I dislike the man and dislike most of his films (I honestly prefer stig Bjorkman's films, who is interviewing Trier here, much more), but this book re...moreI dislike the man and dislike most of his films (I honestly prefer stig Bjorkman's films, who is interviewing Trier here, much more), but this book represent his persona perfectly: filled with blatant lies and instant provocations it shows how Trier manipulated whole cinema world into liking him. The most interesting part though is his childhood. He was raised in a parenting system of a full freedom. As a child he got to decide himself when he goes to school, does he want to visit a dentist or what he is going to eat or to wear. His parents stripped themselves of all parenting rights (but not obligations). I think Trier became vivid example of what can be achieved with this system. (less)
First time on Goodreads I looked through other reviews before giving mine, because I actually don't know if like it or not and basically I feel the sa...moreFirst time on Goodreads I looked through other reviews before giving mine, because I actually don't know if like it or not and basically I feel the same about Scrosese movies themselves. I learned a lot from Taxi Driver or Raging Bull or Mean Streets, but I never enjoyed them as a viewer. His later more mainstream Holywood ones like Casino, The Age of Innocence or Aviator are not covered here - the book was published in late 80s and covers Scorsese films up to Goodfellas. Goodreads reviews are 4-5 star positive, but for me the book was very meager. The serie is always awesome when director invites you into his cook-room and shows all the in and outs, how the film went from intial conception to the final realization and how director's world reflected in all the stages of creation. In this case we rather see brief memoirs of main events in relationships with studios, screenwriters and producers. The most interesting and usefull part is a depiction of Scorsese work with actors mainly De Niro but not only. That's what kept my interest through the whole book. (less)
For a long time I've been collecting books from "Directors on Directors" serie and (don't take this as a commercial ad) Abebooks was a great find for...moreFor a long time I've been collecting books from "Directors on Directors" serie and (don't take this as a commercial ad) Abebooks was a great find for me. Even being in states I've found only Lynch on Lynch,when on Abereads I ordered dozen of books from the serie for $1 each... OMG!!! Three of them already arrived (in 2 weeks all the way across Atlantic ocean and Europe): Gilliam on Gilliam, Kislewski on Kislewski and Scorsese on Scorsese.
I absolutely love early Gilliam films. Obviously Holy Grail, but especially Brazil, Fisher King and Munchausen. Time Bandits and Twelve Monkeys are good films too. Everything Terry was doing after that is not for me, but the book was made in 1999, so it doesn't even cover everything after. Gilliam looks here as a funny, charming man. Main theme is how he managed to smuggle autheur cinema into Holywood major studios and actually succeed with it. The book doesn't cover any of his personal life, doesn't open a lot of professional secrets, but rather tells a story of production of different Gilliam films, one by one. Interesting for me.(less)
"The medium is the message" is the main idea of this book, meaning that form of the media includes message in itself. The way movie is played influenc...more"The medium is the message" is the main idea of this book, meaning that form of the media includes message in itself. The way movie is played influences the viewer no less then a content of it. The most interesting part is where McLuhan uses different historical examples to show how new forms of media change the society and its perception. This expmples are presented as some sort of anecdotes or novellas so you can skip through boring stuff (which occurs in this book) to the fun ones. The book was written in the 60's and doesn't cover our digital era, but its impact on us can be easily deduced from its conclusions. (less)
Few weeks ago I was working at All-Russian State Archive of literature and art, gathering materials for my Mayakovsky documentary... This, you know, o...moreFew weeks ago I was working at All-Russian State Archive of literature and art, gathering materials for my Mayakovsky documentary... This, you know, old quiet place where all the manuscripts and old letters and archives and all possible obscurities are treasured. I love such places. And...Majority of people in its reference room were foregniers. Somehow... I won't make any conclusions about that, but no wonder that the most сomplete book about Stalin's terror was written by the English Professor (like for example the best book about Chekhov in my opinion was written by Donald Rayfield). Conquest is not trying to seize every atrocity of Stalin's regime, instead he analyzes how and why the dictator was killing his own comrades, how he murdered all "old bolsheviks", he describes in every little details 1937-38 trials against former communist leaders and army generals. He shows this evil spider who covers whole party under his web and slowly kills those niave leftist leaders one by one (like they were killing their political opponents during the October Revolution and Civil War). Special place is reserved for stupid Western art people and journalists who were defending Stalin's regime at those time, were writing books at defence of the trials (like Feuchtwanger), etc. I think this book must be included in our school programm, because it contains what it contains without any emotional or estetic tricks or pressure. In the end you can even come to some sort of moral sanction for Stalin, like he had to do all that because otherwise they would kill him (hopefully you won't). But that's what I think... Unfortunately it won't happen in the nearest future.(less)
