(July 28 – August 3)
Well, I finally finished Chapter 3 which felt good, even if it took longer than expected. I have the feeling that it’ll need some serious hacking in due course, in order to get it into readable shape, but at least I’m fairly confident now that I’ve got some pieces worth hacking into shape.
This week we finished off Stranger Things 3, and it was definitely worth the ride. The early episodes, as I mentioned, were a little on the slow side but this series was a case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. Or something like that. I wrote about the emotional core of this particular season being a little lacking, and the writers falling a little too hard on using conflict (i.e. characters arguing with each other constantly) as the basis of drama, but I’d mostly say that these issues were symptoms of the much stronger structure that was applied to this season.
The Duffer brothers aim to craft each season as a ‘novel’, with each episode being a chapter, but this was far more prevalent in this season. In previous seasons you could easily pick out a handful of episodes that could stand on their own, but with season three it was very much about the parts leading up to a satisfying whole. That said, there were definite elements that stood out: the character that myself and the Elderbeast were fond of calling Russian Terminator, for one; Robin Buckley (who, like Steve Harrington, spent the whole season in a ridiculous sailor outfit, but was still awesome); and the arc they took Billy on was pretty damn good too, Also: The Neverending Story.
Friday’s horror movie was Annabelle: Creation, which was pretty good, if fairly routine. I was pretty impressed by Antony Lapaglia’s very understated performance; playing a character with a whole bunch of stuff going on under the surface.
I also had the chance to sit down at watch Alien with my Awesome Partner. If you don’t already know, Alien is pretty much my favourite film and the one that;’s most likely had the greatest influence on my over the years, so this was a pretty awesome time. I’d recently bought the 4K release and it looked amazing. I’ve probably watched this film a hundred times, but I noticed all sorts of details I’d never spotted before—in particular how damp and grimy everything looks on the Nostromo (in fact, I was reflecting that my first copy of the film was a VHS off-air recording, complete with ad breaks and bad words cut out—a world away from a 4K edition—but it was still good enough for me back then).
It was quite remarkable watching this film, which I know down to the frame but hadn’t seen for a few years, and being able to get a fresh perspective on it. What really struck me this time around is how enormously different the movie feels to modern blockbusters. It’s precisely crafted, but almost primal (helped by the actor’s various improvisations). It’s no revelation to say it’s almost like an art film, but something I really felt was how much it conveys the mood of what’s going on. You really share the terror and discomfort of the characters, and that’s probably why it’s had such a last impression on people.
Watching Stranger Things this week reminded me that I had yet to finish the Stranger Things: Worlds Turned Upside Down book that my friend got me for Christmas. Firstly though, this book is absolutely gorgeous. It’s been very deliberately designed to look like a book that’s been doing the rounds in your local library for a few years, complete with torn paper cover and plastic wrap. The inside is just as gorgeous and even includes an upside down section. I highly recommend it if you need a little Stranger Things fix.