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Match Play is a golf/suspense novel. Dust of Autumn is a bloody one set in upstate New York. Prairie View is set in South Dakota, with a final scene atop Rattlesnake Butte. Life is the Arbor is a children's book about Rollie Rabbit and his friends (on about a fourth grade level). The Black Widow involves an elaborate extortion scheme. Doggy-Dog World is my memoir. And ES3 is a description of my method for examining English sentence structure.
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Monday, November 9

Mr. Morgan's Last Love

I was surprised at all the negative reviews of a movie we watched last night on Netflix. The critics almost unanimously (with Roger Ebert leading the way) hated the 2013 Mr. Morgan’s Last Love, with Michael Caine as a retired Princeton philosophy professor living out his last years in Paris after his wife had died from cancer—three years, two months, and eleven days ago, as he tells his new young friend Pauline (Clémence Poésy). But who’s counting? Most of the critics said that it was too slow-moving, too minimalist (whatever that means), too fraught with romantic clichés. And why, they asked, make Sir Michael use such a phony American accent? I call this last comment a major nit-pick. After all, he’s played an American any number of times, doing it well enough to win an Oscar in The Cider House Rules. It was simply a love story, unusual, yes, but a love story most older viewers like me could understand and appreciate. He meets Pauline on a bus. She is a young (much less than half his age) dance instructor who is drawn to him as a replacement for her recently deceased father. She seems to be a young replacement for his deceased wife Joan (Jane Alexander). Love doesn’t have to be a physical coupling but can be as truly demonstrated with a kiss on the cheek or an embrace. The story doesn’t have to play out with high speed car chases or exploding buildings, but can slowly, quietly, show us the bonding of two people regardless of their age and youth. I can identify with Matthew Morgan, a man at the end of life who finds comfort in the friendship of a younger woman. The aging Mr. Morgan tries twice, unsuccessfully, to kill himself. “I took too many sleeping pills,” he explains to Pauline, “Or too few. Depends on how you want to look at it.” His son Miles (Justin Kirk) and daughter Karen (Gillian Anderson) fly to Paris to see him as he recuperates in the hospital. They both think that Pauline is a young fortune hunter, after their father for this money. Miles tells his sister when she asks him who Pauline is, “She’s a bimbo who may be our new step-mother.” To Matthew and me, she’s the exact opposite of a bimbo. I’ve often fallen in love with cinema females, and Clémence Poésy is my latest. She is a delightful woman with kewpie doll lips
who has won my heart, as I’m sure she has won the hearts of many aging viewers of this film. Mr. Morgan explains to her what kind of person he thinks she is: “You’re beautiful. Obviously you’re smart, and I can always tell when you’re sad, because you hide behind your defiance when you are. When you’re happy, all of you is happy. Even your hair. You don’t have a mean bone in your body, and I thought they didn’t make them like that anymore. You’re funny. When you listen, you look interested. You’re kind. And you wear your heart on your sleeve, which can be terribly intimidating. . . . And you remind me of Joan.” So, it was slow-moving, even minimalist (whatever that means). But it was also beautiful. I think it was epitomized by a quiet Monet moment when the two of them are out on a still pond, boating slowly, with the many-colored autumn trees reflected in the still water. It was beautiful, just as the love between these two people was, just as the film was.

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