Nearly there, writers. Nearly there. At the time of Ep 47s drop there are three days of Nanowrimo left. The majority are either finished, on the final push or have collapsed by the wayside. Then there are writers like us, who have chosen to do what they can, write every day but not stress the wordcount too much. Honestly, it’s helped our mental state no end this year. We will have accomplished what we set out to do, at any rate. Whether you’re struggling or cruising, just know that we are with you as November recedes into the rear view mirror. Whatever you’ve managed to do, you’ve done good.
Let’s give thanks for a distracting dip into this week’s flummery, featuring the Pirate Queen of Brittany, a deep dive into a very colourful movie and a masterclass in jazz piano.
Now is the time. Here is the place. This is The Cut.
(featured image —NYC, Benn Mitchell via Flashbak.com)
As writers, we’re bothered by the increasing need for movies and books to explain everything. Why do we need to drip-feed our audience with every little bit of backstory, or make the motivation of our characters explicit rather than implicit? The bad guys and girls, particularly in the big franchises, can no longer just be villainous. There has to be painfully spelt-out motive and opportunity. Dorian Lynskey for Unherd has more on this very modern and frankly quite dull phenomenon.
This bit by Lux Alptraum on the theft and distribution of the Pam Anderson and Tommy Lee sex-tape is fascinating for all sorts of reasons. It taps into our obsession with celebrity, how we expect them to behave and what we can take from them, and the very nature of privacy in the digital age. With the upcoming release of a movie version of the story, we can look on this moment as the go signal allowing our toxic relationship with the rich and famous…
We move ever closer to panto season, which means a whole new set of actors in tights wire-flying across the stage as Peter Pan. The character is, as author Adam Roberts points out, a much more complex character than the J. M. Barrie story shows us. An un-aging pagan deity with some very questionable morals? Oh yes he is…
Director Ridley Scott wasted time whinging this week about the luke-warm reception and decidedly chilly box-office to his movie The Last Duel. He blamed the lack of success on those young kids and their pesky mobile phones. We feel it had more to do with a flat and uninvolving story. If Scott is still up for epic historical dramas, we suggest an adaptation of the story of Jeanne De Clisson, the Lioness Of Brittany. The Cut Crew would be first in the queue for that!
This may be the most important data visualisation you’ll see all week. Trust us. We’ll say no more.
We loved this jam strip in the New Yorker on the visit to a classic New York bar with cartoony connections from Ros Chast and Emily Flake. Their art styles are different enough to make things interesting while still feeling complementary. In short, the strip is a perfect depiction of a pleasant afternoon spent by two friends.
Context for those of you who may not have heard of Bemelmen’s Bar: https://www.grubstreet.com/2020/11/bemelmans-in-repose.html
The end of November brings us, of course, to Thanksgiving weekend. Not an event celebrated in the UK, but the notion of spending a little time expressing gratitude for the things you have and people you love isn’t such a bad idea, once you decouple it from the inevitable colonialist baggage. How do you express that gratitude? With vast amounts of food? Again, not such a bad idea. Our pal Austin Kleon has another idea, and naturally it comes in the form of a zine.
Another one from Unherd, who are going great guns right now with the stuff we like to read. If you’ve ever wondered where the new faces in film are coming from, well, it’s a smaller than expected talent pool. It ain’t what you know, folks, it’s who you’re related to…
Your deep dive for the week is a fascinating insight into the colour choices which guided the creation of one of the most interesting films of the last few years–the Safdie Brothers’ Uncut Gems (on Netflix if you haven’t seen it yet, we strongly recommend). Film is considered a visual medium, yet often it is examined purely in theatrical terms–storytelling and performance, with little attention given to what’s actually up on screen. But form and colour can be just as important in crafting a well-rounded piece of cinema…
And finally. A bit of a sideways swerve for us, but we simply couldn’t resist this clip from the Dick Cavett show in 1980, featuring jazz pianist Oscar Peterson. In five minutes he provides a wonderful masterclass in how different musicians will approach the same piece of music. This is seriously lovely.
Peter Jackson’s revisit of the Abbey Road sessions which led to the breakup of the Beatles, Get Back, has just been released on Apple TV. It’s a telling document of an uncomfortable time, especially when it becomes clear how poorly George Harrison was treated by his fellow band members. He was bringing songs like All Things Must Pass to the sessions, which were sidelined with a shrug. It’s unsurprising he left.
The album with that song at its heart celebrates its 51st birthday this November. We thought we’d nod back to it with this performance of the title track at George’s tribute concert at the Royal Albert Hall. Paul steps up to take vocals. We guess he must have liked the song a little after all.
See you next Saturday, mortals.