Workplace comedy, media satire, smart and articulate dialogue – it’s little wonder that I loved this 1976 black comedy-drama about the TV network cynically exploiting a deranged former news anchorman for the sake of ratings. The film might be 40 years old now, but it’s amazing how relevant it still feels, even though the grip and power of television has been rather diluted since then.
Other than catching up on good movies, I also decided to catch up on some all-time meme-spawning stinkers, starting with this honest-to-goodness terrible remake of the 1973 cult horror classic. I’ve never seen the original, but I watched its ending on YouTube years ago and it was honestly one of the creepiest, most unsettling movie endings I’ve seen. The 2006 version however is so ludicrous and ineptly made that even my deep-seated fear of fire didn’t stir once during its near-identical ending.
Another one on my list of Scorsese-movies-to-watch, Cape Fear is a gloriously pulpy thriller about a defense attorney, Sam Bowden (Nick Nolte), who along with his family is threatened by a man from his past.
I think I would have enjoyed this movie much more if the DVD I watched had subtitles. It’s a strange and rather original hybrid of a highschool film and the hardboiled detective noir in the style of Dashiell Hammett, and so everyone speaks in this highly stylized slang I just couldn’t tune into.
Another movie I missed out on in the cinemas despite the best intentions, Lady Chatterley is a French adaptation of an earlier version of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, a once-notorious novel by D. H. Lawrence.
Charming, moving and funny German film set in East Berlin around the time of Germany’s re-unification in 1989. Even if it wasn’t any good, you’d still have to admire the original premise.
I wanted to take a short break from the Neapolitan Novels and read something less dense, so I read the first entry in the Norwegian crime series about Harry Hole, the hardboiled anti-heroic Oslo detective whose inner demons don’t stop him from having genius insights and solving cases by the end of the book. I first got introduced to the series while house-and-cat-sitting for a lady with an apparent huge interest in crime fiction, and eventually got through five or six Harry Hole books, mostly in non-chronological order which was confusing at times.
I held on to my old Nokia 3310 phone for ages, long after almost everyone I knew switched to smartphones. I swear that thing was like a Chuck Norris of phones – it survived a drop into a rain-filled gutter and the battery lasted for something like eight years. I was keeping it around partly out of fascination with its long life, even after most of the numbers on the keys became almost invisible from use. Plus, I have to admit, despite being generally easy-going I have a stubborn streak that randomly shows up here and there, so when somebody tells me that I just have to get a smartphone my impulse is to dig in the heels.
Anyways, eventually it spluttered and died, so I thought it was time to get myself a smartphone. I smugly picked myself an inexpensive plan, because, ha hah, I wasn’t going to be one of those people who can’t ride two floors down in a lift without whipping out their phones and burying their noses in their evil glow. Nope, I was only going to use it for calls and messages and only use internet when absolutely needed. Good plan.
Well I haven’t yet sunk so low as to get my phone out during a lunch with my Dad or something, but I really underestimated the powerful pull of having so much information and all my regular internet haunts so readily available. It’s insanely addictive. Waiting for a latte at my local cafe? Check the phone because obviously the two minutes of waiting are just too unbearable not to be filled. Too lazy to switch on the tablet at home? Reach for the phone instead. Phone began to replace my reading at night and I’d only half-watch the TV programs I was actually interested in because of the phone. Phone time instead of listening to music and people-watching on the train. Phone instead of morning news while eating my breakfast. Even extra payment for exceeding my plan is no major deterrent – what’s extra $10 per month after all?
This has to stop… so here are the rules: 1) Absolutely no phone in the bedroom, especially at night. 2) No phone on the train – it makes me feel motion sick anyway. 3) Checking the phone while sitting in a cafe by myself = fine. Checking the phone to fill in every single short gap in time = not ok. 4) No splitting between the phone and TV programs I’m genuinely interested in watching. It’s amazing how much more enjoyable they are if you give them your full attention instead of 30%.
With luck and willpower I shall avoid this fate:
The second entry in Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels is just as good as the first one, if not better. It continues to chart the stories of Elena and Lila, the two young girls from Naples, as they enter adulthood, and the course of their relationship which is far too complicated to be referred to as friendship.