Saturday, August 12, 2006
Good "Book Feel"
Every once in awhile a movie comes along that causes me to break Cardinal Rule #1 of Movies -- never watch the same one twice or you’ll never live long enough to see everything you want to. I broke that rule this week and may even break it a bunch more times once I buy my own copy. Of course, such a purchase will be breaking Cardinal Rule #2 of Movies – never, EVER buy the movie, as movies take up space and have to watched in order to justify their existence, which therefore automatically runs amok of Cardinal Rule #1. But I don’t care. I made the stupid rules and I can break them if I want to.
So what’s this great movie causing so much flagrant rule breaking? 84 Charing Cross Road. It’s an oldie based on the book of the same title by Helen Hanff. I’d read it some years back, and though enchanted by the 20 year correspondence between the author in New York City and a British bookseller in London, I was more taken with the situation than the actual letters. But that was before Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins transmitted themselves into both my family room and my heart -- he so genteely and she so NOT. I laughed, I cried, I even clasped my hands like a Victorian lady having a case of the vapors. The latter occurred at the part where Ann rhapsodizes over the joys of a used book – how wonderful it is to have it fall open to the page where the last reader left off, how delightful to be informed by notes, or marks, of the significance of passages you might have skimmed over left to your own uneducated devices, even how a gift inscription is not a flaw, but a part of the book’s unique history.
But what really had me in need of smelling salts was the part where the first parcel of books arrives from across the pond. Anne crashes up the stairs of her walk-up and, once inside the door, falls on the package like a ravenous dog on an untended beef roast. As soon as the first book is released from its packet (which itself is fetchingly tied with string) she’s a goner. Just the feel of it, so much more sensual than its plebian modern counterparts, which to this day tend to be paper over boards with paper jackets, sends her into a swoon of ecstasy.
Right then and there I knew this was the movie for me. It had it all – humor, pathos, intrigue, a touch of romance, and good book feel. Name one other movie with good book feel. You can't. So, Cardinal Rules be damned, I have to buy – I just bought –84 Charing Cross Road.