Monthly Archives: April 2010


The Chicago production of the Aaron Sorkin play, The Farnsworth Invention, directed by Nick Bowling and playing through June 13, has the lively sort of staging, acting, and pacing that I’ve come to expect from the TimeLine Theatre Company, which presents “stories inspired by history that connect with today’s social and political issues” at their 615 W. Wellington headquarters. I discovered this company a little over year ago with the world premiere of Masha Obolensky’s Not Enough Air, also directed by Bowling, and have subsequently seen his production of Alan Bennett’s The History Boys as well, which was my first encounter with TimeLine’s remodeled, almost-in-the-round playing space. (In between these events, I also showed up for a reading of  Sophie Treadwell’s 1920s expressionist play Machinal, done as a sort of adjunct to Not Enough Air.) Neither of these follow-ups has quite equaled the sheer Wellesian bravura of the Not Enough Air production, but I can’t say that either one has ever bored me for an instant — even if the sheer energy required in the new playing space, with the actors moving their various props onstage and off with lightning-fast cues, can occasionally (if only momentarily) overwhelm certain aspects of the stories being told.… Read more »

A Forthcoming Novel by Robin Wood

The following is taken from a web site known as Robin Wood’s Blog:

As many of you are aware Robin Wood died on 18 December 2009 at the age of 78 after an exceptionally productive and engaged life. Robin’s creativity and industry were not restricted to film criticism. He also wrote novels and screenplays, which were of a piece with his film criticism, both being centrally concerned with the ways in which the current structures of society are inimical to the full flowering of people’s lives, are inimical to, indeed, Life itself, as Robin (and Dr. Leavis) defined that term in their respective writings.

Robin’s estate will be privately publishing one of Robin’s novels, the one that appears to have been most personal to him and, perhaps for that reason, the one he was proudest of. The novel will be sold by reservation, and publication is tentatively scheduled for September 2010. The novel will be published in quality paperback with an introduction by his life partner and the executor of his estate, Richard Lippe. The price has yet to be determined (although it is expected to be in the vicinity of CDN$30.00 including shipping).

For those who wish to reserve a copy of the novel, please notify either Gary McCallum or Richard Lippe as below.… Read more »

Two Films at the French Film Festival

The first still above comes from writer-director Yves Hanchar’s Sans rancune!, the second from cowriter Sophie Hiet’s and director-cowriter Julie Lopes-Curval’s Mêres et filles, also known as La cuisine and Hidden Diary. Both of these highly involving 2009 features about parents and personal legacies were shown at the French Film Festival held in Richmond, Virginia last month — a sort of pedagogical as well as cultural event presented by Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Richmond that took place over four days (March 25-28), and where I was privileged and delighted to be a guest.

These two films certainly weren’t the only interesting things I saw at the festival. (Among the more notable items were Philippe Lioet’s touching and beautifully acted Welcome, a story about the growing bond between a Calais swimming instructor and a Kurdish teenager trying to reach a girlfriend in England illegally by swimming across the English channel — a very popular film in France that was nominated for ten Césars last year but sadly won none of them; a very eclectic essay film about motorcycle racing, kids, and movies by Pierre-William Glenn, the remarkable cinematographer who shot both Truffaut’s Day for Night and Rivette’s Out 1; and, strangest of all, Le train oú ça va…, an “intimiste” and domestic 3-D short by Jeanne Guillot, whose masters thesis for La Fémis, arguing that 3-D films need not be spectacular, was translated into English and posted on the festival’s website.)… Read more »