Mixed Media, Saturday 31 January 2015

Last Mixed Media post I said how much I was enjoying the start of season 2 of Arrow. The rest of the season was just as good – a roller-coaster ride from start to finish. There was no “filler” where Oliver Queen just hunted some bad guys. Every episode had something new and exciting to offer.

After binge-watching my way through Arrow I needed something else to sink my teeth into, so I wolfed down season one of Broadchurch. Very different from Arrow, but no less gripping and compulsively watchable. After that I jumped into Person of Interest…and ground to a halt. I’d heard so many good things about it, but compared to Arrow and Broadchurch it’s really dull. I’ve watched up to episode nine or ten, and so far it’s all villain-of-the-week stuff. A longer-term story arc involving the up-and-coming organized crime boss Elias is starting to take shape, but it’s moving at a glacial pace. The relationships between the characters aren’t changing or evolving at all. Maybe it gets better in later seasons, but I’m not sure if I’ll actually make it there.

(Also: in the early episodes of Continuum I found myself regularly annoyed by the crinimally fake depth-of-field effects applied in post-production. Blur for the sake of blur. Similarly, Jim Caviezel’s additional dialogue recording in PoI is terrible, and makes me grind my teeth whenever I hear another poorly edited cut.)

On my trip to Edinburgh last week I watched Gone Girl on the outbound flight, and Predestination on the return leg. I love David Fincher’s films, and I had hoped to catch Gone Girl in the cinema, but I didn’t quite make it. I haven’t read the book, but I knew the premiss. The first hour played out about as I had expected, but then it took a bunch of twists I hadn’t seen coming. The opening and closing shots are amazing bookends. Tony Zhou’s episode of Every Frame a Painting on Fincher gave me a lot to think about while watching the film, too:

Predestination is a subtle, clever, and twisty time travel story with a great lead performance by Sarah Snook. You kinda know where things are going to go, but how it gets there is patient, framed with empathy for characters who have to make sometimes awful choices. It’s not an action movie romp. The first half of the film is basically two characters talking in a bar, one narrating flashbacks of his own life story. But it’s content to tell a tall tale without being rushed. I liked it a lot.

I hadn’t listened to Lizzo for a while, so I spun up her album LIZZOBANGERS last week. Then I visisted her site to see if she had anything new cooking, and I found this track with Caroline Smith. Is it not happy and wonderful?

Searching for more Caroline Smith then led me to the album Pangaea by Toki Wright and Big Cats, the earlier album For My Mother by Big Cats, and Caroline Smith’s own album Half About Being a Woman. Good finds, all.

I’m still reading Harry Connolly’s The Way Into Chaos. To be honest I was disappointed by the start. Epic Fantasy isn’t normally my thing, and I found it hard to get on board with the unfamiliar titles and stilted courtly speech. The opening chapters also felt slightly simplistic, and somewhat young-adulty. I have nothing against young adult fiction, and I enjoy reading it; but it wasn’t what I had been expecting from the Great Way series. Also, being a kickstarter backer I was reading the book with writing a glowing promotional review in mind, and I just wasn’t feeling it — which made me feel reluctant about picking it up again each time…

However, with all that out of the way, something changed in chapter 12, and I found the characters coming alive for me. Cazia was making decisions of her own, rather than being propelled by events. Rescuing Vilavivianna gave her the opportunity to be a leader rather than a follower. Her increased agency made her more interesting as a protagonist. Since that point, I’ve found it more difficult to put the book down than to pick it up. It has found its stride.