Sarnov tells the story of Mayakovsky suicide from literary point of view. He analyzes his poems and his connections with other authors and his relatio...moreSarnov tells the story of Mayakovsky suicide from literary point of view. He analyzes his poems and his connections with other authors and his relationships with Soviet authorities, searching for an answer: why he did? Why he shoot himself? Author's idea is that Maykovsky "was steping on his own throat", killing great lyric poet inside himself, for the benefit of left propagadandist and in the end the lyric rised up and killed propagadandist.(less)
Amazing book. I love non-fiction of this kind: written with a simple, lapidary language, but very intensive with details, facts, quotes. Main story was...moreAmazing book. I love non-fiction of this kind: written with a simple, lapidary language, but very intensive with details, facts, quotes. Main story was more or less known to me before: few days before his death Lev Tolstoy left his ancestral estate Jasnaja Poljana, left his family, no one knew where he was going and he died in 10 days still travelling to this unknown destination. This book follows this story from its very source - marriage with Sofja Andreevna 40 years before up untill Tolstoy's last hour. For Basinsky this is the story of competition (and later war) between Sofja Andreevna and Tolstoy's first mentee and scribe Chertkov for Tolstoy's love, attention and mainly copyrights. Sofja Andreevna lost this war. And this story is told with enormous amount of quotes, facts and details, Pavel Basinsky made huge work anazyzing and comparing all the memoirs, logs and documents. As the result although this book is rather thick I would actually wish it to be thicker, swallowed it in a few days. (less)
Andrey Sakharov was a rare example of a Noble Peace Prize winner who really deserved it. He almost alone confronted totalitarian system and in many ma...moreAndrey Sakharov was a rare example of a Noble Peace Prize winner who really deserved it. He almost alone confronted totalitarian system and in many many ways won. They couldn't do anything to him.
This memoirs can be divided into 3 parts: 1) Childhood, first steps in science, getting acclaimed in physics. This part is most boring. Nothing special niether in sense of literature nor in details or situations. Also a lot of formulas and other physics stuff which I totally lack of brains to understand, which is of course exclusively my personal problem; 2)Sakharov invents hydrogen weapon and becomes acclaimed scientist, kindly treated by the system, with all the dachas, cars and a lot of money and sea trips, everything USSR could offer to its heroes. Moral problems start to disturb Sakharov, he thinks a lot about his invention, starts to participate in different peace efforts and detente. Little by little he's getting involved in defense of different people who are suffering because of their thoughts and views. System still listens to him and he uses his possibilities to help different people. 3) 1968 Soviet invasion to Czechoslovakia happens and Sakharov becomes dissident actively fighting for human rights for soviet people and against the system. This part covers whole "legal" part of his activity till the late 70's and what happened after when he was deprived of all his titles and privileges, evicted to Gorky, separated from his friends and most of his family, his life under 7 years of home arrest up untill Perestroyka. This last part is the biggest in the book and the most interesting one. All the tricks that he and his wife used to fool KGB are fun, but that's not the thing. The thing is this man who held biggest war secrets, but never had even littlest idea to bargain with the system about them or give them to US, he just fighted for the rights of his people and suffered. This book was re-written 3 (!!!) times because KGB was stealing manuscripts. By the end of it Sakharov's fight is conspicuously moving to the zone of self-defense, but he had his reasons. A lot of. Nice, kind, facile, phisically weak man goes against the System and wins, they can't shut his mouth, can't kill him, can't throw him out of the country, they can only torture him, but he laughs at their faces. Gorbachev released him in the end, but that's beyond this book. I wish modern kids who are circling around Moscow today yealling nazi slogans and raising their right hand in Hitler's hail would have learned more about this man in school.(less)
Author of this book was killed by the title hero of the book. It must be a rare case!
