Hello again! I am back with another newsletter to tell you about what I’ve been enjoying. You may have noticed I changed the title of this thing. When the email arrived in my own inbox, I nearly mistook it for some kind of SEO report from Substack or auto-generated spam, and I don’t want you to think the same! We’re all learning here. What the new title may lack in subtlety, it makes up for in accuracy. That’s all we need!
Last time I wrote to you, I mentioned the Ringer’s The Rewatchables, which is one of one million movie recap podcasts that exists in 2021 the year of our lord. It’s hosted by Bill Simmons who is apparently a sports guy but I genuinely only know him from his associations with household favourite non-fiction writer Chuck Klosterman. A few months ago, I was listening to the episode on Michael Mann’s Manhunter (1986), which in my opinion is the best adaptation of Thomas Harris’ Hannibal series. In 2015, Peter and I got to see an “archival print” of it projected at the TIFF Bell Lightbox with some members of NBC’s Hannibal TV series in attendance, including Mads Mikkelsen and director Bryan Fuller. It was a total coincidence we shared the theatre with them, we’re not that cool. Mads was wearing a brown Adidas track jacket with orange stripes and a furry hat; he looked horrible and incredible. Anyway, the podcast episode was great, but there was nearly as much talk about Manhunter as there was about Mann’s 1995 film Heat. This paragraph is a really long-winded way of saying that I finally watched Heat and I loved it.
Look, I’m not a huge action movie fan. I love a well-choreographed fight scene or a great musical cue as much as the next guy, but a lot of the violence and machismo and look-at-me-I’m-a-tough-dude qualities that typify the genre just do not interest me one bit. Michael Mann is different! Heat is three hours long and I could have watched another three. There were moments that had my jaw on the floor, not because of the action, but because of the perfect communication of every single beat. And I will say, I think I understand a bit of the deal about Pacino now. Maybe not, but at the very least, I loved him as Vincent Hanna. If you haven’t watched Heat, or maybe haven’t ever even heard of it, set aside three hours and give yourself this gift. And if you’ve seen it, watch it again. We followed up Heat with Collateral (2004), which was not remotely as good, but still a great dark and lonely Los Angeles story.
In other movie news, a group of us got together (virtually) to start watching the Fear Street movies, but we got waylaid on the third because Peter and I are finally taking our fully-vaccinated selves to Ontario this week to see family after a year and a half. This is a new movie-watching group, but it’s a direct off-shoot of another online community: Friday Night Fright Club. The members refer to ourselves as the Rat People’s Army. We meet online on Fridays (obviously) where Peter live-reads R.L. Stine’s Give Yourself Goosebumps series, the choose-your-own-adventure version of Goosebumps. Viewers democratically select the path of the story. When we win (subjective definition; R.L. doesn’t believe in winning), we listen to "Yoo Hoo" by Park Ji-Yoon. Since Fear Street is Bob Stine’s franchise, we decided to watch the films together, and it has been great! So far we have watched Fear Street Part One: 1994 and Fear Street Part Two: 1978. We’ll get to the third when we are back in Nova Scotia and able to watch scary movies without scaring our moms.
The movies themselves are perfectly designed for group watching, but they are gross. Lots of gore, blood, etc etc. I don’t blame the members who chose to sit them out, and I would not recommend them to any of you reading this who are nightmare-prone. But they’re fun enough and, honestly, way better than they needed to be. I can’t remember any of the scenes standing out enough to screen shot – or, rather, any that would be appropriate for this newsletter – so I’ll leave you with another discord screenshot.
In the last newsletter, I wrote about trying to find a new show on the heels of Twin Peaks. An impossible task! We had started Search Party and Fringe with the faith that one of them would stick; now we are nearly at the end of season one of Fringe and we are loving it. We’ll get back to Search Party later. Fringe is pretty gnarly at times (clearly that’s a theme), but there is something about the three main characters that really appeals to me on a soft, emotional level. Olivia (Anna Torv), an FBI agent, is so absurdly bland that she comes back around to being interesting. Peter, a low-key con man, joins Olivia to help solve FBI weirdo cases (basically X-Files) and helps to get his father, Walter, discharged from a psychiatric facility. Walter a genius scientist who is also suffering from amnesia; in almost every episode, he eventually comes to a realization like, “Shit, I think I may have manufactured this [giant spider-scorpion / virus / mind control device].” The subject matter is very post-9/11, but the approach is often sincere and sometimes quite funny. It’s pre-gritty-era television for certain.
In other TV news, I have just continued watching the shows I was watching before, working through I Think You Should Leave like a multilayered Magic Eye that reveals really stupid quotes with with prolonged exposure instead of pictures of eagles or whatever. I can’t imagine how irritating Peter and I are, quoting that show, but we don’t live with anyone else who could be annoyed with us so who cares! Anyway, on that note, I’m going to post some of the quotes I’ve had stuck in my head for three weeks. It will make zero sense if you haven’t seen the show, so feel free to scroll past them. I don’t care, everything has sucked lately anyway.
I don’t have much to say about books. I’m still suffering from pandemic doo-doo brain and can’t focus on anything very much at all. But I’ve been continuing to read Watership Down and it’s so good. So very good.
*cries in screamo*
I’m in Pickering right now, which happens to be where I grew up, so here is a song I think is best paired with driving down Whites Road past Bayly to go pick up your best friend of the past 17 years for lunch and a coffee. Just, you know, as a random example.
We drove across three provinces to get here so I’m very tired. Please let me know if you ever check any of these things out! I genuinely want to hear all about it.