Friday, February 10, 2012

But then I am a lawyer, and my business is to make a fuss about trifles. - Wilkie Collins in 'The Law and the Lady'

I'm glad to pick up my reading again. Going off cable TV about 6 months back, is now reaping benefits. January  reads were 'The Law and the Lady'(Wilkie Collins) and 'The sun also rises'(Hemingway).

When I realized I had a long flight to California, I looked at the books from the library - The Law and the Lady, The sun also rises and Tender is the Night (F. Scott Fitzgerald). I had to decide on one of them. This is because between the number of clothes, shoes, scarves and handbags, I can manage to carry only one book.If I made the wrong choice, I would be left with nothing but  a boring book and maybe an even-more boring passenger in my next seat.Luckily, I took The Law and the Lady. My only gripe is that I read too fast and finished the book even before we completed the 6 hours of flight. A good reason for me to consider buying the kindle. 

'The law and the lady' is officially be the first book to feature a lady detective. Keeping with the times of 1875 (the year the book was published) the lady investigates the death of the first-wife of her husband, who is falsely accused of killing her. There are some hints of 'Rebecca' but barely so.It is commendable that Collins believes in women power in the Victorian era when women were not allowed to venture anywhere without a chaperone.Willie Collins is the true harbinger of detective fiction. (while Edgar Allen Poe is attributed to this, I beg to differ since Poe only wrote short detective stories and not a full length novel). 

One wouldn't believe that 'The sun also rises' was written in 1926. It could be an experience narrated by a present day American having a grand tour of Spain. This book can be set in 2012 as opposed to 1926 with the promiscuous 'Lady Ashley' shifting her affections easily from one man to another not caring for the wounded along the way.
No one can match Hemingway in the brevity of his sentences. Made me edit tons of my own writing (both at work and the novel). If anyone is on their way to writing a book, Hemingway is a teacher like no other.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Movies is but life with the dull parts cut out - Alfred Hitchcock

The first month of 2012 has me happy with the number of movies watched. I think I have to write it down to make myself believe it.

Jan 1st - The Adventures of Tintin - When I asked my 9 year old nephew if he had watched this movie, he replied in the affirmative adding 'It is a mix of multiple books'. My memory is hazy on this.Having read the books about 20 years back, it is already a mix of books in my head . It is a well-made entertainer capturing  the spirit of Tintin, Snowy and Captain Haddock very well.It was a bigger edge-of-the-seat thriller than 'Sherlock Holmes II'. Needless to say, I'm looking forward to the sequels. 

Jan 2nd - The Asphalt Jungle - I would not do justice to this movie in a short two sentence review since it deserves a blog post by itself. I would like to call this movie less of a film-noir and more of a heist especially with no 'femme-fatale'. Like 'All short stories come out of Gogol's Overcoat', any heist movie is a by-product of this original. Marilyn Monroe has a small role in it as a mistress of the villain and she looks and sounds the same like she did when she was at the height of her fame.

Jan 3rd - All about Eve (re-watch)  - This film made me fall in love with Betty Davis and watch her other movie 'Jezebel'. I watched the bonus materials which had interviews of the leading ladies taken at that time and was surprised to see how closely their real lives resembled their screen characters. More on that in a separate post.

Jan 4th - Arsenic and Old Lace (re-watch) : Good old Cary Grant - sometimes funny, sometimes over the top in this macabre comedy.

Jan 5th -  LA Confidential - The less said about it the better :) 

Jan 6th - The Artist - I was at a bar the other night and when the conversation turned to movies, I mentioned a silent Black and White movie and immediately my friend said 'she of course watches old movies'. I had to interuppt and say ' But this was made in 2011'.The movie reminded me of this song .
I'm glad that the French actor, Jean Dujardin, got his Oscar nomination for this.
How can one not think of Pushpak while watching this?

Jan 8th - Black Dahlia - Nothing worth writing about except maybe that it kept me company on a bored evening.

Jan 12th - Queen Bee - Joan Crawford was Disappointing! with a capital D with her over the top acting. Who tolerates an arrogant, old, married-woman-going-after-younger-men wife? Nobody. But the movie tries to make you believe otherwise and it fails. They all loathe the Queen Bee but I don't know why they put up with her!

Jan 14th - Straw Dogs - A remake of the 1971 film of the same name, I thoroughly enjoyed watching it. It shows how anyone can provoke a peace-loving, eclectic, intellectual and turn him into a violent killer to protect the lives of him and others.A question that bugged me to no end - Why did the woman strip herself and stand at the window? Beats me!

Jan 15th - The Help - I think if I leave out the re-watches, Tintin and The Asphalt Jungle, this would be my pick for my favorite movie out of this list for January. The Help, in many ways, reminded me of the maids we have in India. There are some commonalities and some not. I hope Octavia Spencer wins the Oscar for Best supporting actress. She totally rocked it - as a maid with a mind of her own. Without her, it would have become another dark Afro-American story. The women publishing a story of their lives without being recognized  made for a fun viewing.

Jan 28th - The Rope (re-watch) : My love of this movie has already been documented - here.

Jan 29th -  Intolerable Cruelty : Not my favorite Cohen brothers movie, but is a fun watch, nevertheless.
I can never get over the disappointment of a Cohen brothers' movies that has a happy ending.

Honorary mention of abandoned movies : Chasing Amy, The 39 Steps for different reasons. I thought I narrowly missed watching Chasing Amy by a decade and was impatient now. The 39 steps along with The Jamaican Inn are the only two Hitchcock's I've been unable to watch  1. because of the old print and 2. they had some spy story or the other that did not interest me.