Tuesday, March 23


I'm going to post occasional capsule reviews of films on here and they're as likely to be of classics watched on video or DVD as they are of new releases.

Anyway I finally got around to watching Luis Bunuel's The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie the other night and I've just been browsing through the user comments for it at IMDB to see whether I agree with them. Because I enjoyed the film a lot and I didn't expect to.

Unlike Bunuel, I don't hate the middle class and I don't have anything in particular against the church. His obsessions are outdated.

There are terrorists in this film (as there are in his later That Obscure Object of Desire, for example). In that these revolutionaries are the enemy of the bourgeoisie, perhaps Bunuel would sympathise with them even today, and I would hate him for it.

But Bunuel's opinions are worthless to me. His films lead me into confusing dreams and then abandon me. That'll do.

The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie is not as dark as Bunuel at his darkest. If it once bit as social satire, it doesn't now, but then it doesn't need to bother. In 2004, it's a piece of provocative fun.

Friday, March 19


Brian Micklethwait says he's never quite got around to reading Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment and reminds me that neither have I. Years ago, I did read and enjoy The Devils though, and last year I read the novella Notes from Underground, which I didn't find a slog at all, but one of those rare "works of literature" that I found so easy to relate to it was a breeze to read. There's an essay by James Wood here at The New Republic that touches on the Underground Man. Some time ago Wood also wrote brilliantly about Knut Hamsun's book Hunger. Again, like with Notes from Underground, I read Hunger in a week. A lot quicker than I can usually get through a serious novel, and purely because I felt so in touch with the narrator's way of thinking. I like Wood's way of throwing light on this type of novel (and narrator) so much that I bought a copy of his own first novel, The Book Against God, but sadly that one's still sitting unread on my shelf.

Tuesday, March 16


Christopher Hitchens at his best.

Wednesday, March 10

Serfdom revisited

More Hayek. James A. Dorn at the Cato Institute on The Road to Serfdom after 60 Years.
The Adam Smith Institute's blog discusses fair trade coffee.

Tuesday, March 9

Newspapers online

The Guardian and Observer Digital Editions demonstrate a new way to browse newspapers online.

Friday, March 5

The Economist on Friedrich von Hayek: "the theoretical idea he was proudest of -- that only markets, not governments, could gather and disperse price knowledge effectively --helped inspire a wave of deregulation and privatisation. His chief political idea -- that free markets and political liberty were indissociable -- lent strength to the revival of classical liberalism. By his death in 1992, Hayek had joined Milton Friedman and Robert Nozick as one of the three theoretical godfathers of the Thatcher-Reagan revolution".
Philip Pullman, who it turns out used to be the chaiman of the Society of Authors, backs that organisation in arguing for protectionism in the book market. The Daily Telegraph has more here.

Monday, March 1

Frank Kermode on Lady Augusta Gregory.