Lev Trotsky, communist hero of 1917's revolution and civil war wa...moreAuthor of this book was killed by the title hero of the book. It must be a rare case!
Lev Trotsky, communist hero of 1917's revolution and civil war was the main Stalin's rival in 20s and he lost. In 1917 when Stalin was cowardly hiding and Lenin was writing his manifests, revolution itself, the coup, the power-taking was made by Trotsky. When civil war started, communists had no idea how to handle troops, but Trotsky created Red Army, led it and won. But when fights were over and days of politics came, he lost. He failed to find a way to beat Stalin's union with a new, Red bureaucracy.
Later Stalin started to get rid of old bolsheviks who made October revolution. Trotsky was exiled and later killed by Stalin's agent in Mexico (did you see " Frida" movie? he was her husband there).
This book is a long Trotsky's rant against his opponent who has won. Trotsky follows Stalin's way from his childhood to the late 30s, trying to analyze how this grey mediocre person became such a monster we all know.
It's written from communist's point of view, for Trotsky all radical left ideas - universal equality, worldwide revolution and Karl Marx's classes theory - are fundamental truth without any doubt. As a modern reader you have to kinda read through it, knowing how badly communism failed. But still Trotsky has a great writer's talent, this book is full of anger and energy and contains a lot of vivid evidences.
As a kid I was living in a communal apartment with my parents, with 5 or 6 other families on the highest floor of an old, XIX century building. There...moreAs a kid I was living in a communal apartment with my parents, with 5 or 6 other families on the highest floor of an old, XIX century building. There were artists' workshops above us in the garret. Since my parents were dissident-like bogema art people, artists from above were hanging out in our room almost each evening and making unoffical exibitions from time to time. Among them I've remembered Ilja Kabakov kind round man with a warm smile and works I like more then anyone else's. He painted me a hare once. If I had brains to keep the picture up untill now I could sell this hare for thousands USD.
Another group of people who were hanging out in my parents's room was five of six bookish looking people who were gathering and writing essays together on some preliminary choosen topic. It was important not to make any noise while they write, so I was sitting in a chair and looking how they write. it was some kind of meditation practice for me. Among them Mikhail Epstein was the smartest and he always talked to me and had a lot of kids who also visited sometimes and played with me.
Today Ilja Kabakov is one of the most acclaimed NY artists and Mikhail Epstein is a professor at Emory and authour of many amazing books about conteporary art, post-modernism, Russian literature and other things.
So I could'nt miss this book, which is a collection of different things, ideas and concepts which play important role in Kabakov's life and art. Epstein serves the ball and sometimes express his opinions as well. Interesting book.(less)
Another "documentary novel" by Svetlana Alexievich this time tells about Soviet Afgan War. Real monologues of ordinary people who participated in that...moreAnother "documentary novel" by Svetlana Alexievich this time tells about Soviet Afgan War. Real monologues of ordinary people who participated in that war - soldiers, officers, medics. Their stories, impressions, post-war syndroms. ...How propaganda posters were delivered and placed before any medical equipment even arrived while war was already started ...How soldiers (USSR had no professional army, so it were 18 years old boys, taken right from their schools and dropped into fire) was calling for their mamas in the hospital and nurses were pretending to be their mothers to calm imjured down ...How those boys were buying hepatitus urine and drinking it to be invalid out of the army ...How few years later those soldiers who stayed alive forced newly arrived boys to lick their boots and wash their underwear etc etc etc
Dozens of stories like that are the pieces of of one puzzle, which is main theme of this book - those boys turned out to be public enemy and scape goats against this war. Society started to hate them, trying to get rid of them while those who started the war and was really responsible for all the atrocities that happened, they bear no resposibility up untill now.
