Sauntering through the classics

This is mostly an "I'm sorry I've not blogged in forever, I've been writing a podcast" type of blog post, so let's just get a whole pile of things out of the way. They are almost all films, because I keep track of them, and also I've forgotten all the music I've listened to since, like, June.

108. *The Sound of Music (film, dir. Robert Wise, 1965)
109. The Happy Prince (film, dir. Rupert Everett, 2018)
110. 2001: A Space Odyssey (film, dir. Stanley Kubrick, 1968)
111. Vertigo (film, dir. Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)
112. The Leopard (film, dir. Luchino Visconti, 1963)
113. Whitney (documentary, dir. Kevin Macdonald, 2018)
114. *Robin Hood: Men in Tights (film, dir. Mel Brooks, 1993)
115. Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, The Man Who Went Up in Smoke (novel, 1966)
116. Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again (film, dir. Ol Parker, 2018)

A lot of things from the 60s, a lot of filling out some of the gaps in my knowledge. Vertigo is pants - be real, the BFI, and stop calling it the best film ever. It is stupid. Its ending is stupid. I like Jimmy Stewart but Vertigo is a stupid film. If anyone would like to argue with me in a way that uses the phrase "portrait of obsession" (as two people in fact did), I would like to remind you that consequences are also a part of obsession, and Alfred Hitchcock is fundamentally incapable of understanding how being stalked affects a woman. I also that same week saw about 50% of Strangers on a Train and I will never not be amazed at how someone who clearly loves Patricia Highsmith and Daphne du Maurier can come out with this kind of pish. Another era, for sure.

The Happy Prince followed immediately by 2001: A Space Odyssey is the weirdest double bill I've sat through in a long time. The former is Rupert Everett's Oscar Wilde biopic, and it was decent - although apparently arthouse cinemas are full of people with Capital-O-Opinions about Oscar Wilde, who knew? - and it was actually the first time I'd seen 2001. I'm kind of disappointed I only got to see it once, because I still don't know what I think of it. Good thoughts, mainly, but more formless than I'd like.

The Sound of Music - my theory is that The Sound of Music is the basic plot of Jane Eyre but with added kids and with all the things that made Jane Eyre subversive taken out. Like the Jane arguing back as a child, like the first Mrs Rochester, like the fire and the bit where Jane leaves, and nearly emigrates to Africa. It's the story beats of Jane Eyre, sanitised and made completely toothless for 1960s America. How do you solve a problem like Maria? You give her some decent career advice and don't send her places she doesn't want to go. Don't get me started on poor Liesel.

I love Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, they have a very dry sense of humour. Their series of detective novels are very forward thinking - I always find it fascinating and counterintuitive that a pair of Marxists should choose to write police procedurals. Of course, when they do, the police procedurals look like this - they're so matter of fact, and yet there's something under the surface that sinks its teeth in and doesn't let up. I took The Man Who Went Up in Smoke out for dinner, and it was a great decision.

But really, the reason that this list is so film-heavy is that I've not been in a reading phase, or even much of a staring-into-space-thinking phase, lately. But there has been a lot of writing, so I guess there's that.

I wonder if keeping this list was really the right thing to do.

Other things I heard/read/saw around this time: a lot of museum exhibits. The first eighty pages of White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi, before giving up - not because it wasn't technically excellent, but because I caught myself giving it short shrift and no book deserves that. Quite a lot of history. No surprises there.

Oh! And Scottish results day was a week or so back. I'm still bursting with pride at all my students; they did so well. I know I probably would say that, but they did. Fantastic vintage, this one.