52 weeks – September 2, 2012

Book

I enjoy listening to audio books as I am driving to and from work. This was Anita Shreve’s Rescue. Some compelling details of the experiences of a young paramedic form the background to the story, in which Peter Webster begins a relationship with a women he has helped to save from a car crash. She is obviously troubled and living a risky life, but they go ahead and start a life together anyway. The story then jumps ahead to a time when Webster is living with his daughter Rowan, the product of his time with Sheila, and Rowan is starting some trouble of her own.

It’s not great literature, but it is a worthwhile read (or listen) with some insight into human nature. The thing that keeps it from being better is that the characters don’t come alive or resonate in the way they do in the hands of great authors. (Of course, it may be safer to listen to merely competent authors while driving.)

Food

The salmon and leek pie with salad at a friend’s home. Dined on the balcony overlooking English Bay. Enjoyed the balmy evening as the sky gradually darkened. Good food, good conversation, music played by a friend. It doesn’t get much better.

Movie

The Man from London, a 2007 adaptation of a Georges Simenon novel in which Maloin, a switchman at a railway station near a harbour, witnesses a murder and is haunted for the rest of the film by his subsequent actions and inactions. Directed by two Hungarians (Béla Tarr, Ágnes Hranitzky), filmed in Hungarian and English, dubbed in French and English, watched with English subtitles (let’s not even get into Tilda Swinton in the role of Maloin’s wife being filmed  in English and then dubbed in Hungarian, and then …). It’s black and white. It is a confusing, dreamlike movie, with images of stunning beauty and sequences that are surreally lengthy.

From Glenn Kenny: “Those who luxuriate in Tarr’s acutely conjured melancholia (and I am one of them) will swoon.” Also from Kenny on the plot and the pace:

A boat has just docked; two men on board are conspiring on the deck. One of them disembarks; from a nearby point on the dock, he signals to the other man on the deck, who throws a suitcase down to him. A little later, at a further point on the dock, the two men fight; one man pushes the holder of the suitcase into the water and flees. A third man has been observing all this. He goes down to the point at the dock where the suitcase-holding man drowned and fishes the suitcase out of the water. He brings it to a secure place and opens it. It is filled with wet banknotes.

In a standard thriller, all of this would most likely be told inside of five minutes, with a lot of exciting cuts to boot. But The Man From London is a Bela Tarr film. Hence, the above-described action takes place in three shots that total about half an hour.

I don’t know much about Béla Tarr as a director, but this slow, mysterious, beautiful film made me want to watch his other movies.

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