Saturday, July 16, 2005

TV: Ultimate Film Fanatic

Looks like my 15 minutes aren’t quite up yet. Welcome to anyone who caught the rebroadcast of my UFF episode. Glad you stopped by. By popular demand, here are the Operation Travolta pieces on Michael Keaton, Sandra Bullock, Rutger Hauer and Peter Weller, as well as my behind-the-scenes take on the show. Feel free to come on back.

Books: The Glass Cage (1973) and The Venice Train (1974), by Georges Simenon

A conversation about last year’s film RED LIGHTS reminded me that it had been too long since I’d read Simenon. Any excuse to visit the remarkable downtown branch of the Seattle Public Library is fine with me. I grabbed two because his novels are so economical you can read them in one sitting.

Simenon personifies a key difference between the U.S. and European schools of suspense. In the typical American thriller, some external force threatens home and hearth, and our hero rallies to save them from harm. The protagonist of one of Simenon’s “psychological novels” gets into trouble and finds those bonds of marriage, family and society constricting.

VENICE is a pure exploration of this theme. A husband and father has a chance encounter on a train and comes into possession of a large sum of money. He realizes he can’t spend any of it without arousing the suspicion of those close to him.

At home, in his own apartment, he, a man of thirty-five, married and with children, a man with responsibilities, did not have a single place where he could hide an object ... it meant that he was a prisoner of his household.”

Dark, unsettling stuff with an undercurrent of genuine sadness. Not exactly Hollywood material.

Miscellaneous: Link

I can’t help linking to this local story, which is in no way grimly hysterical. To keep it on-topic, I’ll call it a tribute to the Spinal Tap classic “Sex Farm.”