For me though this book was less interesting then Chernobyl one. Mainly because I was left with feeling that these were only SOME stories of some people and I know that other people could tell another stories of another kind. This is usually with wars. You can describe what in Russian is called Trench Truth - little details of the ways war goes, everyday life of soldiers with its dirt and death and blood. or you can go with heroism and stuff. Or you can try to enlight political aspects. Usually there's place for all those things, but if you go with only one IMO you're limiting your work
With Cheronobyl she had disaster generated by technology and people who suffered from it. And that was enough. In this book she had people who suffered but nothing more and when they heard they fought for nothing and there were nothing else then this suffering (I had such impression from the book as well), they just sued Alexievich (not that I support thoese sues in any way whatsoever).(less)
I always wanted be one of those guys who overpowered all 29 books of our Russian history by Sergey Solovyov, XIX century historian, Kluchevsky's teach...moreI always wanted be one of those guys who overpowered all 29 books of our Russian history by Sergey Solovyov, XIX century historian, Kluchevsky's teacher It turned out there was nothing to overpower at all. This first volume tells about Russian pre-history, pagan days before christening and the first christian centuries. I don't think it will be interesting for any of my non-russian goodreads friends, but for me it was so surprisingly entertaining! Especially first pagan part which I was never told - neither in school, nor in university. In the textbooks history usually starts a few decades before 988 - before christening. Main idea of this first volume is that the newborn country was forming rather far from Western influence and at same time without Eastern one, with which it was rather confronting. And that independent position actually created Russian as we know it. Solovyov waves away "Normann theory" , telling that Scandinavians influenced indeed on forming first government structure, but they had zero influence on nationality itself which I kinda have to agree - visit Moscow and, say, Stockholm in one week and you'll see :)
Those were my first volume impressions. I couldn't "overpower" whole saga in the end and got stuck somewhere between 3rd and 4th book. (less)
Iosif Brodskii became Nobel Prize winner and MacArthur Genius Award winner and winner of dozens of other titles and awards as Joseph Brodsky In USSR h...moreIosif Brodskii became Nobel Prize winner and MacArthur Genius Award winner and winner of dozens of other titles and awards as Joseph Brodsky In USSR he was trialed, persecuted and finally desterrared, although he never was anti-soviet or dissident, he just never paid any attention to auhtorirties in his poems, as simple as that. His books never were officialy published at home. But his carrier on the West became one of the most successfull between russian emigree writers, even compared to Nabokov or Joseph Conrad(although they left Russian-speaking world in their teen days and Brodsky was exiled as a grown-up man). Partly because Brodsky turned out to be very talanted as a language-learner and in a few years became totaly fluent in English and wrote a lot of poems in English (sometimes those are author's translations like the poem below, sometimes poems written in English and then translated to russian)
I said fate plays a game without a score, and who needs fish if you've got caviar? The triumph of the Gothic style would come to pass and turn you on--no need for coke, or grass. I sit by the window. Outside, an aspen. When I loved, I loved deeply. It wasn't often.
I said the forest's only part of a tree. Who needs the whole girl if you've got her knee? Sick of the dust raised by the modern era, the Russian eye would rest on an Estonian spire. I sit by the window. The dishes are done. I was happy here. But I won't be again.
I wrote: The bulb looks at the flower in fear, and love, as an act, lacks a verb; the zer- o Euclid thought the vanishing point became wasn't math--it was the nothingness of Time. I sit by the window. And while I sit my youth comes back. Sometimes I'd smile. Or spit.
