As of my last fiftyfifty.me check in, I was at only four books and seven movies. The good news is that since then I’ve tacked on a ton of more movies while not exactly catching up on the books front. Currently I’m at a respectable thirty five movies and a deplorable twelve books. Obviously I’m going to have to step up my game on the books end or this will all end badly.
I am in the middle of some stellar books, and am already looking forward to more. For example, I can’t wait to get into Christa Parravani’s her, a memoir about losing your identical twin. Having recently backed Samantha Futerman’s Twinsters documentary, I’m basically a sucker for anything with twins involved.
If you do young adult, Alaya Dawn Johnson’s The Summer Prince deserves all the acclaim and publicity it’s received, and so much more. The world building is tremendous, and with main characters that express themselves through political art statements, it’s a breath of fresh air in a genre that I was tiring of. We’ll be covering it more over at Rich in Color soon. We’ll be doing the same with Maurene Goo’s Since You Asked, which I already rhapdozied about earlier. And if you’re into Caitlin Moran, which I hundred percent am, then her collection of mostly previously published articles is a must read. I sped through them all in a weekend and am ready for More Moranthology.
Our book club selection was Salman Khan’s One World Schoolhouse semi-manifesto, and if you’re interested in education on any level, this will fire you up. After reading it, I was ready to adopt Khan’s educational ideals lock stock and barrel, and wanted to invert every classroom and have computers replace teachers. Some of my fellow book clubbers — who have Masters in education — reined my enthusiasm in a bit, but I still believe that our education is screwed up and I’m ready to blow it all up. Our public school model was basically made to foster conformity, quell dissent, and pump out obedient workers. Does that sound like something you want to subject your children to? I think not.
I’m fully back on Goodreads after a many years’ hiatus. The website UI is still a mess but at least they have an iPhone app that I can get behind. So I spent some time updating my books and am now all Goodready again. Friend me! At a thrift store this weekend, I found a book from 1999 titled Mass Customization: The New Frontier in Business Competition. It’s both dry and thrilling at the same time. I just had to buy it for two dollars.
Moving onto movies, there’s quite a bit I could talk about but I’ll limit my focus to some sharing with you some actresses that I’ve either long admired or just discovered. Way back at the Tribeca Film Fest, I saw The Pretty One starring Zoe Kazan, and since I loved her work writing and starring in Ruby Sparks, I’m pretty much a fan for life. The movie is another identical twin sister story actually — see, I’m a sucker — but it’s more of a comedy. Jake Johnson from New Girl also stars, and he’s quite winsome.
Somehow I never got tipped onto Brit Marling, who decided to write her own movies after not being satisifed with the kinds of roles she was being offered. While Marling has the looks and appeal to go the traditional Hollywood romantic lead, girlfriend in trouble, etc. route, she is instead doing her own thing. It’s all very admirable and impressive. Her third movie, The East, an eco-terrorism thriller, isn’t terrific, but was good enough to make me want to see all of Marling’s other work.
And now Sarah Polley, who I’ve long been a fan of. Well, not super long, considering she was a huge child star in Canada before my time. I’ve just been tracking Polley since Go and wondered why she didn’t do more movies. Turns out she’s been involved more behind the camera, and now her newest film, Stories We Tell, has blown me away. It’s a documentary exploring her family’s convoluted backstory and while that road has been traveled often, I’m positive Polley’s work eclipses just about everyone else’s attempts. It’s impossible not to admire how deftly Polley pulls everything together, devoid of schlocky sentimentality and full of subtle tidbits that capture your attention while she reveals the story. I admired Polley a lot before, but now I outright love her.
Oh, and I can’t not talk about Frances Ha! Gerta Gerwig is another must-see actress for me and we caught a showing of Frances Ha where both she and director Noah Baumbach were in attendance for a Q&A. The movie plays to every Gerwig strength and I’ve already seen it twice. There is a long tracking shot where she gets to run/dance through the streets of Chinatown and I want to be right there alongside, skipping over all the trash and swirling by angry tourists.
It’s summer movie season and ever since I got my MoviePass in late May, I’ve banged out just about every one. Most of them were average save Iron Man 3, Fast and the Furious 6, and World War Z – absolutely loved the Israeli soldier in it, Daniella Kertesz. Man of Steel was outright boring, although the sight of superhunk Henry Cavill is probably worth the price of admission alone. Sidenote: Why are Superman’s teeth all crooked? I guess that’s irrelevant since my fellow moviegoers didn’t even notice when I asked them about it afterwards. “His teeth, who’s looking at his teeth?” Well said.
Anyway, This Is The End was pretty hilarous, even if it’s normally outside of my genre, and if you can, skip Monsters University, Much Ado About Nothing, and Bling Ring. I’ve decided the goodwill from Sofia Coppola’s earlier movies have run out with me so I will no longer get excited about anything she does. And Joss Whedon’s version of Much Ado is just a travesty. Oh awful, it’s bad when you miss Keanu.
During this past week, I’ve been on a terrific run of movies though, knocking out three great movies in a row: 20 Feet From Stardom, Despicable Me 2, and Stories We Tell. I’m just sad the great run will inevitably have to end. I’m already fearful that Pacific Rim will be that assassin. I am hearing terrible things about it.
Oh and unless I haven’t made myself clear, Spring Breakers is my favorite movie of the year already. It’s just, everything. I’ve seen it multiple times, I listen to the soundtrack, I sing the Britney song at karaoke. Always. However, I am done pushing the movie onto people as it’s decidedly very hit or miss. If you love Spring Breakers, like went through an obsession with it, then we should talk because that’s enough for me to start a friendship with you.
And as for the much anticipated Before Midnight… I can’t even talk about it. It has to be a conversation. A long conversation.
[Cross posted from jonyang.org]