Recent movies and books

Photo by Obregonia D. Toretto from Pexels

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I had the opportunity to watch a lot of movies that I normally wouldn’t get the chance. The gf went to California to spend the holiday with her family while I stayed in New Haven with our Dachshund, Herman, to celebrate his 1st birthday.

I had been looking forward to the quiet so I could read and write and just chill for a while. And I had been looking forward to seeing The Irishman. I know quite a bit about movies, and Scorscese has always been near the top of my list of great directors.

However, I absolutely detested The Irishman. Apart from Joe Pesci and Al Pacino’s performances, I thought The Irishman was a bloated, uninteresting, slow, and lumbering elephant of a movie. The acting was stilted, except for Pacino’s, and the choices for shots were uninspired. Slow motion was used but it was for no good effect or reason. Calling DeNiro’s charter kid, while he was driving the truck that breaks down near the beginning of the movie, was laughable – he looked like a pasty-faced 50 year old kid. The de-aging technique was interesting but it didn’t de-age anyone. DeNiro was fine as an actor, but the character never really went anywhere. We didn’t see much motivation other than a willingness to carry out crimes when needed. There was no passion, just a going about business. I was highly disappointed in the film.

But I had an opportunity to watch Frances Ha and Earthquake Bird, both of which I enjoyed tremendously. Greta Gerwig was fantastic in Frances Ha, and seeing Adam Driver in an earlier movie gave me greater appreciation for his acting too. Earthquake Bird was an excellent story and the story didn’t cheat and make her the killer. I wasn’t familiar with Alicia Vikander, Academy Award winner, though I had seen some of Ex-Machina. She was great in Earthquake Bird, and I’m looking forward to seeing The Danish Girl now.

I also had an opportunity to watch the three Mike Birbiglia comedy stand-up performances on Netflix. I was familiar with the name from listening to NPR, but I wasn’t attuned to his work. Hilarious, well done! I started with “The New One,” and then watched the other two in chronological order, starting with “What I Should Have Said Was Nothing” and then “Thank God for Jokes.” My favorite was “Thank God for Jokes” though some pieces in “The New One” were brilliant.

This week, the girlfriend and I saw Parasite at the theater. So well done. And we watched Marriage Story on Netflix, equally well done. I get excited and inspired when good movies are released near awards season.

As for reading, I’ve been reading for writing my memoir again. I read Carmen Maria Machado’s In the Dream House, an innovative memoir. While it was extremely well done, I’m hoping that means my own effort will be recognized as the structure of my own memoir, which I started on Oct. 31, 2018, is very similar – and not. I don’t use the same metaphor at all, and chronology be damned. I finished Machado’s book and was perusing Amazon for my next Kindle book.

And then I discovered a collection of essays called Make It Scream Make It Burn by Leslie Jamison. We have much in common in our backgrounds, and her writing is frequently compared to Joan Didion’s, a high compliment.

That’s all for now. I’m gearing up to write more frequently on Medium. See you there!

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