I said that the leaf may destory the bud; what's fertile falls in fallow soil--a dud; that on the flat field, the unshadowed plain nature spills the seeds of trees in vain. I sit by the window. Hands lock my knees. My heavy shadow's my squat company.
My song was out of tune, my voice was cracked, but at least no chorus can ever sing it back. That talk like this reaps no reward bewilders no one--no one's legs rest on my sholders. I sit by the window in the dark. Like an express, the waves behind the wavelike curtain crash.
A loyal subject of these second-rate years, I proudly admit that my finest ideas are second-rate, and may the future take them as trophies of my struggle against suffocation. I sit in the dark. And it would be hard to figure out which is worse; the dark inside, or the darkness out.
This book is literature bio, story of his poetic talent concieving, evolving, and blossoming. Acts of his personal and social life, political stuff are on the side track of this book, although Losev carefully tells us how Oden and other great English-speaking writrs influenced Brodsky, he doesn't have an ambition to tell us full story of the trial against Brodsky and to describe his main Muse, Marina Basmanova in a more detailed way. Thus for my tastes this book is not full, detailed for a biography. Usually when I end up reading whole book ABOUT someone (not by someone), espec. in ZHZL series I prefer to have more detail coverage of his or her life.(less)
Undoubtedly, this was one the most, if not the most powerfull text written in Russian language for the last few decades. It's a doc book. Svetlana Ale...moreUndoubtedly, this was one the most, if not the most powerfull text written in Russian language for the last few decades. It's a doc book. Svetlana Aleksievich gave voice to dozens of ordinary people who suffered from Chernobyl disaster. They are telling their stories without author interferense, she only gives them opportunity to speak. ...How soldier was chasing radicative cat around trying to kill it and little girl, owner of the cat was running behind the soldier, screaming: "Run away, little cat, run away"... ...How head of the city brought his little granddaughter to 1st May demonstration, so people would think everything is allright, there's no radication and later that girl died from leukaemia... ...How local girls organized several free brothel near the station for liquidators, knowing that they will have to die and liquidators will have to die too... And hundreds of others. Aleksievich was exiled from Belorussia where she lived. Authorities don't want the truth.Now she hides somewhere in Europe.
This is only one of five such books by her: others are about Afgan War, Chechen war, Women stories at war... I will read and review them later, the actual books are already on my shelf, but this reading is too strong to swallow all at once.(less)
You go step by step with the author through New testament and see how different artists of the Middle Age and Renaissance were picturing its events: f...moreYou go step by step with the author through New testament and see how different artists of the Middle Age and Renaissance were picturing its events: from Annunciation to the birth of Jesus, all along his life and up to Passion, Crucifixion, Easter and Ascension.
Wording is cut down to a minimum in this book: only short explanation of the event painted and few details in each picture, pointed by the author (usually 4 or 5). Other then that the book has nothing but great old pictures clustered by different New Testament themes. I like the idea just number of pictures for each event was too small for me - usually 2 or 3, when 7-8 would give a much broader and better view IMO.(less)
Обычно Эдуард Аронович Шульман пишет многословнее, но это особый жанр - "коротышки", маленькие в несколько строк интертексты, байки, анекдотцы, выписк...moreОбычно Эдуард Аронович Шульман пишет многословнее, но это особый жанр - "коротышки", маленькие в несколько строк интертексты, байки, анекдотцы, выписки на литературную тему. Бывает смешно, встречаются находки, но, кажется, не хватает какой-то каталогизации или вообще надо было обходиться без нее (она то возникает - глава "Пушкин", "Ильф", "Иностранцы" и т.д., то исчезает совсем). В статье-послесловии Бенедикт Михайлович Сарнов ругается, что факты не точны, много фантазии: где-то было не так, где-то персонажи не те, где-то сопоставления неверные, а мне как раз это видится плюсом - отделяет книгу от простой записной книжки с цитатами, выписками и т.п. - даже у меня таких десяток.(less)