Thursday, July 7, 2011

Thursday July 7

Watched Jacques Becker's Casque D'Or last night. French gangsters fight over a woman ('a tart' as she's called by a respectable matron in the film) with predictably deleterious consequences. Well, maybe deleterious is too strong a word. There are a few slappings and one death, but as is typical with the 'hard men' one encounters in French movies, their toughness is foregrounded much less than their...well, Frenchness. They play backgammon and talk about cheese and engage in various other cultural cliches that make French movies of the era (it was shot in the 50s, but takes place around the turn of the century) so recognizable.

Listening to The Mating Season (another Jeeves and Wooster) on my daily walks right now. Just encountered one of the funniest Wodehouse scenes I can remember coming across, a village hall entertainment dominated by a family known as the Kegley-Bassingtons. Can't possibly do justice to it here. Enough to say that my estimation of Wodehouse's powers continues to balloon.

I haven't bought any new books in quite a while. Instead I've been reading the ones I've already got. I finished Graham Greene's Our Man in Havana last week; now I'm working on On Growth And Form. I've almost done with The Myth of Sisyphus (it's a hard slog) and am about halfway through Tomas Transtormer's Collected Poems. Wanting to read some plays yesterday, I got down an old anthology of Restoration drama. Then, ten minutes in, I remembered: I loathe Restoration Drama. So, instead, I'm reading some of the critical essays contained at the back of the volume (it's a Norton Edidtion, thankfully).  The Transtormer poems have their moments but a lot of them seem to consists of a speaker describing a snow-covered road (or maybe a forest) in a muted and unadorned language.  They're very Swedish, in other words (in the Ingmar Bergman sense.  Not the ABBA sense) and thus do not accord with summer in the Valley in California. Where there are a relative paucity of snow-covered roads.


JMW said...

Myth of Sisyphus is one of my favorites. Related to it very strongly when I read it in my early 20s, which is probably not a great sign. But it helped me. A little.

Haven't heard of Transtormer. Or Casque D'Or. Thanks (again) for teaching me things.

ANCIANT said...

My Time Out Guide (4th edition, the best one) calls Casque D'Or one of the best romances ever made. I did not find it to be so but possibly I missed its greatness. I often do.

"Touchez pas au Grisbi", by the same director (J. Becker) is, on the other hand, a movie I can strongly recommend.

I'm having a hard time with Myth Of Sisyphus, but your past relationship with it has been motivating me to keep reading it. It's dense, though, and somewhat hard to follow.