The GardenDespatches from The Satyrs’ Forest

Posts tagged as “monthly recaps”

Stuff i watched recently, Junely edition

A montage of the undermentioned films

Dawn of the Dead (1978)

Hyped up to me as one of the best horror films in history, i’m convinced it’s actually an incredible comedy. There is so much Gremlins energy oozing out of this whole film; every scene, you can just imagine George Romero sitting back and going “…can i, like, put that in a movie?” and then putting that in a movie. A zombie gets pied in the face. 8/10.

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Mad Max: Fury Road is not the greatest film ever made, but it feels like the greatest film ever made while you’re watching it. I’ve never seen a film edited like this: a two-hour-long sugar rush where every shot is overcranked till it breaks and nothing ever stops moving. 9/10, with one point added solely because of the guy in the post-apocalyptic convoy whose job it is to play the guitar.

La La Land (2016)

It’s fine. Ryan Gosling’s great as always, but something about this failed to grab me in the way it clearly has so many other people. 5/10.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

Stepdad’s pick, in honour of Donald Sutherland’s death. Great stuff, with a fascinating eerie soundscape, creepily good practical effects, and, hang on, is that Jeff Goldblum? 7/10.

Doctor Who: “The Legend of Ruby Sunday”/“Empire of Death” (2024)

Well, that sure was a Russell T. Davies Doctor Who finale, wasn’t it? Part one’s always great, and then, as always, he can’t write an ending for the life of him.

Now the season’s over, it’s clear that it needed more room to breathe. Eight episodes of forty minutes just isn’t enough for a show to do both monster-of-the-week and a longer arc; with two episodes taken up by the finale, two Doctor-lite episodes, and one where she’s unconscious for half of it, we’ve barely gotten to know the relationship between Ruby and the Doctor, which is a shame, because what we do get is brilliant! They play off each other so well, and i wish we could have seen more of them together.

The Bikeriders (2024)

Seen on a whim. A nice little drama about a motorbike club, starring Elvis and Jodie Comer, who’s doing a… fascinating… Midwestern-type accent. 6/10.

Roadgames (1980)

“It’s like Rear Window, but on a lorry.” This scrappy Australian flick delivers just what it says on the tin, with an early turn by Jamie Lee Curtis as a hitchhiker who gets picked up in the second half. 6/10.

🎵️ Brat (2024)

I’m out of touch with music these days, but listening to Charli XCX’s pulse-pounding new hyperpop record, i can’t help but think this is what pop music must sound like in the next universe over. I was sleep-deprived after staying up for election night and that definitely helped the vibe… 8/10.

Stuff i watched recently, Maypril edition

A montage of the undermentioned films
  • Tombstone (1993). I have this pathological aversion to westerns, so i wasn’t expecting much — but once i turned off the part of me that was waiting for Richard Pryor to show up i realised that this the “’em” in “they just don’t make ’em like they used ta”: just a solid, well-made flick, regardless of my thoughts on the genre! I cried manly man tears at the end. 7/10.

  • The Thirteenth Floor, everyone’s fourth favourite film about a simulated world from 1999. I found it surprisingly interesting whenever it didn’t remind me too much of The Matrix, and a bit pathetic whenever it did. (Don’t try to do action, simulated world movie from 1999. You’ll never measure up.) 6/10.

    As a bonus, since nobody cares about this movie, you can just watch it on Youtube if you want.

  • Little Shop of Horors (1986). My pick for family movie night. Utterly charming from leaf to toe — the best example since Gremlins 2 of a film where you can see the craft that went into making every frame. Incredible effects, wonderful music, magnetic comedic performances from the whole cast… 10/10!

  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), the impromptu double feature to the above. My brain has been completely frazzled by watching this. I went from loving it to hating it to complete bafflement to examining it like a scientist would a new species of frog. This film may very well have invented homosexuality. Defies numerical rating/10.

  • Late Night with the Devil (2023). Always nice to see David Dastmalchian, even if it’s nothing that hasn’t been done before — 6/10.

  • The Fall Guy (2024). Ryan Gosling’s a brilliant comedic actor, but him and some great setpieces struggle to save this film from a shoddy script and baffling editing choices. The jokes aren’t funny, the dialogue scenes linger for far too long, half the stuff from the trailer is gone from the movie… the whole thing desperately needs a trimming down to a tight ninety minutes. 4/10.

  • Eurovision 2024. Bullet-pointed, as per tradition:
    • I went in totally blind this year, having missed the semi-finals while building a new PC. Oops!
    • Sweden appear to have trapped the Backstreet Boys in the Matrix.
    • There is no country named the Netherlands and never has been. Doesn’t exist. Not real. We begin bombing in five minutes.
    • Big fan of Spain’s bizarre campy cougar energy, even if the audience and juries weren’t!
    • Estonia are frankly embarrassing.
    • Completely maxed out my scorecard for Ireland, who have sent in Xanthe-bait of the highest order. Yes… hahaha… yes!!!
    • Greece’s song is the most annoying thing since Crazy Frog and it baffles me how highly it scored.
    • I think the UK is just cursed at this point. We send a legitimate star with the world’s gayest performance (admittedly more in the “getting sucked off in a dingy bathroom” way than the “campy drag queen” way) and not a single point from the audience?
    • God bless Finland. I usually hate it when acts try deliberately to be funny but i died laughing at a pantsless man in a censored Windows 95 T-shirt emerging from an egg while pyrotechnics go off.
    • Switzerland have taken Sam Ryder’s mantle as this year’s designated golden retriever… a great performance from someone who’s clearly happy beyond words to be there. A deserving winner if there ever was one.
    • Croatia’s catchy pirate dance is great but i cannot forgive that abominable stage name. I don’t care how many records you sell; there is no excuse to call yourself Baby Lasagna. Go back to the drawing board. Now.
  • T2 Trainspotting (2017). Mama’s pick for family movie night. I wasn’t so hot on the idea going in… and then it was, to my surprise, pretty great! It uses the idea of the legacy sequel to its advantage — it’s a film about nostalgia, the good and bad of it all. It really does feel like you’re catching up with these characters twenty years later, all wondering where their lives have gone. Some beautiful shots, too — a film from 2017 that bothered hiring a gaffer?? What a concept! 8/10.

