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What are you watching? 2018 edition


#502

The Image that you Missed

Arthur MacCaig was an American, the descendent of immigrants who fled the great famine in the 1850s. When visiting Ireland in the 70s, he found a sense of solidarity with the Republicans (the Irish kind, not the American political party) of West Belfast, and became a filmmaker to tell their story. Over the course of the following 30 or so years, he made a number of documentaries about popular resistance movements, mostly Ireland. In 2008 he died suddenly while walking the streets of Belfast.

And in 1985, his son Donal Foreman was born. They only met a few times during Arthur’s life, but when he died, Donal travelled to his home in Paris and gathered up the ephemera of his filmmaking career. Donal shot some footage of his apartment before undertaking this task, and it’s at the heart of this movie.

Most of the film is footage that MacCaig shot in the North, snippets of various events - members of the IRA addressing the crowd at a gig, extolling them not to interact with British soldiers, training, patrolling the streets of Belfast, kids at play. This is interspersed with various pieces Donal shot, ranging from silly things he did with his friends as a kid, though his short dramas and documentaries, and a single clip from his first feature film, 2014’s Out of Here. And over the top there is narration - a series of quotes from MacCaig and letters he sent to Donal’s Mother during her pregnancy and just after his birth (all voiced by an actor), Donal talking about his perspective on his father’s work, on his personal history and his own life - and in one heartbreaking moment, Donal’s mother reads out a letter she sent to MacCaig following a disastrous meeting between them in the 90s.

It’s a very personal work. MacCaig isn’t well known even here, most of his work was for French and German TV (he has a French wiki page but not a English one), so there isn’t a wealth of work about him. Donal talks at some length about this, because of their estranged relationship (they met only one time more after that trip in the 90s), he has very little connection to MacCaig. It’s not a particularly cathartic story, there’s no grand conclusion except that their lives intertwined only briefly, but it’s a fascinating exploration of the connection between these two filmmakers.

And it’s doubly interesting for me, because this was background noise for my life. Not just the conflict in Northern Ireland. but Donal Foreman is a cousin of mine. His mother is my mum’s sister (herself a huge influence on my life), and I remember some of the events Donal touches on from our shared childhood and young adulthood. Even though his narration is steady and unemotional, there is an emotional undercurrent that I might not have been privy to at the time, many of the events being related to me by my mother or Maeve after the fact. There’s an odd connection and disconnect here, and i wonder how someone who doesn’t have that link will view it.

And really, everyone who gets a chance should do so. It’s doing the film festival rounds in Europe at the moment, and given that Donal lives in New York, I assume it’ll make it over there at some point too.


Movie News and Trailers 2 - The Sequel
#503

What am I watching? I think the change of avatar makes it quite obvious, wouldn’t you say?


#504

Yes, but what do you think of it?
Pretty unpopular opinion but I actually preferred it to the first.


#505

… because they won’t be as good as Christopher Lee anyway so it doesn’t matter.


#506

There was a programme about minimalism on BBC4 on Friday, which I missed, so we just caught up with it on iPlayer.

Cue stream of bad jokes: “Well, there won’t be much in this will there?” “Do you think they will just repeat this scene over and over?” Etc.

Jokes aside, it was interesting and informative. There’s a second part next Friday. Highly recommended if you’re interested in minimalism (and if you’re not, you might be after watching it).


#507

#508

#509

This gives me hope for it and it’s why I’ll try and watch it


#510

Monday night - Seth Meyers - Brad Meltzer will be a guest. Seth had Chris Eliopoulos on almost a year ago, and I think there were two or three “I Am…” books released in between. (Great books for kids, Y/A’s, btw.)

Tried to watch Fantastic Beasts again. It’s crap.

Also want to hear @njerry’s opinion on Alien: Covenant. I’m looking forward to Atomic Blonde this month.


#511

#512

Finally got around to watching Season 2 of Man in the High Castle. Four episodes in and I’m enjoying it a hell of a lot more than the first season. Frank and Joe seem to have found their focus, and John Smith is becoming more than a cliche. Actually looking forward to racing through the remaining episodes.


