A friend of ours brought us a bottle of Dubonnet and it brought to mind a jingle from the ’70s. I went on a quest to find it and was unsuccessful but YouTube did give me another gift: a Dubonnet commercial from 1972 with pre-fame Farrah Fawcett and pre-fame Tom Selleck. What is not to love here?
Submitted for your approval: a Canadian woman goes abroad for the first time in her life. She is excited to visit Paris, London and Rome and brings her fancy camera with her. But when she downloads all the photographs she has taken, she notices that Justin Trudeau appears in the background of each and every one. He is peeking out from under the Arc de Triomphe; he is brushing snow from his hair at the foot of the Matterhorn; he is biting into a Margherita pizza at a popular lunch spot in Naples. At each site he is dressed appropriately for the place and the weather.
It is horrifying.
The woman goes to the prime minister’s web page to check his official schedule and sees that for the duration of her trip, he was in Canada. She even checks news sites and discovers that on the day she was at the Matterhorn, for example, he was in the House of Commons. She tries downloading the photographs on a friend’s laptop and again, each photograph features the prime minister’s smiling face. She takes her camera and the memory card to an expert in photographic technology, who is unable to find an answer. “Just accept it,” he says, shrugging. “You can’t fight sunny ways. And why would you want to? He’s so cute!”
A month after her vacation, she has put the incident behind her, with the help of a trauma counselor. She has spoken of it to only a few trusted friends, one of whom recommends the healing powers of nature. Out for a walk one day, she spies a young doe in a clearing. She pulls out her phone and clicks. She checks to see how the picture came out and is very pleased with the outcome but for one troubling detail. Justin Trudeau is cozying up to the doe, his smiling face alongside the startled animal’s face, his arm draped over her elegant neck.
Cue ‘Psycho’ theme music.
[I realize I need to flesh this out, but I think it would be a great horror story. – RA]
Before JFK was even a Congressman (or a war hero) and when Spencer Tracy was a top Hollywood star (a status that would last till the end of his life). Tracy was getting his copy of JFK’s book, Why England Slept, autographed. Very touching.
John Sturges’ brilliant 1955 Western/suspense film, dealing with themes of bigotry, mob mentality and redemption, is one of my favourites. The story of a one-armed stranger (Spencer Tracy) ready to give up on life, taking on a town of thugs and scoundrels (a mostly male cast that includes Ernest Borgnine, Robert Ryan and Lee Marvin) when that life is threatened, never fails to inspire. And how much more inspirational will it be with Dame Judi Dench as the one-armed stranger who unwittingly uncovers a hate crime, and Emma Stone, Angelina Jolie and Rachel McAdams among the criminals eager to keep their involvement in that hate crime hidden?
I just have a feeling that David Lean’s work of pure genius, a film many would say should never be touched, would benefit immensely from some feminine mystique. All the more so as there are no female speaking roles in it, unless you count ululating. Imagine the unforgettable “we want two large glasses of lemonade” scene with Meryl Streep as the charismatic Lawrence, Keira Knightley as the boy and Catherine Deneuve as Colonel Brighton; picture Marion Cotillard uttering Anthony Quinn’s darkly humorous line, “Ah, it was written then.” Anyone who believed Lean’s classic could not be made even more classic would have to eat their arrogant words.
Another great movie with no female speaking roles, but oh, the possibilities with an all-female remake: Viola Davis as Bartlett; Helen Mirren as The Forger; Megan Fox as The Scrounger; Anne Hathaway in Charles Bronson’s role as the claustrophobic Tunnel King; and the bittersweet final scene with Drew Barrymore as the cocky Hilts and Diane Kruger – a German actress who has said she doesn’t like to play Nazis – as von Luger, a Nazi about to be sent to the Eastern front, admitting that Hilts will see Berlin before she does.
Who says women can’t do action flicks? The World War II story of a bunch of anti-social psychopaths – described during the film as “one religious maniac, one malignant dwarf, two near idiots and the rest I don’t even want to think about” – saved from the gallows in order that they might help the Allies kill Nazis would look so much prettier with Sandra Bullock as Jefferson, Lucy Liu as Franko, Nia Vardalos as Maggott, and Julianne Moore and Kristen Stewart reprising the roles made famous by Lee Marvin and Charles Bronson. And how about the entire female Dirty Dozen reciting the rhyming chant that helps each member of the group remember their part in the mission? Worth the price of a ticket and a large container of popcorn in and of itself.
If there is any worry that an all-female cast wouldn’t bring in the gentlemen, wait till audiences see Monica Bellucci and her large breasts wearing a skimpy dress and trudging sweatily and desperately through the hot streets of Rome with her adorable daughter trying to find her stolen bicycle so she can work because she’s really, really poor and it’s after the war and everyone in Italy is miserable even though they get to live in Italy. Vittorio De Sica’s masterpiece of neo-realism and human suffering never looked this voluptuous.
A number of people on social media — as well as in some newspaper columns — have called the U.S. election this year a “Hobson’s Choice.” It is not. A Hobson’s Choice is a take-it-or-leave-it scenario, not a situation where there are two unsavoury options. That would be “a dilemma.” I guess it could also be called a “Sophie’s Choice,” but I don’t like that expression for two reasons: 1) it brings up images of Nazis killing children, and 2) it makes me think of the book (and the movie) of the same name, both of which were tinged with anti-Semitism.
On a brighter note, here is a clip from the brilliant David Lean film, Hobson’s Choice, with Charles Laughton in the lead role. And yes, the title character is given a Hobson’s Choice at the end of the story.
Years ago, when I was living in Istanbul, I asked my students whether they worried about growing Islamism in their country. “Oh no,” several of them explained almost simultaneously. “Whenever that starts to happen, the military has a coup and we get rid of the problem. Then things get back to normal.”
Sigh. I miss those days.
Yes, I am painfully aware of the irony of what I posted yesterday (see below), given the horrors of what transpired in Nice last night. No further comment necessary.
Two versions of Douce France (insert profound insight regarding demography and history here, if you so please, or merely enjoy both versions of this wonderful song).
Version Charles Trenet:
Version Rachid Taha & Carte de Sejour:
I am prone to insomnia, and last night I was up in the wee small hours watching old episodes of “Rhoda” on the internets. By hazard, I watched an episode in which Rhoda is looking for a job (as a window-dresser) and facing a lot of rejection. It made me think of my post below (scroll down) about aiming for the best.
I got a good laugh when Rhoda said to her sister, Brenda, “I don’t mind being rejected by Tiffany’s, but Tie City?” That’s how I feel as a writer. I don’t mind being rejected by The Paris Review, but [insert name of publication which you hold in contempt]?
Writers deal with tonnes of ’em. I always have. But they are the only way to publication and payment. I have met so many people who tell me they want to write, and I tell them, “Do so!” But…once they start they are crushed by all the rejection. They have such high expectations. You really need a thick skin for it, and self-confidence (or maybe delusions!). You must also aim high (but not expect to hit the target most of the time). I stumbled upon this wonderful piece about writing and rejection and would recommend it to anyone interested in any type of writing work (though the primary focus of the essay is literary).