“Alice” by Krzysztof Mąkosa (short story)

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The following is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

 

To Gosia

 

 

ALICE

 

 

1

It happened suddenly, like an accident, in the fall of 1993.

Alice, a young woman he didn’t know, left a short message on his answering machine. She was a fan of Robert Lipkowicz, the Polish poet. She majored in Russian studies somewhere in California. She had his number from Mme. Bonté, Lipkowicz’s literary executor. 

Soon he found out more about her. Read More →

“The Best Offer” by Giuseppe Tornatore

 

Nothing Is What It Seems

Like many excellent films, The Best Offer (2013), a psychological thriller by Giuseppe Tornatore, is a variation on a well-worn theme.

He is rich, successful, sophisticated and, as his surname (Oldman) suggests, past his prime. A great art expert, he can tell a forgery from the real thing because, as he says, the forger can’t resist the temptation to add some personal touch – an unsuspected stroke or an unimportant detail – by which he ends up betraying himself. In short, there is always something authentic concealed in every forgery.

If the greatest forgers can’t fool him, who will?

She, on the other hand, is mysterious, fragile, alluring, and young enough to be his daughter.

When it’s all over he changes beyond recognition. Read More →

“Midnight in Paris” by Woody Allen

The Art of Concealing Art

I’m sure you’ve noticed that a work of art, in order to be hailed as great by critics and academics (not that there is much difference these days), must be divorced from reality, involved, uninvolving and plain boring. Don’t you ever get the eerie feeling that the purpose of contemporary art is to punish us for sins we haven’t committed? Think of all the extraordinary, enchanting and exhilarating books on which you’ve wasted your time and money. Take contemporary classical music: Doesn’t it make you want to explore other kinds of music, or stick to the old masters for as long as you live? Contemporary painting? Oh no, not that again! Read More →

“Nosferatu the Vampyre” by Werner Herzog

The Most Abject Pain

Werner Herzog grew up in the Bavarian Alps without running water, a flush toilet or a telephone. When he was young, he was so eager to make films that he stole a camera from the Munich Film School, claiming he had some sort of natural right for a camera, a tool to work with. As a fully-fledged artist, he promised to eat his own shoe if his friend completed a film.

And he kept his promise.

When the film premiered, he boiled his shoes and ate one of them in front of the audience.

During the work on Fitzcarraldo, Herzog and his crew, including indigenous Amazonian Indians, hauled a three-story 320-ton steamship up a muddy 40-degree hillside in the jungle. Somebody asked Herzog if it wouldn’t be wiser to quit. How can you ask this question? he snapped. If I abandoned this project, I would be a man without dreams, and I don’t want to live like that. I live my life or I end my life with this project. (…) Without dreams, we would be cows in a field. Read More →

“Barry Lyndon” by Stanley Kubrick

Burning Like Ice

In this day and age of fast-paced living, why would you want to spend three hours on an adaptation of a Thackeray novel? What can you learn from the protagonist and the other characters, those bewigged puppets? What can they tell you in their quaint eighteenth-century English? Read More →

Sokolov: The Salzburg Recital

In a Class of His Own

He gives only about sixty recitals a year. In 1995, he stopped making studio recordings. He refused to perform in the U.K. in protest against its strict visa requirements for Russian citizens. Due to insufficient rehearsal time, he doesn’t play with orchestras. And he seldom gives interviews. Read More →