debris…

At the Death House DoorAnd in the “mention them before I forget” category, we watched At the Death House Door. A documentary about the death penalty told through the eyes of the Huntsville prison chaplain Carroll Pickett, who attended some 95 executions and was, in pretty much all cases but one, fairly unsure about the death penalty. The movie is terribly personal and moving, as he kept a diary through these years and he would write in it upon returning home from his Death House duties. He seems to be a nice, quiet and sensitive old fellow, and I appreciated seeing a chaplain who was serious about his work, but who said next to nothing about religion… But it is a compelling story of anti-death penalty activism focusing on the chaplain and his writings, his family and two of the executed. One of those is a man who it seems was most likely innocent of his crime, the other one being the one person whose execution the chaplain has no compunction about, as he murdered one of the Chaplain parishioners in cold blood. but regardless of one’s feelings about capital punishment, it is quite interesting and I certainly learned a lot about all of the processes around capital punishment.

 

84 Charing Cross RoadWe also watched 84 Charing Cross Road, which was quite charming and touching. This is a “based on a true” story about a very New York lady who, in the 1940’s, wrote to a London bookseller with a list of books that she just couldn’t find stateside. The store sent along what it had, she wrote back, and a 20 year business/friendship was begun. It is told primarily through reading the letters between her and one of the clerks at the shop, which are entertaining with the vast difference in their manners, and engaging with her comments about literature and society. Though the letters being read that make up the narration are, I believe, actual letters from their correspondence, there are also a good number of scenes of the characters lives that flesh them out and add a lot of depth and warmth to the story. Generally. Anne Bancroft’s New York lady was a bit too much for me. Though I realize that she was just being a New Yorker. As a milquetoast west coaster, I thought her attitude to be obnoxious (and surfacely rude), especially against the backdrop of the quiet British dignity and humility of Anthony Hopkins respectful bookseller… It’s a fun movie though, filled with lots of admiring comments about great books.



 

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