Saw this last night on TV and still can’t get over how great it is.
Lately I find myself subscribing to more newsletters. Partly I blame Warren Ellis, mostly I think I just miss the stream of longer form wittering that I used to get from my Livejournal friends page. I never stopped being annoyed when a website failed to furnish me with a RSS feed (or get slightly angry when they removed it).
Oh you don’t have RSS, well I guess I don’t need to look at your website at all.
Which maybe is a little counter-intuitive, since RSS tends to just give you the latest thing (and yeah, I don’t enjoy the RSS feeds that only give truncated snippets), but since if the latest thing in my aggregator looks interesting, I open it in a new tab to pay attention to later then…
Newletters. I don’t always get to them as they arrive, but every so often I binge on a few of them (it’s the same with podcasts for me).
Anyway, I’m slowly putting some links to the ones I subscribe to in the sidebar. Enjoy.
In this week’s edition of Sarah Jaffe’s newletter she says:
“I keep those things closer to the vest these days; once upon a time I was as much a feelsblogger as anyone but, well, some combination of adulthood, professionalism, and Literally Everyone Being On The Internet now marked a shift there.”
And isn’t that a great term? Feelsblogger. I’ve never really been one to talk about how I feel about anything – online or offline. Maybe I did right at the beginning of the Livejournal days, but mostly due to a lack of anything to really say? Most of my writing back then was on Usenet, so that’s where all the real substance (such as it was) went.
Now all the feels I have on the internet are about Star Trek or Captain America or Star Wars or some other media I have engaged with. For me, I’m not sure that anything has changed now that I’m a so-called grown-up with a job and anyone could search for my witterings – perhaps I’m more likely to share my feels (limited to scifi, very little to do with life events)? I don’t think I’ve ever put anything online that I wouldn’t want someone to find – I’ve looked back at those early LJ days and there’s nothing embarassing, though it is like looking in a mirror at someone wholly unrecognisable to me now.
I figure it’s time for my annual round up of the new films I saw this year as it’s getting towards the end of the year and, having taken a look at what’s on offer for the next couple of weeks at my local cinema, I don’t think I’ll be adding to the list. You never know though, so maybe I’ll reserve the right to revise this review closer to the end of the year.
I’m going to start with the “and stuff” of the title – my favourite band, AFI, released a new album this year (and once again did not tour in the UK) and, of course, it is awesome. Davey Havok released an album with his sideproject, Dreamcar, and that was pretty good too. The stand-out albums for me aren’t either of these albums (as much as I love them). No, the two albums that have been on repeat in my car all year (pretty much) are Dave Hause’s “Bury Me in Philly” and Maxïmo Park’s “Risk to Exist” – and Maxïmo Park’s album sat in its shrink-wrap for like two weeks before I even opened it (I opened it AS SOON AS I GOT HOME from seeing them live and hearing all the really great new songs). Continue reading “Films in 2017 and stuff”
So I’m reading about a place I’ve been to eat at a few times and the article has the following:
Until roughly a decade ago, when the Chinese began travelling more freely, bringing with them thrillingly punchy cooking from its various provinces, Chinese food in Britain was dying. It was dominated by over-sweetened iterations of clumsy Cantonese dishes which made you hate yourself for eating them.
And I cannot help but wonder where this person had been going to eat. I mean sure, you do have English-Chinese food, but that’s why when you go to a Chinese restaurant you take a look and see if there are more white people than Chinese people there and then you know what kind of Chinese food to expect. I guess this guy didn’t know about the secret Chinese menu.
New films I saw this year, in reverse order of how much I enjoyed them (basically, the last film in this list was amazeface) as kept track of throughout the year on Letterboxd.
- Dad’s Army – This was terrible. The only good part was Mrs Mainwaring.
- Anthropoid – I can barely remember this film. I imagine it must have much like any other film based on events from WW2. I think there…was a romance? I wasn’t very interested in it if there was.
- The Girl on the Train – I’d not read the book before I saw this ( and I’ve still not seen it) but it was entertaining enough, if fairly predictable.
- Voyage of Time: Life’s Journey – It was nice. I had a terrible cold during LFF so it was quite handy that I didn’t have to think too much when watching this.