  • 127 Hours (2010), continuing the Danny Boyle theme. Probably the best film a film about a guy whose hand is stuck next to a rock could ever be, it convinced me of the occasional merit of a good biopic over a documentary — this would not and could not work if you only had access to the original crummy camera footage and talking-head interviews. Also perhaps the only movie in history to contain an inflatable Scooby-Doo jumpscare. I was going to give it an 8, but then they played Sigur Rós in the triumphant ending scene, so sod it, it’s a 9/10.

  • Chris Chibnall is dead and Doctor Who is alive! I thought Ncuti Gatwa was playing the role too young at first, but the season proper has me totally convinced. His Doctor, the first Doctor to Fuck™, has this infectious energy and zest for life that’s totally new to the character, and a great rapoport with his companion — even when the new series is bad, it’s unhinged in a fun way, rather than the forgettable doldrums of the Chibnall era.

Stuff i watched recently, i forgor edition

A montage of the undermentioned works
  • Aniara (2018). I actually watched this one back in February, but forgot to mention it at the time — a Swedish hard(ish) sci-fi tragedy, where a colony ship on its way to Mars gets knocked off course with no fuel left to turn back. This is unrelentingly bleak, sometimes to the point where my brain would shut off and stopped caring, but there’s a lot to like.

    I love the idea of the Mima as a character/narrative device/whatever: a living AI that uses people’s memories to bring them back visions of Earth as it was, then gets depressed because too many people are using it and flooding it with memories of the apocalypse. Giving the holodeck a soul? Genius.

    Unfortunately it doesn’t so much end as it just fizzles out — i guess you could make a case that that’s on purpose, since that’s how these situations go in the real world, but i found the whole dénouement deeply unsatisfying excepting the veeeery final shots (if you know, you know). 6/10.

  • Anatomy of a Fall (2023). Caught this one at the Tyneside, where it happened to be the next film on at the time i got in. This spoke to me not just because of the powerhouse performances from Sandra Hüller, a dog named Messi (how did they get him to do that?), and the fifteen-year-old(!!!) Milo Machado-Graner, who i wish nothing but the best in his future, but because it matches up with events in my life to a frankly concerning autobiographical extent. This would never, ever be in my wheelhouse were it not for random chance, but i teared up thrice over. 10/10, and i’m annoyed i couldn’t make it my best of last year.

    Ten seconds after watching… Wait, people online think she killed the husband? Are they fucking stupid? What? It’s obviously an accident. Did we watch the same film? Did the cut they saw not have all those carefully-inserted moments where people almost fall off of ledges or get hit by cars to hammer home that accidents can, in fact, just happen? What?? I — am i just projecting my own experiences here and not wanting to believe that my mum would kill someone? And then if they don’t think she killed the husband, they’re like, oh, well the husband deserved it, he was so awful in that argument, and like, no!!! The mum in the film near enough turns to the camera and says “the worst moments in someone’s life are unfairly cherry-picked as evidence for a trail and do not represent them as a whole”; again, did we watch the same bloody film? Are people stupid? Am i stupid? Is Justine Triet stupid? Am i dying?

  • Reservoir Dogs (1992). Mama’s pick for family movie night. Every time i watch a Tarantino film i really get the sense that he’s jacking off to how clever he is writing the script and this is that tendency at its worst. I get why it caught on, i really do, but this is absolutely insufferable from start to finish any time someone who’s not a cop is on screen. I do not care about your thoughts on Madonna’s “Like a Virgin”, Quentin! 3¾/10.

  • Monkey Man (2024). I have been hyped as shit for this ever since the first trailer came out. You can tell this is Sexiest Man Alive Dev Patel’s first time in the director’s chair (looooots of shaky-cam close-ups), but it’s damn stylish, and he shows a lot of promise. I can also see why Netflix did not want to touch this with a barge pole given that the plot is essentially “Dev Patel kills the BJP”. (It has some, ah, terroristic overtones that would be a little concerning if it were even 10% less shlocky.)

    That aside, i really enjoyed the film, and thought it got better as it went along — early on, i wasn’t super clear on the character motivations at play, but then the most me-bait thing since The Northman happens: Mr Patel’s character has a near-death-experience flashback and wakes up having been rescued by a hijra priest at a secret temple to Ardha­nari­shvara, a half-male, half-female incarnation of Shiva. Into! my! fucking! veins! 6½/10.

