Sunday, July 29, 2012
STARDUST MEMORIES, Woody Allen talks about how his mother used to run "boiled chicken through the deflavorizing machine." Well, last night I watched I SAW WHAT YOU DID on TCM, and it was as if someone had run a couple of Megan Abbott's most recent books - no boiled chicken, they! More like succulent prime rib - through the deflavorizing machine. The result was not unpleasant! But if you want all the flavor, you have to go to Megan Abbott. At one point, one of the teen protagonists of I SAW WHAT YOU DID even bites her lip by the anticipatory (I guess!) method displayed on the cover of Megan's newest masterpiece DARE ME. By the way, Nick Hornby has high praise for DARE ME in the July BELIEVER magazine. "This is the third Megan Abbott novel I have read this year," he writes. "... she's really good, and is doing something nobody else I've read is attempting." In the same column he writes that "Blog" Buddy Tom Franklin's CROOKED LETTER, CROOKED LETTER is "every bit as ambitious, as thoroughly imagined, and as gripping as his earlier work." Here is what I remember: when I was a little kid, I SAW WHAT YOU DID must have been rerun on TV, because some other kids were talking about it in the schoolyard, and just hearing about the plot (prank phone call gone horribly awry) scared me. So I don't know whether I've seen it before or all my memories of it come from schoolyard chatter. The music in I SAW WHAT YOU DID is weirdly jaunty, like circus music, built around the "nyah nyah" taunt. The "nyah nyah" taunt is an easy temptation. When I was in a band with Jon Host, I slipped the "nyah nyah" taunt into every solo, much to his amusement and/or increasing rage. What else can one say of I SAW WHAT YOU DID? It was fascinating, especially using the Megan Abbott lens. Joan Crawford strides through it with her camp knob cranked up as far as it will go. She builds to a Lithgow-level freak-out that destroys the innocent dreaminess of the formerly winsome teen.