Posts From Author: leviathan

Films To See In January: Leviathan; Ida; Two Days, One Night

As awards season looms, with its predictable bows to prestige and heritage movies, three reasons to venture down the road less traveled by. Leviathan has been receiving messianic reviews since its premiere at Cannes last year, where it won the Best Screenplay award, and by the end of its two-and-a-half-some hours it’s easy to see why. I have an undeveloped theory that so-called “foreign” films do well in direct proportion to their correspondence with national stereotypes. With a land dispute, a visiting lawyer from Moscow, sublime landscapes, political corruption, and titanic quantities of vodka on display, you could say that Russia’s submission to the 87th Annual Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film ticks all the boxes. But Leviathan, directed by Andrey Zvyagintsev, is also a serious film of grand scope and ambition that deserves to be seen both in and out of the context of Putin’s Russia. At the outset, Kolya (Alexey Serebryakov) is locked in a dense legal battle against local mayor Vadim (Roman Madyanov) over a plot of land his family has lived on for generations. Eventually shanghaied out of the property by corrupt officials, and cuckolded by the lawyer friend (Vladimir Vdovichenkov) he’d called on to […]
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The Sea, Inside & Out

Seeing “the watery part of the world” was, for Melville’s Ishmael, a way of “driving off the spleen and regulating the circulation.” One feels it’s probably the same for Philip Hoare. Five years ago, his terrific Leviathan, or The Whale (published in the US as The Whale: In Search of the Giants of the Sea) won the BBC Samuel Johnson Prize for nonfiction. He’s followed it up with another maritime adventure, The Sea Inside — published, appropriately, by the Brooklyn-based Melville House. Between times, he co-curated the Moby Dick Big Read, a series of podcasts featuring everyone from Tilda Swinton to Sir David Attenborough and Benedict Cumberbatch to Fiona Shaw, reading the book chapter by chapter. You could say Hoare loves a whale. Which is why it might come as a surprise to fans of Leviathan that it takes so long for any cetaceans to appear in The Sea Inside. (Like Moby-Dick, actually, at the risk of spoilers.) But fear not! Hoare’s latest is just as magical as his last, and in fact this time round I was easily as roused by the other members of his menagerie, in particular the birds. He has a great eye for social detail. Did you know that the eurasian osytercatcher […]
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