Finished Pratchett’s Thief Of Time, on Saturday, really enjoyed it, but it won’t stick in the memory as long as Night Watch will. It did serve to introduce the recurring character of Lu-Tze, the Sweeper. Take a parody of the kind of inscrutable mystic found in The Karate Kid, but one who was never in the inner mystic circle, and kept one foot in the “real” world. The kind of character who, while others theorise and agonise, gets things done.
The Accidental Tourist was shown here last night, and I was glad to see it again. I saw it at least ten years ago, and didn’t get too much out of it, but I have read Anne Tyler’s book since then, and gained a better understanding of the characters involved. It’s about a man, Macon Leary, who went through life without really engaging with it; his son is murdered, and his marriage falls apart, without an understanding of how all this is affecting him and others. His brothers and sister show a similar insularity; even when the sister marries Macon’s publisher, she soon returns to her brothers, and the whole Leary clan seem to be heading off into the sunset without blinking.
It takes something really strange to shake them out of their funk, and it arrives in the form of Muriel, an eccentrically dressed dog trainer with a young hyper-allergic son, who sets her sights on Macon within seconds of meeting him. Dealing with Muriel and her son drags Macon, painfully, out of his shell, to where he can do some good; he is forced to take action for himself, for Muriel, and his future.
There are obvious analogies made between Macon and the travel books he writes, which tell business travellers how to do business around the world without being affected by the places they visit; a sudden funeral is only a minor inconvenience, since you already have the right suit, and any stains can soon be taken care of by travel size packets of detergent or spot remover. At one point he advises “never take anything on a trip that you can not afford to lose” – advice that he dutifully follows, but which works in his favour later.
This is arguably Geena Davis’ finest hour on screen – though Thelma & Louise also takes some beating. She won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar™ for her portrayal of Muriel – a far cry from Victoria’s Secret and Earth Girls Are Easy. She must be the tallest actress working in Hollywood, even beating Sigourney Weaver in height, and also the most genuinely athletic. I’m not referring to time spent in the gym preparing for a role; she narrowly missed the US Olympic Archery team in 2000, and is presumably going to try again in 2004. I’ve also seen A League Of Their Own, in which she is filmed doing the splits while catching a high ball (ouch), and knocking them out of the park. You can tell I’m a fan, can’t you?