Courtesy of a Hitchcock film festival at the Carolina Theatre, TYG and I got to see NORTH BY NORTHWEST (1959) on the big screen. A classic thriller in which an unfortunate fluke leaves Cary Grant looking like the secret agent infiltrating James Mason’s spy ring, forcing Grant to go on the run until he can figure out what’s really happening. What’s striking rewatching this is how leisurely it is compared to so many modern movies—long scenes without rapid cuts, very little in physical action (Grant does not show hitherto untapped abilities to perform like James Bond) and a lack of constant danger, but without ever being boring. With Leo G. Carroll as a spymaster, Eva Marie Saint as a pretty stranger and Martin Landau as Mason’s lackey, this has multiple memorable moments including an encounter with a crop-duster, the finalé on Mt. Rushmore and Saul Bass’s striking opening credits. Deserves every bit of its rep. “The trouble with attractive women is that I have to pretend I have no interest in making love to them.”
LEVERAGE wrapped up its final season as Timothy Hutton and his crew continue bringing justice to those beyond the reach of the law by employing classic scams and cons against them. The finalé reveals why Hutton shifted his team to Portland and what happens to the team after everything wraps up. This was a fun series, and I’ll miss it. “Justice or order—one day you’re going to have to make a choice.”
ELEMENTARY gives us a second present-day Sherlock Holmes series; where the BBC version present Holmes at his coldest and most calculating, Johnny Lee Hooker’s Sherlock is a drug addict on a self-destructive spiral since the death of his beloved Irene Adler. Enter Joan Watson (Lucy Liu), an ex-surgeon turned “sober companion” for recovering addicts (by the end of the series, she’s graduated to apprentice detective). Further from Doyle than the BBC version, but very entertaining in its own right. “Over the course of my career, I’ve plotted at least seven murders that took place in crowded restaurants.”
BIG BANG THEORY‘s latest season doesn’t change much (despite Leonard and Penny now being a definite couple)—they’ve got a formula set and they follow it faithfully. Whether the humor makes up for the sexism is a matter of taste—I still watch, even though I’m wincing often enough at the sexism (both toward the women and toward Raj for being, in the eyes of the writer, suspiciously girly). “I’ll keep that in mind, unnamed crew member in a red shirt.”
LORD PETER VIEWS THE BODY was the first of Dorothy Sayers’ two short-story collections in the series, and I must say, she doesn’t have the knack she does with longer works. At short-length, Wimsey’s silly-ass babble and eccentricities dominate things to the point the plot is buried, and they aren’t entertaining enough in their own right to make the stories work. Disappointing.
As a fan of Patricia McKillip’s, I was equally disappointed in her third novel, STEPPING FROM THE SHADOWS (I should mention I liked her first and second). This is her only mainstream work and her poetic style feels decidedly “off” here; a bigger problem is that it’s a coming-of-age novel (following a nervous pre-teen all the way through to adulthood) and I rarely find those interesting. Nor did it help that most reviews and the back cover present it as a magical realist fantasy, when it’s a perfectly mundane books (the supernatural elements are metaphorical and imaginary) and I really hate that.