Books read: The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher; A Time to Keep Silence by Patrick Leigh Fermor (on Cappadocia)
I loved Carrie Fisher, first because she was my Disney princess, and then because she was a truthful writer who mined her mental health issues for comedy without belittling them. I thought reading her last book would be a proper goodbye to someone whose work struck sparks in the darkness. And now I feel bad for her because it seems like she never got over being an outwardly worldly but naïve and insecure teenager in love with an emotionally distant, much older, married man who, to paraphrase Fisher in another book, granted her the use of his penis. That he was playing Han Solo just makes it worse.
Supposedly The Princess Diarist was written because Fisher unearthed the diary she’d kept during the making of a low-budget space adventure called Star Wars. But the stuff from 1976 only consists of some poems—not too embarrassing—and entries describing her confusion and frustration over the non-romance. The first half of the book is her recollection of that rather mingy affair, the third quarter is the old diary, and the last is about how stars of beloved SF&F movies can continue to cash in on past fame at fan conventions. I assume that’s one of the reasons this book was written at all. But Carrison!
I’m glad Carrie Fisher had her service dog Gary Fisher in her final years because his affection and loyalty was never in doubt. If you’ve kept old journals about past amours, shred them now.
Movies watched: By the Sea, written and directed by Angelina Jolie; Live By Night, written and directed by Ben Affleck
The French seaside town is beautiful, Angelina Jolie is beautiful, Brad Pitt is beautiful, their clothes and accessories are beautiful, but they’re miserable for some reason that is vaguely hinted at till the end of the movie. What is their damn problem? Is it that they’re too beautiful for this world? And when the problem is revealed, you have to yell, “That’s it?!” and demand the two hours of your life back. It’s like Antonioni’s L’Avventura without the everything.
Live By Night has already been savaged by the critics, so I’ll be kind. Ben Affleck is a skillful director of taut thrillers. I enjoyed Gone Baby Gone, The Town, and Argo very much. Live By Night, which Affleck himself adapted from a Dennis Lehane novel, is a gangster epic that takes place over two decades from Boston to Florida, and the director seems to be having a crisis of confidence.
The movie feels small and cramped. The characters talk too much, and then Affleck provides a voice-over that explains everything all over again. The tough-guy noir dialogue is soft-boiled, the cardboard crimelords are not particularly menacing, and the star looks tired and ill at ease. Did Batman burn him out? We could not help but notice that Affleck, who does not usually pass up the chance to display his torso (even while whisking embassy staff away from the Ayatollah’s Iran), kept his clothes on throughout the love scenes. Was he feeling a bit hefty? That, we understand. His disappearing Boston accent, not so much.