If you've been following this blog for a while, you have undoubtedly noticed that I hoard books and never read as fast as I accumulate. I would need to be both unemployed and have a second brain to keep up with all the books I buy. Suffice to say, I've acquired more Alison Weir, The Prospector by J.M.G. le Clezio (finally), some Goethe in both English and German, biographies of Flannery O'Connor and John Cheever, Swedish thrillers, Charlotte Bronte's The Foundling, some pieces of literary theory/criticism, and a few advance copies. I also went to the library and picked up some books on Austen criticism and who knows when I'll have time to read those. My eyeballs are going to fall out of my head.
I recently finished Queen Isabella by Alison Weir. Isabella is a slightly less sympathetic character than Eleanor of Aquitaine (and certainly far less sympathetic than Katherine Swynford) but I think Weir does a good job of fleshing out Isabella's motives and reasons for her actions. There are more letters and writs available to Weir in establishing Isabella's character than either of the two previous Weir subjects I read; for all the blame history has heaped on Isabella for the deposition and murder of Edward II she really was a wronged wife. I don't think many of us would have behaved quite so well when being slighted for one's royal husband's greedy favorites (and possibly lovers). Aside from a period of greed and avariciousness that occurred after Isabella invaded England (while she and Mortimer were ruling England during Edward III's minority), she really does come across as a naturally-talented diplomat. I was going to jump directly to Weir's The Princes in the Tower but I think it would be better to read into the period with The Wars of the Roses.
Tonight I had a bit of a movie night and finished off two movies. I had Love is the Devil about half-way done and managed to finish it off. Francis Bacon is a terribly unsympathetic character, much like George finds out, but there is a certain sympathy to understanding the push-pull of that relationship. To me the film truly looks like a work of art and there are two outstanding scenes. The first is in Muriel's club, only about 15 minutes or so into the film, where most of the scene is shot through rounded glass and it gives a remarkably distorted fish-eye effect. The second concerns George's suicide scene and it is directly modelled after some of Bacon's paintings including the Black Triptych; the red cage surrounding what is supposed to be the bathroom gives the whole scene the look of a piece of performance art and it is wonderfully acted by Daniel Craig as George. Speaking of acting, Sir Derek Jacobi is absolutely fantastic; fantastic. This isn't an easy movie to watch (it does make you feel unsettled because of the way it is shot and the graphic fantasy sequences) but the actors' performances are worth it.
I also watched Vicky Christina Barcelona; I was pretty sure I was going to hate it but I actually liked it far more than I expected because I hadn't been terribly impressed with the last few Woody Allen films. This is probably the first movie I've seen with Scarlett Johansson where I thought she did quite well; usually, I think she's overpaid. I didn't particularly like the ending, too vague for my taste, but I thought the film was beautiful (being shot in Barcelona with all the architecture and countryside makes it easy). Penelope Cruz was fantastic as looney Maria Elena and truly deserved her Oscar. Javier Bardem....hot, just hot, and also a good actor. The music was beautiful and I hope the soundtrack has all the music used in the film, including some of the guitar tracks, because I loved it. I was also moved to have some wine; did anyone else think those were ginormous wine glasses? Oh, and I almost forgot the least enjoyable part of watching this movie - the voice over....was it necessary?
I sniggled my Netflix queue around so I should get Time Bandits and Scenes of a Sexual Nature next. Unless I change my mind in the next 24 hours. I also have Quantum of Solace (purchased last week) so I can watch Daniel Craig as much as I want but, unfortunately, not in his birthday suit (an added bonus to watching Love is the Devil).