Oliver Francis

Thoughts from the spaces in between


Leave a comment

Franzen, a correction

An old typewriter

Not so good for producing e-books

Oh dear, according to Jonathan Franzen we are imperilled by ebooksHe is not the first to fret about Kindles, and won’t be the last. It’s not a great surprise that most of the internet appears to disagree with him: presumably those who do agree have followed his example of sealing up their ethernet ports.

It is entirely Franzen’s own business to not like ebooks, and as a recent Kindle-purchaser I can see that both formats have pros and cons. But just as in science we should run at great speed away from arguments of personal incredulity, when highly esteemed writer types make pronouncements we should remember, as Christopher Hitchens would have it, that they too are mammals. The problem with Franzen’s utterances is not that he dislikes ebooks, but more a sort of misunderstanding of what an ebook is and how it behaves in the wild. Continue reading


Leave a comment

Cloud Gate Code

Watched Source Code on DVD yesterday – so in reference to that, a few pictures of the (admittedly much-photographed) Cloud Gate, together with some other bits of Chicago.

As for Source Code itself, it was good knockabout sci-fi fun. But as Obi Wan might have said, that’s no Moon. It was nice to see (or rather hear) Scott Bakula’s cameo –  “Oh boy!” – leaving me very nostalgic for Quantum Leap.

More photos over on Flikr.


1 Comment

The Artist gives me Vertigo

So Kim Novak wants to report a rape. All because Michel Hazanavicius used Bernard Hermann’s Vertigo theme in the marvellous The Artist. Kim, where to start with the whole explaining about things that are not like rape? Here, someone says it better than me. Quite apart from her staggeringly tin ear, it’s hard to tell if she even gets the Artistic irony of shouting “I AM THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN SPEAK NOW” in block capitals on her advert. And I don’t remember her making this sort of fuss about the brilliantly metafictional use of Vertigo in Twelve Monkeys

Novak also seems to think she is speaking on behalf of Hitchcock, and it can’t exactly be said that the director had the most enlightened views about non-consensual sex. The Marnie issue springs to mind. And given that Vertigo is as close as mainstream Hollywood has come to depicting necrophilia… Not actual necrophilia, but necrophilia of the… oh never mind. Continue reading


Leave a comment

No face like Holmes

Sidney Paget’s Holmes (1904)

Adaptations of iconic literary characters tread a fine line – too loyal and they seem staid and pointless, too radical and you lose the ‘fanbase’ (as they wouldn’t have said in 1886). If you want to be a purist, you can turn off the telly and get all the books essentially free on Kindle – and you’ll find that even Conan Doyle had trouble on occasion keeping up with his own continuity. And Holmes soaks up the spirit of the age and the preoccupations of his interpreters. After all, Basil Rathbone, one of the best known Holmes, spent a lot of his time fighting Nazis. Continue reading