Saturday, December 27, 2008

Luis Buñuel: Mi Ultimo Suspiro

I searched for hours to find a photo showing the exact edition of this book that I recently purchased - nowhere to be found. So this is my own scan and probably the first online publishing of this particular cover. The English edition was published as My Last Sigh.

I have read Buñuel's autobiography before - about 30 years ago! I still do have it well in remembrance, but just like Buñuel's, reminiscing can't always be trusted, I thought I'd need to re-check. The book is very entertaining, and if you know Buñuel's movies, it seems very much like a literary match to his cinematic storytelling.

Like in his movies you are getting a seemingly straightforward story of his life full of anecdotes of all kind, but then he drifts off into different topics, explains over several pages how to make the perfect Martini dry or lets his sister tell a story about the Buñuel family's fear of spiders, and half the time you cannot really be sure, whether he's telling the truth or not.

By the way, Buñuel was Alfred Hitchcock's favourite director, and you can imagine Hitchcock creating surrealist films, if he hadn't worked under such commercial restrictions as he did.

A gathering in Los Angeles, 1972: (from left to right standing) Robert Mulligan, William Wyler, George Cukor, Robert Wise, Jean-Claude Carrière, Serge Silberman;
(seated) Billy Wilder, George Stevens, Buñuel, Alfred Hitchcock, Rouben Mamoulian.

A Scan a Day

Natalia Vodianova

Another 1000 movies

I got this book as a birthday present from my friend Tanja: another 1000 movies discussed, but this time not exactly all classics and not essential viewing. Luck has it that I've seen most of them before, more so than on the 1000 classics list.

Nevertheless, I'll try and get to those in this book I have been missing. I'm sorry I haven't been keeping up: I've been watching a lot of movies lately, and for each one I wanted to set up a blog post with photos and synopsis and possibly my short opinion, but just didn't have the time. By now I'm like 20 movies behind. But that just means you'll have a lot to expect soon.

A Scan a Day

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Uwe Johnson: Jahrestage

This is a monumental 4-volume novel written by the German author Uwe Johnson between 1970 and 1983, the title in English is 'Anniversaries', although the German word also simply means the days of a year. As a teen I always planned to read this book, even though it was then not yet completed, and for years it was also quite uncertain whether Johnson would be able to finish the final 4th volume. He died only a few months after its final publication. So recently I started to collect the 4 volumes, and my copy of volume one is incidentally signed by the author. That's the book I'm currently reading.

You can find a very good description and analysis of the novel here

The synopsis from there reads:

The novel covers, day by day, a year in the life of Gesine Cresspahl, beginning 21 August 1967, and concluding 20 August 1968. Johnson anchors the narrative in the present-day, making Gesine a dedicated and somewhat obsessive reader of The New York Times, and so there are many references to the stories of the day, most every day, and often longer excerpts from the newspaper. At the same time, Gesine is providing a (more or less chronological) account of her past to her ten-year-old daughter, Marie, and there are also present-day domestic scenes from their lives.

The present-day plot of the novel is situated in New York City where Gesine Cresspahl lives with her daughter. However, the story (if you could call it as such) wanders back and forth through time and very much tells us about how Gesine's parents got married in Germany in the early 30s, her childhood all through the third reich, World War II, the occupation though the Sowjets and life in communist East Germany. This is all set against 'present-day' USA (i.e. in 1968) and engulfs the American history of that era, especially the Vietnam war.