  • De dolende god (2018), as seen previously on The Garden. This is pretty much designed to appeal to me specifically, and yeah, it’s really good. It’s sweet, heartfelt, absolutely gorgeous, and of course, extremely European. It’s the odd one out in this list, being a comic book rather than a film — a medium i don’t have much experience with, so it’s hard to give it a numerical rating in the absence of comparisons… but let’s say 8/10.

Stuff i watched recently, Marchuary edition

Letterboxd screenshot of a list of “movies about spice worlds”, with the two adaptations of “Dune” and “Spice World”
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation, season three. How did i let myself not get around to this earlier‽ This is soft sci-fi running at peak performance — a crew of hyper-competent and endearing1 people on a starship, sometimes just going on wacky space adventures, other times using science fiction as a lens through which to view our own world. 10/10. My three favourite episodes so far:
    1. “Tin Man”. Our character actor of the week, Harry Groener, plays a member of a mildly telepathic species who has a small problem: he has Space Autism, thus can’t turn said telepathy off. Man, does this episode get it. Every little thing about him is painfully relatable, the ending reduced me to tears, and i would like seven seasons of a buddy cop spinoff show starring him and Data right now, please and thank you.
    2. “The Survivors”. The third episode in the season, this is the one that made me sit up and go: God damn, that’s good television. Our character of the week, John Anderson, is the man of the house for an elderly couple who are the only ones left after the decimation of their planet. I can’t reveal anything more than that, but he sells it like noöne else could.
    3. “Deja Q”. This one’s just funny.
  • The Revenant (2015). Stepdad’s pick for family movie night. When the credits rolled, i thought it one of the best films i’d ever seen… but a few weeks on, i’m not so sure. The cinematography is epic, and Tom Hardy’s brilliant, no doubt, but i really feel more could have been mined from the premise. Leonardo DiCaprio’s half-Pawnee son in particular is the heart of the film, and the key role through which to interpret the conflict between the three warring groups, but he gets unceremoniously killed off halfway through, for no other reason than to bolster Mr Hardy’s villain cred and, i am left to infer, because the writers had no idea what to do with his character for the rest of the story. Mr DiCaprio himself goes completely overboard and could really take Lawrence Olivier’s advice to heart: “My dear boy, have you tried just acting?” 6½/10.
  • True Stories (1986). My pick for family movie night. This sweet and mild-mannered musical comedy is David Byrne’s only director credit, and that’s a damned shame. Most places call it a satire, and i can’t help but think they’re projecting. This is a genuine ode to small-town American life, whatever its pros and whatever its cons, and next time i’m sick, i know exactly what i’ll be putting on. 8/10.2
  • The Wicker Man (1973). Figured i’d watch a whimsical musical from the seventies in preparation for the next one on the list. Great vibes, great music, great ending, great showing from the legendary Christopher Lee3, but good heavens, is our main character ever an unsympathetic, bigoted prick. He’s stumbled on a conspiracy to murder, and he just won’t let go of the fact that he saw some NEKKID WIMMEN prancing around a henge! 7/10.
  • Wonka (2024). Mama’s pick for family movie night. This is a bad idea for a movie and they should not have made it. That’s fine, though: lots of good films make poor ideas on paper. This isn’t one of them. Timothée Chalamet is terrible! You never once buy him as anything other than Timothée Chalamet in a hat. He’s far too much of a goody two-shoes — not a droplet of the sinister nature of Gene Wilder and Johnny Depp’s4 Wonkæ is anywhere to be found. 3/10.
  • An American Werewolf in London (1981). Stepdad’s pick for family movie night. A bit of a throwaway, but there’s some good stuff in here, especially the titular American Werewolf (Who Went Hiking In The North But For Some Reason Is Taken To A Hospital) In London’s zombified friend. 6/10.
  • I’m Thinking of Ending Things (2020). Shades of Tenet and Asteroid City here: it’s not Charlie Kaufman at his best, but it is Charlie Kaufman at his most, and he may have finally metatexted too close to the sun. Some really interesting stuff spread out over a turgidly paced first and second acts and a completely nonsensical third. I presume Jesse Plemons’s directions were just “pretend to be Philip Seymour Hoffman”. 5/10.
  • Dune Reloaded / Dune 2: Dune Harder / D2NE (2024). Seen in Imax. A titanic achievement that improves upon the often unfeeling first in every way. I take back everything i said about Wonka — Mr Chalamet is magnetic in a way that cements him as the zoomer generation’s first true movie star. Every gushing ten-star review you’ve heard is true. See it now on the biggest screen you can, with bass that shakes the leather in your seat, because you’ll never forgive yourself if you don’t. 9/10, with that final point conditional on the inevitable third part hitting the mark.