#513

El Ministerio del Tiempo’s third and final season suffers from a few things. First being behind the scenes troubles and secondly a very last second bail out by Netflix. So, I stand corrected, this is a Netflix original by virtue of this season even existing. But combined it really serves to undercut what would have been a solid season.

Yet some very shoddy writing to excuse/explain away some very vital stuff does loom over the rest. The season is cast under that umbrella, which made it hard to really invest in again. The characters and remaining actors do a good job though. I just wish that it had been tighter and more of a culmination.

It does, however, have the best premise for a series finale I’ve ever seen. And really helped to end the series on a bright and fun note that had been its hallmark for the first two seasons.


#514

I recently watched season 6 of Veep, and while I enjoyed it, I didn’t feel like it was quite up to the same standard as previous seasons. Part of that might have been the change in setting - the constant political pressures that fuelled earlier seasons are naturally a bit less forceful in the new situation, with less at stake - but I also felt as though there was more of a reliance on broad character comedy and less on the kind of tight, dense scripts that made earlier seasons so electric. Still good though. It will be interesting to see how season 7 turns out.

After finishing Veep I’ve moved onto a full rewatch of The Thick Of It, and having worried that it wouldn’t have retained its bite, I couldn’t have been more wrong. It’s as great as ever, and I’ve found myself appreciating the compressed plotting and clever web of character relationships a lot more this time around (the first time, I think I was inevitably more wowed by the spectacular swearing, which remains wonderful). I’m currently just up to the third full series - just after they got rid of Langham, when Rebecca Front comes on board - and thoroughly enjoying it.


#515

Over Christmas, two channels had documentary series about Walt Disney on. PBS had a three part series and BBC Four had a two part series (all of episodes ~an hour). I watched the PBS series around Christmas and left the BBC one for a bit but intended to watch it, to appreciate the contrast in information and how it’s represented etc.

Just put the BBC one on. “Ha, that’s weird, it’s got the same music the PBS one used,” I thought. And then quickly realised it is just the PBS documentary cut down by a third (and thus much more rapid in pace) and with a different narrator reading the same script. Somewhat disappointing.


#516

The Magicians continues to have a great season. The most recent episode ended with all the characters singing a musical number, which I’m always a sucker for.


#517

Shape of Water - I liked it. Was it “Best Picture” worthy? No, but it deserved to be in the conversation - I would have gone with Ladybird (althought it didn’t quite stick the ending) over any of the nominees.

I think it lived in some sort of “majical realism” type of world - in which no one was super surprised to see the creature, and the filling up of the bathroom with water. I know stuff like that made some viewers disconnected, but I could get behind it. Del Toro is a great director and deserving.


#518

Love: The Final Season was released on Netflix last night. Binged it. As someone who has followed this series since it began, I think it did a good job at being a final season. For the leads. Really, just the leads. The side characters mostly get pushed to the side and the ones that are secondary characters go in the most obvious and boring directions. That aspect of the show feels too safe. But where the two leads are concerned it felt like a good cap off for them.

Can’t wait to compare it to the final season of You’re the Worst.


#519

I finally watched ‘Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle’.

And I’m having a hard time figuring out why it’s made $930m?!?! :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

It’s not great, not extra funny, or spectacular or exciting and it’s also 2 hours long. Some of the sets even look a bit cheap. Mostly it felt like an 80’s film script that was pulled out of storage and spruced up with a new cast and some new VFX.

I guess it could be a hit because it’s inoffensive and undemanding? But these aren’t exactly rare qualities are they? Maybe it’s Johnson, but ‘San Andreas’ made half as much money.

I’m scratching my head really. ‘Jurassic World’ is worse, and that did even better, but that had a lot of dinosaurs so I figured, 'Hey, dinosaurs!"

This has hippos. :neutral_face:


#520

I haven’t seen the new Jumanji, but I would guess the timing of the remake worked in its favour in the same way it did for Jurassic World (ie. people who enjoyed the original movie now being of an age to take their kids to see the new version). The gap is almost exactly the same as between the original Jurassic Park and the new one.

Are there any franchise-resurrections with a similar gap coming up soon? It will be interesting to see if the trend holds.


#521

It’s not more puzzling than FF7 doing the obscene amounts it did. But yeah, it was fun but quite generic in the end… Jack Black did some good work in that movie though… he was by far the stand out.