out a photograph of his children, which he showed me. When we got back to the hotel that afternoon, I asked the receptionist what we could do. He just shook his head and said I could forget about seeing my backpack again. This is New York, he said. But the driver was from Nepal, I objected. And he had two kids. I’m sorry, the receptionist said, I don’t think that will help much. But of course you can report it missing. At that point the doorman came over, he had overheard our conversation and said he knew some Nepalis, should he call them for me? So he did, and I met them outside the hotel a while later. Based on my description, they identified the driver, and the next morning the backpack was waiting for me at the reception desk.”
2. “Hold Tight.” For Reverse Shot, Michael Koresky on Death Proof.
“In my mind’s eye, Death Proof looks like two long, narrow rectangles of near identical length lying side by side. To put it broadly: the first half of the film follows the lengthy stalking and killing of a group of attractive young women at the hands (or more accurately, steering wheel) of a maniac; the second involves the revenge meted out upon this same man by an entirely unrelated group of potential female victims, who have no knowledge of the murders we saw in the first part. Thus the climactic mission of vengeance undertaken by the second group of women becomes as grandiose and cosmic as it is literal: a universal retribution in which Woman slays Man for his continual violence against her. Seen this way, without the details and idiosyncrasies of character and environment that define Tarantino’s brand of American cinema, it makes sense for Death Proof to function better in outline than in specifics. There are of course characters—colorful ones, funny ones, vivacious and intelligent ones, nearly all of them women. But in Death Proof Tarantino is not above placing them into boxes, all the better to get us to see how he’s playing with the labels.”
3. “In the Memory Ward.” The Warburg is Britain’s most eccentric and original library. For The New Yorker, Adam Gopnik wonders if it can survive.
“At first, the library of the Warburg Institute, in London, seems and smells like any other university library: four floors of fluorescent lights and steel shelves, with the damp, weedy aroma of aging books everywhere, and sudden apparitions of graduate students wearing that look, at once brightly keen and infinitely discouraged, eternally shared by graduate students, whether the old kind, with suède elbow patches, or the new kind, with many piercings. Only as the visitor begins to study the collections does the oddity of the place appear.”
4. “You Can Call Me Al.” For Flavorwire, Eric Pfriender on what he learned from working with Albert Maysles.
“What followed was roughly two years of invaluable tutelage. I learned about scheduling. About equipment. About responsibility, timing, fundraising, networking… all the things you expect to learn on your first real job, sometimes learning them without realizing you were being taught something. But the most important thing I learned from my time with Al was empathy. Al had a natural warmth about him, and an incredibly heightened sense of empathy. He had an instinct for framing shots developed over a lifetime of shooting, and an unparalleled skill for telling a story with the camera within a shot, but I think the thing that most set him and his work apart was his ability to understand and genuinely care for people, whether it was his subjects or his collaborators.”
5. ”Gamer.” For The Vulgar Cinema, James Slaymaker on the 2009 Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor film.
“Watching one of their films feels like the cinematic equivalent of a particularly caffeinated internet browsing session—the camera is in constant motion, shots rarely last more than a few seconds, jump cuts abound, the action is mostly stitched together using mismatched angles, frame rates and picture quality fluctuate unexpectedly, and the tone can switch jarringly from minute to minute. This adds up to a contemplation of the ways in which digitization has altered how we interact with images—when shot digitally, images are made flexible and immaterial, able to float around the frictionless realm of hyper-space, where they can be endlessly manipulated, re-contextualized and re-purposed.”
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