Stuff i watched recently

A still from “Poor Things”
Poor Things (2023)
  • Some Like It Hot (1959). My pick for family movie night. I’ve been accused of being a bit of a “miserabilist” (i’m sorry, but Synecdoche, New York bangs, and i have no regrets on making them watch it), so i thought i’d kick the year off with something a bit funny, a bit light-hearted, and a bit gay, and cor, was this an absolute classic! A comedy from the fifties about two men cross-dressing to infiltrate a women’s jazz band should be positively radioactive, but this misses all the potential pipelines of “well, you know, back in the day…” sewage and instead hits a gold-mine of timeless commentary on gender relations. I’m on Team Daphne — he’s so much more confident in being a woman than Josephine and does not deserve that terrible toad man. (And, having seen both this and Rear Window, i can finally weigh in: Grace Kelly is a thousand times prettier than Marilyn Monroe. Sorry.) An instant 10/10.
  • “Noöne knows who created skull trumpet (until now)”. Had to click this as soon as it appeared on my feed. There’s really something beautiful about the amateurism of the early web, how a woman with no formal training in graphic design or anything of the sort could make all these wonderful, whimsical images, and have one of them persist into the present day. Rest in peace, Cathy Jarboe, you beautiful diamond, you. 6½/10.
  • The Master (2012). Mama’s pick for family movie night. Philip Seymour Hoffman is incredible in this as an L. Ron Hubbard–style cult leader, to the extent that you often find yourself agreeing with him — i totally get why people join these sort of things now. Joaquin Phoenix, on the other hand… man, i hate to say it, but i might be falling off the Phoenix train? He’s always doing that same snivelling Joker thing, even when it’s totally inappropriate like in Napoleon, and it’s getting kind of old. Joaquin Phoenix Play A Character With Social Skills Challenge (Impossible). Paul Thomas Anderson directs the shit out of this. 6/10.
  • The Hudsucker Proxy (1994). Rewatched with mama.1 Loved it even more than the first time, especially Jennifer Jason Leigh’s character. Just a terribly good-natured film that only sits in obscurity because of its obsequious title. It’s a shame Tim Robbins disappeared after this — i looked up his filmography and he seems to have been in bomb after bomb (Green Lantern, Mission to Mars…). 9/10.
  • Poor Things (2023, but didn’t come out until 2024 here). Watched at the Tyneside. I’d been eagerly awaiting this since i saw the bonkers trailer back in September, and it didn’t disappoint. There was a moment 15% of the way through where i thought i might walk out, but good lord, did it ever win me back over! Bella Scissorhands goes on a steampunk adventure across Europe filled with childlike whimsy, discovers herself, has lots of sex, and winds up Mark Ruffalo. Everyone is absolutely brilliant in this — special commendation to Willem Dafoe as a Scottish mad scientist. Already the strong front-runner for my favourite of the year. 9/10.

The July media catchup

I’ve missed, erm, quite a lot of “monthly updates”, so here’s me catching you up on everything i’ve watched, listened to, and otherwise done since February.

(I should note that from here on out i’ll be using numeric ratings instead of letters — i find it much easier to figure out whether something’s a 7 or an 8 than whether it’s an A or a B.)

🎥 Films on the big screen

Michelle Yeoh with a googly eye on her face in an office
  • There are few films i would recommend unconditionally to anyone and everyone, but by Gods, Everything Everywhere All At Once (2022) is one of them. It’s belly-laugh funny, has brilliant action, and features some of the most truly ridiculous scenes ever put to film, but all without ever losing its sincere, heartfelt core. Just go watch it.a (9)
  • The Northman (2021) is Robert Eggers’ first attempt at a big blockbuster film — and probably his last, looking at the box office. Which is a shame — this weird, grim, beautiful, gory Pagan epic just tickled me in all of the right places, and very well might be in my top 3 films ever made. I loved how it struck the balance of “maybe it’s magic, maybe it’s mundane”; Björk and Willem Dafoe absolutely steal the show in their brief appearances. (10-)
  • Top Gun: Maverick is everything a blockbuster should be. It’s so, so refreshing to watch something so grounded in the real world after what feels like decades of fantastical superhero CGI fluff dominating the box office. Yes, it’s a recruitment ad for the US Navy and probably the Sea Org, but who gives a shit? It had me glued to my seat start to finish.b (8)
  • The same, alas, cannot be said of its predecessor, which i tried to watch to bring me up to speed. Tried is the operative word there: homoerotic beach volleyball and extreme Dad Movie energy can only go so far to prop up flat characters and stakeless action; i ended up turning it off halfway through. I can’t recommend it to anyone who’s not a Dad Who Likes Planes. (2)
  • Sam Raimi takes the wheel at the newest Marvel theme park ride, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Mr Raimi’s hectic style shines through in some glorious, fleeting moments, but most of it is just another by-the-numbers intellectual property orgy which left me sorely disappointed. I considered walking out of the screen several times. (5-)
  • The Batman is a very good adaptation of a story we all know by now. I loved, loved, loved Paul Dano’s weird incel version of the Riddler, the Pat-man’s eyeshadow, and that one part where he flubs the landing with his cool flying squirrel suit. (7+)
  • I watched Morbius in the cinema. Dear god, why did i watch Morbius in the cinema? Why did i do that to myself? Don’t believe the memes. Excepting one truly glorious scene with Matt Smith, this isn’t the funny kind of bad. It’s just plain bad. (2+)
  • Moonfall, on the other hand… now that’s a good bad movie. I swear my IQ dropped several points after walking out of the cinema. (5) Here are some things that actually happen in this actual movie that was actually released into actual cinemas across several actual countries and made millions of actual dollars:
    • The government successfully covers up the fact that the moon is falling, and not a single person notices except for a crazed conspiracy theorist.
    • Said conspiracy theorist is inexplicably British.
    • The characters take the Space Shuttle out of a museum because their other rocket broke, and it still works just as well as the day it was put in there. Also, someone graffiti’d it with the words “fuck the moon”.
    • The day is saved by superior Chinese technology, because of course it is.
    • On that note — there is a character in here whose sole purpose, i’m pretty sure, is to just stand there, say some lines now and then, and be Chinese for the Chinese audience. You could cut her out of the film and literally nothing would change.
    • You can guess what the department of defence wants to do to the moon. That’s right, they try to nuke it!
    • But they don’t because a five-star general knows his ex-wife is up there.
    • There is a shot of the moon falling on New York City in which, i shit you not, every building except the World Trade Centre gets absolutely blown to smithereens.
    • Someone’s brain is uploaded to the moon.
    • One of the main characters’ friends owns a Lexus™ dealership. All of the characters drive Lexus™ cars, and they escape oxygen thieves(??) by activating Turbo Mode on their Lexus™ automobile.
    • The Space Shuttle is vaguely “secured” by the Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky, who, just weeks after my screening, got sanctioned by the EU in the wake of the special peacekeeping operation™.
    • A main character gets trapped underneath a log and he escapes because the moon’s gravity pulls it off of the ground! This really happens! I am not making this up! Someone says “Sonny, the moon will help us!”
    • “I know; that’s why we lost the house.” — a seven-year-old

