Chinatown – I’m fairly racing through these now. Jack Nicholson is rather low-key for Jack Nicholson, which is a pleasant change. It’s like a very dark episode of Columbo.
Casablanca – I didn’t realise that this was produced contemporaneously, it was released in 1942. So it must have been produced pretty quickly, which only really shows in some pretty shonky flashbacks to Paris scenes. Apart from that, the writing and performances are good, if a little stilted in that 1940s way (some old films you watch and are surprised at how modern they feel; this is not one of those). And only 98 minutes long – get in!
The Deer Hunter – this is so intense and horrific that I found it almost impossible to watch.
2001 A Space Odyssey – the narrative is pared down to almost nothing in favour of grandiose images and music. Watching it on home TV, over two nights, while simultaneously facebooking, is probably not the best way to do it justice.
Vertigo – tension all the way through leaves you thoroughly exhausted by the end. Love Hitchcock, but this is not a favourite because I don’t really like James Stewart and I particularly don’t like him in this.
I have 10 films to go, so I need to average a film every other day from now on.
The Searchers – weird tone; one minute they’re finding a mutilated corpse, the next there’s a big old comedy punch up. Westerns remind me of long wet Sunday afternoons with my Dad, who could watch the same film countless times because he would usually fall asleep within 15 minutes anyway.
The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists – Robert Tressell
I haven’t finished this, I’ll do a proper review when I have, but after only about 50 pages, this book is getting right on my nerves. It’s about a group of working-class decorators in the early 20th century; the protagonist is the only one who’s a bit more intellectual. He tries to persuade the others to his way of thinking regarding poverty and socialism.
What’s really annoying me was the use of phonetic spelling for some of the dialogue. The more (self-)educated protagonist’s dialogue is written in proper English. His colleagues’ is written phonetically to indicate their working-class accents. Why? Everyone’s got an accent and unlike some languages there are any number of ways to pronounce English words.
For example, when the protagonist speaks it’s “what” and “and”, whereas if it’s one of the others it’s “wot” and “an”. Maybe it was different 100 years ago, but as far as I’m concerned “wot” is a perfectly acceptable pronounciation of “what”, also I don’t really sound the “d” in “and” unless it’s followed by a vowel. Nobody really says “fish anD chips” apart from maybe the Queen and Joanna Lumley. I don’t mind so much when phonetic spelling is used to illustrate a genuinely unfamiliar accent (e.g.Wuthering Heights), but spelling “what” as “wot” when that’s how it’s usually pronounced anyway is completely superfluous. If the author is trying to imply that what the protagonist is saying is thoughtful, and what the others are saying is ignorant, then that should come through in the dialogue itself, not by deliberately misspelling it. For a book that’s supposed to be the workers’ Bible, you’d expect it to be a little less contemptuous of working class accents.