Thursday this and that
Bread Pudding and Circuses and the Demise of Google Plus (pt 1)

The watching things kind of malaise, day one

Sometimes when I get the late winter malaise, reading doesn’t feel very good and so I watch things; either endless rewatches of Midsomer Murders or Inspector Morse or Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, or things I have overlooked that want some attention. Not usually foreign language things; at least not on day one, because I might shut my eyes for a bit and miss something.

Yesterday I started to catch up on Murdoch Mysteries, had two episodes of that, but it didn’t fit my mood. So I watched some movies. Clicking on the images takes you to a trailer.

First I watched Crooked House, from 2017, with an intriguing role played by Glenn Close. I have read the book several times; it was one of the first Agatha Christies I read, because I was a kid and liked the title. I wasn’t sure if they kept the original ending, but was willing to be either pleasantly surprised or mildly annoyed. Either way, the reviews and ratings for it were all over the place, and after watching it, I can see why. (Here's a review that liked it more than I did.) It was super stylish, and had a groovy atmosphere with some fun performances. But the P.I. office conceit was more air than there; a little more could easily have been made of it. And the rest was oddly edited. I felt like I was watching something that could have been really great. Instead it was…unbalanced. Well, the story is meant to set you off balance. Just probably not in the way that it did. I'm glad I watched it, though. 75/100

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Next, I watched An Inspector Calls, from 2015. This is based on an old play I had not read or seen before. I had a rough idea of the story, but was not prepared for it at all, which is a good thing. I looked up a few reviews first; The Spectator haaated it, so I thought perhaps that was a promising sign. They didn’t even bother trying to understand the context J. B. Priestley was concerned with, at all, but that’s par for their course. And it was nicely eerie, well-paced, and David Thewlis was terrific in his role.

The movie is not perfect; the nature of styling a film like a play sometimes makes a viewer feel sort of remote, but stlll it was stylish, gripping and thought-provoking, and I’d recommend it to people who can enjoy a fairly static setting and mostly dialogue. 85/100

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Finally, I turned my attention to exploring some Tom Hiddleston roles. Lately I’ve been fascinated by him. I didn’t really get the Loki love, though I do enjoy that character, but after I saw him in The Night Manager, I was intrigued. And he’s a very interesting person to explore on YouTube. (This is a smart 17 minute conversation about adapting that book.) I maybe have thoughts now, about someone far too young (video) to be having thoughts about (images.) But I realized I hadn’t seen him in anything (maybe?) besides that and Crimson Peak, so I chose three movies I knew little about, read up on them, and then began with Only Lovers Left Alive, from 2013.

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I liked it a lot. I don’t know who else I know who would; if you ever describe things as “too arch,” definitely not you. I think three, possibly four of my six offspring would dig it. Tilda Swinton was terrific, but of course she was. The Detroit setting is perfect, and though I haven’t been there in 20 years, I recognized it, which is something I appreciate. There are some wide streets there with empty houses on them that are simultaneously tragic and beautiful, and make you feel like you are in the middle of absolutely nowhere instead of on the edge of a large city. I hear they’re working on that, guess I hope so. 

Only Lovers Left Alive is a slow-paced stylish dialogue about day to day existence, what matters in it: love, mostly what doesn’t: everything else. And that’s about all. But I found it rich viewing, and might watch it again after a two cocktail evening to reexperience the mood/trance music in an extra relaxed frame of mind. 90/100  

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