A sign of the times?

It's book week this week in the Netherlands, and as a kind of publicity stunt, the committee for the promotion of the Dutch book introduced a new reading sign: the "irony sign". Meant to be placed at the beginning and ending of any word, phrase, sentence or paragraph that's meant to be taken ironically.

As it turns out, it's mostly food for columnists. Bloggers too, I assume.

The sign is silly, of course, and I seriously doubt it will catch on, but I think it's kind of alarming that we apparently need it. And I have to see, sometimes I do catch myself relying too much on smileys to convey the tone of my words, the ;-) smiley being especially abused in e-mails. And when I force myself to leave the smileys out, I sometimes worry that something I said as a joke might be interpreted as a slight.

Does that mean we're losing our ability to put nuance in our words out of lazyness, because we don't need to any more? I hope not, as it would mean a loss in style and language that no reading sign can compensate for.


Should I be worried...

...if when watching the new BBC Robin Hood show (I'm currently at ep6), I keep wondering why Marian likes Robin when right next to him stands a guy who adores her and who is WAY sexier? I mean, yes, there's the whole part where he's a brutal killer, a sadist, and someone who'd dump his own illegitimate child in the woods, but who cares, come on: do you want a boy,

or do you want a man? (Of course, in this update on the story, Marian has balls aplenty herself).

N.B. Do not worry, this is just a diversion, I'll return to more, well, classy posts soon, more specifically with a review of "Matador" (and come to think of it, having just watched that might explain my lusting for a murderer).


Films to see before you die

Yes, I am still alive. Just slightly out of inspiration. Which means that aside from a lousy draft for a post about Closer, this blog has been a little abandoned. So it's a good thing there are parents in this world, who delight their daughter with a "1001 films to see before you die" book.

I have seen 188. So there's work to be done.

To be precise (and I am a scientist, so I cannot help it), there is a slight error margin here, say +/- 2. See, for example, I didn't count Lawrence of Arabia as "seen" because I only saw the first disc when I was living in the same house as someone who had the DVD, and I moved out before I had a chance (or the urge) to see disc 2, but I DID count Apocalypse Now, even if I never saw the last half-hour, but I feel like I have for all the clips of colonel Kurtz I have seen. Some films I know I saw/must have seen entirely a long time ago, but don't remember much about.

But so, my new assignment: if I have nothing to write about, I should pick open this book at a random page, find a film I have seen or one I have not seen but have something to say about nonetheless, and write at least a short entry. I would try to go through them one by one, but a) I don't have that kind of time, b) many films are hard to get a hold of here, and c) someone's already doing it.

As for the selection, I have to say I agree with it overall, also because it does not present itself as a list of the 1001 best films, but more a list of 1001 significant films. I like that genre films are included as well as the more traditional "classics". I like that they include a significant portion of old films, even silent ones, but don't forget classics from the seventies and eighties. I do feel, however, that they should have put a limit in 1997 or something (like the National Film Registry does, for example), because if you're talking about the significance of films, you simple NEED time to tell what impact has been made.

Maybe that's why the later films are the ones where I have the most question marks to put. I understand the inclusion of "There's Something About Mary", even if it's a film I've never understood the appeal of, simply because it's become so ingrained in populat culture, but "the Constant Gardener"? I have to admit that'sone of the many films I haven't seen, but the need doesn't seen very pressing. And "Un Long Dimanche De Fiancailles" (A very long engagement) for instance: I liked the film, thought it did some innovative things, but is it really a film people will still watch 10, 20 years from now? Especially with Jeunet already represented by "Delicatessen" and "Le Fabuleux Destin D'Amelie Poulain", it seems a bit much. Personally, in their place, I would have put "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" and "A History of Violence", but I admit we'll have to wait a while to see if those stick. I wonder also, this being the 2nd revised edition, which films had to be dropped to make room for Brokeback Mountain and other recent films.

Among the older films, I don't really have many objections. Many I love, many I have wanted to see for a long time. 3 films, actually, that I own on DVD but haven't watched yet, meaning I should probably stop buying DVD's for a while and watch those I have. One notable ommission: "The Third Man", which I believe to not only be a wonderful film with one of the most beautiful endings, a gorgeous long shot which just takes my breath away every time, but also a film with a significant impact on filmmakers then and still to this day.

I'm sometimes unsure whether to be delighted by the store of great films I can still see, or desperate considering how impossible the task to see them all is, especially when I cannot even keep up with all the movies coming out now. But I do hope that I will one day have seen most (all seems hard) of the films in this book.


CORRECTION: The Third Man is actually in the book. Apparently I missed that particular page when going through the book in the train on my way back home.