Stuff I’ve Read, Watched, Done #21 – October 24, 2021

Another day, another dollar. Another week, another holler. Or something.

This is me, having successfully hunter / gathered our family’s food last Monday night, braving the elements to do so. I got a little wet but I was rocking my the steps!

Some interesting viewings this week:

(Warning–all of these things are old but there are spoilers…)

Paddington

I’ve been trying to get my kids to watch Paddington for a while now. Not in a major, deliberate campaign sort of way, but just from time to time, when we’re looking for something to do, I’ve occasionally commented, “Hey, what about Paddington? Thats supposed to be pretty good.” Well, this week was finally the week.

And yes, after having been jaded by the likes of Stuart Little or Alvin and Chipmunks, one would be forgive for thinking Paddington would have nothing new to offer. But the truth is the movie surprisingly sweet and funny. It’s obviously made for kids, but is also something that adults can easily smile at and enjoy, even if they are like me and don’t have a childhood full of Paddington-related memories.

Taking the place for me of the nostalgia that drives some of this film is the fun of seeing a who’s who of British actors having fun with the project. You’ve got the likes of Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Ben Whishaw, Judy Walters, Jim Broadbent, Geoffrey Palmer, Michael Gambon, Imelda Staunton, Matt Lucas, and of course Doctor Who himself Peter Capaldi.

I had the impression for some reason that Capaldi was playing a secondary villain in this movie, but he ends up being a sympathetic character–just duped by the true villain and practically only non-Brit in the cast–the evil American-brn Australian Nicole Kidmad.

So now I’m looking forward to watching Paddington 2 when we need something to do.

Young Justice: Outsiders

Only last week I was commenting on how much I’ve been enjoying Young Justice, and how I’d love it if the same people produced a Legion of Super-Heroes show. Well, this week we finished Season 3 of Young Justice (subtitled “Outsiders”) and the final episode ended with this!

Then I heard the new season has begun, streaming only on the not-available-in-Australia HBO Max, and has included other references to the Legion.

So I’m excited about that, though also a bit concerned, as usual when one sees a favorite property adapted (or rebooted, or continued, or sometimes even just available at all–what if they ruin everything???!)

With Outsiders, it was a pretty fun ride–overcrowded potentially but consistently enjoyable. A couple of times when I thought they were going down a stupid route–Artemis meeting Wally in the afterlife, for example–they ended up pulling away from them.

In general it does a good job making the heroes look kind of awesome which is what I’m into superhero stories for–I loved it when Batman figured out that Terra was a mole by seeing Deathstroke’s micro-expressions, for example, or when Nightwing defeated an entire army of aliens while in the midst of a fever dream about being a kid again, or watching Superboy act more and more like the Man of Steel.

Best of all was Nightwing taking down Count Vertigo (an extremely annoying villain who shouldn’t be all that hard to beat) by throwing a stick at his head even while suffering from his attack. Nightwing really is the MVP of this series.

The Towering Inferno

If I’d been championing Paddington, my wife was the one calling for us to watch The Towering Inferno. Last night we finally gave in.

I’d seen this movie multiple times before and loved it, but had never really revisited it in my adult years. You can’t really say it’s a “great” movie, but man is it an impressive one. It’s got an interesting background as well–two studios teamed up to make a movie based on two novels, in a production which basically had two directors (the director is John Guillermin, but producer Irwin Allen is also credited for directing the action sequences, and if you look at the credits there’s basically duplicates to all the major crew roles for the action sequences), and starring two actors (Paul Newman, Steve McQueen) who according to legend had to have the same number of lines of dialogue and had to have their names arranged in the credits to make it ambiguous which one was billed higher.

And its an impressive production–the movie’s effects and stunt work are amazing. None of the human drama is all that effective but there is something utterly compelling about watching both architect Doug Roberts (Newman) and Fire Chief Mike O’Halloran (McQueen) fight this monstrosity of a fire. Basically, if I was in a tight spot of any sort, these are the two guys I’d want on my side.

The movie has got a massive cast of interesting folk, including headliners like Faye Dunaway, William Holden, Robert Vaughn, Richard Chamberlain, Fred Astaire, Jennifer Jones and more, but also more surprising personalities like Dabney Coleman, Gregory Sierra (Chano on Barney Miller) and Bobby Brady himself, Mike Lookinland, wearing quite the radio-headset contraption.

Beyond the watching and into the doing…

Once again not as much as I’d have liked (partly became of my wife being away which led me to increased home duties), but I did again have some meetings which are pushing ahead a small documentary film it looks like I’ll be helping to produce and direct. Another meeting next week and we’ll see where that goes!

I also had a “zoom-consultation” with a friend of mine to offer some story notes about a film that he is potentially working on. I’m not sure where that is going yet but it sounds like a horror movie / morality play, a bit akin to a Twilight Zone episode, but as a feature film.

I did well on my steps this week, hitting over 10,000 every day but one, and easily making up for that by two “big days”.

My goal is to average 10,000 a day over a week, or 70,000 in a week. So that was easily attained. Every fortnight I help my daughter deliver newspapers on a Saturday which helps to account for the high count at the end of the week. Those weeks are always easier to hit the goals in then the others.

Song of the Week

I have a playlist on my phone called “Ben’s Mix”, which is made up of 100-200 songs that I like which I shuffle between when I’m driving, etc. I was thinking about how with each of these songs there is a bit of a story about it, about what it makes me think of or why I like it. So I’m going to let my phone pick one randomly and then try to write up some comments on it while it plays.

While My Guitar Gently Weeps by the Beatles

Specifically, the version from the album Love, done long after the Beatles had broken up, which was full of their songs remixed in an unusual ways, to create effectively new versions of many of their most popular hits. I’m actually not familiar with this song enough to know how this version s different than the original. I always loved the Beatles but don’t have any particular connection to t his song–I just like it–a haunting melody, lyrics and performance by George Harrison.

With every mistake we must surely be learning…

Hopefully.

Love was an interesting project. I gather it was largely shared as the soundtrack to a Cirque du Soleil show, but I’ve always found the best way to think about it is that is the recording to the ultimate Beatles fantasy-concert that could never have happened in real life. Like if the band had gotten together for a massive reunion concert five years after they broke up, maybe it could have sounded like this.

3 thoughts on “Stuff I’ve Read, Watched, Done #21 – October 24, 2021

  1. Because of the lockdowns, we may certainly have a lot more time for enjoying or re-enjoying many films on our movie channels. Whether it’s seeing a new film or reminiscing with an old classic, it’s probably much easier with so much free time at home to fully appreciate the best in films. For the first time in two years we’re planning a great movie outing at the cinema and it will be Dune. So it certainly makes all these film reviews on WordPress feel all the more special as a way to reach out to each other now. Thanks, Ben, for all your contributions.

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