Love in the Time of Cholera

Florentino Araiza, a young telegraph operator in Colombia in the year 1880, falls in love with the beautiful, and rich, Fermina Daza. She loves him too, but unaccountably marries a rich guy. He waits for her for 50 years, remaining faithful in his heart while he has s*x with 600 women. Things end surprisingly well.

This movie didn’t do all that well at the box office — it’s a “literary” movie (translation, not much happens), and the portrayal of Florentino by Javier Bardem is just weird. But the movie is full of wonderful, insighful depictions of human relationships — Florentino and his mother, Florentino and his uncle, Fermina and her flighty but wise cousin.  And it’s shot on location in Colombia, which makes for some fantastic scenery.  If you liked The Painted Veil and The White Countess, you’ll probably like this one.


Kurosawa’s retelling of King Lear moves the action to Japan’s “warring era” (16th Century). The transition works surprisingly well, even if the director, being Japanese, does replace the three daughters with three sons.  It’s a demonstration, as if one were needed, that Shakespeare’s stories are so strong they can survive with not one of Shakespeare’s famous words.  The battle scenese are fantastic, the dramatic scenes powerful, and the tale of loss is, if anything, even more affecting in the unfamiliar setting. And if there’s just a little too much violence, and a little too much blood — well, it’s a bloody play.

The Enchantress of Florence (Book)

by Salman Rushdie

When I tell you that the major characters are Niccolo Machiavelli and the Indian Emperor Akbar (who never meet), and that the minor characters include Queen Elizabeth I, Simonetta Neri (the reputed model for Botticelli’s Birth of Venus), Vlad Dracul (the reputed model for the blood-sucking count), Amerigo Vespucci, an Empress who doesn’t exist, a hidden princess who does, and two prostitutes named Skeleton and Mattress who exist in both Florence and India at the same time, you’ll know that this is Rushdie in top form. The book is notionally about a Florentine adventurer, one of whose secret names is Love (like Puccini’s Calaf), and who tells stories (like Scheherazade) to save his life, some of which can’t possibly be true but (as in Chinatown) maybe they are. But it’s really just Rushdie having a good time. You’ll have so much fun reading it you won’t even care that there wasn’t actually any polenta in 15th C Florence. Or tomatoes either.

It’s a historic, histrionic tour de farce.