Friday, December 11, 2015

Let's hear it for Hugh Grant movies

Hugh Grant movies are a visual Prozac for me. With the exception of Cloud Atlas (which I liked, but for other reasons), they offer a couple of hours of bumbling safety and warmth, and the surety of a happy ending.

They are good movies to watch in the winter, when darkness comes on quickly and gray mornings offer little respite from the gloom.

In the past I wouldn't have publicly confessed this. I aimed to watch only the best movies--Citizen Kane, of course, and the most highly acclaimed foreign movies. But in the depths of December, I am not going to watch The Godfather trilogy, or Pulp Fiction, or any other film with graphic violence. I need escapism, something that doesn't require my hibernating brain to work too much.

The same applies to the books I have read--or admitted to have read. I once aimed to only read the best literary fiction. This pretense began in college, when I hung out with people who smoked Gauloises and drank too much espresso. No one I knew then would have admitted to reading popular fiction. (This pretense began to fall when I worked in a bookstore in Idaho and, on slow afternoons, binged on Judy Bloom books that I didn't get to read as a child.) Still, even then, with the excuse of being able to recommend popular books to customers, I worried that life was too short to waste on fluff. 

But isn't there room for both The Seven Samurai and Notting Hill? 

I say this also as someone who is finally admitting that nothing I write is ever going to be on a Great Books list. I'm increasingly comfortable with the idea of aiming, at best, for something easy to write and read. I am physically not able to sit down and write eight hours a day (45 minutes writing this post at the computer and now my neck is aching). A great novel takes a lot of BIC ("Butt in Chair, as Jane Yolen describes it in her book, Take Joy) commitment that I don't have the energy for right now, given that I'm still recovering from all the yucky cancer treatments from the last year and a half.

This past week, mostly while washing dishes*, I watched the surprisingly charming "Music and Lyrics." It was like eating a well-crafted chocolate--not a heavy, nourishing meal. Maybe by the spring, I can watch Unforgiven or Le Grande Illusion--and be able to write more words every day.

*The only time I watch TV most of the time, on a small TV in my kitchen--another reason to watch easy films that can be watched in segments, without losing track of the plot.


PS: As I was looking for a pic of Hugh Grant, I discovered the not-so-charming fact that he recently fathered three children by two women at the same time, with another on the way. I'm not sure this will affect my enjoyment of his movies since they never seemed all that close to reality anyway...

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