Sunday Sum-Up: February 5, 2023

I finally went to see a movie in a theater this week. It’s the first time I’ve done that since I saw Dune in 2021. There just hadn’t been anything in the local theaters I’d wanted to see (I usually found out about the handful of films I wanted to see after they’d left), so I checked out DVDs from the library or saw them on one streaming service or another. Of course, there is a big difference between seeing something at home on your couch and seeing them on the big screen with high-quality surround sound.

Last Sunday, I saw Living starring Bill Nighy at the local indie theater. I’d been looking forward to seeing it since I heard about it, and it did not disappoint. It’s about an aging man, Mr. Williams (Nighy), who has been living a dull life in a boring civil service job, but when he receives a terrible diagnosis, he decides it’s time he went and lived a little. This was such a beautiful movie– beautifully acted, beautifully filmed and scored. It was just lovely. I highly recommend it. It was a great one to see after being absent from the theater for over a year.

Obligatory Mina Photo:

It was quite cold out early last week, though my apartment is nice and warm so you wouldn’t have known it if you didn’t have to go outside. Like Mina didn’t. But she spent her napping hours curled up in all the soft places she could find as though she was having to stave off the cold all by herself.

When she wasn’t half-buried in blankets, though, she’d be running into the room to meow at me about playing with her, no matter what I might be doing. But I didn’t mind. Playing with this kid is a pleasure, and it’s good to stop what you’re doing now and then and have a little fun.

What I Finished Reading Last Week:

It had been a while since I read The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor. I remembered the outline of the story but not the exact details. I also didn’t remember how stuck-up the Noble Bachelor is, so I was surprised at how civil Holmes was to the man (though he was quietly a bit snide, but the bachelor didn’t pick up on that). The plot of the story runs thusly: The noble bachelor arrives at 221B Baker Street to hire Holmes to find his missing bride, who vanished in the midst of their wedding breakfast. He suspects foul play, but Holmes quickly figures out that something else is going on.

Wolf Hall was sublime, as usual. It amazes me how Mantel could take this historical figure who, for hundreds of years was seen as a villain, and make him such a person- not a villain or a saint, but a person. Like someone you could meet on any given Tuesday, except Cromwell lived 500 years ago. But it’s like that for all the characters of this book. They descend from the pedestal of history and become flawed people with little agendas and desires. And Mantel does this without resorting to the tropes of historical fiction or trying to make them more “relatable” to a modern audience. Cromwell, Call-me, Lady Carey, and all the others are relatable to modern readers because of having been people, not because Mantel spiced them up or turned Anne Boleyn into some spunky girlboss. I fully intend to continue my re-read of this trilogy, though I’m not sure if I’ll do it via physical book or audiobook. My hardcovers are beautiful, but Simon Vance and Ben Miles narrate the next two entries, and I love both performances. Perhaps I should flip a coin and decide that way.

Hell Bent was a fantastic follow-up to Ninth House. This series is a cross between dark academia and urban fantasy (which seems to be a Thing for YA authors trying their hand at adult novels. It doesn’t always work. In fact, I think it rarely works), and features Alex Stern, a young woman who can see ghosts, and has had a multitude of problems in her life because of it. She’s whisked off to Yale in order to become part of House Lethe, a group that polices the secret magical societies of Yale. Having survived her freshman year, Alex is determined to rescue a friend who disappeared in the first book. So she and Dawes (another officer in House Lethe) set out to find a ritual that will open a portal to Hell. This was a great popcorn horror thriller, and I’m honestly surprised that I managed to spend about a week reading it, rather than sitting down and devouring the thing in a couple of sittings. It was so much fun, and every time I pulled at a plot thread and went “is this a loose end?”, Bardugo showed that she’d thought of that and had it properly woven into the story.

What I’m Currently Reading:

Listen to This is a collection of essays Alex Ross wrote for The New Yorker, though they also serve as something of a brief autobiography of Ross’s musical life, as well as a brief history of twentieth-century music (so far). I’ve been wanting to learn more about music, so when another audiobook didn’t quite pan out for me, I downloaded this one. So far, it’s been quite enjoyable, and while I’m not that far into it, I’ve already learned a lot about music. I’m looking forward to hearing more about music and Ross’s take on it.

I went out to a special event at the used bookstore downtown on Friday night, and after I left that I decided to try out a Japanese restaurant known for its ramen. Because I went alone and didn’t want to pull out a paperback and risk dripping soup on it, I decided to pull up one of my ARCs on my phone. I’ve been enjoying the Letters from Watson substack where I’ve been rereading the Sherlock Holmes stories, so diving back into the Victorian era with another set of detectives sounded like a great plan, even though the book isn’t out until April. In this outing, a woman hires Barker and Llewellyn to locate her missing husband, who worked in the Egyptology department of the British Museum. He had discovered a large, heart-shaped ruby inside one of the mummies stored at the museum, and left with it to notify his superior of his find, though he had hidden it in the meantime. When he’s found dead the next morning, Barker and Llewellyn take it upon themselves to find the murderer and discover what they might know about the mummy and other secrets hidden in the Museum. I haven’t gotten too far into this one, either– the boys are tracking down potential culprits, and I have no idea who might have committed the murder. But I’m thoroughly enjoying being back with these characters, following in their footsteps as they track their quarry through the darker and stranger parts of Victorian London.

