Jan. 17th, 2017

shewhomust: (mamoulian)
1. Hull...
The Guardian offers an insider's guide to the City of Culture, including a hotel recommendation. Not that I'm planning a cultural jaunt to Hull, but it might be worth a stopover if we were, say, taking the ferry from Hull to Zeebrugge. And we might be planning something of the kind. First, though, I need to renew my passport.


2. ...and high water
It's been raining, and when we crossed the river on the way to the pool yesterday morning we were both impressed by how fast the water was flowing. Also, vacation is over, and the student swimmers are back, occupying a third of the pool and making waves.


3. ...with gently smiling jaws
The press report as good news Donald Trumps statement that he'll be only too happy to do business with a post-Brexit Britain, and none of this nonsense about delay or going to the back of the queue. Folks, when a businessman tells you that he's only to happy to make this deal, and don't you worry your little head about those pesky details - well, maybe that's the time to slow down.


4. From Hartlepool...
The Reading Group has been discussion comics set in England, and as always, relying heavily on members contributing items from our own collections - but this week I've been reading a book from the library's collection, The Hartlepool Monkey by Wilfrid Lupano and Jérémie Moreau. This is a first in the current discussion, I think, a French perspective on an aspect of England - though publisher Knockabout are very discreet about that origin: only a little sticker on the cover, saying "Winner of the Rendez-vous de l'histoire Award 2013 gives the game away. Identifying the book as historical BD, a mainstream genre in France, makes a lot of sense, and the story - that during the Napoleonic wars the people of Hartlepool hanged a monkey as a French spy, earning themselves the nickname 'monkey-hangers' - has become more widely known since the electoral success of Stuart Drummond.

Lupano's narrative is carefully pitched: there's just enough pathos to season the farce. The people of Hartlepool don't come out of it well, though to be fair, nor does the French captain who appears briefly in the opening scenes; Moreau's art has a scratchy, cartoony quality that reminds me of Ronald Searle, and his scribbled landscapes give a fair impression of Hartlepool's Headland (there are some samples in this review).

There's a sting in the tail in the closing pages, with the identification of the doctor who has involuntarily broken his journey in the town and witnessed the grotesque events, accompanied by his young son. I'm ambivalent about this: as far as I can discover it has no historical basis, and the respect with which he is treated (visually, in his clear lines and blocks of colour, as well as verbally) suggests what while the poor are fair game for satire, the wealthy are exempt. It's a neat little twist, though, to close the story which otherwise does just what it says on the tin.


5. ...to La La Land
To the cinema yesterday, for La La Land, accompanied by J. who did not like it At All. This may have cast a dampener on my own reaction, best summarised as:Fun movie, what's all the fuss about? We both enjoyed the references to classic films, but we both thought it went on too long. And really, if you're going to remind me of Singin' in the Rain or An American in Paris, you risk me feeling that that was very nice, but actually I'd rather be watching Singin' in the Rain or An American in Paris.

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