I am in a situation this week to talk about movies -- and watch movies -- with people thirty years younger than myself. I keep trying to decide whether there is a gulf between us. They tolerate more confusion, quicker transitions, more slapstick, more absurdity, than I am in general comfortable with, and I keep wondering whether, in my love for straight clean narrative lines: The Day the Earth Stood Still, The American President, It's a Wonderful Life -- I am betraying my status as a holdover, something for display on Antiques Roadshow. I can't tell yet. They like Say Anything. That gives me some hope.
Jimmy Stewart is bewitched by a spooky Kim Novak, who then herself falls in love with Jimmy, losing her powers and her cat. That's the whole story, but what a fine puzzle: falling in love is always said to be like being under a spell, yet if someone were really to fall in love by being under a spell, that would be a cheat. It's not rational surely, but it can't be magic, either. So what is it we respect here, in this falling? For some reason, Jimmy as so very befuddled and Kim as so very icy act out the puzzle wonderfully.
It's funny to be in the middle of a corny old thing and suddenly realize that it is taking on the hardest of the hard problems.