My mother-in-law stayed with us for the week and a new routine was soon established: every night after dinner, we’d watch an old film from the 40s and 50s. This worked out well because I’ve been hoarding a bunch of film noir classics which my wife would never otherwise agree to sit through.
- The best was undoubtedly The Third Man (1949) adapted from the Graham Greene novel and directed by one Carol Reed. I obviously thought Reed was a woman who somehow got to make a huge film and give Orson Welles direction, but nope, turns out Carol is a man. This is a film I’ve actually tried to watch three or four times; maybe even finished, but I couldn’t remember much. The first time might have been in film class at university. What a strange and meandering film, with intriguing technical aspects and unexpected emotional depth. The very last scene is one for the ages. I gave it five stars on Letterboxd.
- The next one was Lured (1947), starring Lucille Ball and George Sanders, directed by Douglas Siri. This was the second-best, and features a pretty strong heroine for the time. Her role in a police plot to catch a killer is to be the bait, but she actually gets hired as a proper undercover detective to do it and she has some great comeback lines. 4 stars.
- What a disappointment Key Largo (1948) was, though! Bogart and Bacall in a famous film — perhaps my expectations were too high? It’s slow, unfolds in basically one location, and feels like a play poorly adapted into motion picture form (I recall seeing in the credits that it was). 2.5 stars.
- Stanley Kubrick’s The Killing (1956) brought the momentum back: a more complex film that plays with chronological jumps, multiple viewpoints, and intersecting roles in a heist that slowly makes more sense as the film goes on. Watched alongside others from the period, it stands out both for having more to say and trusting its audience to come along. 4 stars.
- We ended on a slightly weak note with Alfred Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt (1943), which is apparently called his first true masterpiece. Ehhhhh. I do give it points for walking right up to the edge of incest and staring into it — one reviewer on Letterboxd put it like this: “This bitch wanted to straight up fuck her uncle! Hitchcock was so ahead of his time, he literally invented Cersei × Jamie.” But otherwise, 3 stars from me.
Coincidentally, I saw a tweet this week about the portrayal of sex in these old films, and how not being allowed to be explicit led directors and actors to create even more powerful suggestions of desire. I was also disappointed that this person was only on Twitter and not Mastodon. Can everyone hurry up and move already?
I discovered a great little free app, like, totally free. Been Outside uses geofences to track how much time you spend away from home. For someone like me who usually loves staying home and working remotely, it provides a way to assess how much this lousy life forces me to compromise on my introverted, shut-in preferences.
Speaking of, we binged (with fast forwarding) all 10 episodes of The Ultimatum: France on Netflix this weekend. For the unfamiliar, it’s a wretched reality TV show that takes couples where one party wants to get married, and makes them swap partners with each other to see if it changes their minds. Some end up back together stronger and agree to get married, others love the glimpse of another life and decide they don’t want to go back, and so on.
I’ve seen some of the American version and expected the French participants to be more debased, more promiscuous, but they were… not?! The biggest scandal was one person kissing a stranger during a night out. I said “speaking of” 118 words ago because at some point during the show, Kim sighed, “this world is really horrible”, and I laughed.
Our trip to Japan is less than a month away and many plans have yet to be made. We went out to a cafe for brunch today and sat side-by-side with our iPads and tried to do research together with a shared Safari Tab Group and a Freeform board. The latter has intermittent syncing hiccups that you never get with Miro, and makes working on it kinda scary, but it’s free and good enough and I’m looking forward to it being well supported and a key part of the Apple ecosystem! I want to believe!