I’m going to be quite honest with you: normally I don’t make resolutions in the new year. I don’t typically see the point of them. That’s not to say I don’t see the point in trying to better yourself – the thing that I always got hung up on was artificially limiting one’s self to setting goals in January. Whenever I want to make a change I try to build up some momentum, and just do it irrespective of the time of year.
That said, this year I did make a few resolutions. I decided I wanted to watch 10 films, 10 television shows, and read 10 books. I chose 10 because it was easy to remember, and seemed manageable. Having said that, there is one major qualifier there. Television shows can span multiple seasons, and go on for a painfully long time so I decided to count a single season of a show toward my total tally. I could already envision a future state where I was struggling to get through the painful later seasons of a show that refused to die, and decided to take mercy on myself. Completion isn’t really the end goal here anyway.
That raises a question though: if completion isn’t my motivation for this, then what is? Well I’m glad you asked: I feel like I’m getting dumber. I play a lot of games, and, while I actively try to experience games from a broad range of genres, I don’t feel like I have the easiest time expressing my opinions about them. I read posts by fellow bloggers in envy. I am jealous with how easily some of you seem to express your opinions. It’s a skill I wish I had. So I’m going to try to develop it.
To that end, I decided I needed to expose myself to an even broader range of stories, and experiences. Obviously, I still have concerns with going outside, so watching more cinema, and reading more books seemed like the best path forward. I just…feel like I need to have some more spices mixed into my brain soup. It feels like it is going stagnant with only a steady diet of video games to sustain it.
I feel like I should say something insightful here, but I really don’t have much else to say beyond that. I mean – I have already watched 3 films, and 1 television show, so I’m making good progress. Should I talk about those? Do you even care about my opinions?
The first thing I watched this year was Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery. It’s a detective film, and sequel to Knives Out. Mir, and I decided to give it a go since we enjoyed Knives Out, and assumed we’d enjoy Glass Onion too. It helped that it was doing the rounds on social media, which is usually a good sign. Predictably, we weren’t wrong, and had a great time with it. The film wasn’t particularly profound though – it was a lot of fun, but I quickly forgot about it until I was writing up this post. Not exactly a flattering review, but I think there’s a lot of value in being entertaining.
I don’t want to spoil anything here, but I’d describe Glass Onion as feeling like a carnival ride. You go through the whole film just sort of taking it all in as it comes until the halfway point. Then it’s flipped on its head, and you re-watch everything from a different perspective. This gives the audience a much greater appreciation for the scope of what’s going on. The film does an excellent job of presenting the motive, and means for each of the potential suspects, which all comes to a roaring finale at the point where the 2 perspectives converge.
A week later we watched Everything Everywhere All at Once. I wasn’t as big on it. I think a decade of Marvel films has conditioned me to expect every film I watch to be entertaining. Everything Everywhere All at Once has its moments, but as a film about nihilism it isn’t exactly a popcorn muncher. Though there is a mountain of terrible Kung Fu, and I do love me some terrible Kung Fu.
As for what the film is actually about, Everything Everywhere All at Once is a story about how it is pointless to be alive, or even try. It explores the frustration of struggling to do, or make anything out of one’s self. Despite the dower subject material, the film ultimately concludes that life might just be about the time we spend with those we love. That feels too simple to be profound, but I’m still thinking about Everything Everywhere All at Once, where I completely forgot about Glass Onion until I sat down to write this. So maybe it really is that simple.
The third film, was one I watched last weekend: Coraline. I’d never seen it before, but it is one of Miranda’s favourites. She has a lot of nostalgia for it because it was one of the first films she saw when she moved to the city. She’s originally from backwater, buttfuck nowhere, and places like that have a tendency to trap people. The government always turns their back on those communities, opting to funnel all their money into the city centres instead. This results in there being less services, and opportunity in these areas, which has a sort of tar pit effect. Once you’re in too deep it becomes impossible to escape because you won’t have the socioeconomic means to do so.
Anyway, Coraline is really creepy film. It’s about a girl who thinks her life is terrible, so she visits this alternative dimension where everything about her life seems so much better. Unfortunately, the longer she spends in this alternative world, the more Coraline notices the cracks in the fabric.
One of my favourite aspects of the film was how the alternative world is presented. Numerous scenes within it are shot with Dutch angles, or use a slower framerate than the rest of the film. This gives the whole place an other worldly feel that is immediately apparent to the audience because we’re able to experience it just as much as Coraline is. This provides the whole film with this really creepy undercurrent that I really enjoyed. Highly recommend checking this one out if you haven’t already.
Finally, we come to Fleabag. I watched the first season all in one go, and have intentions of watching the second to completion as well. It’s about a degenerate, sex-crazed modern woman working through the trauma of her recently departed friend, and the stresses of day-to-day life. The whole thing is a bit of a black comedy, and I found that highly refreshing. It seems like nothing is allowed to just be a comedy anymore – comedy has instead been relegated to quips, and reference humour. That, and the dry wit of Fleabag made it a great time.
