Friday, September 05, 2008

The Face

I remarked some weeks ago about the amazing things Kenneth Branagh does with his "ordinary English face." What about the late Alec Guinness, seen above as the spy George Smiley in the brilliant 6-part series Smiley's People (1982)? Smiley, appropriately given his profession, is a character who defies characterization, and Guinness evoked that and the whole secret world of spies by doing very little with his face except look out of it. Oh, but look out of it he surely did!

I should say that just about everyone else was just about as good.

Find Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, and Smiley's People and view them over a week for a matchless cinematic experience. Don't frustrate yourself trying to follow the plot -- you'll probably get it all in the end. Just soak in it.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

The Constant Gardener, by John le Carré

On the weekend I finished John le Carré's 2001 book, The Constant Gardener. I realized after I was done that Carré has been writing superior novels for over 45 years. How exactly his genius manifests itself in this particular novel is through the evocation of character Ghostly people slowly solidify to become very, very real. It's a sad book about great crimes inflicted on poor people by the rich, greedy and powerful -- in this case, the pharmaceutical industry. But as Carré says in the afterword, the book is like a picture postcard compared to the reality on the ground. You don't want to believe him, but he compels your belief with his skill and his track record.

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