A few pleasant surprises from the library this week:
Oliver Twist 1948 version – This black-and-white movie is well-acted (once you get past the over-the-top introductory scene), and beautifully shot. The fact that the camera angle doesn’t change every three seconds like a lot of current movies results in many lovingly rendered scenes with gorgeous use of light and shadows. Plus, it’s Dickens.
In the Womb by National Geographic – We’ve enjoyed several good documentaries this year including The March of the Penguins and BBC’s Planet Earth series. Thanks to a combination of 3 and 4-D ultrasounds and computer enhancements, this movie (one of a four-part series) gives an amazing look at a baby’s developement from conception to birth. If only this were required viewing before women could request an abortion; funny how that 8 week old, walnut-sized piece of “tissue” has a cute little face with eyes, a nose, and ears, plus arms and legs, fingers and toes, a heart, and a brain. That sounds kind of like a…baby? The film is not expressly pro-life – it makes a few comments like “now the fetus is starting to appear more human” – but it also shows footage of fetuses grimacing, kicking, sucking their thumbs, play with their noses, dreaming, building memories, and prepare for life in the outside world. It’s a refreshing emphasis compared to the version of ‘science’ insisting it’s not a baby until it’s born currently broadcast in schools.
The Caine Mutiny and It Happened One Night also came home with us, and are waiting on the shelf for a quiet evening.
Inter-library loan is a life-line from the poorly-stocked book shelves at the local branch. After reading many positive reviews I hesitantly requested The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Anne Barrows last week. “Hesitantly”, because too often newer books people rave about disappoint. Not that current writers lack talent, but it’s hard to know which recommendations to trust. Some books like Memoirs of a Geisha and The Secret Life of Bees came highly praised by other women, but left a bad taste in my mouth. Some, like Eat, Pray, Love I’ve heard enough negative reviews on to ignore the positive hype.
Sometimes, however, a modern author turns out a real gem. I ran out of reading on our honeymoon in an area with no book shops. The Kite Runner came back to the cabin with us from the bestsellers rack at the grocery store and barely left my hands for the next two days. The same goes for the young adult novel The Mysterious Benedict Society with its clever, thoughtful, and entertaining story-line. And (returning after that wandery digression), this week I gulped down The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. It’s a fast read, but funny, sweet, and a good snapshot of British people during and immediately after WWII, particularly those in the German-occupied Channel Islands. I don’t think it’s anything ground-breaking, and it occasionally tries to insinuate views into the characters that I don’t think are consistent with the era, but it was fun. On top of that, it made me want to sit down and write clever and entertaining letters. I’ll need to work on my penmanship.