Passive for the holidays

December 28, 2006

For holiday evenings, Diane and I have been in “passive” mode, watching TV and movies most nights. We watched The Good Shepherd early on Saturday night. It gives a fictionalized account of the founding of the CIA, and several critics have compared it to The Godfather (especially Part II). Apropos, Robert DeNiro (young Vito in Part II) directs and has an important cameo, and Francis Ford Coppola is one of the film’s executive producers. Although it is not quite as engrossing as the Godfather films, I would still highly recommend it if you have the patience for Byzantine maneuverings and an interest in dramas about inner circles of family and friends. I would also like to say to those critics who complained about Matt Damon and Angelina Jolie’s “lack of chemistry”… that was the point! Jolie must be getting tired of the whole sultry shtick, anyway (though she does use it in the beginning of the movie… and then some). There’s a time and a place for it, but not in The Good Shepherd. For those of you who have got to have it, you’ll always have Tomb Raider.

Carrying on the motif of shadowy doings and family epics, Diane got me the first season of The X-Files, a show that I have not seen for years. She had only seen one episode many years ago (probably Die Hand Die Verletzt), but it did not appeal to her. Still, Diane watched the first two episodes with me on Monday night. She seemed intrigued, so I hope that we can watch more episodes eventually. I’ll filter out the less-than-great episodes in the interest of time, if for no other reason. Since X-Files went off the air, I haven’t followed any other television series. Time may be a factor, but it seems hard to duplicate all the elements that established a certain gemütlichkeit amidst the suspense, paranoia, and horror. The relationship between Mulder and Scully helped, and the secondary characters had intriguing stories themselves. (The Cigarette Smoking Man was probably the most interesting and complex among them, especially with his tragic gravitas.)

On a lighter note, we watched some of the Ultimate Johnny Carson Collection on Christmas Eve. We bought that set as a present for Diane’s parents, so we watched some of the highlights from the 1960s through 1980s. Diane’s mother occasionally acted as Greek chorus, mumbling, “He’s dead,” or “I never liked him,” in response to seeing certain guests. I remember watching Carson’s show when I was younger, but the highlights gave me an opportunity to see how his quick-thinking and savoir faire earned him the well-deserved title “King of Late Night.” Somewhat amusing sketches became hilarious when they went awry, with Carson finding the comedic potential in unexpected mistakes. If only life were more like that, with an appreciative audience watching on as you salvage a hopeless (but not serious) situation with dry wit. Thankfully, David Letterman continues Carson’s tradition (though he faces a lot more competition from various media than Carson did… but that’s a topic for another posting).

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