I say “hiatus” tongue-in-cheek because I haven’t posted on this blog since Oct. 22, so I suppose I was already hiatus-ing when I decided to write it down. I’ve been thinking about it for awhile, actually.
I’ve had this blog for exactly ten years. I’m old enough to have done a lot of things for ten years (or more) — drive, be out of high school, have a Facebook account, buy tampons, own an iPod — but this is the only creative thing I’ve sustained for that long. And yet I’ve only just begun to learn that it’s okay to step away from something when it has become stagnant — or has run its course.
I keep a list of notes in my phone about the books, music, movies and shows I’ve consumed, with the intention of translating those notes onto posts here. That list of notes has grown to an intimidating length over the past few years, so much so that whenever I get around to writing about a particular work, it’s not even timely anymore. Even worse, when I’m experiencing the work itself, I’m so focused on my notes that I don’t actually take it in as art. And so this little blog, which I loved so much and still love, has transformed into an onus. A burden of my own doing. It shouldn’t be that way. It should be joyous.
I started it pretty much in conjunction with when I started writing reviews for my college paper. I figured that whatever I wasn’t reviewing for them should get a review, too. I enjoyed it then because it was a novel concept — I was 20 and excited that someone might want to know what I thought of that Pepper concert or this Al Gore book. My job after college was similar — with a pay grade barely above the kind, pitiful stipend that the paper was able to offer — and it’s where I started to grow weary of the arts and entertainment review as a form of expression, but I insisted upon maintaining it for whatever reason. And now here I am, a decade in, and pretty tired. I’m ready for a break, if only for my brain.
But I wouldn’t be myself if I didn’t jot down at least some of the thoughts I’ve had about things I’ve seen and heard this past year, taking up space in my phone and my conscience. Here goes.
Gattaca // I reveled in the design details of this movie — Vincent (Ethan Hawke) and Jerome (Jude Law) had such a meticulous, foolproof system to transfer DNA between them, from the blood on the fingerprints to the concealed urine — but I also wondered how the logic of their universe stood next to, say 1984. There were more social variables in the world of Gattaca — and had there not been, Ethan and Uma (as Irene) might never have had the opportunity to interact and become a real-life couple.
Jackie // Natalie Portman is the centerpiece here, and it took me awhile to “buy” her in the role before I realized I didn’t know much about Jackie O at all, or what was “authentic,” and she reeled me right in. She captured the lonely horror of experiencing a personal trauma in the public eye, and maybe her greatest achievement in the role was never really revealing Jackie O’s personality, because maybe Jackie O never did, either.
Rogue One // Damn it if the ending didn’t make me shed a tear. But damn it if the part right before it didn’t make me scream. I mean, it was a fun romp, but the romance was completely unnecessary. Jyn (Felicity Jones) and Cassian (Diego Luna) had absolutely no chemistry, nor was their relationship meaningful to the plot. This movie was about kicking ass, which both of them did handedly, but they didn’t need to make out in order to do so. Shoutout to Chirrut (Donnie Yen) and Baze (Wen Jiang) for their significant ass-kickery, too.
La La Land // I didn’t want to like this movie because of Moonlight — and I’m thrilled Moonlight won, duh — but La La Land is a pretty fascinating portrayal of Los Angeles. It lets you fall in and out of love with it simultaneously. Its fantasy sequences — particularly those that bookend the movie — are particularly beautiful, as are the elements of the movie steeped in reality. Emma Stone is not the best singer, and that’s what I loved about her casting. She, way more than Ryan Gosling (as Sebastian), is so full of potential in the perfect way, which is to say that she’s imperfect. She works hard and she feels things and she’s a real person, and that came out in spades as Mia.
Hidden Figures // I’ve never fist-pumped more in a theater than when I saw this movie. (Except maybe for Miracle.) Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae were incredibly inspiring, as are the real-life geniuses they portrayed who went through hell to make vital contributions to the space program.
The Nightmare Before Christmas // I saw this 25 years too late. And now I get why Hot Topic was/is filled with Jack Skellington memorabilia. What a beautiful, twisted masterpiece. The movie is even greater than the sum of its brilliant parts, from Jack not having an evil voice to the mayor being two-faced to all the Christmas carols being in minor keys, because it’s got this undeniable, one-of-a-kind feel. There will never be another movie like it.
Dear White People (the movie) // Justin Simien wrote a mesmerizing wake-up call to the unwoke and woke alike. The ensemble, particularly Tessa Thompson and Teyonah Parris, lets you get to know its problems, lets you feel as close as you can to a conflict you can’t even begin to understand and lets you reckon with your discomfort.
Get Out // There is reckoning with your discomfort here, too, but it’s not in satire form — it’s tight, crisp suspense instead, and it’s hilarious when it needs to be and terrifying otherwise. The fact that this movie is Jordan Peele’s directorial debut is astounding — we’re just going to get more amazing works of art like this, and we’re lucky. Get this man an Oscar.
Eight is enough for now. More later.