To reflect on my summer: In June I was frustrated and depressed. In July I had my perspectives shaken up by family changes and my first visit to the motherland (aka Korea). In August, I started making active efforts to move forward in my life.
I didn’t do much reading or watching of films. I did, however, watch an enormous amount of television, I’m ashamed to say.
Zootopia (Byron Howard, Rich Moore, Jared Bush; 2016; USA)
Finding Dory (Andrew Stanton, 2016, USA)
The Lobster (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2016, UK)
Captain America: Civil War (Joe Russo & Anthony Russo, 2016, USA)
Sing Street (John Carney, 2016, Ireland)
Sausage Party (Conrad Vernon & Greg Tiernan, 2016, USA)
Silicon Valley: Season 3 (HBO)
The Good Wife: Seasons 1-7 (CBS via Amazon Prime)
Seinfeld: Seasons 1- (NBC via Hulu)
Stranger Things: Season 1 (Netflix)
…Bachelor in Paradise: Season 2 (ABC)
I’m halfway through The Two Koreas by Don Oberdorfer
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by Jack Thorne and John Tiffany
A few reflections on all this:
My favorite movies of the summer were Finding Dory and Sing Street. Finding Dory had great heart, beautiful animation, and excellent storytelling and character development. Sing Street had spunky characters, amazing soundtrack and wardrobe, and nostalgia for the 80s on it’s side. That being said, the most creative movies I watched this summer were undoubtedly Zootopia and Sausage Party. Zootopia bravely took on the hot button issue of racism and turned it into a sweet yet complex animated movie teaching children and adults alike the dangers of racism; Sausage Party took a simple yet creative premise and kept the fun going with button-pushing raunchy jokes and political humor. Both were bold risks that paid off.
I watched way too much TV this summer. The Good Wife was a mediocre show–at times, excellent (Season 5: Episodes 5 and 15) , but mostly procedural and full of frustrating recurring characters. More often than not, I found protagonist Alicia Florrick to be an unsympathetic character–perhaps part of the character’s complexity, commentary on the corrupting influence of the law, but nevertheless rendering the show irritating to watch. It’s hard to root for a stone cold bitch denying responsibility left and right. Few of the other characters are much better. I started watching Seinfeld to replace the gaping hole the end of Curb Your Enthusiasm left on my life. I love these shows about nothing in part because I can relate to what they’re doing–blowing tiny situations out of proportion and playing with the possibilities. In terms of shows actually on air now: Silicon Valley was slightly less brilliant than seasons past, but still funny and I love how each season tackles a new stage in the progression of a start up–this season, the expansion of a great idea into a company. Stranger Things is excellent–scary, 80s-nostalgic, a little bizarre and all over the place, but it works. I’m ashamed to say I watched Bachelor in Paradise. It’s just so damn addicting to see this unnatural dating simulation, where people have limited options, feel pressure to cling to someone in order to get a rose and remain in paradise even if they’re not actually into them, and expect to feel instant connections and be engaged by the end of it all. It’s so fake. I’m going to stop there, lest I launch into judgmental critiques of real people who I don’t actually know. Let me just say this though–the only guys that I would be remotely interested in on that island would be Wells and Vinny.
I hardly read this summer. Even though Don Oberdorfer’s post-Korean War history of the Korean peninsula is supremely fascinating, I’ve been such a couch potato that I only am invested in such a political, fact-heavy book when I have nothing else to entertain me–namely, on the subway to and from work (that is, if I’m not tired or anxious). The only book I’ve completed this summer has been the Harry Potter fan-fic play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I cannot believe JK Rowling attached her name to such an awful piece of writing. The plot is stupid, the characterizations are terrible, and the dialogue? Truly cringeworthy. There’s so much audience pandering going on here, insultingly assuming that the audience are a bunch of idiots who need comic relief at every twist and turn. I know it’s a fictional work, but so was Harry Potter–you only put jokes where they make sense. During a tense situation in which your son might be lost forever, you don’t look around and comment on how many farmer’s markets a town has. That’s just dumb and unnecessary. Ignoring the terrible plot (the premise was great, the actual plot line the playwrights decided to go with? So stupid), the play tried way too hard to be entertaining that it’s actually hard to read.
I really need to sleep, but first–in terms of moving forward, my cultural goals for the September 2016-August 2017 year are these:
MOVIES: watch at least 1 movie/week
BOOKS: read at least 1 book/2 weeks
It’s week 1 of the new year, and I’ve already finished my first book: Herman Koch’s The Dinner (coming up on the blog! Probably should have devoted more time to the entry, but whatever–some of these posts will be more about speed for the sake of practice and documentation, then quality, well composed pieces).