Thursday, April 02, 2020

Seen in March 


Parasite. Image via The Movie Db

What has been roughly 30 days of isolation already feels like one hundred years of solitude and this list of what I watched in March is the proof.

Parasite

A poor unemployed family living in a cramped apartment find a way to exploit nepotism in their favour by finding work with an affluent family. What first appears an obvious case of “entitled haves” versus “ingenious have-nots” becomes more complicated when one night a harrowing discovery throws the family’s schemes and perceptions in disarray. That’s pretty much all I can say without ruining the whole thing but just know that this film deserves its many accolades as does the director Bong Joon-ho whose previous films include Mother, The Host and Snow Piercer.



Satanic lawn art. Image via The Movie Db

Hail Satan?

Netflix
This documentary about Satan worshippers isn’t as evil as you think. This is really the story of a group of outsiders who are so galled by American state level governments mixing Christianity with the American constitution that they form a Satanic temple to demand equal representation. The absurdity of Christians inserting their faith into state law, is met with equal vigour by Satanists who expose the hypocrisy of Ten Commandment monuments by demanding a Satanic statue be placed alongside the Christian monument to remind citizens of their freedom of religion and keeping the church out of the state. One interesting bit of information is that the trend of placing ten commandment monuments in public places was originally a publicity stunt for the Hollywood sandal epic, The Ten Commandments. This is eerily similar to the fact that many civil war monuments were installed in public places not directly after the Civil War but in the early part of the 20th century which coincided with Jim Crow laws. This is funny and scary and a thoughtful film.

X-Men: Dark Phoenix

Crave
I have no idea what this was about or why it was so badly received at the box office. This is the popular comic book storyline of mutant Jean Grey’s encounter with a cosmic force that builds her abilities to a point where no one can control her, including herself. It’s also a bit out of control as a story and a bit of a mess of special effects and high wire action.



Hugh Laurie is great in this rudderless comedy, Avenue 5. Image via The Movie Db

Avenue 5

Crave
The creator of In the Loop and Veep has made a TV show about a cruise liner gone off course, except the cruise liner is a space ship. It’s funny but I have no idea why it exists or what the point is.
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Monday, March 23, 2020

The Geography of Man 



The year was 1624 when John Donne wrote, “No man is an island, entire of it self; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main.” Yet, some think as Hugh Grant’s character says in About a Boy, “I am an island. I am bloody Ibiza!” While I’m no island, I’m a pretty good peninsula, joined to the mainland by a thin isthmus with a narrow two-way road. You are welcome to join me, though the trip may sometimes be foggy, stormy and difficult. Have no worries though, I often make the trip to the mainland, usually daily (or so). More often in the summer than winter when I prefer to be undisturbed, asleep in my cave.

It can be quite pleasant out on the Peninsula of Peter (if we have to give it a name). There are seasonal berries, light winds that can sometimes be quite strong. The peninsula can often be shrouded in fog, to be honest, and the sun rises later there. This thin strip of land is unassuming and is overlooked by many. The thing is the soil is good and fertile and the small verdant landscape is varied but predictable. It’s hard to get lost on the Peninsula of Peter. It is close to the water which some say is why the mornings and full moon nights last longer here. Sometimes affected by ill weather, this temperate place stays mostly hospitable throughout the year.
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Sunday, March 01, 2020

Seen in Janbruary 


Killing Eve Image via The Movie Db.

The last few weeks have been such a blur that it’s a little shocking to me that it’s the end of February. I’m sure I spent plenty of time on my reliable couch the SS Resolute (yes, I’ve named my couch the Sleepy Sofa Resolute. What of it?) yet it turns out I’ve watched less than one film per week. Of late, I've found solace in re-watching old favourites rather than exploring new things and this is my life now.

The End of the F***ing World S02

Netflix
Our two youthful super sloths have settled into their so-called-lives after their whirlwind Bonnie and Clyde crime spree from season one, but things only get more difficult. There are some that say you can “choose” happiness (barring an actual depression diagnosis) yet no one talks about those who have chosen sadness like a kind of penance. That’s what makes this show hard to watch but somehow you remain hopeful for these two youths who kind of deserve each other.


Killing Eve Image via The Movie Db.

