Last year when Dan and Val visited, he gave us a Mars Hill Audio Magazine CD, a duplicate of one he owned. On a road trip in the summer Curt and I listened to it together. There was a segment on the mystery writer P.D. James, her thorough familiarity with the Book of Common Prayer, and the nuanced character of her detective, Adam Dalgliesh. I hadn’t read any P.D. James, but determined right then to check out what our library offered.
Thus, P.D. James became one of my “2006 author finds”. There is nothing quite so delicious as discovering a great author, confirming the discovery with a second read, and then realizing that there are many, many more of that author’s books available. To discover more than one in a year – remember Anthony Trollope? – induces one to think she has won the lottery. And get this — P.D. James loves Anthony Trollope!
We enjoyed the film version of Death in Holy Orders. I found Martin Shaw’s
portrayal of Adam Dalgliesh even better than I had imagined AD in my head. (The
last time that happened was with Gollum – I couldn’t grasp his
character until I saw him on film.) The tenor of his voice, his quiet command, the way he
held himself so still but communicated so much through his eyes and
mouth was, frankly, entrancing. There were plentiful tight close-ups of his face as he questioned witnesses and suspects. The blurb described his performance as soulful.
The mystery stumped all of us who hadn’t read the book; it required close attention to keep track of the characters. The setting of St. Anselm’s Abbey on the coast of England was gorgeous, the soundtrack lush in parts and eerie in others. If you enjoy a mystery, set in England, in a cloistered community, I recommend this.
Caution: The producer seemed smitten with backside nudity. There were several scenes of a young man running into the ocean for his daily swim. There are two brief sex scenes of the gag-me variety: private parts aren’t shown but I would have preferred oblique references to what was happening instead of front and center shots.
Ushpizin tells the story of Moshe and Mali, an Orthodox Jewish couple in modern Jerusalem. Like Abraham and Sarah of old, they struggle with infertility and they are visited by strangers. But these visitors are no angels; much the opposite.
I wasn’t impressed with the acting (think Home Alone‘s burglars for the bad guys); the storyline was predictable. The merit in this film is that it was filmed in Jerusalem among Orthodox neighborhoods and gives a great view of life in Orthodox households.
You see how the Feast of Succoth is celebrated today and what a sukkot looks like. [We were in a pietistic church, when the announcement guy invited the congregation to come to a Feast of Booths, but said booze instead of booths…it was hilarious!]
I particularly enjoyed Mali, but my favorite part was a scene where Moshe asks for forgiveness. He apologizes profusely and then presses the man for complete forgiveness, insisting that he repeat his words three times. Very endearing.