Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Lil' Sleep

Lots of little sleeps.

As we drove from Peterborough to our AirBnB reservation, the September darkness was already well established over the small highway. I'd forgotten just how dark a rural road could be. The darkness on an unknown route only heightened my anxiety that we would be arriving late. The latest check-in time was set at 9:00 PM but by Google's ever-knowing, all-seeing wisdom, our arrival would be closer to 9:15 PM. Still, fifteen minutes didn't seem such a great sin. When we did arrive as the GPS had predicted, we were worried that the host had left as all of the lights in the house were off. We knocked on the door and checked our phones by the light of the motion-sensitive porch light. It was roughly 9:20 PM when the host appeared at the door, clearly in some annoyance and apparently having just got up out of bed. "I had a headache and you guys were late so I couldn't wait anymore and went to bed." she said with hand held to furrowed brown and a head full of pillow brushed hair.

"My god." I thought to myself, "she went to bed just after 9 PM and fell deeply asleep in less than fifteen minutes?" I was more shocked that an adult would go to bed at 9 PM than anything else I may have been worried about. I mean, it wouldn't be odd for me to nod off if I were watching television at 9 at night, but upon awaking I wouldn't get up and go to bed because… well, I just awoke from a nap. 10 PM is my witching hour. It's when my mind awakens, when the creative juices start flowing. Yet, society says go to bed and science says you need about eight hours of continuous sleep. Enter pandemic.

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Sunday, February 06, 2022

Seen in January 

The mysterious vault from the Apple TV+ series, Foundation. Image via The Movie Db.

Clearly, the long nights and cold days of January meant I finished seasons I was watching months before and made time for more films, which explains how this month's listing is longer than December's. I hope you find something to amuse you après ski or a walk in the snow.

Sly and the Family Stone wow the Harlem crowd in Summer of Soul. Image via The Movie Db.

Summer of Soul
In 1969, a summer festival took place over 6 weeks in Harlem, New York. It happened at the same time as a more famed festival in Woodstock, New York. Guess which one got all the attention. For decades footage of the Harlem music festival languished until brought to life recently. Concert scenes are intercut with contemporary interviews of some who attended and some who performed, providing greater context for what we were seeing. And what we see is great. Artists such as Stevie Wonder, Sly and Family Stone, Mahalia Jackson and Nina Simone, played through heat, sun and rain while a large appreciative crowd swayed, danced and sang along. While the festival may have been a response to the previous summer's violent protests, it also seemed a harbinger of the increasing confidence and cultural influence of Black Americans.

Big Mouth S05
From "love bugs" to "hate worms" to a puppet-filled Christmas parody, this sometimes crass, sometimes sweet animated comedy from Nick Kroll (and others) continues to be worthy, if somewhat more "ribald" companion piece to Netflix's other adolescent sex comedy series, Sex Education.

The Suicide Squad
This second version of the previous "Suicide Squad" is greatly improved by writer/director James Gunn. If you don't already know, the premise is that a lower tier of DC Comic villains are released from prison to form a team to do dirty work for the government. This dirty work offers some no-win situation against all odds that is only complicated by an explosive device implanted in the villains' necks in case they go "off book" or step out of line (thus the title, The Suicide Squad). Despite the improved writing and film making that embraces the absurdity of the premise and characters (that range from trained assassins to a talking shark-man hybrid), this film still didn't offer that much of anything new. John Cena as "Peacemaker", a killer who would "murder every last man, woman and child for peace" is a surprise standout, which is probably what led to his spinoff series on HBO.

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