- Interchange – I didn’t entirely know what I expected when I decided that I would see a film that involved vampirism in Malaysia – certainly not anything to do with indigenous Malay tribal people. I did like that the characters switched between languages – which of course is common in Malaysia, but I don’t usually get to see it on-screen.
- Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – I enjoyed it. Unsure about Lex Luthor, but I’m quite interested in seeing the next film.
- Dancer – When this film was being made, no one involved in the film had any idea how it would turn out – as they were just following the life of Sergei Polunin. I’m glad I wasn’t making the film or, for that matter, pursued ballet beyond the age of five.
- Jason Bourne – My Mum really loves Jason Bourne and Matt Damon to the extent that we joke that he is her new boyfriend.
- Chi-raq – I will watch nearly anything based on ancient Greek plays so of course I was going to see this.
- White Colour Black – Interesting look at being part of two distinct cultures, although I’m not sure thaat I could relate much to the main character Leke even though I’m mixed-race too but that’s mostly because I’m not a hedonistic, sought-after photographer.
- Ghostbusters – Fun and very much in the same spirit as the previous Ghostbuster films. lol.
- The Secret Scripture – Mum and I went to see this and Dancer on the same day as this year she was interested in going to see some LFF films (although she still thinks going to see as many as I do is a bit out there) and this was the film she was most interested in. As we got towards the end of the film, you could kind of see what was coming but that was more a nice rounding off rather than being boringly predictable.
- Star Trek Beyond – I love Star Trek with all my heart and this film was a relief after the film that we do not talk about. Fun, lots of exciting action and Karl Urban is the greatest of us.
- Deadpool – I also love Deadpool, but not as much as I love Star Trek and this film was still slightly more enjoyable than Star Trek Beyond though probably because of the incredible amounts of violence.
- Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – I have too many feelings about this film. It’s a solid war movie.
- Captain America: Civil War – Probably not as good as Winter Soldier, but still super enjoyable. I still don’t like spending time with Tony Stark but RDJ continues to play him well. I will never understand how Chris Evans fit in that tiny car. Bucky Barnes and Sam Wilson are forever a delight together.
- Arrival – This film was astounding when I saw it back in October, was still astounding when I saw it again in November and remains so as I think about it now. I think this year really needed this film. V satisfying.
Which is pretty true, tbh. I have no idea what house Uppercross and Kellynch might be based upon but visiting Bath last week was excellent and I’d heartily recommend a trip there to pretty much anyone. I’m not entirely sure why we never visited Bath before, since it’s only about two hours drive away.
I randomly managed to pick a hotel within 5 minutes drive of Bath and that turned out to be very comfortable with nice grounds and fantastic staff at a reasonable price (at least in comparison to what else was on offer in the area). Handily, it also turned out to be within 5 minutes (in the other direction) of the nearest Catholic church and that church turned out to have a decent-sized car park so we didn’t end up taking the 30 minute walk there on the Sunday were were there.
I don’t think I’ve eaten so many eggs for breakfast in a week at any other time in my life, but what are you going to do when the breakfast restaurant will do poached eggs (or in fact, eggs benedict) or soft boiled eggs and soldiers so well? Plus I’m sure it fortified me for a day’s sightseeing. Yes. That is exactly it.
As with most holidays that don’t have a pre-planned itinerary from a tour operator, we ended up sight-seeing at random. First up was the Royal Crescent.
It turns out that while house numbers 2 to 30 Royal Crescent have been turned into a swanky hotel, no. 1 Royal Crescent has been turned into a museum and decorated in much the same way as it would have been in the late 18th century. The rooms and history of the house was fascinating, but what really stood out was how the staff all seemed to be really interested in the house and sharing information about it and the Georgian period with visitors.
More about Bath to come!
As for… probably the last 7 years, I remain largely not much of a blogger anymore. Every year that I’ve attended the London Film Festival, I mean to write about what I saw and…. never get round to it.
Well. Here goes – a few words about all the new films I saw last year. At least I got into the practice of keeping a list of all the new films I saw over on Letterboxd and every time I added to it, took a look to re-arrange everything in order of how much I liked the films.