💿 Music

  • Sigur Rós’ () — I may now have a new favourite album. At the very least, it’s my favourite album where none of the tracks have titles and my favourite album where every song is sung in asemic gibberish. Check out the opening track. (9)
  • John Grant’s Queen of Denmark — A surprise gift from my papa. A really lovely piano record — check out the title track. (7+)
  • Spinvis’ Spinvis — Hallelujah, Dutch-language music that doesn’t suck donkey dick! Check uit „Voor ik vergeet”. (7-)
  • After acquiring it on black plastic, i thought i’d give Green Day’s American Idiot a spin — last time around i gave it a C+, but it’s much better when you’re able to properly appreciate each track on its own merits. You know the hits, so check out “Letterbomb”. (8)
  • Charli XCX’s Crash is pretty good, but anchored too firmly in the mainstream for my liking. Check out the hyperpop-inflected “Lightning”. (7)
  • Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood’s new side gig, The Smile, released their debut album A Light for Attracting Attention, and it could easily pass for a tenth Radiohead album. Check out Pablo Honey 2 “You Will Never Work in Television Again” and “Skrting on the Surface”. (8)

🌍 Everything else!

  • 📺 Apple TV+’s Severance is some of the best bloody television i’ve ever seen. I pray to the heavens above that they don’t fuck up that cliffhanger. (9+)
  • 📺 Netflix’s animated Inside Job has a wonky start, with an abundance of forced pop-cultural references, but really finds its footing by the end of the season. Here’s hoping they don’t cancel it — i can’t wait to see where it goes next! (7)
  • 🖥️ On the Youtube side of things, Captain KRB is a fantastic and underrated (only 40 thousand subs) videomaker who you should consider giving a shot. Check out his video about The Stairway to Stardom, an obscure public access show. (6+)
  • 🖥️ Kane Parsons continues to breathe new life into a worn-out e-horror setting with his Backrooms series. (7)
  • ⛰️ I am, as of last month, an official sponsor of the otters at Northumberland Country Zoo. My only regret is that i’m not allowed to hug them. (cute/10)
Three Asian small-clawed otters resting on a log
Cat tax. Otter tax?

The increasingly irregular monthly recap, “Fuck you, it’s February!” edition

Keanu Reeves as Neo stares into the Wordle Dimension

Hello. I’ve done some things in the past month and a half. They were alright.

Films watched

  • Miranda July’s Kajillionaire: watched on a whim as part of my local art-house cinema’s “best of 2020” programme. A soppy gay kiss and a solitary touching scene can’t save this film from its own worst tendencies, with irritatingly quirky characters, jokes so dry they don’t deserve to be called “humour”, and a flat, unemotional lead. (D)
  • Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill, Vol. 1 (2003): Man sure does like his feet. (A)
  • Marvel’s Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021): I can’t be a cynic about this — it’s just plain fun from start to finish. Willem Dafoe and Andrew Garfield absolutely steal the show, almost making up for the former’s goofy mask and the latter’s abysmal Spider-flicks. Some of that CGI was a bit dodgy, though, wasn’t it? (B+)
  • The Wachowskis’ The Matrix Reloaded (2003): I’m going to say it: i enjoyed it more than the first one! Is it a better film? I don’t know about that. But it takes itself so seriously while being so unabashedly goofy that i can’t help but fall in love with it. Where else can you find PS2 Keanu fighting hundreds of Hugo Weavings in the same film as a monologue about the meaning of free will? (A-)
  • The Wachowskis’ The Matrix Revolutions (2003): This one, on the other hand, did the worst thing a film can do. It bored me — which you’d think wouldn’t be possible given its massive scale. (D+)
  • Lana Wachowski’s The Matrix Resurrections (2021): Finally, the film i binge-watched the other three to see. I appreciate what it was trying to do, and some of the worldbuilding was fascinating, but as much as i want to like it, it just falls flat on its face everywhere else. Hugo Weaving’s tech-bro replacement is a poor fit for the job. The action is just plain awful, and the dialogue isn’t much better (Lana, please log off). The best part about it was the cut-ins from the original film. Sorry, Ms Wachowski, but i think i’ll be taking the blue pill. (C-)
  • Jason Reitman’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021): It’s a cynical cash-grab any way you slice it, sure. It’s less of a sequel to the original film and more a sequel to a parallel, schmaltzier Spielbergian version of it which never existed. There’s a character called “Podcast.” But… i enjoyed it! It recaptures the spark of those classic eighties kids’ films — The Goonies, E.T., &c. — in a way that’s been sorely missing for the last decade. (B)

