Friday, October 12, 2018

From Joseph Epstein's essay "Life's Little Luxury"

"Movies with charm at their center are no longer being made. The directors able to make them or even interested in doing so—the Leo McCareys, the Preston Sturgeses, the Billy Wilders, the George Cukors, the Blake Edwardses, the Stanley Donens—are long gone. Nora Ephron attempted with some success to make such movies, in the spirit of our time, but she has had no followers. Quite possibly charm is no longer marketable. With fewer and fewer models of it available, it may go the way of chivalry, good manners, and unmotivated kindness.
If one cannot define charm with real precision, how, then, does one recognize it? One recognizes it, as one does its compatriots in inexact definability, pretty much case by case, instance by instance. One recognizes charm when one feels it, sees it. Charming is the song we don’t want to stop playing, the painting that won’t leave our minds, the piece of writing we don’t want to end, the man or woman we wish never to leave the room. Charm, when present, enlivens and lights up a room, makes the world seem a more enticing place. Not quite true that charm, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder, for there are levels of sophistication in the realm of charm. Some charm is subtler than others; some more obvious. Not everyone is likely to be charmed by Noël Coward; most people are likely to be charmed by the Marx Brothers." --Joseph Epstein

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