(August 13 – August 19)
This week was mostly about the slow, ponderous return to full health after my illness last week. Although I was up and about, and going to work, and generally passing for human, I was still feeling pretty shabby. It wasn’t until Thursday that I finally felt the bonds of illness slipping from my shoulders and began to feel like myself again.
I suppose that’s one of the benefits of a minor sickness: you get to see your everyday self in sharp relief to your ensickened self. You get to realise that it’s quite nice being able to do things, even if it’s just boring, everyday things like cooking dinner—and being able to cook dinner without it feeling like a marathon effort.
Talking of dinner, I also got my new stovetop installed this week. Which was nice.
Following a random mention on twitter this week, I felt compelled to end my working week by watching The Tall Guy. This is one of those films I used to watch regularly in my late teens and it was a delight revisiting it now. In fact, I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to remind myself why I used to love it so much. Perhaps a fear—ultimately and definitively unfounded—that it wouldn’t match up to my memories.
I believe this was Richard Curtis’s first film as screenwriter, and there are plenty of his tropes already on display. I won’t pick through them here, but it’s certainly fun seeing this almost-forgotten comedy showing off many of the things that would eventually make it into his subsequent blockbusters.
Of course, one thing you get with a debut screenplay, including a low budget, is the sense that Curtis hasn’t quite yet worked out what he’s doing yet. Consequently, he’s willing to take a few more risks here, to throw jokes at the screen instead of whittling them down to perfection. As a result, one of the [many] charms of The Tall Guy are the random gags and one liners that bring a wealth of colour and characterisation to this otherwise tiny tale of people caught in the swell of London life.
One surprise on rewatching the film was how much of a role the music plays. In truth, this shouldn’t be a surprise at all, given that I found myself humming along note for note to almost every music cue—and remembered the music far better, as it happens, than the dialogue (which was more in the realm of comfortably familiar). In concert with some fine editing choices, the music absolutely builds the mood of the film throughout, adding a rich emotional depth to what is, basically, a silly movie about two people falling in love. When the characters do fall for each other, we really feel it; when they’re maudlin and reflective, so are we; and when we get to the (spoiler) happy ending, the music doesn’t overplay things; instead it lets us enjoy the moment.
Also; try not falling in love with Emma Thompson in this movie. I dare you.
In audiobook world I finally finished Redshirts, which was pretty great. I had a small selection of purchases to choose for my next listen and eventually—and ambitiously—opted for Dune. It’s something like a 17 hour listen, which will be interesting with my 40 minutes of so of listening time each day. I read the book many years ago, and have revisited it once or twice since then. I’ve been meaning to give it a fresh read for a few years now, so the audiobook seemed like a good opportunity.
So far I’m gripped. The narrator (Simon Vance) is excellent, and there are some full cast dramatised sections which I’m also enjoying. I’m finding, perhaps, that I’m following the detail of the story more easily with the audiobook.
I also started reading The Haunting Of Hill House, which has been on my Kindle wish list for some time, and conveniently went on sale this week. The Haunting (Robert Wise’s adaptation) is one of my favourite films and so far the book and film are very close. As vivid as Shirley Jackson’s prose is, I’ll admit I’m finding the ‘old fashionedness’ of it a little hard to wade through at times. It’s fascinating the way that prose styles change over the decades and centuries, and how our ‘reader brains’ get used to one style over another.