In reverse order then, starting with the film I enjoyed the least.
- Avengers: Age of Ultron – Ugggh. This film was mostly just disappointing. What was going on with the Natasha Romanov/Bruce Banner thing? It came from nowhere and the relationship seemed out of character for both Romanov and Banner. Probably more because there was no lead up for us to see how it could have developed. Maybe…Nick Fury and Maria Hill were consistent with the rest of what we’ve seen in MCU? Everyone else? Not so much. 🙁
- I Am Belfast – A kind of wandering essay film about Belfast. It was nice to look at and the people in it were great to hear from. That’s all I’ve got.
- Blood Of My Blood – Half the film is set in 17th Italy and the other half in the same village in the modern-day. Amusing but felt kind of like there were 2 different films that didn’t have quiet enough story on their own kind of smushed half and half together.
- Exotica, Erotica, Etc. – So I saw this film and then a few days later I saw Jay Malinowski at the Lexington (ditching one of the films I had planned to see at LFF because live music will probably always trump a thing I can see on DVD later) AND it felt like both things kind of mixed together – Jay Malinowski’s set was largely stuff from Martel, an album with a sort of nautical journey theme woven through.
- Elstree 1976 – A documentary about some of the actors who appeared in the original Star Wars trilogy and how the films has affected their lives. I
- Office – I can’t say that I ever thought I would see a Chinese musical in 3D entirely set in the corporate world but there it was. I only wish I understood the language to better enjoy it because I am CERTAIN there was clever wordplay that could not be contained in the translation.
- Truth – Even though I was about 20 in 2004 I had no idea that the events in this film were even happening so it was fascinating to watch.
- Youth – All I remember is that while I enjoyed this film, it felt like nothing really happened for a really long time which may have been the point. Also, Rachel Weisz was awesome in it.
- Suffragette – Enjoyable enough but the main character Maud was a bit empty and obviously it was implausible for a newly minted suffragette to be at all the big moments of the suffragette movement at the time BUT I guess they had to somehow have a self-insert character for the audience to move through the story with? Maybe. Perhaps a film that followed the story of a real woman who was fighting for the vote would have been better.
- Twinsters – SO I heard about these two sisters who had been adopted as babies by parents in different countries and who had found each other on Facebook a while back BUT THEN I guess they made a film and people I follow on twitter mentioned watching it and THERE IT WAS on Mum’s Netflix so I watched it and it was delightful and moving and heart-warming and all the things.
- Magic Mike XXL – A DELIGHT from start to finish. I don’t think I have ever watched a film where every single person in the cinema with me had such a good time.
- A Perfect Day – I don’t think I expected to watch anything so funny when I bought the ticket for this film, thinking “Oh yes, a film about aid workers in a war zone will be interesting,” but it was and I recommend it to everyone.
- The Man from U.N.C.L.E. – All I knew about the series that this film was based on was that it had Robert Vaughan and Ducky from NCIS. Lots of fun to watch and obviously features Henry Cavill eating a sandwich as a key point in the film.
- High-Rise – The thing about the London Film Festival is that I buy all my tickets in one go based on what the BFI website says the film is about and then I forget ENTIRELY what I have signed myself up to see. And it’s not like I know much about JG Ballard or Ben Wheatley anyway. I knew that this was about a futuristic apparently utopian 70s tower block with its social hierarchy arranged on the various levels and everything then degenerating into a dystopic horror show and at some point Tom Hiddleston got his kit off. It turned out to be GREAT and a DELIGHT and HILARIOUS.
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens – I feel like I have only just seen this film (and kind of yeah, that’s true) and that I want to see it again in the cinema really soon BUT it is still my sixth favourite film of the year. Finn and Rey are ENCHANTING and I wouldn’t mind just watching a film where they go on an space-road-trip and discover the galaxy and everything they’ve never imagined.
- Mad Max: Fury Road – While it feels like I only saw The Force Awakens five minutes ago, it feels like I watched Fury Road at least a year ago – even though this was my birthday film and that was only in May. I liked that this was basically the story of Furiosa and the Wives rather than Max.
- John Wick – The violence and killing and everything was great and my Mum and I both enjoy violent action films but the REAL HIGHLIGHT was Keanu Reeves hanging out with a puppy.