Killing Eve S01-02

Crave
This show about the obsession of two women with each other, one an MI6 analyst and the other a psychopathic assassin is everything critics have said. Funny, engaging, thrilling, gripping and a bit of a wild ride. Sandra Oh earns a lot of respect for playing Eve as intelligent, though somewhat reckless agent and Jodi Comer delights as the assassin who is probably insane, madcap, buoyant, feckless and prone to moods and shopping sprees. A series by women (season one was written by Fleabag creator, Phoebe Waller-Bridge) about women that isn’t about feminism but kind of is. Empowered? Yes. Frustrating? Also yes. Great entertainment? Definitely yes.

Neal Brennan: 3 Mics

Netflix
A non-traditional, funny and intelligent new take on the “Stand-up Special”.

Oh Hello Broadway

Netflix
Goodbye Broadway. I’m a fan of John Mulany and Nick Kroll but this filmed stage show about two overly confident and failed senior thespians runs about one hour and thirty minutes too long.

El Camino

Netflix
Whatever happened to Jesse Pinkman after he escaped enslavement of a white supremacist drug selling bike gang? Tune in a find out. In many ways this could have been an epilogue episode of the Breaking Bad series rather than it’s own 90-minute plus stand alone movie. Or in all ways when I think about it.
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Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Dear Beer 


Beer Stein-way or Highway

Dear Beer,
I miss you and I wanted you to know I’m thinking about you. I miss your heady, frothy effervescence. I miss your hoppy tang. I miss your refreshing wash down my throat on a hot day. I miss your mix of sweetness, your floral redolence, your yeasty nose, and lingering sourness and acidity. I miss how you complement a steak. You’re such a fine friend to meat. Oh and the things you add to a cheese plate or charcuterie are boundless. I think of you often after a day when the city has worn me out and my haggard hand reaches into the fridge. I see you there, but alas I cannot have you. I hope you understand, dearest beer, it isn’t you, it’s me.

Since January of 2019, I haven’t been able to drink beer, or any kind of alcohol really. It is connected to what was an allergic reaction but is now more like an auto-immune system failure that causes my skin to erupt into a bubbling hot rash that is painful, itchy and is something you might expect from the special F/X department of a zombie movie. It’s akin to having a very bad full body sun burn and occasionally being attacked by angry wasps and this is only made worse by alcohol. I don’t really know why. Something about dilation of blood vessels making the over abundance of histamines in my system more readily absorbed, but who can say and at this point, merely existing is a painful proposition. The key for me is to remain “cool and dry” and under no circumstances, alcohol of any kind.

This condition was recently, I don’t want to say “diagnosed” but sort of re-defined as spontaneous idiopathic urticaria. Tell your friends. Tell your neighbours. Tell them to avoid it and don’t ask me how I’m doing, because, unfortunately for all involved, I will tell them, and it is kind of gross. No one wants that.

Yet like the light on the hill or the glow of dawn of a new day there is some hope. There is a drug treatment administered as a once a month injection. Oddly this drug is used for asthma and allergy sufferers too. Secretly, in my secret heart, the one no one knows, I dream that this wünder drüg might not only manage my urticaria but also my asthma and general congestion from dust sensitivity. This is probably wishful thinking, but wishes are free so make as many as you want. Would this mean I could be reunited with my old chums beer or wine, whisky, bourbon, gin or scotch? Maybe. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

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Sunday, January 05, 2020

The Thirty Year Read 


The false thumb of a pandas is actually a wrist bone. Image via PNAS.org

I can’t recall the exact date or year but it was probably 1986, the year that my brother Chris and I were both attending Memorial University. That was actually a very unique year. For at least one semester, three of four Rogers brothers were all attending the same scholastic institution. I was doing what was then known as General Studies, Chris was completing a Bachelors of Science and Dave was studying Commerce. Not since Chris, Mike and Dave had all been in grade school at St. George’s in a one room school house, (yes, such a thing existed even in my lifetime) had three of us been studying in one place. Unfortunately, as university schedules can range from 8:30 AM to 8:30 PM lectures, and Chris was busy with unscheduled lab work, this situation led to a complicated and varied commute. Most mornings we went in together in one car, but because university days could go longer than planned or required extracirricualr group study sessions et cetera, our return home was more mixed. None of us, that I recall, were what you would call “Morning People” so the morning commute was usually more mute than communicative. Yet the ride home could be far more animated. As science was a common topic for Chris and myself the conversations ranged from the offshore fishery to the statistical likelihood of contracting an illness from a university toilet and how that likelihood increased with proximity to the student centre. At some point I complained that I probably wouldn’t get much from reading Darwin without any real background in biology (somehow I managed to skip it in high school) but Chris suggested Stephen J. Gould as an alternative.
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