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Saturday, September 17, 2016

The Writer's Life 9/17 - 45+

I wasn't looking forward to viewing 45 Years (2015), which arrived from Netflix. 15 years or so ago I would have eaten it up, as it quietly delves into the psyche of humans, in this case an average couple whose anniversary party is approaching. I prefer flashier content these days, more fiery confrontation. The proper middle class Brits at the story's center do not get more than cross, despite the turmoil beneath the surface, which is ignited by the revelation of a lover the husband had before meeting the wife. At first the husband is deeply affected to learn the woman's body is about to be recovered from the glacier into which she'd fallen. The wife is surprised at his distress. By film's end the husband has apparently recovered, but the wife is suffering. The couple is in for an off-screen rocky patch. 70, Charlotte Rampling has been doing great work since 1964 when she made an uncredited appearance as a nightclub dancer in A Hard Day's Night. She was nominated for an Oscar for her performance in 45 Years. I was surprised to find it has been her only nomination. Whenever I think of her I recall the brilliant scene at the end of The Verdict (1982), wherein, drunk, she continuously dials the number of Paul Newman, who will not answer. Tom Courtenay, who has been doing films since 1956, plays her husband in 45 Years. Now 77, I recall his breakout role in The Loneliness of the Long Distant Runner (1962), which ran frequently on channel nine back then. I was fascinated by the fact that his character, in a race he was leading by a wide margin, would stop and let others pass him in order to stick it to authority. It was perhaps my first realization of "self-defeating behavior," a term I would hear a lot in college. I was surprised that he has only 52 credits listed at IMDb. It is explained by the fact that he has done a lot of theater. These talented veterans are masters of understatement, of realism. The slow-moving story is convincing. There are blanks to be filled, challenging the viewer. Director Andrew Haigh adapted the screenplay from a short story, In Another Country by David Constantine. I was previously unfamiliar with his work. I respect artists who take on subjects that have limited commercial appeal. The film requires patience. Anyone who lacks it should pass. 19,000+ users at IMDb have rated it, forging to a consensus of 7.1 of ten, which seems on the money. It runs only 95 minutes, the right length for such fare.

RIP Edward Albee, 88, legendary playwright. Among the many awards he won were three Pulitzers and two Tonys. His most famous work, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, made a perfect screen vehicle for director Mike Nichols, screenwriter Ernest Lehman, and stars Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, who won an Oscar. I counted 31 plays attributed to Albee at Wiki. Four are adaptations of novels: Truman Capote's Breakfast at Tiffany's, Carson McCullers' The Ballad of the Sad Cafe, James Purdy's Malcolm, and Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita. Here's a quote attributed to him: "Creativity is magic. Don't examine it too closely." Well done, sir.

My thanks to James, who bought Killing for his wife, who belongs to a book club. Every time I get my hopes up about something like this, it doesn't pan out. My thanks also to the middle aged woman who bought two novels in Russian, and to the young woman who purchased Paula Hawkins' The Girl on the Train, a thriller that has been adapted into a film that will be released in October.
Vic's Short Works:
Vic's 5th Novel:'s 4th novel:
Vic's 3rd Novel:
Vic's Short Story on Kindle:
Vic's Short Story Collection:
Vic's 2nd Novel: Kindle:
Vic's 1st Novel:

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