- Spy – So I guess a lot of my top ten includes film that were pretty funny but Spy is probably the funniest film I saw all year.
- The Martian – I don’t like watching bad things happening to astronauts SO the idea of an astronaut being stranded on Mars was a bit daunting but this film is great and heart-warming and well-paced.
- Jupiter Ascending – OF COURSE Jupiter Ascending was going to be my favourite films this year. It was ridiculous and awesome and Jupiter is a great heroine. It totally filled 2015’s Pacific Rim shaped space in last years cinema-going.
And that’s it. Who would have thought that Jupiter Ascending would have been so much better than Avengers: Age of Ultron at the beginning of the year?
So, at last year’s London Film Festival, I went to see some experimental short films and Transcalar Investment Vehicles was one of them, but unfortunately the version of the film they had at the festival wasn’t the correct final version. Anyway, the LFF peeps said they’d show the right one at a later date and that there would be free tickets for the people who had turned up for this showing.
The rescheduled showing of Transcalar Investment Vehicles was last week. I… don’t know if the right version of the film conveyed Koob-Sassen’s ideas more effectively than the wrong version but then I guess experimental cinema isn’t something that I’m particularly into or have a lot of experience watching. I’m more of a regular narrative film viewer, I guess. Saying that, I did enjoy the experience and I think that sticking around for the Q & A afterwards was really worthwhile, not least because people who actually “get” this style of film were making interesting comments and asking questions and maybe the discussion part of the evening was more enjoyable than the actual film? It’s hard to tell.
MY POINT, THOUGH (I have one, I swear), is that in the film there is a financier character, whose scheme is to channel investment made in fossil and nuclear energy industries into some kind of north African solar panel development in the wake of oil tanker and nuclear plant disasters. We meet the financier mostly while he’s explaining what this scheme involves to an American political speechwriter (played awesomely by Chipo Chung who I hadn’t really heard of before seeing this but I really enjoyed her performance*). In the course of the post-film discussion, Koob-Sassen talked about how the financier in this story was a “heroic financier” – something I hadn’t considered at all. I mean, at the moment, when you think about anyone involved in the financial services industry, they are pretty much always coloured as the bad guys – thanks to all the economic problems of the last few years. Then in the course of his discussion with the speechwriter, you kind of get the idea that the stuff he’s talking about is a bit out there and has the potential to be very bad – based on the reaction expressions of the speechwriter (who of course has to spin the topic to her audience in a favourable way later). The financier seems to have a grasp of and solutions for things on a large-scale but at the same time, seems kind of unaware of the effects of his solutions on smaller, person-to-person levels.
If I understood the finance stuff better, maybe I would see how the financier is heroic better too.
ON THE OTHER HAND, it got me thinking about the various hero and villain stories that make up nearly all the superhero films, comics and TV shows that I seem to be watching non-stop at the moment. The thing that often comes up is the idea that the villain is the hero of his own story. From the POV of the villain in the story, he is the hero. MOSTLY it makes me think about Ward from Agents of SHIELD. Ward is a TERRIBLE person. TERRIBLE. Yet he continues to act like nothing he is doing is wrong (he’s been murdering and betraying people ALL OVER THE SHOP).
And then that makes me think about the character of Skye and, totally unrelated to the stuff I’ve been talking about so far, how the character is mixed race (Chinese & White) and how AWESOME this is because I’ve pretty much seen…. no one like me on TV. I suppose Keanu Reeves in 47 Ronin SORT OF counts if you grasp at straws a bit. SKYE. FOREVER AWESOME.
* Looking on IMDB it turns out that she has been in like… all the things ever that I loved. She was Chantho in Doctor Who. She was the voice of the ship, Icarus, in one of my FAVOURITE FILMS EVER – Sunshine.
It seems like every year I’ve gone to LFF I don’t actually really talk about it until weeks and weeks later. Such is life. Luckily I keep my Letterboxd account updated and that helps me to remember. I think the only thing I’m hazy on are a few of the shorts that I saw. Onwards. There’s going to be spoilers (probably). There’s… going to be more than one part to this report on LFF.