Sunday, November 1, 2015
Sunday Sundries, 73
1. AOTW: I've decided to stop giving this "award" to people I see doing stupid/dangerous things in traffic. It happens every single day--someone doesn't signal at all (or far too late), passes in a no-passing zone, speeds, cuts me off, assumes the right-of-way (without legally having it), zooms out into traffic when there's really no safe opening, etc. Instead, I will focus on things that happen outside the car. I hesitate to give the award to a teenager, for when I was a teen, I was the AOTW every day ... hell, every hour. It's part of growing up, being at AH. But this week, I'll make an exception. I won't say where this happened because it would narrow the field too much. Let's just say I was talking with a teen and an older guy (not as old as I); for Halloween, the older guy was dressed up like a character from an 80s movie. The young man said he'd never heard of that film. I said, "Stream it, Netflix, whatever." He said, "I don't look at films before 1990." Oh. Nice to meet you, AOTW.
2. A couple of films ...
- Channel-surfing, I lit upon Paul Newman in Twilight (link to trailer)--no, not that film Twilight, the hot-vampire one. No, this was from 1998. It's a private-eye film with a cast of all-stars: Newman, Gene Hackman, Susan Sarandon, Reese Witherspoon (a teen!), Stockard Channing, James Garner. Written by director Robert Benton and novelist Richard Russo. I've always been a fan of Newman, since I first saw him at the old Hiram College Sunday-night movies in Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956), a boxing film. And later, when he played Billy the Kid (The Left Handed Gun, 1958), well, that sealed it. He's great in this--as is everyone else. Lots of sleaze and surprise.
- For some reason I rented (DVD from Netflix) the film Gun Crazy (1950), a film often paired with Bonnie and Clyde in film festival showings. It's a story about a young man and woman--both expert pistol shots--who meet at a carnival (where she is performing; he out-shoots her there), fall in love (I think). She (Eve! Eve! Eve!) convinces him to rob some banks and whatnot, and he (Adam! Adam! Adam!) goes along.
I think I rented the film because it was written by blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, using a pseudonym (Millard Kaufman), and novelist MacKinley Kantor (probably best known for Andersonville, 1955).
Coincidentally, this morning in the New York Times I saw a large ad for a forthcoming film--Trumbo, a bio-flick with Bryan Cranston as the screenwriter. (Trumbo also wrote novels--most notably, Johnny Got His Gun, 1939, about WW I.) Helen Mirren and Diane Lane are also in it. Can't wait ...
Anyway, I found I could not watch Gun Crazy straight through. Although it's only 86 minutes long, I divided it up over four or five nights. The problem? I knew what was going to happen (crime can not pay, not in a 1950 film), and I kind of liked the actors (neither of whom I'd ever seen before). But last night I made myself finish it, though I kept myself distracted by reading Saturday's Plain Dealer and Akron Beacon-Journal while doing so. (Link to YouTube clip from the film.)
3. A couple of books ...
- This week I finished the latest Lee Child novel, Make Me, the latest in his series about Jack Reacher. I've liked most of these (have read them all), but the last two have left me a little lukewarm for a related reason: Child is taking Reacher out of his element. Most of the earlier novels featured him in some remote area of the country, where he gets caught up in some local shenanigans that require his ... special skills. But the previous one had lots of action in London, and this one hops all over the place. There's even a (lengthy, talky) scene in Palo Alto, where Reacher and his (woman) companion learn from a Stanford computer geek about the Deep Web. Yes, they end up back in vast wheat fields in sparsely populated rural America, but most of the story takes place elsewhere.
Call me old-fashioned, but I want Sherlock Holmes in England, Auguste Dupin in France, Spenser in Boston, Kinsey Millhone in southern California, Philip Marlowe in LA, etc. When you take those folks elsewhere--at least for me--it does not intensify anything. It bores.
- A few years ago, feeling time's winged chariot hurrying near, I started reading some things I should have read a long time ago--and sometimes feigned that I had done so. So I read War and Peace, Don Quixote, and numerous other notable books, the most wonderful of which was Proust's In Search of Lost Time (aka Remembrance of Things Past).
And then came Wilkie Collins (1824-1889), a dozen years younger than Dickens but intimate friends with his mentor. I'd known about Collins since boyhood: I think he was among the writers in our family deck of Authors cards (a thrilling board game!). So I knew, especially about The Moonstone and Woman in White, his two most popular novels (they've both been in print since their original publication in 1868 and 1860, respectively. But I'd not read them.
Well, a few years ago, I did.
But I didn't really know much about Collins himself, so I was happy to see that Peter Ackroyd's latest book in his Brief Lives series is ... Wilkie Collins. I just finished it this week--and had so much fun doing so that I promptly bought Collins' complete works on Kindle (for the massive price of $2.99) and ordered a few in paperback, too. I'm about to start on a new adventure!
Coincidentally, the Times reviewed the book today, and the reviewer, though generally appreciative, chided Ackroyd for not going into more depth about some things. The reviewer apparently missed the words just below Ackroyd's name on the cover: "A Brief Life." Geez.
4. Plain Dealer book review watch: On today's Books page there were only two full reviews, one from the Tampa Bay Times, the other from The News & Observer (Raleigh, NC).