Monday, November 15, 2021

Seen in October

Marvel's What If… asks all the big (nerd) questions. Image via The Movie Db

October rolled over me like a fever dream. Hot. Cold. Done. Did that just happen? It can't be? The leaves are still on the trees? Believe it or not, October saw me attend a film festival in real life and go to an actual movie theatre for the first time in over eighteen months, since March, 2020 (when we saw Parasite). Here's what I saw, streamed and in a real live theatre.

What If… S01
Marvel's lively animated series attempts to open our minds to a vast, prismatic "multi-verse": a reality where infinite parallel universes co-exist providing their writers an opportunity to play with well established characters and scenarios and twist them like so much wind-blown laundry on the line. What if Peggy Carter jumped into the experiment to create a super-soldier instead of Steve Rogers? What if Doctor Strange had become obsessed with saving the love of his life? What if Ultron, the artificial life form created by Tony Stark, had defeated The Avengers? Et cetera, et cetera. On one hand, this series brings to life a fan-loved comic book series, while on the other it provides Marvel the ultimate "out" and a way to re-invent any of their character franchises. One problem with any Marvel film is because they've created this world where anything can happen, they've lowered the stakes so much, it becomes hard to care. While each episode is a fun romp through the Marvel Universe's canon, the last two episodes are probably the wild ride you've been waiting for. Jeffrey Wright is a highlight of the series for me, as he voices the character of The Watcher. The Watcher isn't a pervy creep hiding behind a bush, but a cosmic being who observes various worlds… from behind a cosmic bush? Anyway, the show's look and animation style is pretty great and it's all a bit of fun, though as each 30-minute felt longer, I'm guessing a lot of people would find it tedious so this is probably for fans only.

The Procession
A stylish animated short about a woman speaking from the afterlife to her grieving husband who is struggling to cope through his family's funeral traditions.

Ted Lasso S02
Apple TV+
I've read a smattering of Internet comments and articles on how this show addresses "toxic masculinity" and now I'd like a turn. Yes, season one of this show was a charming comic salve about an American football coach, played by Jason Sudekis, struggling to coach an English Football club, but it had little to no depth and I'm not sure it deserved its tsunami of Emmy nominations. Season two, however is something different. A lot of the show focusses either on characters like Ted Lasso as an alternative to aggressive male stereotypes or, toxically masculine stereotypes addressing why they are the way they are. There are also characters becoming better versions of their masculine selves. A surprisingly emotional moment after a devastating team loss leads to one such confrontation. While three or four male characters work to redefine their masculinity within the sporting world, the two main female leads learn how they can defy female stereotypes to become captains of business without giving up on being feminine. Meanwhile, yet another male lead, initially sweet and mild mannered, tires of being the pussycat in the lion's den (or puppy in the Diamond Dogs) and learns success is found by becoming the very a-hole he despised.  That said, Ted Lasso has become a much better program than the one fêted for its original season.
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Sunday, November 07, 2021

It Was(n't) a Very Good Year

My dad by a river's edge, before I was born. Date unknown, photographer, presumably my mother.

A piece of luggage, I suppose, is a fitting place to find a memory. As I packed a rarely used garment bag (I hardly ever travel with a suit) with my costume for Halloween night, I thought to reduce some weight by removing the laptop liner. Unexpectedly, there were some items still inside the insert’s many pockets. Mostly there were bandages for foot blisters which I painfully discovered were common when I travel. This is probably because I ride a bike everywhere, and on trips where walking is more common, it turns out I’m a bit of a tenderfoot. There was also a faded receipt.

At first I thought it was an overlooked business expense but then I saw the time and date and instantly knew what it was.

Tim Horton’s Toronto Int’l Airport,
JAN07 '14   9:27 AM

It was the day I travelled back to St. John’s for my father’s funeral.

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