Monday Starters #9

A collection of links, fun and serious, on film and culture, to start the week.


Eye Games

“Only those who attempt the absurd will achieve the impossible. I think it’s in my basement… let me go upstairs and check.” (MC Escher)

The borders between abstract and figurative, the recognisable and unrecognisable can be very productive. ’Eye Games’ reveals art that makes you work harder for your visual kicks, offering double images, trompe l’oeil, layers and works that operate at different distances. This art entreats you to approach, to take a closer look.


The Empathy Machine by Maria Konnikova

Sherlock was right – new research shows that seeing through another’s eyes takes a detached mind not just a warm heart

…perhaps our very idea of empathy is flawed. The worth of empathy might lie as much in the ‘value of imagination’ that Holmes employs as it does in the mere feeling of vicarious emotion. Perhaps that cold rationalist Sherlock Holmes can help us reconsider our preconceptions about what empathy is and what it does.

Even when we know that someone’s background is different from our own, and that we should be wary of assuming we can understand their situation as though it were our own, we still can’t shake off our own preconceptions in judging them. The more cognitively strained we are (the more we have going on mentally), the worse we become at adjusting our egocentric views to fit someone else’s picture of the world.

Because [Holmes] has worked hard to dampen his initial emotional reactions to people, he becomes more complete in his adjustment, more able to imagine reality from an alternative perspective. Ironically, he ends up as a less egocentric and more accurate reflection of what someone else is thinking or experiencing at any given point.  Just think how precise are Holmes’s insights into people’s characters, their whims, their motivations and inner states. He strives for clarity and openness to evidence in his every encounter.

Empathy and creativity share an important, even essential feature: to be creative, just as to be empathetic, we must depart from our own point of view.

Clive Brook as Holmes in 1932 ((C)Fox)


Help fund an independent film

Kwaku Ananse Film

“Kwaku Ananse is an effort to preserve a fable my father passed on to me. A personal and collective journey that starts with your help.

Kwaku Ananse is an intensely personal project which draws upon the rich mythology of Ghana. The short film combines semi-autobiographical elements with the tale of Kwaku Ananse, a trickster in West African stories who appears as both spider and man. Ananse teaches us that there are two sides to everything and everyone.


10 questions potential partners will ask about your cross-media project by Jim Thacker

1. Where’s the emotional core?
It seems obvious that the most compelling artistic experiences are the ones that get you in the gut. Yet as a cross-media project spreads out across multiple platforms, its impact can become diluted. Identify the emotional core of the experience, and replicate it across each medium.


Brian’s novel – compelling protagonist… some friends become enemies and enemies become friends…?


Picturesque Photos of Europe’s Most Isolated Dwellings

(c) Immo Klink


Images tell stories: great portraits and situations captured by photographer Meg Handler


Crime Fiction in Oxford – from University of Oxford

Crime Fiction is a continuingly popular genre that has never been more highly esteemed than now. This day school offers two overviews – of detective fiction in general and of Oxford crime fiction in particular – as well as offering the opportunity of hearing celebrated crime writer Colin Dexter.


Can the Kuleshov Effect really control your perception of other people’s feelings?

In the 1910s and 1920s, Lev Kuleshov was a famous Russian filmmaker curious about how audiences responded to film. This was a time when the art form was extremely new, but audiences were already going nuts for stars.

The audiences, according to Kuleshov, talked about how well the actor expressed his hunger, and then his sorrow, and then his love. But every shot of the face was the same – used over and over.


When we talk about films like The Diary of a ChambermaidBelle de JourThat Obscure Object of Desire, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, The Tin DrumThe Unbearable Lightness of Being, Certified Copy, Birth, we talk about well-known filmmakers such as Luis Buñuel, Volker Schlöndorff, Abbas Kiarostami, and others. Very few know that what connects all those film is their author – the French screenwriter Jean-Claude CarrièreCarrière (b.1931) has written 138 stories for the screen (that have been produced) and is still working, but for some reason he’s not a household name in the public nor the film industry itself.

Screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière interviewed in Little White Lies

Watch: Jean-Claude Carrière: Pictures that shaped my image of the world

A party for Luis Buñuel: Alfred Hitchcock, Luis Buñuel, Billy Wilder, George Cukor, Jean-Claude Carrière (5th at the back), Rouben Mamoulian, Robert Mulligan, George Stevens, Robert Wise, William Wyler (


It’s Good Enough for Me by Emily Nussbaum for The New Yorker

The renaissance in children’s programming.

…like many parents, I limit my children’s Tivo time. (Except for weekend mornings. I’m not a saint.) But, as a critic, I’d argue that it’s time to recognize what this exhausting, rancorous debate has obscured: a quiet renaissance among children’s shows, many of them innovative in ways that parallel the simultaneous rise of great scripted television for adults. The best of these shows are as visually thrilling as they are well constructed. And, like the top dramas for adults, they harness to bold new ends the genre most deeply associated with episodic television’s strengths—the formulaic procedural, familiar to viewers from series like “Law & Order.”




In their own words: Brit Writers – THE Platform for New, Published & Unpublished Writers from Everywhere!


… with a partner

Come together by Alli Parker

“We’re still figuring out how we do it. After spending the best part of two weeks in each other’s company, we’ve really broken the back of it. Along the way, we quizzed everyone we met who mentioned that they had a co-writer as to how they did it.”


Words are often seen hunting for an idea, but ideas are never seen hunting for words.

– Josh Billings


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