A Vindication of the Rites of Whores: Rumer Godden’s “Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy”

When I asked people to recommend books about life in religious communities, this (as well as Godden's In This House of Brede) was one of the most frequent responses. It's a story set among the Dominican Sisters of Bethany, whose charism involves prison ministry--and so many of the sisters are themselves former criminals, what we'd call "ex-offenders" or "returning citizens." These are I think the same nuns you see in Robert Bresson's terrific nun-noir The Angels of Sin. (This is the Bresson for … [Read more...]

“Everyone I Love Is an Allegorical Representation of Ireland”: And Other Catchy Folk Tunes

I forget where I found this: im putting together a couple of scottish folk mixes bc that’s what i do and im honestly curious if anyone in my country has ever been unequivocally happy about anything ever scottish trad music genres:Everyone I Love Is Dead The English Have Stolen All My Sheep You Want To Be My Boyfriend? First You Must Answer These Riddles Three The Protestants Have Stolen All My Sheep I Love You A Lot But You’ve Left Me And It’s Raining [fiddle solo] The Sea Is Tre … [Read more...]

“What’s a Nice Girl Like You Doing in a Movie Like This?”: I review “Trainwreck”

for AmCon: “There will never be an American AbFab.”This was the first thought in my mind as I left the theater after seeing “Trainwreck,” the new Judd Apatow/Amy Schumer moralizing romcom. The movie seems to think that it’s the story of a bad girl who triumphs over adversity and gets her man. It’s actually the story of a basically nice girl with major daddy issues, who learns and teaches a few heartwarming lessons on her journey toward somewhat delayed adult responsibility. This movie pulls … [Read more...]

“Terry Castle: The Anti-Paglia”: Helen Andrews

alerts us: ...Like Paglia, Castle’s entrée into the literary tradition of sexual inversion was a teenage fascination with Oscar Wilde—she dreamed of being “male, dandified, and in some sort of filial relationship to various 1890s Decadents.” Unlike Paglia, her grown-up persona is less flamboyant, more Jamesian. Indeed, the two ladies juxtaposed remind me a little of Wilde and Henry James circa Guy Domville: Wilde the crowd-pleaser reigns supreme over the London stage, for now; James, no less of … [Read more...]

An Actual Zombie Jamboree! And Other Movie Notes

What I've been watching.The Gallows. Out now. To call it "bog standard" would be an insult to God's honest bog. This is a haunted-school/revenge-of-the-past flick. Lead actor is handsome and appears able to act. The sets for the school play are terrific, very spooky and effective. Otherwise this feels padded at an hour and a half. Tons of yipping exposition and repetitive arguments from shrill teens; the girls are damsels in distress. Found-footage, which at this point, if you're just going … [Read more...]

“Love Is a Losing Game”: I review an Amy Winehouse documentary

for AmCon: It’s impossible to describe Amy Winehouse’s voice. Crackly, crimson, fractured and sultry: That’s just the scratchy surface. “Amy,” the new documentary from director Asif Kapadia, delves into the jazz chanteuse’s troubled life and early death, but never forgets to show us Winehouse’s talent and craft—and her gentleness.“Amy” plays like a defense brief. There are villains: Winehouse’s father Mitchell, her husband Blake, and the paparazzi. The movie takes Winehouse’s own narrative a … [Read more...]

Men, Women, Children and Humans: Some short movie reviews

What I've been watching.Mr Skeffington: Two and a half hours of epic Bette Davis. We start in the 1910s, with Davis as a Scarlett-like belle of the ball who ends up turning down all her suitors to marry the Jewish financier Job Skeffington. She married him only in order to save her beloved wastrel brother from ruin, so although Mr. Skeffington demonstrates his patience and loyalty to her and she does try to please him and work up some fondness for him, things rapidly go downhill for the … [Read more...]