Sunday, December 28, 2008

Our Man, Andrei



I figured after 3 or 4 days of gorging on roast meats, bacon, cake and chocolates maybe it was time to do something a little more active than reaching for another glass of wine. Saturday I went to the pool - I hadn't been for a couple of weeks due to work/weather/holiday closures so I was keen to get back at it. It was pretty crappy weather on Saturday and it being the holidays I sort of expected I'd have the pool to myself. I guess I hadn't counted on everyone else thinking the same thing. Despite the anchovy-like packing of swimmers I managed to get a good swim in.

Today I did one better and got on my bike for the first time since November 5th. I was finally able to fix the tire and put together the trainer. Setting up the trainer so close after Christmas felt a little like when I was a kid and had some toy to assemble before I could use it. I'd planned on doing a typical ride of a 2 hours or so. I put on a movie to watch while riding and started up but I hadn't counted on being so out of form. I lasted about 45 minutes when sweat and boredom combined to unseat me.

Actually the movie, Kung Fu Panda, wasn't so bad, but I wanted to leave enough time in the evening to watch a much longer movie, "Andrei Rublev". This historical Russian drama from the 60s is over 3 hours long and is far more grueling than any time on a bike. Every year, I usually rent a handful of films that I've read one should see if one is to consider oneself knowledgeable in cinema. Along with the Russian epic (more epic to watch than to film I think), I watched, "My Man Godfrey" (a William Powell, Carole Lombard comedy from the 30s), "His Girl Friday" (a Cary Grant comedy from 1940) and the 1959 Alec Guiness spy parody "Our Man in Havana". I'm not sure why I picked these (other than the similar titles - "His Girl/My Man/Our Man") but there has definitely been a theme lately. A couple of weeks ago I watched Sullivan's Travels, and Christmas night we saw "It Happened One Night". Along with My Man Godfrey these are all Depression Era comedies that have the protagonists on the road or coming face to face with the hard economic reality only to wind up happily wedded to unbelievable wealth and glamour. I wonder if this economic crisis will result in the same kind of movies. Someone down on their luck, out on the street, unknowingly meets and aids someone else of impervious riches who falls in love with them (somehow getting a very expensive dress or suit very dirty along the way. Let hi-jinks ensue). Or maybe we'll just keep making flicks like Pineapple Express which starts out funny but just dies in the third act.

On a related note, Our Man in Havana would be a good rental along with The Third Man, which it seems to parody and Burn After Reading which feels like a remake of Our Man in Havana. For a more serious spy flick watch Breach.

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