we have to take what we can when the taking is good.
In time honoured tradition, I meant to write but of course I didn't. It's been three months and I have no excuse beyond my own laziness, a lack of inspiration, and the age-old cliche “life got in the way.” I have many drafts I hope to soon finish and share with you; one on the year 2006, one on the last time I didn’t feel a pervading sense of anxiety all the time (the first half of 2001) and one on Ethan Hawke, whose work is single-handedly keeping me alive at the moment.
For me, much of the last month and a half has been spent largely indoors on bed and sofa rest, though I have been fortunate to claw back a few glimpses of normality, namely eating dinner in the same enclosed space as my friends and going to the cinema to watch something on a screen larger than the TV in my living room. The former felt surreal but much needed; the latter felt like putting on a coat you hadn’t worn in a while and regret ever taking out of wardrobe rotation. So far, I've visited my local theatre three times; twice to catch up on films I'd already seen at home (Nomadland, First Cow) and the other a group excursion to see something entirely new (A Quiet Place: Part Two), which feels like a revelation at this point. It's weird to encounter anything delayed by the first year of the pandemic, partial signals that things are sort of over even though they’re not really. Objectively, everything is still extremely weird; I’ve only taken public transport once since last march, I have a meltdown if anyone stands within 6ft of me and I still carry residual fear that I could make anyone I know sick even though I currently have the least contact with the outside world than anyone else in my immediate social circle.
It was my Mum who accompanied me to see Kelly Reichardt’s First Cow a few weeks ago, our first cinema trip together since December 2019. She seemed to enjoy it, and I relished in having the opportunity to bask in its beauty without sunlight blazing through my living room window, obscuring the screen at home (my review is here). It sent me on a bit of a Reichardt retrospective as, admittedly, I have neglected her work in the past. I remember watching Wendy and Lucy a year or so after it came out on the basis that it starred one of my favourites, Michelle Williams, and I’d enjoyed it but it didn’t set with me a directorial seed that I’d ever taken time to follow up. In the last week or so, I've watched eco-terrorist drama Night Moves (is now a good time to talk about that lingering crush I have on Jesse Eisenberg?), the Oregon Trail centered Meek’s Cutoff, and Old Joy which washed over me in a way I ultimately didn’t anticipate. Maybe it’s because it reminded me of my own adventures in the Pacific Northwest, maybe it’s that it paired nicely with The Dharma Bums audiobook I’ve been listening to for the past few weeks or maybe it’s all the Bonnie Prince Billy I’ve had on rotation, but I really loved how it did so much with seemingly so little.
Earlier this week, we recorded an episode of our podcast in which we recounted some of our favourite things from the first six months of 2021. It feels absolutely weird to contemplate the fact that we’re halfway through yet another year but as I was reminded the other day, part of getting older is often the innate wish that everything would slow down as opposed to speeding up. I'd been skeptical that there was much I'd truly obsessed over so far in 2021 but was relieved to find that wasn’t necessarily the case at all; if anything, I've spent January-June consuming as much as humanly possible as a way to distract myself (there’s a song for that now). I am only fifteen places away from reaching my entirely arbitrary yearly target of 100-new-to-me films and I’ve managed to rewatch full multi-season runs of Entourage and Sex and the City (not that it’s anything to brag about).
Though this newsletter is- by all accounts- a placeholder, a check in, and an apology for not providing any content since I offloaded my thesis on Bucky Barnes, I hope that it finds you well or at least finds you in whatever state you’re currently in. Below are a few short recommendations or things of note which didn’t come up in the pod ep above (not that I’m assuming you listen anyway), but about which I wanted to share my ~feelings~ because what is a newsletter if not unwanted opinions persevering?
I watched Gia Coppola’s Mainstream on Tuesday and I cannot get blonde, chaotic Andrew Garfield out of my head. I’m not wholly convinced that the film is good, or that it really truly has anything interesting to say about social media or influencer culture as a whole (it already felt dated to me), but Garfield is bananas and his performance as No-One Special led me to text multiple human beings I know and present them with the ever-present question: “is Andrew Garfield hot?” Irritatingly, Mainstream has wormed its way into my brain in the same way Stephanie Danler’s book ‘Sweetbitter’ did a few years ago and they’re comparable to me in that sense that I think they’re both largely unsuccessful in execution but presented me with characters and situations that I *cannot stop thinking about*. If you’ve seen Mainstream, please slide into my DMs so we can discuss because I can't keep listening to ‘Kill vs Maim’ alone any longer. Maya Hawke, introduce me to your Dad.
I also- finally!- watched Leslye Headland’s Sleeping with Other People starring Jason Sudeikis and Alison Brie. This ticks many of my cinematic boxes (RomCom! Appearances from some of my favourite American comedians! New York City!) so it's really a crime that it’s taken me five years to actually get to it. Maybe it was the heat, maybe it was the newly acquired second dose of covid vaccine surging through my veins, but after much contemplation the film led me to the bold conclusion that if I were Olivia Wilde, I would not have left Sudeikis grass for the theoretically greener pastures of Harry Styles. He is so charming, it makes my brain hurt.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was- ultimately, and retrospectively- just fine though I am of course grateful that it happened. On a Marvel related note, I'm three episodes into Loki and I’m having a nice time with it mostly because- if it came down to it- I would listen to Tom Hiddleston read the phonebook in full.
I binged both seasons of Mae Martin’s Feel Good over the course of a few days, and though I adore Lisa Kudrow as Mae's mum, I really wish I liked the show as much as the rest of the internet seems to. Despite my initial reluctance to engage in any Apple TV content, I’ve watched the first season of Ted Lasso twice (a total joy), and a few weeks ago, I finished Showtime’s The Good Lord Bird which I’d started and then dropped out of last year which was very remiss of me; it’s full of great performances (Daveed Diggs!) and it taught me more about John Brown than I’d ever learnt before.
I lost a good afternoon in the sun reading Patti Smith's ‘Year of the Monkey’ in which she charts her wandering travels between tours, and the sickness and eventual deaths of two close friends: Sandy Pearlman and Sam Shepard. The presence of the latter led me to make time and begin his seven plays collection, which means I've finally read ‘True West’ and am now desperate to see it on stage.
The book I've enjoyed most this year is- predictably!- Melissa Maerz’s ‘Alright, Alright, Alright’, her oral history of Richard Linklater's 1993 film Dazed and Confused. My expectations were admittedly sky high but it really did surpass those, and I relished the opportunity to hear from the cast and crew and get my head around how the film came together, how it was received at the time and consider its retrospective legacy as an iconic piece of 90s cinema.
Objectively, the record I’ve enjoyed most so far this year is Japanese Breakfast’s ‘Jubilee’ but in actuality the thing I’ve actually listened to with extreme regularity is my sad dads playlist (here) in which I lay bare that my musical interests are the same as every single man over 40 that I’ve ever nursed a crush over (who also occupy the same venn diagram as those who produced the songs on the playlist). Should I apologise for liking Wilco? Maybe! Will I do so? Absolutely not; please add ‘Yankee Hotel Foxtrot’ to my Spotify queue as a matter of extreme urgency.
Was this anything? I don’t know. If you got this far- congratulations, you are a great individual with ample time on their hands. Here is your reward.