The thing I appreciate most about Fleabag was how it used comedy as the means by which to express sadness. I am someone that uses humour as a coping mechanism. It’s how I get through things. It was nice to see that reflected through a television show – a subtle reminder that I’m not alone, and there are others out there that share my experience for moving on from pain.
Well, that all felt incredibly pretentious. If you got this far – thank you. I don’t know if this post was any good, and frankly I don’t care. It was fun to reflect, and I feel a little lighter for it.
I don’t know if I’ll do another one of these, but it couldn’t hurt. I was able to express myself, and that was the end goal of all this. Look forward to more posts like this in future, I guess? Until next time, stay safe out there.
I’m all about intersectional analysis. Internalizing and re contextualizing disparate storytelling techniques when looking at any art is valuable imo
Haven’t watched Everything everywhere yet, but sounds like it embraces optimistic nihilism a little bit. Interesting to see that philosophy start leaking from the younger millenials/genZ into art made for/by them.
Give me more critical analysis my friend! I’m here for it.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Re: Everything Everywhere – it was definitely interesting to see. I get the impression that as more “younger” (relative) people get to start making films, and seeing their creative vision come to light we’ll see more of that. I have to assume there is a whole indie scene for cinema that I’m not familiar with that already does this same thing, but it’d be nice to see more of it break into main stream culture like Everything Everywhere did. I’m no cinephile – I need stuff to cross over into normie territory before it pops up on my radar hahaha.
Hell yeah! I’ve been getting into another reading kick myself. Literature and such has been one of the things that really expanded my horizons over the years.
Hope your project works and you feel improved by this time next year.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Going to be perfectly honest, I’m a bit intimidated by the notion of having to read again for fun. I, unfortunately, dropped off reading outside of educational purposes (or fellow bloggers) back in high school, so I’m coming up on almost 2 decades where I haven’t really read anything. Almost feels like I need to start with stuff that is simple so I can build up the reading “muscles” again. Is that even a thing? Do you lose the ability to read when you don’t do it for too long? hahah
LikeLiked by 1 person
I think the issue is just finding stuff that appeals to you. You’ve likely been reading a ton throughout your life, it’s just the kind of stuff we don’t quantify as “reading” because we associate that activity with books. The muscles are probably tuned pretty well, the problem is just conceptualizing the activity as fun, rather than work.
There’s so much out there that I am confident if you just sit down for about 10 minutes and ask yourself “what do I think I might enjoy reading?”, you can wind up finding stuff that fits the answer you come up with. Simple or complex, short or long, sci fi or fantasy or romance or mystery or non-fiction, and so on and so on and so on.
But also, yeah, if you feel more comfortable starting with some simpler stuff to ease you in, do that. The biggest guarantor of failing in that part of your project is dread, and if complex stuff fills you with dread, then just set the complex stuff aside for now.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Good luck with the new approach! I look forward to seeing where it takes you. I agree that mixing it up can help keep things fresh — I started with a primary focus on games but ended up shifting over to anime and music in a more or less equal mix (though a lot more anime in the last couple of years really.)
Coraline is one of those movies I’ve always heard recommended, does look interesting. I’ve also heard great things about Everything Everywhere All At Once, and I believe it’s probably great based on what I’ve heard from people around whose opinions I value highly, but I also have a real problem with the optimistic nihilism I’ve heard it’s based on. It’s an entirely personal problem — I’m happy if it works for other people, but it never has for me for various reasons I won’t get into here. But then maybe all the more reason to watch this movie if it can challenge my ideas somehow.
LikeLiked by 1 person
In the short term it’s certainly been interesting. A couple weeks in now (and something like a week and a half removed from when I originally wrote the article). There’s a very different cadence to the day when the only gaming I do is 10 minutes of combo clean-up practice in Guilty Gear Strive, and then I spend the rest of the evening watching a show, or reading through several chapters of a book. It’s weirdly refreshing…probably just weird because I’m used to having to use games from very different genres to accomplish the same sort of palette cleanse.
Def-o check out Coraline if you get 2 hours free, and have a netflix sub (though I dunno if it’s on American Netflix – I swear Canada netflix has everything because no one considers us a real market, so netflix has free reign here).
Re: Everything Everywhere – having your views challenged can be a healthy exercise. If nothing else, it gives you reason to consider them, think about them critically, and either change your mind, or strengthen your existing viewpoint. A solid debate, or moment of introspection can go either way – it doesn’t just have to challenge your views and change them.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Well hey, I enjoyed reading this post so I’d be up for more of this sort of thing! I do think it’s important to make ourselves go out and consume not just media, but different forms of media. There’s a lot to gain from exploring different mediums, whether that going to the theatre or cinema, going to a gig, sitting at home playing a game, etc.
I wasn’t quite as hot on Everything Everywhere All At Once as everyone else is. I liked it, and I appreciate the sheer creativity of it, but I found a lot of the crude humour in the middle act unnecessary. I much preferred the film when it was using the multiverse approach to tell a story and get a message about self-acceptance across at the end. I’m fully aware that part of this is just my own taste in humour though. Also, the cast is incredible, especially the always-brilliant Michelle Yeoh 😀
LikeLiked by 1 person