Roundup #1

Pledged to use this more, and to start to amass an archive of information, snippets, ideas going forward and etc. We shall see how that goes. This is mostly due to the Bullet Journal bug, but more of that anon.

Books and Media

Been in a bit of a rut this week with books – perhaps I’m not as invested in the stories I’m trying to get into and it’s thrown my focus. But this’ll shake off soon, I’d imagine. Commuting helps with providing neat chunks of time I can read (when I get a seat).

Finished The Invisible Library, by Genevieve Cogman, a birthday present that’s the start of a series of vaguely magic-ish multiple worlds/dimension hopping, with a slight rose-tint at old pulp genre which is oddly acknowledged throughout by the protagonist in a sweet enough way. Spent much of it planning a re-read of Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next books, which engage with meta in a slightly sharper way, though it was enjoyable, and I’m looking forward to the sequel.

Absolutely adored The Expanse on Netflix – the characters were interesting, I wanted to see how the threads unravelled, thought the acting was good (and props for a more diverse casting). It’s a colonist cold war in space – with the breadth and depth that people admire with Game of Thrones – I think. I, predictably, adore Miller, and have ordered the first book or two to start soon.

Also watched the new Planet Earth II, which was great and I really love the ‘diaries’ at the end for the camera-people explaining how they got the shots in the first place without egregious bodily harm on their part. While I acknowledge that narratives are framed around footage for drama and engagement, I felt more than a little love for the albatross awaiting his partner who was running late, something I was not alone in apparently!

Planet Earth II Albatross

Planet Earth II Albatross

Out and About

PJ Harvey, Brixton Academy

This was a phenomenal set that had my friend and I in tears at points. Such a stage presence, such a great band of musicians. The new album sounded great live and I’m looking forward to sitting down and listening to it properly, where I can take in the (very political) lyrics properly. Similarly, it was actually magic seeing songs (particularly When Under Ether and The Devil [live vid]) from White Chalk live, which has been one of my favourite albums of hers. And she ended on The River [live vid], which ended me.

Lazarus, Kings Cross Theatre

We saw this play the night after the morning the US elections were called. Let’s just say that This is Not America hit harder than it might have otherwise. Also it doesn’t pull its punches, with Lazarus the first song out of the gate. Michael C Hall is a very good Newman, and a decent Bowie, come to that. Michael Esper is a similarly good singer as the dark Valentine. Like the original, the women aren’t the best characters and serve as foils to the protagonist when not having a slightly wrought breakdown, But the musical is enjoyable – once you let go of plot and become a voyeur as Newman to the world, letting it wash over you. The staging effects are well done, and I like being able to see the musicians through windows. It will be good to see again, once rewatching The Man Who Fell to Earth so the film is fresher in my mind.

The Tiger’s Bride, Oxford Playhouse

This adaptation of an Angela Carter short story was done in the top room of St Aldate’s Tavern, with a small cast and crew (of which I knew one). I really liked the music (performed live, stage right), and the effects that managed to convey a vast space through wooden frames used as doorways, stairs, corridors. The wirework in the horses and tiger mask were also lovely. Nicely performed, and carried the (crammed) audience with them effortlessly.

King Lear, The Old Vic

It is always good to see the classics done well, and this production, starring Glenda Jackson as the eponymous ruler, was very well performed. I felt a lot of sympathy for Celia Imrie and Jane Horrocks’ Goneril and Regan, as I’m often wont to do. Rhys Ifans was a good fool, Kent (Sargon Yelda) and Gloucester (Karl Johnson) were also strong. The cast did well with the material, though playing the king straight removed the possibility of a set of familial bonds that could have made the text richer. Having said that, the focus was much more on the paradigm shifts between generations and the ‘deserving’ inheritors of wealth and influence. The ‘good’ respect for the establishment in casting out those not welcome (despite Edmund’s actions) is particularly (and ever) prescient.

And while I’m talking about The Old Vic, I saw No’s Knife for my birthday.

Lisa Dwan was phenomenal. I’m not too familiar with Beckett’s writing but this was such a way to get into them (helped in the more abstract passages by captions). She shuck on characters like a second skin, and the bleed between them made for a heady viewing experience.

The Quay Brothers in 35mm (Christopher Nolan), Prince Charles Cinema

I’d not seen many of the Quay Brothers’ films before, though adored the ones I knew, so snapped up these tickets at the marvellous PCC as soon as I saw them. Starting with In Absentia certainly set a fraught mood that left us a bit breathless in the change of reels – but then we’re taken into a short interview/doc with the brothers themselves in their studio space, talking about their work which allows space and time to frame the work in context – particularly given their comments about not wanting to work with [what’s outside the window] but escape it within their puppets and sets. This feeds nicely into two of their films, Comb, which I’d not seen and adored, and Street of Crocodiles, which is one of my favourite short films. It was amazing seeing the films on a large screen, considering the scale of the sets and machinery themselves. The characters have such life, more than the glint of olive oil on their eyes.

The Worthy (Ali F. Mostafa), ICA, part of the BFI London film festival

Wasn’t sure what to expect with this massively violent and somewhat bleak film in a Battle Royale vein. Did enjoy it, though would rather have followed the protagonist’s sister, plot-wise, for her drive (in direct contrast to the Hamlet-like action or not action conflict in main chara).

Spirited Away (Ghibli), Prince Charles Cinema

Fabulous seeing the film on such a large screen (subbed). The colour palates and scenery makes it a feast for the eyes. Also it helps that it had a decent translation of the original dialogue.

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