Over a decade after her death, the popularity of Princess Diana of Wales has never been stronger. This was recently highlighted last month when Lord Justice Scott Baker went to court over an investigation into her fatal accident with companion Dodi Fayed. During the early portion of the trial, it came to light that photos existed of the ex-wife of Prince Charles' final moments.
A group known as Rotten, who runs a Web site composed primarily of self-professed "disturbing illustrations", released an image entitled Death of a Princess. While its authenticity has been called into question, the amount of media attention given to the subject matter is indicative of the sustained interest in the private life of the long deceased former princess. If you happen to be one of those people still fascinated by her, but don't want to look at pictures quite so graphic and depressing in nature, Chaucer Press has a much more pleasing option.
Lovingly complied by London, England native Mem Mehmet, Diana in Art is a coffee table book of compiled sketches, pictures and other art works involving the most popular princess of the 20th century – Grace Kelly possibly excluded. For those of you unfamiliar with Mehmet's 2004 release, Madonna in Art, the artist has claimed that due to his previous vocation in the travel industry, he has been afforded a rare opportunity to visit museums, galleries, exhibitions and installations throughout the world. Familiarizing himself with the best works of such famous women, he has demonstrated a deft touch in creating easily accessible discussion pieces. Through his diligence, the reader is afforded the experience of countless museum visits in a single sitting.
Diana in Art generally features a pair of handsome photographs on each page. Alongside these memorable works of art, there is some sort of quote or description of the woman behinds the images from a person who knew her intimately. Designers, authors, relatives, and employees all offer a rare glimpse into the woman with one of the most recognizable faces of our age. Mehmet has managed to personalize the work. His meticulous selection of the various works is indicative of attention to detail rare for such a coffee table book.
In case you are wondering, Mehmet does include several comments that address the elephant in the living room that was her death. Everyone from Elton John to Dan Rather is quoted about how Princess Diana's death affects them as well their jobs. The effect is not one of shameless commercialization of the tragedy but rather a demonstration of its ramifications on the people close to her as well as those who simply admired her from afar.
The end result is a respectful, insightful series of illustrations exemplifying how many artists were taken by the down to the earth nature of the woman who stole the heart of Prince Charles and Dodi Fayed. Diana in Art strikes me as a great holiday gift idea if there is someone in your family who was drawn to the tragic princess. To wit, I've already got a copy of the book wrapped up and under the Christmas tree, knowing full well it's going to make someone very happy on Christmas Eve.
Having read and delighted in Cynthia Ozick's Heir to the Glimmering World, I thought I would pick up another of her books to give a look. Ozick has been fairly prolific both in the realms of fiction and non-fiction, and The Cannibal Galaxy, published in 1983, was her first full-scale novel in 17 years. It's an exceptionally erudite book (as was Heir to the Glimmering World), but I really didn't find myself connecting with it until the final 30 or so pages. I was ready to give the book a C until that point, frankly.
It's certainly not that Ozick isn't a skilled and thoughtful writer. Her ideas and concepts can be daunting, in fact. Still, I appreciate her sharp wit. The problem is that this time around, it feels like Ozick is poking fun at her very readers, and not in a nice way. Perhaps I'm wrong and her real target is faux-intellectuals who have no real desire to grow and develop, but it didn't feel that way. Even so, since I sometimes feel as she does in certain regards, I understood.
For anyone who ever cried at the prospect of reading a painstakingly detailed novel, Ian McEwan's Saturday will not be a great selection. For that matter, none of McEwan's novels would be a good choice, as he immerses himself into the environment about which he is writing and graphically illustrates that world. In Saturday, that world belongs to a neurosurgeon whose Saturday becomes eventful fairly early on when he has a car accident with some thugs.
Frankly, the plot of the book is fairly immaterial to the overall experience of reading Saturday. I know that is strange to say, but I speak the truth. While the plot that interweaves main character Henry Perowne and his thug Baxter is the backbone of the novel, Saturday is really about how we experience all of our days since the events of 9/11. He thoughtfully posits that we will never look at an airplane flying through the sky in the same way again (it's true). There is that constant fear that we will turn on the television to something catastrophic. Even the news channels have adjusted their programming to this notion, with the crawling scrollbars at the bottom of the screen that are ready to announce BREAKING! NEWS! AT! ANY! MOMENT! It's a devastating reality.
Sundance is over, but we still have some Festival Clips for your perusal. Day Eight gives us a day in the life of Summer Rain director Antonio Banderas. Then, "In The Can" host Cameron Bailey talks to the director and subjects of the documentary Flying: Confessions of a Free Woman.
Finally, on Day Ten Olympic speed skater Derek Parra talks to Ghosts director Nick Broomfield, and teaches actor Ai Qin Lin how to ice skate. Then, Whitney Cummings talks E! film expert Ben Lyons about the word on the street.
The Sundance Festival is in full swing in Park City, but you needn’t go that far to get in on the fun. We have two clips from Day Seven. In the first one, film critic Cameron Bailey talks to actor Lili Taylor and Director Andrew Wagner about Starting Out in the Evening. Then, Director Deborah Kampmeier and actors Robin Wright Penn and Dakota Fanning navigate the press after the premiere of the controversial film Hounddog.
It's time for more Festival Dailies from the Sundance Channel!
On clips from day five, writer/director John Carney discusses the film Once with actors Marketa Irglova and Glen Hansard. Then, Patricia Riggin talks about her goals for her film La Misma Luna. Day six has Nanking producer Ted Leonsis talking to Festival Dailies, and Cameron Bailey interviewing short filmmakers Andrew Zuckerman, Jay Rosenblatt, Lilah Vanderburgh and Ebon Moss-Bachrach.
In the midst of Academy Award nominations, there is still a festival going on out in Utah and Sundance Channel is here to provide the latest coverage. In today's clips, Donal MacIntyre talks about his film A Very British Gangster. Clip number two features Whitney Cummings getting the word on the street...and in Park City the word on the street is vaginas with teeth.
We're back with more Festival Dailies from Sundance Channel. We're up to clips from Day Three. The first features Billy Schuffenhauer of the USA bobsled team and Director Daniel Karslake as they take to the slopes and talk about For the Bible Tells Me So. The second is film critic Cameron Bailey’s conversation with The Ten director David Wain and actors Gretchen Mol, Famke Janssen, Ken Marino and Paul Rudd.
It's Sundance Film Festival time, which means that not only does BOP have an awesome contest going at the moment, but we're proud to bring you Sundance Channel's behind-the-scenes series, Festival Dailies. I don't know about you, but my cable company was uncool enough to eliminate Sundance Channel from my lineup earlier this year, so this is really my only opportunity for seeing this stuff.
Festival Dailies is hosted for a second consecutive year by actor/comic Whitney Cummings ("Best Week Ever", "Punk’d") and features interviews by writer/film festival programmer Cameron Bailey. Festival Dailies will give you the best, most up-to-date coverage of the Sundance Film Festival as well as a chance to see lots of the movies that will be the talk of theaters later this year.
Today, we have dailies from the first two days of the festival. Be sure to return every day to keep caught up!