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Laurence Inman’s Blog

LAURENCE INMAN RECOMMENDS…

07-02-2008

Inman’s been in Eastenders y’know and he’s trod the boards all over the place. Loads of quality writing to, so he knows his stuff. What’s our culture vulture been watching and reading lately then?

I’ve had an interesting week artistically.

On Saturday we went down to MAC for a double cinema bill, something we often do. You see one film, get out for a quick sarnie and a cuppa (they do Earl Grey) back in for the second and there’s still time for a curry up Poplar Road and Match of the Day. What could be better?

The first was Two Days in Paris, a very acceptable confection about a couple going through a bit of a crisis (in a detached, ironic sort of way) in that wonderful city.

The principal reason for seeing it was that it was directed, produced and written by Julie Delpy. It also starred her. She also edited it. And wrote the music. The plays I put on at school were like that; you got to page three of the credits before any other name but mine appeared. I even designed the programme and tickets.

I’m rather interested in Julie Delpy at the moment because my nephew has just got a part in her next film. I’m not twisted up with bitterness and envy.

The second film we saw couldn’t have been more different.

Lust, Caution is directed by Ang Lee. A story of love, desire, intrigue, obsession, youthful idealism and realpolitik set in Japanese occupied Shanghai in 1942. I haven’t seen a better film since About Schmidt.

It’s a joy to me that mainstream cinema seems to be getting back to the notion that audiences will go to see intelligent, hard well-made films if they’ve got something to say, without contriving to blow something up every five minutes.

I’ve also had a rare literary experience: a book I could finish in one go without feeling that I’ve wasted the day.

I’ve got a mate who makes a point of never reading modern novels, which he takes to be anything after Dickens. When I ask him why he says ‘They’ve all been written before, many times. You’ve got to go back to the Greeks and Romans to find an original story.’

I agree to a certain extent.

There are only so many ways of saying what’s basically the same thing and if you forget them all immediately anyway, as I do, then what’s the point?

But last week I read The Road by Cormac McCarthy (Picador, £7.99)

It’s about a man and his son (both nameless) travelling across a burnt landscape (we don’t know where, or why it’s so desolate, or why they’re travelling.)

They are assaulted by the elements continually, attacked by ravenous ragged fellow-survivors, discover the most horrific depths to which humans can descend.

Not cheerful then. The word ‘bleak’ might have been invented to describe it.

But in the end there is redemption. As Larkin wrote: ‘What will survive of us is love.’

I don’t think I’ll ever forget this book. I’m glad it’s in my head and that I can now see the world differently because of it.

Finally, the telly.

The best thing on at the moment is Damages starring Glenn Close.

Okay, you can see bits of Jacobean tragedy and I expect there are whole speeches which are paraphrases of chapters from Machiavelli, but never mind; it’s gripping stuff.

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