Friday Food for Thought: 24 March 2023

It is no good jumping in the dark, or meeting troubles halfway.

from A Gentleman of France by Stanley J. Weyman, p. 155
Peter Fonda, Robert Wise, Lindsey Wagner on the set of Two People

Often I find myself thinking the most about movies that I expect the least from. Two People (1973) is fairly unexciting considering the talent involved: Peter Fonda and Lindsey Wagner (her first big screen role!) play the leads, directed by Robert Wise, who proved over his long career that he could direct anything. But the writing meanders a lot and Fonda’s delivery is pretty sleepy. Still, I wonder if Richard Linklater and Kim Krizan took some inspiration from this when they wrote Before Sunrise (1995). Vietnam War deserter Evan (Fonda) and fashion model Deirdre (Wagner) meet in Marrakesh as Evan is heading home to turn himself in. Most of the movie involves the two characters talking about their lives and engaging in a hesitant romance. The story, like the relationship, is divided into three distinct segments based on geography and, despite a slow start, really grew on me by the end. I’ll avoid spoilers – Two People is currently streaming free on the Roku Channel.

My favorite podcast these days is The Movies That Made Me, where screenwriter Josh Olson and director Joe Dante interview movie-biz people about films that have influenced them. What a thrill that they interviewed Nicholas Meyer last week. He’s not only a brilliant writer and director but a fascinating individual. Listen to the podcast at the Trailers From Hell web site or on any respectable podcast platform.

I came across this fascinating painting by Ukrainian painter Victor Palmov (1888-1929) (I’ve seen his first name spelled as both Victor and Viktor). I’m not generally a fan of avant-garde, and his style is described as either futurist or neo-primitivist, terms I’m barely familiar with but want to learn more about after seeing samples of Palmov’s work. I can’t find much on Palmov or this specific painting, which is apparently titled May the 1st and was completed in the last year of his life. May 1, May Day, is International Workers’ Day and a national holiday in Ukraine and many other countries.

Look, I made a giant pancake. I just prepared a batch of pancake batter, using my wife’s homemade pancake mix, and baked it like a loaf of bread. I added some pieces of dark chocolate. Delicious.

I’m reading a wonderful 1893 novel, A Gentleman of France by Stanley J. Weyman. The story is set in the late 1500s and full of intrigue, swordplay, and arguments about honor. Weyman’s writing has been compared to Alexandre Dumas, though I confess I haven’t read Dumas and can’t confirm this. Graham Greene identified Weyman as one of his major influences. It seems very much like the kind of book that would have inspired Tom Sawyer and his friends.

P. 13: “For as sunshine deepens the shadows which fall athwart it, and no silence is like that which follows the explosion of a mine, so sadness and poverty are never more intolerable than when hope and wealth rub elbows with them.”

P. 23-24: “To take the road with a good horse and a good sword, and see what fortune would send. To be rid of all this statecraft and protocolling, and never to issue another declaration in this world, but just to be for once a gentleman of France, with all to win and nothing to lose save the love of my lady! Ah…would it not be sweet to leave all this fret and fume, and ride away to the green woods…”

P. 51: “If you choose to remain, well and good. I cannot help it. If, on the other hand, you decide to trust yourself to me, I swear, on the honour of a gentleman, to be worthy of the trust – to serve you truly and protect you to the last! I can say no more.”

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