Monday, March 23, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 03/22/20: Deeper into Edith Wharton, Moving the Vizio, *Knives Out* and *I, Claudius* with Debbie

1. I read more pages of The Age of Innocence today. In Edith Wharton's world of wealth in New York City, life is lived according to a vast set of unwritten, but universally agreed upon rules of appearance and conduct. Idle characters in The Age of Innocence spend hours in conversation with one another scrutinizing others, assessing their behavior and how they dress in conversations that have become scripted, expertly suppressing genuine emotion and authentic responses. The unrehearsed moments of feeling surface in subtle ways -- a slight reddening of the face, a raising of an eyebrow, a slight turn of the head. In the story's early chapters, we are introduced to Countess Ellen Olenska. She intrudes upon this world's charmed circle of order and etiquette. The pace of the novel begins to quicken a bit, suspense grows, as she slowly asserts her transgressive presence and consequences begin to take shape.

2. A day or two ago, when Debbie showed interest in watching, Knives Out, I rented it online. We decided we'd like to watch it together. Debbie requested that we watch it in the living room, not the Vizio room. I agreed and this set in motion a flurry of activity -- we needed to free up an end table for the Vizio to rest upon. We had to rearrange our two chairs in the living room so that they faced the television -- now, instead of facing east, our chairs are facing north. I had to make sure I knew (and I did) which cords came out of the wall in the Vizio room and would be plugged in in the living room. It all worked!

3. I had seen Knives Out on December 23rd with Mary and Kathy and enjoyed it thoroughly. I loved seeing it a second time and enjoyed sipping on Ouzo through this showing.  Knives Out is a nearly perfect movie for me because I so much enjoy getting absorbed into a closed world, a world with its own reality -- not necessarily the same as what we call "the real world". As a reader of fiction and a viewer of movies, I'm a believer. I never (or rarely) think "that could never happen" because in the story or movie before me, it just did happen. Watching Knives Out, I loved what was outlandish about it, how slightly exaggerated the characters were, how intricate and wild the case under investigation turned out to be, and how much fun I sensed the actors were having playing their roles.  In my head, this movie was kind of a blend of Flannery O'Connor and Agatha Christie, made contemporary with smart phones and a car chase.

I wrote back in December about how much I enjoyed each actor's performance and I enjoyed them even more tonight. If Daniel Craig's character, Benoit Blanc, were to become the lead detective of a television series, I would immediately put it in my rotation of Vera, A Touch of Frost, and Inspector Lewis and watch it frequently.

Debbie really liked the movie, too, and, when it ended, we decided we'd like to watch more drama. I popped a batch of popcorn and fixed myself a dirty martini and Debbie a Manhattan. We returned to a classic series we watched together back in Eugene early in our marriage: I, Claudius, produced by the BBC in 1976. We didn't quite make it through the first episode before becoming too tired to continue, but it was fun to be back into the beginning of this long story about the corruption and decay of the Roman Empire again.

No comments: