Friday Flotsam: Half-Heartedly Talking of a Good Book and Couple Charming Films.

1. Happy Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, and I’m afraid I have nothing much to say about it. Besides the obvious:

“Behold the Lamb of God. Behold Him Who taketh away the sins of the world.”

2. I’ve been oddly out of it this week, to the point that I forgot I even had to do the flotsam until just recently. Probably related to the fact that I had a bout of very bad depression this week, to the point that I took most of a day off from work to recover. So, this one’s gonna be definitely half-hearted.

3. Also this week I finally got to reading The Book of Five Rings by Musashi Miyamoto. It’s definitely worth reading and revisiting (and it’s pretty short), though I was amused by how many of his lessons concluded with “This is hard to describe in writing, so you really just have to practice it.” Certainly true, but most classic texts don’t lay it out so bluntly.

4. Last weekend, on a recommendation from Riders of Skaith, I hunted up an online copy of Remember the Night (I mean, Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck in a film where they don’t kill anyone? That’s worth the price of admission right there. Not that the one where they commit adultery, murder, and insurance fraud isn’t ridiculously entertaining, but for two such likable actors I really wanted to see them in ‘good guy’ mode together. But I digress). Anyway, I was thoroughly enjoying the picture, and had just reached the big, dramatic climax trial scene…and the video stopped about 15 minutes shy of the ending. Probably the worst possible place to be cut off in the story.

Worse still, there is apparently nowhere else on the internet that you can watch the film.

I was so frustrated that I decided to buy the DVD off of Amazon. Then it encountered a problem in transit and I got a refund. Still waiting for the copy to arrive.

5. Speaking of charming couples, I revisited Charade recently (there’s a Rifftrax episode featuring Mike Nelson and his wife simultaneously roasting and praising it), taking it in installments. For those who don’t know, it’s Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn in a convoluted romantic-thriller-comedy where she’s the young widow of a shady murdered Frenchman (I feel like there’s a superfluous word in that description) and he’s the man of mystery helping her navigate the dangerous world of intrigue into which she’s fallen. The plot revolves chiefly around a trio of crooks chasing $250,000 of stolen government money, and the cast also features George Kennedy, James Coburn, and Walter Matthau. It’s tremendous fun, with Grant and Hepburn lighting up the screen with their chemistry and quips and the whole gloriously talented cast skipping their way through the intricate script.

(The solution of where the money was actually hid is justly famous, but if you don’t know, I won’t spoil it and I recommend you go in not knowing).

6. Funnily enough, since Grant was about twenty-five years older than Hepburn, he stipulated in his contract that all the romantic pursuit would be on her side, since he felt it would be uncomfortable otherwise. Which is also a lot funnier, since it’s, you know, Audrey Hepburn chasing after a much older man in her inimitably classy and adorable style (“I can think of dozens of men who would love to use my shower”).

7. I miss smart, lighthearted films like that. The ones that actually reward you for paying attention (e.g….well, I can’t even say it without spoilers. Let’s just say that you might realize that something is up with a seemingly innocuous scene if you think about what time it takes place). Where no one’s out to grind any axes and the story and performers are interesting enough to carry the whole run time. Back in the day when filmmakers by and large understood their job was to entertain, not to be agents of social change.

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