I’ve been pretty terrible at blogging recently, and of all the blogs this is the one left to the bottom of the pile. But I wanted to start trying to blog more here, do more of a diary style update, pulling together some thoughts on films, books, theatre and such. I saw a weekly round up work well on another blog, so thought I’d give it a go.
What I’ve been doing…
You’ll see from the below, that I’ve spent a lot of this week being wrapped up in stories – Waterstones Birmingham had two author talks I added, Alwyn Hamilton on Monday and Pierce Brown on Wednesday, both promoting new books. I also went to the cinema. A lot.
I had a bit of a dodgy tummy earlier in the week, but was glad to make it for lunch with my friend Sarahat Medicine in Birmingham and had a very nice croque monsieur and Chelsea bun – something I’ll hopefully write up for Full to the Brum. I’ve been trying to cook more, so lunch at work has been a slow-cooked orange curry – another vegan dish to try and get some vegetables in at lunch.
What I’ve been watching…
If I haven’t been at work, chances are this week I’ve been wrapped up in a story. It’s Oscar season at the cinema which means there is a glorious amount of things to see at the cinema; so much so that I’ve ended up seeing six films this week. Tuesday saw a preview of Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water, which was on at such time that I managed to squeeze in a viewing of The Post beforehand. With the weather being so utterly miserable on Saturday, I decamped to the cinema for the day and then rounded off with a trip to see Phantom Thread with my mum on Sunday.
I have this lovely idea of writing up my thoughts on all the films in long reviews, but given how slack I am on blogging recently, and how lop-sided my cinema viewing habits tend to be year-round, I think I might just try and include them in round ups. So, here goes:
The Post felt poorly paced, with the first half too slow, and the two stars were perfectly adequate but didn’t pack the punch we’ve seen from them in other films – not enough screen time was given to Streep’s character to convey the brave choices she made as a women, who never asked to be there, in a man’s world. Could do better.
The Shape of Water was gloriously shot and Sally Hawkins was superb. But I’m getting a bit bored of this nerd-boy ‘boobs’ trope which just felt out of place at the beginning of the film. The story is about outsiders finding love, but I found myself more interested in the relationship between Elisa and Giles, than the romance between Elisa and the monster. The side-plot involving Russian spies felt like it was there to bulk out the plot, and whilst there was a lot I found problematic about this film I also didn’t entirely hate it.
The Greatest Showman was probably the film I enjoyed the most purely for being a nice piece of throwaway escapism on a dreary Saturday. Sure it wasn’t a faithful retelling of Barnum’s life and it very much fell into the rags-to-riches trope, but the songs, the dancing, the costumes and the stories of outsiders finding a place to fit in was a nice place to spend an hour or so. And I don’t think it pretended or tried to be anything more.
Downsizing seemed entirely confused as to what sort of movie it wanted to be; the film was meandering and missing any kind of coherent narrative. I’d give it a miss.
Darkest Hour felt like a vehicle to get Gary Oldman an Oscar and he would well deserve it for this performance. But I don’t feel like it added anything new to what feels like a well-trodden tale of history.
Phantom Thread was not as styled as Shape of Water, but I enjoyed the aesthetics of this – the grandeur of the couture and the central house. The storytelling was eerie, but drifted along and felt less narrative and more a snapshot into dressmaker Reynolds’ complex relationships with the women in his life: his dead mother, stern sister, and revolving door of muses until he meets Alma. Oddly entrancing, but likely not to be everyone’s cup of tea.
I’ve also watched a few episodes of Altered Carbon on Netflix, which appeared on Friday. Before that I was dipping into Limitless, a tv series based on the 2011 film, itself based on the novel The Dark Fields by Alan Glynn.
I’m woefully behind on novels, so I’ve been desperately trying to catch up on Pierce Brown’s excellent Red Rising series (which I started over two years ago), in time for his talk at Waterstones this week. He was promoting Iron Gold, the newest novel set in the Red Rising world, and one I’m eager to read – although I think I might have to try and read some of the others on my shelf/kindle first, as if I stay in that world too long it’ll be hard to read something else after.
I’ve also been reading a lot of articles online. I thought about trying to keep tabs on all of them, but that would be impossible, so here are five I found particularly interesting;