Sunday, 8 May 2016

Review: We Have Always Lived in the Castle, by Shirley Jackson (1962)

[Light spoilers ahead. All page references from the Popular Penguin edition.]

‘I am walking on their bodies, I thought, we are having lunch in the garden and Uncle Julian is wearing his shawl.’
-pg. 10

Shirley Jackson cut a rare gem with We Have Always Lived in the Castle. Gothic and modern in style and content, the novella is a unique aesthetic and psychological object which does not stumble in its progression. Written with simple diction and syntax, the prose is like a dark pond, seen in just the right light, such that the waters seem infinitely deep. Our narrator, viewing the world through Grimm eyes, covers us in her skin.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Review: Mr Deeds Goes to Town (1936 Film)

Spoiler Warning: Half-way comes a twist which both changes the film’s genre, and also, in my opinion, makes the film worth watching. In order to say what I liked and what I didn’t I will have to reveal the second act twist. You have been warned. 

Mr Longfellow Deeds (Gary Cooper) is a simple and eccentric man. Never has he left his home of Mandrake Falls. He writes poetry for greeting cards, and plays the tuba while thinking. When his uncle’s attorney drops an inheritance worth millions into his lap, Mr Deeds is rushed to New York. As soon as he arrives vultures descend, jealous relatives, greedy attorneys, snobbish opera managers, and all the gilded scum the Big City spawns. But his greatest enemy may just be a gal reporter (Jean Arthur), determined to get the scoop on this wide-eyed millionaire.

Comedy has the shelf-life of a sliced apple. After 80 years browning, Mr Deeds Goes to Town is at most edible. Nowadays the film doesn’t play as a romantic comedy; it’s more a light-hearted romance. Drama, for whatever reason, endures. Halfway through the film the genre shifts to drama, and, so doing, safeguards its longevity.