Reading, watching, listening

Just a list, so I can remember later.  What I’ve read, seen, and listened to lately, other than the NCAA tourney.

Movies I’ve seen recently (I’m up to 15 for the year, so that’s close to back on track for one a week):

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, which was splendidly comic and campy and, well, I adore Frances McDormand.  I need to see Fargo again as a “grown up.”  Like a fairy-tale, really, or an old stage musical.  Liked this.

Stop-Loss.  Bleak and terrifying and not the movie I thought it would be.  I’ve heard it described as “pro-soldier” and “anti-military,” and both are kind of right.  I’d say more that it’s “anti-administration.”  Terribly affecting when I saw it, and now on review I can think of plot holes and tiny writing choices I’d question, but… really, it was worth the ticket price.  And I’m not even (usually) a big Ryan Phillipe fan, or at least I wasn’t.  I think I had him confused with Jude Law.

Shine a Light, which was predictably nicely filmed, and unpredictably uplifting.  Exactly what I needed to see after the MFA exam was over, just for the expression on Keith Richards’s face (and no, that’s not some reference to drug use or despair — the guy is amazingly happy playing on stage, doing what he loves).

I’m in the middle of watching Casino, because Shine a Light convinced me of the need to see more Scorsese.  I already re-watched The Departed, and that really holds up.


I finished The Maltese Falcon, The Continental Op, and The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett.  The Thin Man is my overall favorite.  I need, clearly, to see the movie version of The Maltese Falcon, and I need to watch The Thin Man again (which I believe I saw in a cinema class in college), but The Thin Man was waaaaay better in its quality of writing.  The dialogue in both was great, but Thin Man had sharper stuff all the way around, less explanation, more vivid telling, and a clearer storyline.  I did like the thwarted love story in The Maltese Falcon — the ending is wonderful — but somehow Spade didn’t come to life for me as well as Nick Charles did.  Either way, highly recommended.

What got me to those was reading two James Ellroy books: The Black Dahlia (yeah, the one that the movie is based on) and The Big Nowhere.  The second was very disappointing.  The first had one of the best post-scripts I’ve ever read in a book, where the author talked about how the movie matched with his vision (some of that was obviously him sucking up) but also about how this was a story that he had to tell, because his own mother had been murdered in L.A. when he was a boy and he needed to fix his obsession onto something else.  It’s dark and a little twisted and utterly fascinating.  I recommend it despite some sloppy writing in the middle.

School, of course, has required some reading of late, and I re-read several things for the exam.  I also just finished Alice Munro’s collection The Beggar Maid (known in Canada as Who Do You Think You Are?), a collection of interlinked stories about a woman named Rose and sometimes about her stepmother, Flo.  In fact, I just finished this, so I can’t say completely yet what I thought.

Listening?  As mentioned, Lucinda Williams’s album “West” got me through the exam, and then two bizarrely unrelated tracks, “Gimme Shelter” by The Rolling Stones and “Lucifer” by Jay-Z, have somehow pushed me through the rest of the week.

The end.

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