Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

Between Christmas And New Year

The world is ticking over again.

To my surprise the dustmen showed up- and it's not even their regular day. The postman came too; he delivered a 2019 diary and three catalogues.

I've been improving the shining hour with John Malkovich's Poirot. And, no, it's not Poirot as we've known him. And quite right too. If you want something like straight and unadulterated Christie there's David Suchet's enormous back catalogue to draw on- and if I remember rightly his ABC Murders was a stand-out episode. Suchet's Poirot is definitive. So If you're going to film the stories again there's not much point unless you're going to do it very differently. And the new team does. Suchet's Poirot moved through a never-ending- and never existing- age of elegance and art deco, Malkovich's Poirot inhabits Auden's "low dishonest decade" of financial crisis and fascism. The first war casts its shadow, the second war is coming. There is dinginess and grime and deep, deep unhappiness. There are crimes to be solved- of course there are- but issues of identity are equally important. Malkovich's Poirot is an outsider, a refugee, a foreigner in a society that is closing its ranks, a catholic in a protestant country, a man with a secret past and no papers. Everything about the character that could be played for comedy- the fussiness, the malapropisms, the silly moustache- has been shaved away. What remains is a great and fastidious dignity in the face of much provocation. Inside he rages. Who is he exactly? Who is anybody when it comes to that- aren't we all facades- and isn't this the question that Christie keeps asking- the question at the heart of all detective fiction? This is a Poirot for the age of Brexit- and why not? Art is always of its time. Christie herself was of her time. If she were alive and writing today she'd be keeping abreast of social developments- the way she always did.

Most people I know have had colds- and I've finally joined them. I'm pleased to have kept myself from going under until the party season was over and done with.
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