    Not sure how i feel about the ethics of CGI Harold Ramis, mind…

Things which are not films

  • 📺 Adult Swim’s Smiling Friends (2021): I have no idea what this absolutely deranged cartoon is, but i would like three more seasons and a movie greenlit immediately, thank you very much. (A)
  • 📺 The BBC’s Around the World in 80 Days (2021): Just not my thing, i’m afraid. (E)
  • 🎮 Josh Wardle’s Wordle (2021): A nice way to unpick my brain at the start of the day. (C+)
  • 📚 Mary Roach’s Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers (2003): I was very much enjoying my copy, which i had received as a Christmas gift, until i misplaced it… somewhere? It is, one presumes, now in the same dimension where all the socks and pens go.
  • 💿 Talking Heads’ Speaking in Tongues (1983): Picked this classic up at Beatdown. “This Must Be the Place (Naïve Melody)” may just be the greatest song ever written. (A)
  • 🏞️ Gæa’s Ouseburn (4.5 billion BCE), with assistance from Lord Armstrong and T. Dan Smith: The finest place for a walk in Newcastle, if i do say so myself. I’ve been working on a post for ages about all the nuances of it, but, alas, the heavy writer’s block sits unmoving on my keyboard. (A+)

Other recent minutiæ

  • Your author’s pinky finger was recently intimately acquainted with the inside of an antiseptic wipe dispenser, and she had to go to A&E to get it fixed.i Not my proudest moment.
  • Home-made flatbread. Need i say more?
  • Gods bless whoever’s been sticking up all those anti-anti-vax stickers. They’re fighting the good fight! “It’s not Covid-1984.”
A shop in a crowded market: Nil Living / Zero Waste and Refill Shop / Newcastle-upon-Tyne
I don’t mean to be a cynic, but something about the concept of a “zero-waste shop” does strike me as a little oxymoronic… and if not that, then at least a bad business model.
A beach fades into the distance under cloudy skies
Newbiggin-by-the-Sea: it’s okay™!

The not-particularly-monthly-anymore recap, “good heavens, is it really almost 2022?” edition

Hi, all. Sorry for the wait. Here’s some things i’ve watched and (mostly) enjoyed since August. Hope you enjoy.

Patrick Bateman, main character of “American Psycho”, listens to the album “Seventeen Going Under” in his earbuds.

Films watched

  • Michael Sarnoski’s Pig (2021): Nicolas Cage. (B-)
  • Cary Joji Fukunaga’s No Time to Die (2021): Having never seen a James Bond film before, i have to say i enjoyed it, even if the artsy-fartsy cinema i saw it at wasn’t the ideal venue for a massive blockbuster. A racist gets kicked into a vat of acid; what more do you want? (C+)
  • Lana and Lily Wachowski’s The Matrix (1999): The most 1999 movie to ever 1999 its way onto the screen. It suffers somewhat from its own success; i’d heard so much good about it that, even though by technical standards i could of course tell it was a good film, i still found myself somewhat underwhelmed by the ending. (B)
  • Denis Villeneuve’s Dune: Part One (2021): I got the immersive experience by really needing to go to the toilet about halfway through and having no idea when the film was going to end. Amazing visuals, amazing scope, amazing score, i did not feel a single emotion. (B)
  • Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch (2021): Part two of an unexpectedly Timothée Chalamet-filled day at the pictures. It’s another Wes Anderson film! If you like Wes Anderson, you’ll like this. If you don’t, you won’t! There is nothing more i can say about this except that the projector was slightly broken and cut off the top 10% of the frame. (B)
  • Mary Harron’s American Psycho (2000): Me and a group of friends watched this over Discord for laughs and generally memed our way through it — and yet, even among our decidedly unserious, Scorcese-killing atmosphere, we were all genuinely fucking terrified at the chainsaw scene. A masterclass in tension and subtle comedy. (A+)
  • Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man (2002): Watched with friends over Discord. It feels like i’m throwing an axe at someone’s altar here, but good fucking heavens, this movie was laaaame. It ticks off basically every cliché on the list, with seemingly no self-awareness… i’ll admit, though, i did have fun on a purely campy level. (C-)
  • John McTiernan’s Die Hard (1988): An absolute thrill-ride from start to finish. Every time you think it can’t get any more extreme, it does. “No shit, lady, do i sound like i’m ordering a fucking pizza‽” (A)
  • Brian Henson’s The Muppets Christmas Carol (1992): Greatest Christmas film ever made. (B-)

Music listened to

  • Sam Fender’s Seventeen Going Under: I’m naturally biased as a Geordie boygirl myself, but the second i heard this, it went straight to the top of my album-of-the-year rankings — and it’s not even a contest. (A+. Best track: “Seventeen Going Under”)
  • Lucy Dacus’s Home Video: No spoilers, but the closing track? Ye Gods, did the closing track give me a teary eye. (A. Best track: “Triple Dog Dare”)
  • Underscores’ Fishmonger: A fascinating fusion of hyperpop and pop-punk. It’s patchy in a few places, and the repeated samples got on my nerves, but i’m excited to see what this band(?) does next! (B-. Best track: “Spoiled Little Brat”)
  • Sigur Rós’s Takk…: I love it. I really do — but i found myself having to take breaks every so often because lead singer Jónsi’s falsetto came dangerously close to giving me a migraine. (B. Best track: „Hoppípolla”, natch)
  • Some interesting stuff from the Isle of Wight-based band Wet Leg, dripping with wit and sardonic vocals. Can’t wait for the album!
  • I went to my first concert since, you know, the thing. All glory to Elbow.

