Favorite Neglected Book: Fortunata y Jacinta by Benito Pérez Galdós
It’s those incidental touches that are not essential to the plot that some folks hardly notice when they’re watching the movie that I like best. Those unexpected, odd or irrational little wrinkles that give the action on the screen the living, breathing texture of life. I remember the delight of watching a Truffaut movie where a man carrying an umbrella on a subway platform is pulled up short when the curved handle hooks onto a railing.
The scene in Danton where he and a few of his fellow conspirators are imprisoned, and Robespierre comes to see Desmoulins, essentially to save him, and Desmoulins refuses. “What do I tell him?” says the guard. Desmoulins says, “I’m not here.” That cracks them up. “Tell him he’s not home.” It’s a wonderful moment as is the hat flying off one of the men running down the Eiffel Tower’s spiral staircase in The Lavender Hill Mob.
In the dystopian Children of Men when the army is attacking a building where rebels are hold up, bullets are flying and mortar exploding while the two protagonists are trying to get out of there with a baby. No one has seen a baby for many years and the sound coming from the bundle in the young woman’s arm catches everyone’s attention. The gunfire and explosions stop and all the soldiers along the path that opens up are dumbfounded. A baby. Once the trio is clear of the building, just as suddenly as it stopped, the siege resumes. And there is that unexpected scene in Belle du Jour, late in the film. Séverine is alone in the hallway or the living room and she runs her fingertips over the surface of a table or some piece of furniture. It’s a quiet, reflective moment and I can’t say why it is so compelling but it somehow grounds the film.
The strangest, most generous, and proudest of all virtues is true courage.
Michel de Montaigne
The armored cars of dreams contrived to let us do so many a dangerous thing.
It was a weak spot in any nation to have a large body of disaffected people within its confusion.
Zora Neale Hurston
When you put all your soul into a work, all that is noble in you, you cannot fail to find a kindred soul who understands you, and you do not need a host of such spirits. Is not that all an artist should wish for?
In memory everything seems to happen to music.
The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in the mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.
F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Way We Live Now
I have great admiration for Elena Ferrante, for her writing and for her stance against “self-promotion obsessively imposed by the media.” (From the interview in the Paris Review.) By the culture, I would say. A culture more and more geared to using every possible avenue to sell something.