August 2017 Update

Books, Movies, Reading

The most notable event in August was our trip to Washington, DC, which I wrote about and shared many pictures of on my new, shiny blog, This Creative Midlife. I’ve been playing around with a new blog concept over the summer to either replace or supplement this one. I want to write more about my various creative projects and about getting older. Certainly, I could do that here, but I thought a fresh start could do me some good. This blog has been around a long time and has always been a bit idiosyncratic, and I felt the need to have something more focused.

Other than the DC trip, August was fairly quiet. We had also been away to New York City in July, so the second half of August require some downtime and some time not spending money.

Books Read

The big reading news from July is that we figured out how easy it is to check-out e-books from the Free Library of Philadelphia. Holly and I have both been enjoying out Kindles and were thrilled when we realized that getting library books onto our Kindles is a breeze. Both books I read this month were library books.

I re-read Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time in anticipation of the upcoming film. I cannot recall when I had originally read it, but it would be fair to estimate in the neighborhood of a couple of decades. It was a fun read although rather slight as would be expected from a young adult book.

And the movie looks like it should be plenty entertaining as well.

Mohsin Hamid is someone who has been on my radar for awhile. Moth Smoke, How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, and The Reluctant Fundamentalist have been lingering on my To-Read List for a while. I’m glad I finally got to read one of his works, his latest book, Exit West. I picked it up not knowing much about it which was a good thing. I don’t routinely seek out magical realism so those elements of the novel both surprised me and totally worked for me.

The main characters, Nadia and Saeed, live in an unnamed Middle Eastern country simmering with the potential for violence. When that violence eventually erupts, Nadia and Saeed need to leave flee their homes and pay to escape the country. The means of escape turn out to be magical doorways the take them to other countries. That works because the novel is focused on their relationship. They were in their early stages when thrust together by the violence in their country. How they get from place to place doesn’t really matter. The book is not about the mechanics of getting from here to there but about the effects that exile have on the couple. Despite the unwieldy length of my To-Do List, I hope to get around to some of Hamid’s other books.

During August, I also managed to get fairly far along Zadie Smith’s Swing Time but didn’t finish it until September so I’ll write about that next month.

All these e-books mean that my reading update pictures remain unchanged from last month.

Books Read in August

  • A Wrinkle in Time
  • Exit West

Books Read in 2017

  • A Gambler’s Anatomy (library book)
  • The Princess Diarist (library book)
  • The Best American Essays 2016
  • Moonglow (library book)
  • Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell (ebook)
  • Ploughshares Winter 2017-2018
  • The Good Soldier (ebook)
  • Lost Stars (ebook)
  • Binti (ebook)
  • In Farleigh Field (ebook)
  • The Handmaid’s Tale
  • The Thrawn Trilogy (ebook)
  • Ploughshares Spring 2017
  • Every Day Is for the Thief (library book)
  • Star Wars, Vol. 1: Skywalker Strikes (ebook)
  • Madame Bovary (library book)
  • Saga, Volume 7
  • Henry and June (ebook)
  • Star Wars, Vol. 2: Showdown on the Smuggler’s Moon (ebook)
  • The Golden Secrets of Lettering
  • A Visit from the Goon Squad
  • Star Wars: Darth Vader, Vol. 1: Vader (ebook)
  • Lost Horizon (ebook)
  • Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel (ebook)
  • A Confederacy of Dunces (ebook)
  • The Razor’s Edge (ebook)
  • A Wrinkle in Time (ebook)
  • Exit West (ebook)

Movies Watched

My movie watching in August was somewhat all over the place, although I relied heavily on FilmStruck for inspiration.

I had read about Frieda on Filmstruck’s blog, Steamline, and was curious. The title of the post, Frieda (1947): One of the Best Films You Probably Haven’t Seen intrigued me because, yes, I had not seen it nor even heard of it. Turns out that it was quite a find. An English soldier is rescued by a German woman during World War II and marries her to help her escape from Germany so that she would not have to face the consequences of her actions. He brings her back to the small town he is from, but she is not welcomed by the townspeople. It’s a rather daring film considering it was made so shortly after the end of the war.

After reading The Razor’s Edge last month, I was interested in the film versions. I had seen both before but years ago and without having read the book. The 1946 version, directed by Edmund Goulding and starring Tyrone Power and Gene Tierney, failed to capture the spirit of the novel but made for a passable movie. On the other hand, the 1984 version by John Byrum with Bill Murray in the lead role was truly awful. I tired watching it over the course of a couple of nights but gave up with about 20 minutes left. Bill Murray became an actor who could admirably handle more serious roles, but he was out of his depth at this early point of his career. The Razor’s Edge would probably benefit from a mini-series treatment along the lines of Todd Haynes’s fantastic adaptation of Mildred Pierce.

Later in the month, I got it into my head that I wanted to start watching a selection of FilmStruck movies in more or less chronological order. Despite considering myself a serious film buff, there are still some major films I have never seen. Methodically going through the FilmStruck catalog would be one way to correct this.

I started in the 1920’s with F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu (1922) and Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid (1921) and The Idle Class (1921). Despite what I said above, these are actually movies I had seen before, albeit many years ago. I don’t think I’ll ever cease to be amazed at what was accomplished with silent films, at how interesting and entertaining they were without dialog. It took real talent to invent and expand on this method of visual storytelling.


Movies Watched in August

  • Frieda
  • It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
  • Okja
  • Wanda
  • Something Wild
  • The Razor’s Edge (1946)
  • Nosferatu
  • The Kid
  • The Idle Class

Movies Watched in 2017

  • Hell or High Water
  • 13th
  • Mountains May Depart
  • Hitchcock/Truffaut
  • The Long Good Friday
  • The Witch
  • Patterson (in theater)
  • Swiss Army Man
  • The World of Jacques Demy
  • A Bigger Splash
  • Decline of Western Civilization
  • In the Mood for Love
  • La La Land (in theater)
  • Wayne’s World (in theater)
  • Hail, Caesar
  • Stranger than Paradise
  • Down by Law
  • Mystery Train
  • Night on Earth
  • The World of Henry Orient
  • The Heartbreak Kid
  • Hidden Figures (in theater)
  • Girlfriends
  • I Am Not Your Negro (in theater)
  • Embrace of the Serpent
  • Arrival
  • Something Wild
  • Stop Making Sense (in theater)
  • Manchester by the Sea
  • Singles (in theater)
  • The Fits
  • Toni Erdmann
  • Paterson
  • Swingers
  • Elle
  • The Trip
  • The Trip to Italy
  • Puzzle of a Downfall Child
  • Cemetery of Splendor
  • A Woman Under the Influence
  • Right Now Wrong Then
  • The Handmaiden
  • Good Neighbor Sam
  • Things to Come
  • Wonder Woman (in theater)
  • Most Dangerous Game
  • I Vitteloni
  • Cameraperson
  • A Face in the Crowd
  • 3-Iron
  • Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…and Spring
  • Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict
  • Rise of the Planet of the Apes
  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
  • The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp
  • A United Kingdom
  • Safety Last
  • Blow Out
  • Frieda
  • It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
  • Okja
  • Wanda
  • Something Wild
  • The Razor’s Edge (1946)
  • Nosferatu
  • The Kid
  • The Idle Class

Blog Posts

On Being and Formulating in August

On Being and Formulating in 2017

On Educational Media Reviews Online in 2017

On SuperPlus Eats in 2017

Photos in the Wild

Photos in the Wild in 2017