I’ve been reading up a storm during these first days of retirement.
In fact, I’ve gotten so many books from the library that I sometimes have to take them back and get in the queue again, with Bring Up the Bodies being a good example of this. Thank goodness a blogger announced that Bodies won the Booker Prize, because I rushed to get a copy from the library before the storm began. I’ve also “thought about” reading some classics, and I really do want to read Anna Karenina before the movie comes out. I never actually picked that one up when I got to the top of the library list. 🙂
Geoff Whaley, one of my blogging friends, talked about reading the classics, and this quote from his post really hit home with me.
I find it awesome that I’m reading books and authors who have inspired countless other authors, musicians and artists to create even more literature and art. The number of books I’ve read which have allusions to or direct references to older classics is staggering and the more I read the classics the more often I find these allusions and references or question whether an author/artist did do this.
Last night on Facebook after the debates, another friend quoted the line from The American President, where Michael Douglas tells Richard Dreyfus, “I AM the president”, which is one of the best movie lines of all time. I worry about the future of classic books and movies — will people “get” literature and film fully without understanding the allusions? I saw this in my classroom; many times I would quote a line from a movie or a book and the kids would look at me with blank stares. They had no idea what I (or the author we were studying) was referring to. It made me feel old, but it also made me sad for them. Do you remember this scene?
Am I the only one who cares about this?
The Men I Didn’t Marry (2007) by Janice Kaplan and Lynn Schnurnberger
After being summarily dumped by her husband of 21 years, Hallie first falls into a depression. Then she decides to get back in touch with four former boyfriends to see what she missed when she chose the one who turned out to be a womanizer and a cheat. Although filled with typical chick-lit cliches, the novel moves quickly through Hallie’s soul-searching. It’s your basic beach read, but fun for a quick look at a story about a woman who successfully navigates through a separation and emerges whole. 3/5 Stars
The Lion in Winter (1968) starring Katherine Hepburn and Peter O’Toole
When Terri suggested that I add The Lion in Winter to my English costume drama queue, I put it in the back of my mind, but didn’t rush out to get it from the library, as I had seen it before in an earlier life. Then one day I just felt like some Hepburn/O’Toole melodrama — and oh, was I rewarded! Telling a highly fictionalized version of a 12th century Christmas season when Henry II and his imprisoned queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, get together to decide which of their three sons will succeed Henry as the next king of England (That’s the Cliff Notes version). Apparently they were the poster children for the ultimate dysfunctional family, since they plot and scheme against each other for two hours. And did I mention that Henry II had a live-in mistress that he wanted to marry? In a tie with Barbra Streisand for Funny Girl, Katherine Hepburn received her third Best Actor in a Leading Role award. Although she was fabulous, I had forgotten that this movie had all that 61-year-old Hepburn shakin’ goin’ on — loved her, but it was distracting. A reviewer on Amazon recommends reading Alison Weir’s Eleanor of Aquitaine as a companion piece to this movie, and I will do that. 4/5 Stars for eating up the scenery.
Innocent (2011) by Scott Turow
I’ve been waiting patiently for Melinda to give me this book because I absolutely loved Turow’s first book about Rusty Sabich, Presumed Innocent. In Innocent (the sequel), Rusty is again accused of a murder which the reader is pretty sure he didn’t commit. I love how Scott Turow once again creates a complex and nuanced new plot with visits from old friends Tommy Molto and Sandy Stern and new characters in Rusty’s grown son Nathan and eager young lawyer Anna. Told in a flashback/flashforward narrative style with changes in perspective, Turows also fleshes out Rusty’s wife Barbara and what happened to their marriage after his trial for murder in Presumed. I do think you’d like Innocent better if you also read Presumed Innocent, but there’s enough restatement to live without it — or you could watch the movie. Just to remind myself how wonderful Presumed Innocent was and to refresh my memory, I got the movie from the library and watched it. It was as good as I remembered with Harrison Ford managing to convince us that his bumbling treatment of the murder case proved his innocence.
My only problem with Turow’s portrayal of Rusty Sabich in Innocent is that he should have learned something about the law and about human nature in the twenty years since Presumed Innocent, but he still seems silly and self-destructive. Just for that I give it 4.5/5 Stars.
Like Water for Chocolate (1995) by Laura Esquivel
I went to a presentation at the library about great food scenes in movies, and Like Water for Chocolate (1992) was a recommended movie. I had read the book years ago, but didn’t remember much about it, so I got both the book and the movie out of the library. Now I know why I didn’t remember it — I hated the female character and the sexist cultural traps in which the author puts her. Apparently I’m in the minority, because the book is highly rated and the movie won a whole bunch of international awards. Each chapter begins with a recipe, and the movie uses food-based mysticism to drive the plot. As a debut novel, Like Water for Chocolate was intriguing but not my favorite of the week. 2/5 Stars
I guess I do have a life after all.
I’m trying to settle into a writing rhythm for Retirement 365 and Got My Reservations, but writing every single day, even in retirement, is proving difficult. So, apparently, is doing everything else I want to do. I keep telling myself that I have not weeks or months, but years to get some of this stuff done. I do have house guests coming in just one month, so I actually need to get quite a bit done before they arrive. Can’t wait for the visiting to start, though!
But movies on the big screen don’t wait for retirement.
We’ve been trying to find time to see The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel since it came out in theaters, but either the youngish company we were keeping or our activities interfered with getting to see it. I really wanted to see it on the big screen since it is set in India and the previews promised fabulous exotic scenes.
My friends and I are definitely the target market for this movie.
In fact, a couple of the people I saw this with are in their early fifties, and they were most definitely the youngest people in the audience. Most of the audience were people who had let their hair go grey, if you know what I mean. That doesn’t mean young people won’t love the movie, but it will hit home more poignantly with those of us who are on the dark side of fifty.
With seven decorated and experienced British actors and a beautifully nuanced, witty script, how could this film go wrong?
The all-star British cast includes Dame Maggie Smith, Ronald Pickup, Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton, Celia Imrie, Dame Judy Dench and Tom Wilkinson. Dev Patel also stars as the innkeeper and manager of the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.
Since you already know that I hate to write summaries of books and movies because they give away the story, I’m going to give you the bare bones. You can click into the link above if you want more plot. 🙂
The main story of Marigold Hotel revolves around seven retirees who decide to “outsource” their retirement and move to an Indian palace that has been converted to a retirement community. The hotel has seen better days but is located in exotic Jaipur and each of the characters deals with the new situation differently. It’s charming and just a little sexy — with a lot of laugh-out-loud one-liners.
If you are a fan of Love Actually, Four Weddings and a Funeral, or any other ensemble cast movie, and you’re willing to see retirees as people who want to have fun in retirement, then be sure to catch The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel before it leaves the theaters. I absolutely loved it.