Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Milan Kundera / Light but sound

Light but sound

20 years on, John Banville returns to the Czech Republic's most famous fictional export, The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
by John Banville
The Guardian, Saturday 1 May 2004

The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera, translated by Michael Henry Heim 314 pp, Faber.
The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan KunderaReturning after 20 years to what is acknowledged as a modern classic, I was struck by how little I remembered. As I began re-reading The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera's novel of love and politics in communist-run Czechoslovakia between 1968 and the early 1980s, I realised that, true to its title, the book had floated out of my mind like a hot-air balloon come adrift from its tethers. I managed to retrieve a few fragments - the naked woman in the bowler hat whom we all remember, the death of a pet dog, a lavatory seat compared to a white water lily rising out of the bathroom floor, and the fact that Nietzsche's name appears in the first line on the first page - but of the characters I retained nothing at all, not even their names.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Milan Kundera / End of exile

Milan Kundera

End of exile

  • Paul Webster
  • The Observer
The Paris-based author Milan Kundera has finally got over a fit of pique and published his novel, L'Ignorance, in France, a work he wrote in French three years ago. The Czech-born author, at odds with the critics, refused to release the book here until translations had triumphed in bestseller lists in 26 countries, although Czechoslavakia has also been deprived of his insight into the problems of expatriation because of resentment over the way he is treated in his homeland.

Kundera, who emigrated from Prague aged 36 in 1975, spent the better part of 20 years perfecting his written French before publishing his two previous books, La Lenteur - slowness - and L'Identité here. Miffed by lack of overwhelming praise, after ecstatic reviews for works translated from Czech, he still won't speak to French critics and literary interviewers, not even the best known of them, Bernard Pivot, whose TV debates on L'Apostrophe sealed Kundera's reputation when he arrived virtually unknown in France.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Milan Kundera / The Art of Fiction

Milan Kundera

The Art of Fiction No. 81

Interviewed by Christian Salmon

Summer 1984
The Paris Review No. 92

The Art of Fiction No. 81 Manuscript

This interview is a product of several encounters with Milan Kundera in Paris in the fall of 1983. Our meetings took place in his attic apartment near Montparnasse. We worked in the small room that Kundera uses as his office. With its shelves full of books on philosophy and musicology, an old-fashioned typewriter and a table, it looks more like a student’s room than like the study of a world-famous author. On one of the walls, two photographs hang side by side: one of his father, a pianist, the other of Leoš Janácek, a Czech composer whom he greatly admires.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

My favourite Bond film / From Russia With Love

My favourite Bond film: From Russia With Love

Sean Connery's 1963 outing to Istanbul may look grainy now, but his exchanges with Robert Shaw have lost none of their edge
From Russia With Love is my favourite James Bond movie, simply because it is the first Bond I ever saw at the cinema. This was at the old Classic in Hendon Central in London, some time in the early 1970s, in an era before Bond films were shown on television, and going to see them at the cinema was a special school-holiday treat. Quite long-in-the-tooth Bond films would be revived on the big screen like this: this was a double bill of From Russia With Love (1963) and Thunderball (1965).
  1. From Russia With Love
  2. Production year: 1963
  3. Country: UK
  4. Cert (UK): PG
  5. Runtime: 118 mins
  6. Directors: Terence Young
  7. Cast: Bernard Lee, Daniela Bianchi, Lois Maxwell, Lotte Lenya, Pedro Armendariz, Robert Shaw, Sean Connery
  8. More on this film
What a thrill to hear that incredible theme tune played live (as it were) for the first time, echoing around the cavernous old cinema and seeing those opening titles: the mysterious circle shunting across the dark screen, Bond walking in profile, turning dramatically face on and firing, the descending curtain of blood. It was like a bad dream or expressionist ballet. Perhaps nothing in any 007 film can ever match the heart-racing thrill of Monty Norman's inspired Bond theme. That was the 007 brand, right there. Then it was time for the title-sequence itself, a fantastically silly image of a belly-dancer on whom the titles were ripplingly projected. To my saucer-eyed 12-year-old self, this was the grownup world as it was meant to be: erotic, exotic, mysterious and dangerous. Actually, it is a Raymond Revuebar vision of adult sophistication.

