there is 1 post from January 2023

January 31, 2023

Ten things I loved in January

  1. Aftersun, directed by Charlotte Wells. If Paul Mescal doesn’t win best actor, I’m going to lose my fucking mind. The whole thing felt fresh, delicate, and joyful…despite being devastatingly sad. I have theories about the ending; hit me up on email if you’ve seen the movie and want to discuss.
  2. Oh, William! Elizabeth Strout’s 2021 novel returns to her (doppelgänger?) character Lucy Barton. Strout’s dialog is unreal; think Normal People Rooney and you’re halfway there. But don’t take my word for it, here’s Jennifer Egan in the NYT book review: “Strout works in the realm of everyday speech, conjuring repetitions, gaps and awkwardness with plain language and forthright diction, yet at the same time unleashing a tidal urgency that seems to come out of nowhere even as it operates in plain sight.”
  3. Tár, directed by Todd Field. Cate Blanchett will definitely win best actress, and I’d be surprised if this doesn’t win best picture. I’m imagining an Oscar bit where the entire Kodak Theater audience is cosplaying like the “classical music” audience at the end of the movie. Dark.
  4. boygenius, the record. Three well-crafted songs from the three queens of sad-girl indie: Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker. Go listen.
  5. Stutz, directed by Jonah Hill. If you’re in therapy, or have ever been in therapy, or at some point may need to be in therapy (I think that covers everyone?), you should watch this. Mason Currey’s Subtle Maneuvers newsletter will give you a lovely taste of what Stutz is all about. “I have to worry about forward motion, putting the next pearl on the string.”
  6. The Netanyahus, An Account of a Minor and Ultimately Even Negligible Episode in the History of a Very Famous Family, by Joshua Cohen. 2022 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction; this is probably the most pretentiously literary book I’ve read in a long time. It’s also completely self-aware about that pretension, which makes it really, really funny. I loved this passage about American television in the 1950s: “I’m ashamed too to think of how entertained I was by the programming, whose lack of options, whose lack of range, is boggling by today’s standards. Game shows and westerns, that was all, game shows and westerns, which were essentially the same to the American mind: zero-sum scenarios of winners and losers, mettle tested by luck.”
  7. White Noise, directed by Noah Baumbach. The book is probably my favorite novel of all time; for years I’ve been hoping / dreading that someone would produce this. Thankfully, Baumbach clearly reveres the book, which makes it really fun to watch if you know it well. Frankly, White Noise is so ingrained in my psyche that I can’t imagine what it would be like to watch it not having read the book. Come for the airborne toxic event, stay for the seven minute credit sequence dance number set in a hyperreal A&P.
  8. Moby, Ambient 23. Yep, that Moby. Dropped January 1st, 16 tracks, two and a half hours of subtlety. Hell of a way for him to kick off the year. Can’t help but think about that moment in Mistaken for Strangers, the fantastic doc about The National, when director/brother Tom shouts across a Los Angeles hillside at what they think is Moby’s house.
  9. Brene Brown’s conversation with Bono on her podcast Unlocking Us. A two parter, recorded in front of a crowd in Austin, TX, covering Bono’s new memoir 40 Songs, love, faith, religion and creativity. Even if you’re not a U2 fan, the pods are worth listening to – they go deep. (And if you are a U2 fan, 40 Songs is worth reading – Bono can write!)
  10. The Creative Act: A Way of Being, by Rick Rubin. It seemed like Rubin was everywhere this month, making the rounds to support his new book. I wanted more storytelling (the guy must have amazing stories to tell), but every koan-like chapter had a gem like this: “We’re not playing to win, we’re playing to play. And ultimately, playing is fun.”