Welcome to my monthly round-up of my cultural highlights from the past month!
Given my focus on Reading Ireland Month during March, I didn’t read anything that wasn’t by an Irish author or in the 746, apart from this beautiful collection of poetry by Marie Howe. What The Living Do was written to commemorate Howe’s younger brother Johnny, who died of AIDS complications and is filled with grief and loss, but also celebrates the minutiae of life, the moments that transport us through love and memory.
Howe’s poetry reminds me somewhat of Seamus Heaney’s in that she finds the miraculous in the ordinary. This is a narrative of the mundane and the collection is written in simple language, noting simple everyday actions that all connect her to her lost brother. The verse is unadorned, but it is suffused with emotion without ever becoming sentimental. This is a series of poems about enduring, about aftermath and acceptance and is an incredibly powerful and moving collection.
We want the spring to come and the winter to pass. We want whoever to call or not call, a letter, a kiss—we want more and more and then more of it.
But there are moments, walking, when I catch a glimpse of myself in the window glass,
say, the window of the corner video store, and I’m gripped by a cherishing so deep
for my own blowing hair, chapped face, and unbuttoned coat that I’m speechless:
I am living. I remember you.‘What the Living Do’ Marie Howe
This Korean movie from 2004 is directed by Kim Ki-duk – who also directed Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…and Spring – and is a ghostly delight. Tae-suk (Jae Hee) breaks into empty houses wherein he lives for a few days, repaying the invasion by doing odd jobs, washing the occupants clothes, watering plants and fixing broken items like ome kind of benign ghost. On one of these escapades, Tae-suk is startled by Sun-hwa (Lee Seung-yeon), an abused wife still bruised from her husband’s assaults, whose crushing marriage has made her a virtual ghost in her own home.
Without speaking a word (a vow of silence which they will maintain for the rest of the movie), Tae-suk and Sun-hwa fall in love and take off in search of fresh houses to haunt.
Once you get used to the fact that neither of the leads have any dialogue, 3-iron becomes a poignant delight. Despite the naturalistic milieu, the film is a metaphysical one, filled with magic realism. Its’ quirks mean it won’t be for everyone but I loved it as a fable about the coexistence of this world and the next and, ultimately, about the transcendent and magical power of love.
Made You Look: A True Story About Fake Art
Watching Netflix can at times feel like a time-wasting never-ending scroll through a lot of options that you don’t want to watch, but occasionally you chance upon a real treat.
Made You Look is a fascinating insight into the various dealers, collectors and gallery owners who found themselves embroiled in the largest art fraud in American history.
At the heart of the early-2000s scandal was Ann Freedman, the director of Manhattan’s once-prestigious Knoedler Gallery. She met Glafira Rosales, a quiet woman who had access to a seemingly endless treasure trove of Abstract Expressionism purportedly by the likes of Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko. this trove would eventually would amount to an $80 million con as all the works were fakes, created by an unassuming Chinese math professor named Pei-Shen Qian.
Director Barry Avrich paints an intriguing psychological portrait of a collective of sophisticates (whether easy marks or unwitting accomplices) so seduced by the sought-after art in question, they had become genuinely oblivious to the serious questions being raised about the provenance of the work.
Avrich leaves it up to the audience to decide how much the gallery was aware of the nature of the work it was selling, but it certainly goes to show that where big money is concerned, the stakes are always high.
Line of Duty (Season 6)
That’s us now, fella. Yep, the gang at AC-12 are back and once again I am watching. If I’m honest, I think the law of diminishing returns is at work in Line of Duty. I do love its soapy melodrama and high-stakes interview scenes (not to mention Dunbar’s rather brilliant Northern Ireland slang) but I’m losing patience with a show that requires me to remember details from five previous seasons (over ten years) and spend an hour on the internet a week just trying to work out what was happening in the plot.
I’ll keep watching – this time – but I’d love for Mercurio to wind this show up in a satisfactory way before it outlasts its welcome.
I’ve had a lot of work on this month and a lot of blog posts to write, and when that is the case I tend to listen to classical or contemporary classical music, just so I don’t get distracted with lyrics.
This month I have been obsessed with the soundtrack to the forthcoming critically acclaimed movie Minari, composed by Emile Mosseri.
The score to Minari was selected on the Academy Awards Short List for Best Original Score, while “Rain Song” was selected for the Academy Awards Short List for Best Original Song. I can see why. Featuring a full 40-strong orchestra and delicate melodies, this soundtrack is both stirring and intimate. If this is any indication of how good the movie is going to be, then I can’t wait for it!
I am a 40 something book buying addict trying to reduce the backlog one book at a time!