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Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Writer's Life 11/12 - In Character

When I was searching for movies to add to my Netflix list, I came upon a French mystery, The Apartment. I didn't realize it's already 20 years old. It's the story of an engaged 30ish businessman about to depart for Japan, who spots an ex-lover who disappeared on him several years ago. He sets off in pursuit, and follows a twisting path. The woman is portrayed by the beautiful, perfectly cast Monica Bellucci. What red-blooded male she allowed into her bed wouldn't be obsessed with her? Director/screenwriter Gilles Mimouni fashioned an absorbing scenario, obviously influenced by the works of Alfred Hitchcock but refreshingly original. The narrative frequently shifts from past to present and is not easy to follow, especially since subtitles have to be read. I'm not sure it all made sense, but I still enjoyed it. I was shocked that Mimouni has only a handful of credits. The Apartment was remade in English in 2004 as Wicker Park. I'm debating whether to rent it. Vincent Cassell, once married to Bellucci (some guys have all the luck), is fine as the lead, but the flick is stolen by Romane Bohringer as the "nutter." Not a great beauty like her co-star, she has the x-factor a camera loves and the acting chops to match. Although the film is grounded and the behavior plausible, there is something that didn't sit right with me regarding the male lead. He turns from one woman to the other to the other so easily that it's hard to believe he would be obsessive about any. Maybe that's more reflective of my conservative nature than a flaw in characterization. 11,000+ users at IMDb have rated The Apartment, forging to a consensus of 7.6 of ten, right on the money by me. Here's a pic of the delectable Bellucci:

RIP Robert Vaughn, 83, one of the smoothest actors to have ever graced the big and small screen. Born to show biz parents, his name is listed under 226 titles at IMDb. He is fondly remembered by baby boomers for his role as Napoleon Solo in 105 episodes of The Man from Uncle, but he was unusually adept as a villain as well. He also did 48 episodes of Hustle and 52 of The Protectors,  and made multiple appearances on many popular shows. He earned a Ph.D in Communications at USC, and wrote two books: Only Victims: A Study of Show Business Blacklisting and auto-bio A Fortunate Life. Rare in Hollywood, he was married to the same woman since 1974. They adopted two children. With his passing, all of The Magnificent Seven (1960) are gone. Here's a telling quote attributed to him: "With a modest amount of looks and talent and more than a modicum of serendipity, I've managed to stretch my 15 minutes of fame into more than half a century of good fortune." Well done, sir.

The floating book shop was a success from the get go today. Conspiracy Guy showed as I was setting up. Surprisingly, he didn't have much to say about the election other than he doesn't think Trump will get anything done. He bought two books that manifest his personality perfectly: Commodify Your Dissent: Salvos from the Baffler by Thomas Frank and Matt Weiland, and 63 Documents the Government Doesn't Want You to Read, by Jesse "The Body" Ventura and Dick Russell. He was immediately followed by a middle age Russian woman who has been creating a library of classics for her granddaughter. She bought John Steinbeck's East of Eden and a children's book. Sue bought a cook book on the cuisine of northern Italy and the 50-song Teenage Idols CD. Johnny purchased five thrillers. A young man bought Arthur Hailey's Detective. Thanks, folks.
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