The September issue of Harper's (yes, I'm way behind) is a particularly good vintage. The centerpiece is Paul Reyes's matter-of-factly depressing "Bleak Houses," about cleaning up foreclosed homes in Florida.
J. Hoberman also has "Godard the Obscure," the kind of essay that makes the death spiral of the Village Voice, where he is a film critic, even more painful; where are people like him going to write as more and more publications go down the drain? Hoberman knows his stuff: You have to in order to write something like "Rimbaud abandoned poetry to run guns. So, too, Godard, although in his case it was as though he had abandoned poetry for the idea of running the idea of guns." In a short sentence, Hoberman encapsulates Godard's immediate post-Weekend work.
That said, it bothers me a bit that the essay is announced as discussing Richard Brody's Everything Is Cinema: The Working Life of Jean-Luc Godard, because Hoberman doesn't actually engage with the book. He mentions it a few times but that's it. This approach bugs me about the New Yorker's book reviews too: The vast majority of them just use a recent publication as a convenient peg from which to hang a coat one had been wanting to trot out for a while. Hoberman's piece is a smart take on Godard's evolution as a filmmaker, but after finishing it, I have no idea what Hoberman thought of Brody's own take.
3 days ago