Well, folks…we’re all hunkered down, now officially. I hope everyone is staying well. It’s also been a while since I did one of these posts, so it seemed like a good time. Feel free to share your own updates in the comments!
Finally read Silence by Shūsaku Endō! It is not a book one enjoys, but I did appreciate the challenge of deciphering the message (or losing my voice attempting to). You can watch the video review here.
TL;DR version: The book is gut-wrenching and, as I put it to another reader, “psychologically horrifying.” The writing style is masterful, from the use of silence as a motif to the mix of tenses/perspectives which create distance between the reader and the protagonist. I feel the surface message is unbiblical, but I also believe there is a second, more nuanced way to read it, where rather than view it strictly from Rodrigues’s eyes, you view the sequence of events holistically and see his flawed thinking. This gives the novel a level of depth that makes it worthwhile, especially for Christians.
I ought to read Yōko Ogawa’s The Memory Police, because I have it on ebook from the library for eight days. However, Silence was so emotionally draining, I’m thinking I’ll take a break from fiction. I’ll probably read one of my exploration nonfiction books, like The Lost City of Z.
The other day I watched Gaslight (1944) with my family. This is an Ingrid Bergman film, about a young woman who marries a handsome stranger and bad things happen (ya don’t say?).
It is a verrryyy slow film. I couldn’t help wishing Alfred Hitchcock had directed it. On the other hand, it has a level of artistic restraint that I did appreciate and which Hitchcock never seems to be able to leverage. So, overall, it was an ok film. Charles Boyer’s character made me want to punch the screen, but Ingrid excels in this genre and made me stick it out. Also on the plus side, the plot reminded me of Charlotte Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper.” Fortunately (?), Gaslight is not nearly as bloodcurdling as that short story.
I started my personal blog back up, so have been journalling there about the shutdown, plus music recommendations and funny videos.
I’ll share this song now—“Vancouver Waves” by August and After, a calming song for times like this.
Recently I saw these two classic films for the first time: Vertigo (1958) and How to Steal a Million (1966). On the surface, they have really nothing in common, so I thought it would be a fun challenge to compare and contrast them.
Vertigo is an Alfred Hitchcock film, considered by many reviewers to be his masterpiece. James Stewart plays a retired detective, Scottie Ferguson, who is commissioned by his friend to follow said friend’s wife Madeleine (Kim Novak) around San Francisco, to determine if she’s become possessed with the spirit of her great-grandmother. Matters become weirder when Scottie finds himself falling head over heels for the chilling but attractive Madeleine, who also seems to have a thing for him. Scottie, unfortunately, suffers from vertigo and a fear of heights, which threaten to jeopardize his task and Madeleine’s life.
Let me just say I have mixed feelings about Hitchcock films. This is how I’d rank the ones I’ve seen so far (best to worst):
- Strangers on a Train
- The Wrong Man
- The Man Who Knew Too Much
- North by Northwest
- The Birds
How to Steal a Million
- If you’re going to make a movie – or write a book, for that matter – that is really unbelievable, your best outlet is comedy. Tragedies have to be plausible for me to care.
- Great actors/actresses can make bad films watchable.
- A story should never start out more exciting and engaging than it finishes up.
- Sometimes Amazon reviewers and I don’t see eye-to-eye.
- I should probably stop watching Alfred Hitchcock films (but I know I won’t).