This post has been ignited by three exciting factors: a need to let out the last gasp of the University of Leicester Film Society 2011-2012, a summer of much consumed literature, and the knowledge that upcoming posts may be dry, informative, educational, and utterly useful. The latter point, in particular, disgusts me, and so I’m going to write this week about the films I’ve seen over the summer that I would highly recommend, and the books I’ve read over the summer that I would likewise encourage the reading of. I can only hope these suggestions will enrich you, and that the rest of the post will be better written than this paragraph.
Cape Fear (1962 and 1991): Everyone’s seen the episode of The Simpsons with Sideshow Bob and the rakes, right? Nearly everything in that episode comes from this movie and its remake starring Robert De Niro. Unbelievably not ruined by the parody, the two Cape Fear movies are so teeth-sharpeningly tense and shocking that time has done very little damage to them at all.
Strangers on a Train (1951): An Alfred Hitchcock adaptation of a Patricia Highsmith novel, the premise is that a man meets a man he does not know — a ‘stranger’ — on a locomotive vehicle — a ‘train’ — and says he’ll kill the other man’s difficult wife if the other man kills the first man’s difficult father. Well, so much for this entry being well-written, but it’s an ingenious story all the way and with a top-notch villain.
The Invisible Man (1933): Less inaccurate than most other horror adaptations of the time, this version of H.G. Wells’s novel gets away with far more gleeful murder than you’d expect. The invisibility special effects are, and I’m being completely serious, just as good as you’d see with CGI nowadays. And Claude Rains has a good, good voice.
The Pursuit of Italy: A History of a Land, its Regions, and their Peoples: David Gilmour seems to know his Italy, and as a person going to Italy in a week I appreciate that. I also went from knowing nothing about the country’s extremely singular history to knowing enough about it to conclude that we’re very, very lucky to have the country at all.
Metamorphoses: Ovid’s narrative poem is really a book I should have read earlier, since much of English literature references it in an attempt to seem widely-read. Indeed, perhaps just reading this one very long poem in fact makes you widely read. I admittedly read a prose version which may have made things easier on the eyes, but the poem is quite astounding. Ovid’s description is the height of luxuriance. And oddly enough makes you want to start gardening…
The Running Man: An early Stephen King novel. Absolutely nothing like the Schwarzenegger film. If you want a novel so intense that you can get through it in a day or two, but you also want to be fairly sure that what you’re reading isn’t literarily moribund then you can rarely go wrong with early Stephen King. Set in a dystopian future, a downtrodden man risks his life in a brutal gameshow which sees him chased across the country by bounty hunters and the police. We’ve all got to read books like this sometimes.
Those are my selections. I could go on with other things I’ve watched and read, but I doubt I need to convince you that The Godfather is worth watching. Coming up next time: more Erasmus. Stay tuned.