Five Cool Things and Aretha Franklin

I’ve been binge-watching both Masters of Sex and The Terror all week, which I thought would mean I’d have nothing to cool to talk about now. However, I still managed to squeeze in a couple of movies, a classic Doctor Who, and some other cool stuff.

So let’s get to it.

The Bourne Identity

I started reading The Bourne Identity on a plane to Strasbourg, France. It was my first trip overseas and I wanted something exciting and easy to read on the long journey. I finished it in the little flat we lived in over there. At first, we had little in the way of furniture. We were subletting from a student who was spending the year in London. She left us a desk, two uncomfortable chairs, and a blow-up mattress that had a leak. I read that book while sitting on the floor trying to make a little air stay in that mattress. It’s one of those random, forgettable memories that I seem to have never forgotten. I remember sitting on that floor trying to subdue culture shock by reading the book more than I remember anything like its plot.

Sometime later, I watched the film. I didn’t much care for it. This was at the tale end of my action-movie obsession. I loved those types of movies throughout my childhood in the ’80s, my teenaged years into my college years through most of the ’90s but then I grew tired of them. By the end of my college life, I had become a burgeoning cinephile and suddenly action scenes with their bigger and bigger guns weren’t enough. Cinema had opened up to me and I began to hate the blockbuster.

But all these years later, I have come back to them. I still love arty films with deeper meanings, but once in awhile, I can turn off my brain and enjoy a well-crafted action scene. The Bourne Identity has several of those plus an intriguing story and Matt Damon. You gotta love Matt Damon. Also Brian Cox, Chris Cooper, and an almost entirely silent Clive Owen.

My Best Fiend

I’ve recently been watching a lot of Werner Herzog’s films of late and they’ve all starred Klaus Kinski. They made five films together, all of which were tumultuous. So much so that in 1999 Herzog made this documentary about their relationship. Herzog paints Kinski as a madman filled with fits of rage, violence, and long, ranting sessions. We see some of those rants on the set of Fitzcarraldo where Kinski screams at anyone who comes near his path.

Yet Herzog shows tenderness towards his friend/fiend as well. He talks lovingly about him at times and we see scenes where Kinski is more subdued, loving even. It’s a fascinating glimpse into the relationship of two uncompromising artists and it made me all the more excited to see their films I’ve not yet watched.

Doctor Who: The Web of Fear

I had so much fun last week with Patrick Troughton’s version of The Doctor I gave him another shot this week. This one finds him plus companions Jamie and Victoria landing in a London tube station in more or less the present day (or at least the present day for when it was filmed in 1968) except that it has been ensnared by The Great Intelligence who is using the robotic Yeti to capture the humans.

The Yeti have weapons that shoot out a web-like substance that can encapsulate the bombs they are using to destroy the tube stations and with it, the ever-growing moss-like substance that is taking over everywhere. The dark tunnels of the tube gives the story a dark moodiness. The Doctor shows a lot more personality than he did in Tomb of the Cyberman and the great Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (here only a colonel) makes his first appearance as part of the military trying to stop the Great Intelligence. All in all, this was a fine story and I’m looking forward to seeing more of Troughton.

Roller Girl

I’ve been trying to get my daughter into comic books. Trouble is the ones I read are either too mature for her or too complicated for her to understand right away and then she gets bored. I’d heard good things about Roller Girl so I bought it.

Unfortunately, we are slow to read. I made it a bedtime book but she also reads with her mom. Sometimes we play a game and Roller Girl would get a chapter here and a chapter there but the space in between would make her forget and not be interested. We finally finished it though. I was a little better in the last week and it got a little more exciting and ultimately she really enjoyed it. I did too.

It tells the story of a young girl who gets interested in roller derby. Her best friend at that point is more interested in dance class and the two girls drift apart. Drama ensues because the friend gets another friend and the main character, Astrid, gets mad about it. It’s also about finding something you love and learning to be who you want to be and all that other teen stuff. But it’s funny, and the story is well written and the art is great. I’ll have to find something else for me and my daughter to read and maybe I can get her to read comics on her own.

Podcast Like It’s 1999

TV writers Phillip Iscove and Kenny Neibart host this podcast that delves into the movies of 1999. It was a fascinating year for film giving us such game changing films as The Blair Witch Project, Toy Story, and The Matrix plus the return of Star Wars with The Phantom Menace and the last movie Stanley Kubrick ever made. They cover one movie per episode and dig into how that film got made, how it stands up after nearly 20 years, and more. It’s a lively, entertaining podcast that scratches my ever-itching, movie-podcast need.

Aretha Franklin (1942 – 2018)

There is nothing I could say about the Queen of Soul that she couldn’t say better in song. She had a voice like no other and made an indellible mark on music. Rest in peace, Aretha. You will always have our respect.

Mat Brewster

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