Sneaky Richard Armitage doesn’t fool us.

•August 16, 2018 • 11 Comments

The Man from St Petersburg goes on sale today in some markets. In the U.S., probably your best option currently is The Book Depository. Audio CDs. Ships from Australia, but shipping is free and price is reasonable.

Romeo & Juliet is “deal of the day” today

•August 16, 2018 • 2 Comments

If you haven’t purchased it, Audible U.S. has it on sale today only.

Uch #richardarmitage

•August 16, 2018 • Leave a Comment

добро пожаловать в Москву

•August 15, 2018 • 15 Comments

He’s been spotted.

A great day adding some Moscow to the mix #My Zoë

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Есть тут люди, которые помнят 12 летнюю марусю, которая знала наизусть певую часть хоббита на двух языках и которая на спор ходила на него 11 раз? И то как все знали кто такой Торин и что я обожаю его? Конечно я уже не зареву как 6 лет назад при просмотре хоббита и не буду выносить всем мозг, но маленькая мечта встретить его – наконец-то сбылась. Встречайте Ричард Армитидж (Торин Дубощит) #richardarmitage #thorinoakensheild

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OT: Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman [no spoilers]

•August 15, 2018 • 4 Comments

Adam Driver and John David Washington in BlacKkKlansman.

Cheap day at the movies, the dadsitter was available, and this was the only film that interested me. (As an aside: this film was at the cinema on the east side of town and Dinesh D’Souza’s film was at the cinema on the west side. I guess they didn’t want to risk potentially fractious spectators encountering each other?)

BlacKkKlansman is really spectacular. It’s an adaptation of the true story of Ron Stallworth, an African-American police officer in Colorado Springs who infiltrated a developing local chapter of the KKK in 1979. Yes, you read that right.

I’m sorry I don’t have the nerves to write a more coherent review, but in addition to the chills and thrills of the plot, which is suspenseful, here are a few bullet points for consideration:

  • Director Spike Lee does an amazing job of interweaving Stallworth’s story with the filmic history of race relations in the U.S., including Birth of a Nation, Gone with the Wind, and several blaxploitation flicks from the 1970s. I thought this was brilliant but I think you will see the artistry in this editing, even if you’re not familiar with the films or their significance.
  • Lee is also masterful in the way that he shows African-American faces. I don’t think I’ve ever seen another film that uses the techniques he uses in this way — esp the scenes where the audience is listening to Kwame Ture speak, or where Stallworth and his girlfriend encounter a knock at their door.
  • As a historical aside, not sure about this depiction of Kwame Ture. I admit that I tend to think of him as a misogynist, although unpacking that would take more space than I have here.
  • This film rides roughshod over a number of the stereotypes many Americans endorse about U.S. race relations in the 1970s, as Stallworth himself is a figure that straddles numerous lines. Lee is back in Do the Right Thing mode, and I appreciated that.
  • The film does a lot of “looking at X from the black vs the white perspective,” in a way that I found thoughtful. For example — the police intelligence unit deals with both black and white radicals and it’s interesting to see who thinks each of the groups respectively is more dangerous.
  • The “meta-topic” of the film is the transformation of the KKK from a backward organization of mostly rural southern whites whose racism was mostly reflected in their opposition to integration and often became violent, to the veneer of political and intellectual respectability it attained due to the efforts of David Duke (and others) with more sophisticated notions of pseudo-science, abandonment of the KKK mumbo-jumbo (mostly), and the superficial “gentility” of its insistence on racial separation. This is a common-place of historical writing, and I’m aware of it in basically, but I had never thought about how it would look in narrative terms. It’s kind of a shock, especially how white people look, not just the “peckerwoods” but in particular the people from the upper middle class.
  • He also takes a serious stance on how black people look(ed) from outside. I’m thinking here of the extensive discussion of Stallworth’s speech and whether he can plausibly sound white, and who thinks he does or doesn’t.
  • John David Washington plays Stallworth — he’s Denzel Washington’s son — in one of his first major roles. We can really see a talent in development here.
  • I tend to think of Adam Driver as the flavor of the month, but there’s one key scene here where he really proves his talent / skill: in the moment where he’s reflecting on his Jewish identity (or lack of it). Well played: devastating.
  • My favorite performance, though, was that of Ashlie Atkinson as the wife of a violent KKK plotter who gets more than she bargains for. I liked it partially because she fully descends into the stereotype — but in turn, that made me really uncomfortable. There’s a hugely enraging scene where she uses her privilege to turn white police officers against Stallworth, who is trying to arrest her; the white police officers believe her and not Stallworth. The echoes of this scene against our current political life are multiple. At the same, time, too, you can see the intersectional problems she has — she’s good enough for her husband to use as a mule, but not much else. And she’s just desperate for it.
  • Two words: Harry Belafonte. See the movie just to see him again. His magnetism has not diminished even one iota.
  • The music is excellent.
  • So. many. Afros. I love seeing African-American society and culture and politics on the big screen on their own terms, i.e., not in terms of their legitimation by whites.

Richard Armitage tangentially related

•August 15, 2018 • 4 Comments

[As opposed to Idaho, or: he didn’t go to Berlin after all edition]


Hello Moscow #MyZoë

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Current projects:

Past projects:

Collateral attractions:

  • One reviewer called Awkwafina (Ocean’s 8) the scene-stealer of her new film, Crazy Rich Asians. (I tend to agree; in general the minor characters were stronger than the leads.)

Things we’ve talked about:

  • Remember that mid-life crisis movie that generated the really great selfie of Armitage and then fizzled? Seems like the “middle aged men decide to become rockers” is a trend right now; here’s a new Broadway musical.
  • Which is better, book or film?


Richard Armitage and Margot Robbie in 2014

•August 14, 2018 • 1 Comment

Ran across these against recently from the photobooth at the Jameson Empire awards that year.

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