Hacker's Diary

A rough account of what I did with Emacs recently.

January 15
Grabbed The Man from U.N.C.L.E. off the tellybox during the week and watched it this evening. Verdict: an absolute riot. Leans more into the humour than some of Richie's earlier work, and it really works well - the dock boat chase is particularly excellent. I didn't see the twist coming, nor the twist on the twist - although I had my suspicions on the latter. Nicely shot and scored, and some lovely tips of the hat to the era of the original (which to be honest I'm not familiar with, although I think it may have shown up on the box at some point). I'd happily watch this again without a second thought.

January 9
More Hitchcock: Dial M for Murder. This is, again, brilliant. I'd seen the 90's remake (A Perfect Murder) but I'd forgotten how it worked and, it turns out, it mucked about with the plot anyway so it's not a clean match for Hitchcock's work. This is a Columbo-like whodunnit: you know what happened from the outset, and the puzzle is more how the truth will come to light. Amusingly, the detective on the case does one Columbo-like "afterthought question" as he's leaving the apartment - which of course is not an afterthought at all. The other funny thing is that the detective is sort of a cross between Columbo and Poirot - the former because he appears to take the alibis and explanations at face value, and the latter because he's a very proper gentleman with a moustache and a keen mind - and who played the detective in the remake? David Suchet, better known for playing that little Belgian detective!

One other note on these: I'd mistakenly thought Rear Window was based on a play because we'd looked through a few movies and I'd confused the descriptions of two of them. I find that the dialogue of straightforward stage-to-screen conversions tends to be very distinctive, particularly when there's a conversation; noone is ever lost for words, and there are quite complex back-and-forth sequences with no pauses for thought. It turns out that Rear Window is based on a short story, and Dial M for Murder on a play, but curiously it's the former that has play-like cadences while the latter comes across as "written for the screen".

(and now I learn that Dial M was originally written for television, then moved to stage, then to film, which maybe accounts for the less stage-like dialogue.)

January 8
I've an idea I may have watched Rear Window a long, long time ago, and since I don't appear to have a note of it in this diary that would suggest it was before August 2000... it's a brilliant piece of work. The conceit of having the main character confined to his apartment is an interesting challenge from the story-telling perspective, but Hitchcock of course carries it off easily and makes it look pretty as well. There's some lovely visual touches, like the reflections of the view in the lenses of the protagonist's camera and binoculars, and both female leads run away with every scene they're in - I think it's reasonable to say that this movie passes the Bechdel Test, which is a little surprising for something made in 1954. And even having (maybe) seen this before and seen the derivative Disturbia, I still couldn't remember or anticipate if the main character was right or wrong. If you've not seen this, you're missing a treat.

January 1
Right, let's try this again, shall we?

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This one's gonna be better, right?