* (500) Days of Summer: Enjoyed it immensely. So much so, in fact, that I avoided dwelling too long on any of the details I found annoying, including, but not limited to, the narrator, breaking the fourth wall (which should never happen, much less as many times as it did), the fact that the plot derailed sometime after Tom finds out Summer is engaged (it's not clear to me why he shouldn't be mad at her for omitting this detail), and how horribly hokey the end was. It had heart, and it was beautiful. One doesn't cease noticing problematic aesthetics just because one likes what's being created; one recognizes that it doesn't exactly matter. If one complains about a Whit Stillman movie that people don't talk like that, well, they've missed the point.

* Mad Men. I've been watching for a few weeks now to see what all the fuss is about. Aside from the fact that it's really quite beautifully shot, the show is unbelievably boring. The dialogue is no less than 40% clichés, nor is there all that much dialogue. I do have a theory about why people enjoy it: the style in which people talk, to the extent that they do, borrows heavily from Hemingway. I noticed, a few years ago, when I was re-reading The Sun Also Rises, how curiously neutral most of the book was. Short, declarative statements don't leave much room for emotional resonances: the reader has to supply his or her own. But then it's not just the text one is dealing with, but the feeling the text produces, and this can vary as widely as readers do. The same thing is true with Mad Men. Read what people say about it, and it's clear that everyone sees (different) lines or actions as significant--e.g. does one's interest center on Don, or Joan, or Peggy? Does one cringe at remembering the (imagined) 60s, or find something tragic in what was lost? Because the dialogue is underwritten, the viewer has to supply the rest.

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