Other recent minutiæ

  • I’ve been taking up sketching in my journal to ease the brain. I’m not anywhere near good enough to be posting anything on here — trust me — but it’s just nice to have a creative outlet. :)
  • I went on a brief jaunt out to the old Roman temple at Benwell, but to tell the truth, there wasn’t enough interesting about it to turn it into a full post. I did, funnily enough, pass about five different religious denominations on the bus there — a church, a mosque, a gurdwara, a Hindu temple, and a Hare Krishna society.
  • Storm Arwen absolutely fucked parts of Northumberland. My neck of the woods was largely unscathed, but the next town over didn’t fare so well — they didn’t have power for about a week.
  • There were a couple of Barbadians interviewed on Radio 4 about the country’s transition to a republic, and it rather struck me how similar their dialect is to our West Country accent.
  • You simply must listen to this poor woman’s Aspidistra getting absolutely roasted on Gardeners’ Question Time. It’s at about 10 minutes in.
  • Now that the nights are getting longer again, it’s getting to be good weather for stargazing. I really must get myself out to that observatory in Wark again at some point…

Relevant pictures (and one audio file) from jaunts out

In the middle of a typical English suburb, the ruins of an old Roman temple. There's not much left — just a stone-brick border and a few altars, the naos being filled in with gravel.
The aforementioned temple, dedicated to the obscure Romano-Celtic God Antenociticus.
A rickety wooden path is obstructed by a mossy, fallen tree.
One of the many, many trees knocked over by the storm. (And this was taken a fortnight after the fact!)
The sound of Arwen pattering against the window.

August 2021 recap

As the month winds up and summer draws to a close, it's time again for the menstrual (not that kind!) look back on the month that was.

Films watched

A ticket stub for The Suicide Squad
  • Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) — I want to live inside of this film, and if that is not possible, i will somehow find a way to hang the entire thing on my wall. A strong contender for my second favourite film ever. (A+)
  • Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds (2009) — You do have to wonder if their German and French was actually any good. (A)
  • Ilya Naishuller’s Nobody (2021) — A good action film with fun setpieces which i’ll probably forget i ever watched. (C)
  • James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad (2021) — I went to the cinema for the first time since the pandemic began to watch this — I think i would have taken just about anything! (B)

Albums listened to

  • The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band — I am not entirely sure i could give this album an objective ranking after all these years of it being talked up, so, uh, (Classic/10) [Best track: A Day in the Life]
  • Chvrches’ Screen Violence — It’s.... fine, i guess? Not their best, not their worst. (C) [Best track: Better If You Don’t]
  • Lucy Dacus’s Home Video — Beautiful. Just beautiful. (B+) [Best track: Triple Dog Dare]
  • Green Day’s American Idiot — By the end of it it all starts sounding a bit same-y. (C+) [Best track: American Idiot]
  • Will Wood’s The Normal Album — Chaotic good. (A-) [Best track: I / Me / Myself]

Miscellaneous photos and videos

Suburban buildings rise from above a farm full of horses, including a pub and a block of flats.
The dull but eminently photographable town of Bedlington.
On the roof of a building in a crowded city, some chairs, a plastic table, and a ladder up to a small wooden platform.
Surreptitiously taken from the Tyne Bridge. I can only hope the shop owner isn’t going to sue me.
The giant label of Monument metro station stretches into the background.
The beautiful view from the Metro over the river Tyne.
A mosaic of clouds overlooking a mountain is set above the signage at Gateshead's underground station.

July 2021 recap

The month of July is almost over, so it’s time for the traditional wrap-up of all that happened.

On the nineteenth of the month, with just over half of our population fully vaccinated against the virus, England finally opened up and embraced full covid anarchy, come what may. For me, the primary feeling was an overwhelming sense of relief: no more having to suffocate myself with a mask at the shops, no more will-they-won’t-they, just… getting on with life.

I’ve taken the opportunity that is the unlocking to (vaguely) plan a series of posts which may come to this blog in the near future. Keep your eyes peeled!

Films and TV watched

The Big Lebowski — A film about three dudes who just want to bowl. I have heard great things about this film since roughly the moment i clicked on the “Internet Explorer” icon for the first time, and i can’t help but feel i would have enjoyed it a little more had it not had all the hype about it. It’s an excellent film, and one i’ll be rewatching soon, but i suspect years on the internet inflated my expectations to an unreasonable extent. (Very good/10)

Yeah, well, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.

