Sunday, April 1, 2012

Any Human Heart and Fuchsia Ribbed Scarf

Usually Michael's has a somewhat decent selection of yarn, but I never expected the brilliant, radioactive fuchsia wool from Stitch Nation. There were three other colors: impossible red, jet black, and aquamarine--and I had to stand there just staring at them like a zombie (or perhaps a female bird of paradise?) for a few minutes. "What the hell?" I thought. Then, "Ok, I better get all of it." Like, ALL of it. But, since I am an adult and have a little bit more impulse control than when I was a child (though, apparently, I can still be mesmerized for hours by pretty colors), I got only four of the fuchsia.

Sometimes the universe just drops a gem like this in my lap, and lately, I've been trying to regain my sense of sheer wonder at the world in order to appreciate these little gifts. A few weeks later, the universe (well, Netflix, actually) dropped me another gem when I watched the four part series Any Human Heart. I'm usually not looking for anything too spectacular (much like my browsing in the yarn section) when it comes to British period dramas--some British accents, funny costumes, acting ranging from embarrassingly bad to middling (it's like pizza--even when it's bad, it's good)--so Any Human Heart was FUCHSIA. Am I getting too heavy handed with the symbolism here? Who cares. The point is, I had to stop staring at the fantastically bright ribbed (which is the closest I will get to following a pattern) scarf in my lap in order to stare at the stunningly good film playing on my computer.

Simply put, it's the  life story of a writer named Logan Mountstuart beginning when he's about 20 years old sometime in the mid-1920s to when he dies in the 1990s (that was NOT a spoiler--everybody dies, dude). Maybe this film won't get you the way it got me, but let's just say this bird had all the right feathers to tickle me with, including (but not limited to): maddeningly attractive actor playing young Logan, fictional friendships with historical figures--reports on the Spanish Civil War with Hemingway, recruited into British naval intelligence by Ian Flemming, etc.--Matthew MacFayden (who played Mr. Darcy in Joe Wright's version of Pride and Prejudice) as mid-life Logan, as well as subtle jokes and oddities carefully tucked into little corners of the story and, of course, a good dose of hopelessly romantic love stories.

My favorite secret elbow-nudge in the film is when Logan asks the female radical activist he's working with in the '70s why the three members of the affinity group are called by their last names. "John says it's supposed to keep us militant," she explains. Logan then asks if John (the man and leader of the group) is John's last name. "Well, no," she says, "We call him John because his last name is Vivian." Bam! If you're not looking closely you might miss the subtle jab at manarchist activists (manarchivists?)--and, wait a second, aren't I watching a period drama that's about some privileged white dude's life?

These small, surprising moments are clever and titillating, but the cleverness of the movie is a cover for the more profound stories: the love, happiness, anguish, and sorrow we're witness to. I guess what I'm saying is that the really good, really fascinating thing about this film is the way Logan's emotional experience is portrayed. The director communicates Logan's happiness, for example, with sparkly, hazy, slow motion shots of Logan looking at sunlight filtering through leaves in his garden. There are countless flash-forwards and flash-backs, and they're not always used as  explanation but more as evocation of the experience of memory, nostalgia, clairvoyance--things our minds do while our senses continue to perceive the world unfolding around us. We're watching this human move through life, and the film itself also seems something alive, something that breathes and ponders and revels. It's a good story, and it's well told.

Phew! Apparently there are profound thoughts to be had while knitting and watching TV.

It's a simple knit/pearl rib, alternating every three stitches, about 40 stitches across. It took two reams of the yarn and ended up about five feet long. And, yeah, it's on my white shag rug. Just keeping it classy, y'all. 

No comments:

Post a Comment