Pastimes for enforced idleness

Via Light Reading and The New Yorker, I read in this article: Dept. of Labor: Strike Beards that growing beards has become a pastime, or even fashion, among those unable to ply their more usual trade of scripting films. One such, Conan O’Brien, is quoted as saying: “Literally, it’s something to do. You can check on the progress of your beard.”  I wonder if this means a surge in the number of bearded leading men once the wordsmiths return to work? Viggo, George and co should be first in line for these parts, of course.

From the New Yorker article: “I don’t want to overanalyze my own beard, but, I mean, Trotsky had a beard,” Rob Dubbin, a writer for “The Colbert Report” and an admirer, from his Harvard days, of the “thesis beard,” said. (A mutant cousin of the thesis beard, Jost pointed out, is the “neck beard,” grown sometimes during final exams.) “When you see someone else with a beard on the line, it resonates with the idea of lean times.”

Tell No One on screen

Last night, I watched the DVD of the film Tell No One, based on the novel of the same name by Harlan Coben. I wasn’t sure what to expect: the book was the usual Coben dose of excitement, having a great hook (wife sends husband an email eight years after she was murdered), exciting execution (unputdownable), but a bit over-convoluted at the end, not living up to the tension generated previously. Nevertheless, when I saw the film available to rent via Amazon, I thought it was worth a try.

First shock upon pressing "play" – the film is French! (It isn’t really called "Tell No One" it turns out, but "Ne le dis à personne".) This fact made Malcolm put down his computer and come over to watch it too (he is even less keen on Hollywood than I am). And it is jolly good. The events follow the book closely, but the Versailles setting and characters add a dimension that was missing in the written form. The acting is superb (the wonderful Nathalie Baye and Kristin Scott Thomas are in it), the characters and situations draw you in, the suspense builds up well, the pace never lets up, and the parts of the book that seemed a bit unrealistic are much more persuasive on screen. (The lack of Hollywood macho is really a huge advantage.) Although it is possible to work out what is going on before the denouement, it doesn’t matter – our interest was more than held right through to the final credits. Highly recommended.