Friday, September 19, 2014

From Russia With Love recap / Men's men and women with killer boots

From Russia With Love recap: men's men and women with killer boots

This Sunday afternoon at 12.45pm, ITV1 screens the second James Bond film – which perfectly captured Fleming's incorrigible spy, and brought us the unforgettable Rosa Klebb
  1. From Russia With Love
  2. Production year: 1963
  3. Country: UK
  4. Cert (UK): PG
  5. Runtime: 118 mins
  6. Directors: Terence Young
  7. Cast: Bernard Lee, Daniela Bianchi, Lois Maxwell, Lotte Lenya, Pedro Armendariz, Robert Shaw, Sean Connery

"Oh James, James, will you make love to me all the time in England?" - Tatiana

After a period of being tucked away on Sky, the James Bond films are back where they're supposed to be – filling up huge swathes of the ITV weekend schedule until it's time to show all the Harry Potter films in order again. This is undoubtedly a good thing. James Bond is as much a part of ITV as Ant and Dec and those upsettingly sexually aggressive e-cigarette adverts. So, to welcome him back, here's a recap of 007's second cinematic outing, From Russia With Love.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Linda Christian / The First Bond Girl

Beautiful Portraits of The First Bond Girl, 

Linda Christian in 1945

Linda Christian was a Mexican-born, United States-based film actress, who appeared in Mexican and Hollywood films. Her career reached its peak in the 1940s and 1950s. She played Mara in the last Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan film, Tarzan and The Mermaids (1948). She is also noted for being the first Bond girl, appearing in a 1954 television adaptation of the James Bond novel Casino Royale. In 1963 she starred in an episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, "An Out for Oscar".

Here are beautiful portraits of Linda Christian taken by Bob Landry in 1945.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Daniel Craig / Bond Ambition

Daniel Craig

Bond Ambition

As he makes his third appearance as 007, in the 23rd James Bond film, Daniel Craig is coming to terms with the extraordinary pressures of portraying a half-century-old icon. He even agrees that Bond needs to lighten up. Hearing how the reluctant actor was drawn into the franchise, Juli Weiner reveals the influence Craig has had on next month’s Skyfall—from character development and dazzling stuntwork to the choice of director Sam Mendes. But don’t ask to see his blooper reel.

GEORGE LAZENBY CALLS SHOTGUN Daniel Craig, photographed in a vintage Aston Martin, in New York City.
Among the great lost works of modern cinema is The Day the Clown Cried, Jerry Lewis’s 1972 film about a clown who entertains children at a Nazi concentration camp. Screened in an incomplete version by only a few movie-business insiders over the past several decades, it is perhaps the most famous unreleased film in history.
Cinema historians haven’t yet crowned a most famous unseen DVD extra in history, and so we humbly submit for future consideration: the blooper reel for Skyfall, the 23rd official film in the James Bond series and the third starring Daniel Craig as 007. This is not a movie from whose blooper reel one would expect great things—indeed, it is not a movie one would assume would even have a blooper reel. (What would it contain? Co-star Dame Judi Dench screaming obscenities? Craig tripping and splitting his Tom Ford pants?) But according to Craig himself, an honest-to-God blooper reel was shown to the cast and crew at Skyfall’s wrap party.
“I mean, Judi is always hilarious,” said Craig one muggy summer morning over a cappuccino at New York’s Crosby Street Hotel. “There’s a lot of very, very funny moments. But no one’s going to see them. It’s what happens on a film set. You want to be in film? Get a job.” Despite his somewhat dour reputation, Craig finished this statement with a rapturously conspiratorial giggle—the kind of laugh two friends might emit upon sharing a bitchy secret about a mutual friend who just walked into the room.