9.0 Pride and Prejudice (2005)

Rosamund Pike, Keira Knightley and Carey Mulligan in the same frame, acting side by side? Yes please. Not to mention Judy Dench at her most wicked best, world-class Donald Sutherland, Talulah Riley of Westwood fame, and Tom Hollander, the quintessentially damaged supporting actor. Great cast executing a classic story.

9.0 Toni Erdmann

A bracing still life of moments between a dad struggling to use humor to connect with his daughter, and the daughter caught up in the priorities of “success”. Sometimes it’s heavy work finding the lightness of being.

9.5 Picard

This is the best space opera since Star Wars: A New Hope. Yes I went there.

It doesn’t have the sheer thrills and explosive pioneering of George Lucas’ master story, but it is a more mature story that deeply and believably develops all the ensemble’s motives, interweaves them, and delivers an epic ride. The execution is brilliant, with powerful performances all around. Wow. I’ll be rewatching this one as much as LOTR, Blade Runner 2049 and the Star Trek reboots.

To get a better handle on the source of its brilliance, peruse the Wikipedia page of the screenplay author, Michael Chabon. So much to mine there.

9.0 The Peripheral

Intentionally, sadistically dense stuff, every single page its own literary sudoku, like only Gibson can get away with. Let it wash over you, rereading the page with the context of its contents. Once you’re comfortable with the ride, it’s good solid fun with some real payoffs. Quite explosive, actually.

Thanks Dan for the gift! You helped me rediscover my favorite author. Now on to the sequel, Agency….

9.5 Upload

Like a one night stand rebound, this show stepped in to save me from Westworld. By Greg Daniels, who works with Steve Carell and Mike Judge, it’s a near-future sci-fi comedy that walks well trodden ground with off-the-charts freshness.

From comicbook.com:

Daniels started writing the series right after The Office ended and it’s taken the past six years for the show to finally come to fruition. “It’s been a long time coming,” Daniels tells us. “I was writing episodes in 2017, and then we shot a pilot in 2018. And then we shot the series in 2019. There were so many special effects, that it took another year to do all the visual effects. It’s been a long time coming, and it’s great fun.”

This is how deep art happens.  It’s why bands have a hard time reproducing the depth of that first “Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!” release.  It’s why the strike in the middle of Bladerunner let it refine like wine.  It’s why the fire that destroyed all master tapes and forced Meat Beat Manifesto to rerecord its first release was such sweet good fortune (wait, Jack made that up? Genius).  It’s how Phoebe Waller-Bridge gradually turned her Fleabag stage production into the most powerful and sublime television, a fully-formed vision.  I am grateful for these gems, I hope you like them too, my friends.

Kurt, Curb, Burger Barn

In a lot of pain lately. Thankful for my black comedy friends, there is no better medicine.

Only discovered Curb Your Enthusiasm a month or so ago, binged every last episode.  Larry David has definitively proven that the perfect length of a joke is 38 minutes.

Once in a while, an old gem reappears, thank you John C. Reilly you are a genius.

And Kurt. My life would be so much poorer without you…

From Breakfast of Champions, published 1973. The more things change, the more they stay the same…

Painful memories 1

On one of my ex’es birthdays many years ago, I had spent the week earlier working on an artistic rendition of a poem by one of her favorite poets, sadly scrawled on the largest canvas I could think of, the drywall in the garage. I added a simple happy line of my own at the end. When I took off her blindfold to reveal the surprise, she was horrified that I had the arrogance to pervert such perfection. Soon after, as her disgust grew, I painted it back over in white and shame.

I can remember neither the poem nor the poet.

Update: It turns out there is precedent, thanks to a belated unearthing of yet another Vonnegut gem. However, I cannot hold KV directly responsible for the transgression, as he always breaks the fourth wall via a safety net named Kilgore Trout, or in this case, his son or some such, who writes:

If only I had the balls to own it like Kurt…