Paddington — Watched with some friends over Discord. A fine family film, and a decent contender for the dictionary definition of “wholesome”. We could all strive to be a little more like Paddington Bear. (Hard stare/10)

Fargo — A film about a man who just wants to sell a used car. A great black comedy thriller with even better accents (oh yah). (Super/10)

What’d this guy look like, anyway?
— Oh, he was a little guy… kinda funny lookin’.
— Uh-huh. In what way?
— Oh, just a general kinda way.

Inside №9 — This comedy-horror-drama-plot-twistiness-is-that-a-genre?-probably-not anthology show just doesn’t miss. Almost every episode is uproariously funny, slightly creepy, and has a twist that will leave you with your mouth hanging open at the screen.

Highlights include The Riddle of the Sphinx (the one with the crosswords), A Quiet Night In (the one without the dialogue), Cold Comfort (the one with the Samaritans), Bernie Clifton’s Dressing Room (the one with the washed-up comedians), The 12 Days of Christine (the really sad one), and, of course, their exceedingly meta live special, Dead Line. (40 tablets/10)

Links for the end of July

June 2021 recap

My apologies for the delay. I knew i’d forgotten something!

Music listened to and TV watched

  • Bo Burnham’s Inside: A strong candidate for my favourite Thing of 2021. It is, frankly, unfair that one man can make me feel so many emotions in the span of an hour and a half — loved almost every minute of it! (That song about sexting does drag on a bit, though…) (A+)
  • Wolf Alice’s Blue Weekend: Bloody brilliant. (A)
  • Beabadoobee’s Our Extended Play: Yeah, this’ll do for new music from The 1975 while we wait for that Drive Like I Do compilation album. (B+)
  • Haim’s Days Are Gone: Didn’t really do much for me. Some alright singles, though! (C-)
  • Porter Robinson’s Nurture: After months of promising i’d listen to it in full when i got my hands on the vinyl, i finally admitted to myself that it was out of stock and i’d have to wait until August otherwise. It’s a pretty good album, but part of me wonders how i’d feel about it if i hadn’t worn the singles to death already… (B)
  • Euro 2020: I’d never really thought myself the football fan type. Nevertheless… come on England!!

Most viewed pages on the site last month

  1. Index page: 256 views
  2. Linkroll: 136 views
  3. The Garden (index page): 65 views
  4. About the author: 46 views
  5. Things to do before i die: 28 views
  6. Music i like: 26 views
  7. What i believe: 25 views
  8. Toaster shade generator: 24 views
  9. Songs i have cried my silly little heart out to: 20 views
  10. There Are Two Continents: 20 views

Most read posts on The Garden (in no particular order)

May 2021 recap

So this is June
and what have you done?
Another month over
a new one just begun

Films watched

  • Guy Ritchie’s Snatch (2000) (A-)
  • Barry Sonnenfeld’s Men in Black (1999): Ruthlessly efficient. Gets in and out in 90 minutes. (A-)
  • Dreamworks’ Shrek (2001): Watched as it was meant to be seen, in the original Polish (C+)
  • Peter Weir’s The Truman Show (1998): While sailing across the internet, i happened across a copy of the original draft of the script. It is so much darker, and so much weirder.
    • It’s set in a constructed version of New York City instead of a small town in Florida
    • He finds his own name in a dictionary
    • Truman threatens to kill a baby and it is played completely straight
    • Instead of ending when he disappears out the door it continues and he hijacks a tram and has a shoot-out on the roof of the studio????
    • He hires a prostitute to recreate his encounter with the girl who told him it was all a TV show
  • Anyway, the cut that got released is a very good film to show to your friends who haven’t seen it before and watch their reactions. It’s also — for me personally — one of those Back to the Future-type films, where it’s all so immaculately put together that you can watch it over and over and there’s always something new to enjoy (A+)

Top 10 most viewed pages on the site this May

  1. Index page: 219 views
  2. Linkroll: 82 views
  3. The Garden (front page): 59 views
  4. Toaster shade generator: 46 views
  5. About the author: 35 views
  6. The log of changes: 26 views
  7. Music i like: 21 views
  8. Things i would like to add to my site: 20 views
  9. What i believe: 16 views
  10. Toaster: 15 views

The rest of the “primary” pages on my site (that is, those which aren’t part of any kind of regular series) are, in decreasing order of views, The foreſt of ſhrines, My coat of arms, Discord funny moments, the Marijn van Hoorn style guide, my bucket list, ‘There Are Two Continents’, the Gender Tetrahedron, interesting Wikipedia articles, yelling into the void, Heximal, the NEOcharts (RIP), Quotes and other assorted aphorisms, a calendrical table, My vinyl record collection, s → ſ, the log of dreams, my conlangs, noughts and crosses, ‘this’ll be on my videotape’, Kunstgalerie van Hoorn, A nicer ƿaȝ of ƿriting Engliſh, the Compendium of Good Words, country counting, and songs i have cried my silly little heart out to. Zero views were received by copypastables and holocene history, which… you know, fair enough, they’re both indescribably boring pages.

Top 5 most read entries on The Garden

  1. Welcome to the new Garden
  2. 7AM puzzles
  3. Site statistics for April 2021
  4. Testing, testing… If this goes through, this should be my first successful blog post made from my phone.
  5. Links for the 22nd of May

Top 10 countries where most people are reading from

  1. The United States
  2. The United Kingdom
  3. Canada
  4. France
  5. India
  6. New Zealand
  7. Sweden
  8. Germany
  9. Hong Kong
  10. Brazil