Degree of Guilt is a great (if long) novel — a court room drama with a lot of flair. Though it’s nearly 30 yrs old now, the novel examines the lives and troubles of three professional women — forerunners of today’s me-too movement. Though the book is written by a man, he is somewhat skilful in showing the snags and traps that wait for women in law, in the media and even in the literary world. The most famous novelist in the US is shot to death – and a woman TV presenter owns up to having done it. But why – and how would a successful media star do this. Some characters are more wooden than finely drawn, but all in all, I kept reading to the end. I picked it up in the pile of left behind paperbacks teetering on a chair in the covered picnic area at Rainbow Haven Beach.
If you like short novellas you couldn’t do better than this collection by British novelist Daphne du Maurier. Don’t Look Now was also made into a film starring Julie Christie in the 80s. It’ s a fantastic read. And shows all the troubling spots of class and race of the 20th, and probably 21stcentury white English middle class. A couple in their early 40s go to Venice to try to get away from a family tragedy back home. But who they find and what happens to them is masterfully set out. The book is reminiscent of another must read– Ian McEwan’s early short novel The Comfort of Strangers. Somehow I prefer McEwan’s book if only because the villains in it, who live in Venice, are Canadian. Both books are menacing, but oddly believable.
On Netflix you can watch The Guilty. You won’t take your eyes off the screen. The Danish film is about a cop who doesn’t like being on the 911 desk, answering distress calls. But one night a call comes in — and he thinks he knows what to do . But he doesn’t. And that’s the story. Brilliantly done, takes your breath away. Everything takes place in the cubicle where the cop answers the phone. Worth watching.
A delightful set of six vignettes from Argentina is also on Netflix. It’s called Wild Tales. The stories are all brilliantly acted and tragic/comedic. Underneath them is the complaint that the middle class of Argentina is no longer getting what they deserve, and they are being cheated of the “good life”. I especially liked the last one about the Jewish wedding. Hilarious.
If you has read anything about the US government murders of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg in 1953, this film is for you. Made by their granddaughter, Ivy, the 2003 film 2003 explains a lot about the Rosenbergs, the times, and their two sons, now in their sixties, who were raised in the shadow of electrocutions of their parents for being spies. It will shake you up, and leave you with more questions than have not been properly answered. You can purchase the right to play the DVD for $3.99 Can. And look here for a trailer.
Finally I watched The Post, an American film now on DVD (from the library). It takes place in 1971 near the height of the Viet Nam War in Washington, and introduces us to the rivalry in the newsrooms between the Washington Post and the New York Times. In a way, it does what the American movies do best — everything is optimistic, then tragedy hits, and then somehow freedom of the press wins out. An American success story. It moves fast and details a coverup of 30 yrs of US government and its presidents’ about atrocities in Viet Nam. Meryl Streep is great as the Washington Post publisher/owner Katharine Graham. You do see the actual type being set on a linotype machine circa the 70s before Offset printing. Most of the “live” characters are men, which might have been true for the times, but drag down the film — in my view.