I’m not all that far into The Maid and the Queen, either. Just enough to get some background on Queen Yolande so I understand why, when Joan of Arc shows up at the Dauphin’s court, it’s important that she said, “I was sent by God with a message to the Dauphin”. So far, Goldstone’s narrative is straightforward and captivating, and I’m looking forward to finding out more. I’m sure I’m not the only history buff who went through a phase where I was a little obsessed with Joan of Arc, but I read next to nothing about Yolande of Aragorn, who seems to have had a greater role in Joan’s story than most histories giver her credit for.

What I’m Listening To:

Because I apparently don’t have enough to do in a week, I’ve given myself another project. While listening to Listen to This, I decided it would be a good idea to listen to the Academy Award Winners for Best Original Score from 2000 until now. I figured I would give myself a week to listen to each score, and then share my thoughts about it on the blog. I looked through the winners last night, and I think I’ll encounter a wide array of music- some of which I’ve never bothered listening to before. 

Of course, I have listened to a lot of this music before now– Howard Shore won two Oscars for his work on Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings films and Hans Zimmer won last year for his score for Dune. But there are plenty I haven’t heard before, such as Justin Hurwitz’s score for La La Land or Trent Reznor’s for The Social Network. I have a lot of good music in my future, and I’m hoping I’ll find some new favorites.

Here’s what I’ll be listening to in the coming weeks:

2000: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon by Tan Dun
2001: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring by Howard Shore
2002: Frida by Eliot Goldenthal
2003: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King by Howard Shore
2004: Finding Neverland by Jan A. P. Kaczmarek
2005: Brokeback Mountain by Gustavo Santaolalla
2006: Babel by Gustavo Santaolalla
2007: Atonement by Dario Marianelli
2008: Slumdog Millionaire by A. R. Rahman
2009: Up by Michael Giacchino
2010: The Social Network by Trent Reznor
2011: The Artist by Ludovic Bource
2012: Life of Pi by Mychael Danne
2013: Gravity by Steven Price
2014: The Grand Budapest Hotel by Alexandre Desplat
2015: The Hateful Eight by Ennio Morricone
2016: La La Land by Justin Hurwitz
2017: The Shape of Water by Alexandre Desplat
2018: Black Panther by Ludwig Göransson
2019: Joker by Hildur Guðnadóttir
2020: Soul by Jon Batiste, Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross
2021: Dune by Hans Zimmer
2022: ??

12 thoughts on “Sunday Sum-Up: February 5, 2023

  1. That’s a good idea about the Best Original Score winners, I’m curious to see which ones you like best. I remember loving the Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack so much I bought the CD (this was back when CDs were a thing)

  2. I don’t recall the last time I watched a movie in a theater, or what that movie was… wow, I really don’t. Oh well. Glad to hear you found a great one to watch. And ramen… Mmmmmm. 🙂

  3. Living sounds wonderful — I really hadn’t heard much about it, but I’d love to check it out. Gorgeous Mina photo! I really do need to do a re-read of Wolf Hall (and finally get to the 3rd book for the first time). I’m excited to read your thoughts on Hell Bent! Another one that I need to get to. Have a great week!

  4. I definitely recommend Living! It was so good! I watched Everything Everywhere All at Once over the weekend, and it was so weird and wonderful. I recommend that one, too, if you haven’t seen it. Hell Bent was great! Definitely a popcorn read, as I’ve found all of her books to be. I can’t wait for the next one.

  5. It took me a bit to remember which movie I’d seen last in the theater….. I’ve never been a big movie-goer, and the pandemic just made things worse. I’m much more apt to go to the indie theater, which has fewer seats and draws a much quieter audience than mainstream film.

    The ramen was pretty good at the place I went to, but there’s another restaurant in town that is much better. I need to get back there sometime.

  6. I may end up expanding the Best Original Score project into the 20th century, if this project goes well. As I’m a whole week into it, we’ll see. I’m looking forward to encountering some new-to-me music like Slumdog Millionaire. I never saw it, and know next to nothing about the film or its production.

  7. I heard about Living literally a couple of days after I watched Ikiru (1952) by Akira Kurosawa haha! I’m glad that someone decided to take the exact story and modernize it and I look forward to trying Living out to see how it compares to the original Japanese classic. Also glad you enjoyed Hellbent. I need to give that series a try someday.

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