If you believe/they put a man on the moon…

Photo follies a deux (probably trois or even quatre, by now): I’ve just got done updating my Photobucket gallery with all my pretty rose pics. It’s basically a photographic record of the daydream I walk around in roughly from mid-June to mid July, and I think it turned out rather well all things considered. A lot of the photos were taken on the grounds of the Niagara School of Horticulture (whose lush walking gardens generally I highly recommend) and the butterfly set all come from the Conservatory in those same grounds.


And now, back to our feature presentation…

“When I find myself in a position like this, I ask myself, what would General Motors do? And then I do the opposite!”
–Johnny Case (Cary Grant), Holiday

Individuality – the real thing, the ability to define yourself against the mass of men, rather than with them – is a notoriously flimsy, quixotic concept; like all supremely valuable things, difficult to realise and even harder to hang on to.

This is likely why Hollywood, aka the place where subtlety goes to die, generally feels the need to swath it round in sunflowers and Doc Martens and private journals and Johnny Depp performances. It’s especially noticeable in romantic comedies, which delight in pitting the ‘free-spirited’ heroine (somehow, it’s always the heroine) against the stuffy totalitarian Establishment and watching the sparks fly. Theoretically. The number of heroines in this genre that give audiences cause to wonder if the Establishment might not have a point illustrates another difficulty with the premise.

But even in Hollywood there must be the shining exception; and thus we come round to my beloved Holiday, the least-known of the Katharine Hepburn-Cary Grant-George Cukor collaborations and paradoxically one of – if not the – finest. And I say this as a devoted fan also of The Philadelphia Story and Bringing Up Baby. More

Subliminal, in an unnoticeable way/important, and hard to see

The Agatha Christie post(s) are still coming. In the meanwhile, though, the current For Better or For Worse storyline – with its shameless insistence that ‘always hoping’ a married man will eventually hook up with your daughter is OK, because Fate said so – is making me so mad I want to spit. Which is in turn severely hindering my ability to work out the fine points of how to discuss Christie novels without giving away endings wholesale.

So I thought I’d take a break for now and discuss something else of vital importance to the nation: my favourite movies.

My attitude toward the cinema – such a lovely, expressive term, isn’t it? – anyway, the relationship is a curious one, at least for your average online blogger. I have no qualifications in re: the discussion of film as an art form, nor a cultural influence. I don’t even watch that many, is what I’m saying here. These days I go into the cinematic experience mostly for whatever good time I can’t get in books – the big, the beautiful, the lavish visual spectacle…sometimes just the indescribably cool. Hence, my real, sincere appreciation of Transformers: The Movie.

That said, I have a rather more complicated and intimate rapport with certain classic films from the bygone age of – well, elegance, is the first word that comes to mind. Movies made when the pervasive pop-culture assumption was still that audiences wanted to have their intelligence flattered and their literacy rewarded. In the best of American cinema from roughly 1930 through 1950, there is a fluid rhythm to the dialogue that demands responsive thought, an attention to the details that compels not only attention but respect. At least, they get that respect from me.

Thusly we come to the three particular celluloid bits of my heart: Billy Wilder’s noir classic Double Indemnity, the unsung Cary Grant-Katherine Hepburn collaboration Holiday, and Gene Kelly’s masterpiece, Singin’ in the Rain.

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