Media Diet on Wednesday (#59)
The Newsletter That Blows Up In The Worst Way
Life is busy. I’ve become even more selective about the things that I’m watching. And no, I did not watch The Ultimatum. Instead I dove deep into a a place of comfort - The Wire - , which is honestly the most radically queer show I’ve seen in some time, and that story is over 20 years old.
While I’m re-configuring my writing habit, let me throw my top picks of the last months at you and come back in a few weeks when I’ve come off my The Wire addiction.
What To Watch This Week
How To Blow Up A Pipeline (2022)
directed by Daniel Goldhaber - ★★★★☆
As I’d correctly presumed, How To Blow Up A Pipeline swiftly moved into my Best Of 2023 selection. A clearly Gen-Z tinted climate-terrorism movie, this book adaptation feels like Oceans 11 in script and spirit, yet feels more important than that - a small detonation of heavy themes at no loss of entertainment. And it really scratches that indie itch without reaching too far out, as in: tell a story, neat and swiftly, and make it really good.
Tags: Letzte Generation
Return To Seoul (2022)
directed by Davy Chou - ★★★★☆
A very, very underrated drama on identity and culture. I was put on it by a producer who was annoyed with the praise that Tár was receiving: “This is how you write an unlikeable character”, she said. I don’t disagree, even if you can’t touch me on Tár. Freddy, once adopted by French parents, travels to Seoul and decomposes, reconstructs and shatters herself in the process. A fascinating and contemporary and, I am relieved to say, very fair portrayal of a woman.
Tags: Women’s Wrongs, Villain Origin Story
Sick Of Myself (2023)
directed by Kristoffer Borgli - ★★★☆☆
I couldn’t get enough of this righteously hilarious cringe-fest. Scandinavian satire - yes, compare it to Triangle of Sadness, if you must - but with an element of pure madness that I’d like to let my readers just flow into without any further context. As one Letterbox’d user put it: she’s in her year of rest and relaxation worst person in the world era.
Tags: Dying For Attention, This Is What I Think People In L.A. Are Like
I enjoyed but couldn’t fangirl over Polite Society, which I don’t think is the movie’s fault. It will be hard to re-invent martial arts again in a post Everything Everywhere world (B-); I, a white-collared and slightly obese father of five children, was contractually obligated to like BlackBerry, a start-up biopic that was funny sometimes, but not often enough, and uncanny weird wigs didn’t help (C).
Slipknot going soft and yet so hard on this absolute masterpiece. Don’t worry - unseasoned ears can listen, too. It’s a vibe.
Currently hate-watching Sam Levinson’s monstrous creation of stardom, sex and power. I thought this was going to be an intense and erotic drama (nods to Paul Verhoeven notwithstanding), but instead it’s just a bit dumb, in a spectacular way. All of that can be forgiven but please someone has to arrest The Weeknd1. I’m ultimately a bit surprised and disappointed. What’s in The Idol that David Lynch hasn’t already addressed, much better and succinct, in Mullholland Drive?
BINGE PURGE / PEAK TV
It’s hard not to feel attacked while reading The Vulture’s summary of what’s changing in the industry. Some really poignant quotes about consumption habits, the culture of streaming and writing for American TV:
“But for a certain type of viewer — imagine someone in her 30s or 40s who has never in her adult life had to worry about where her next critically acclaimed dramedy would come from — something already feels like it’s ending. Peak TV, as one of the industry’s most powerful tastemakers wearily puts it, “was a brief but intense mania that led to too much television.”
“We’re all stuck in our bubbles of awareness,” says Lindelof. “Everybody I know is watching Swarm, but then my mom and my in-laws and my young and cool brother-in-law don’t even realize it exists. So then you ask yourself, Why do I know that this show exists? TV has become very artisanal.”
Based on the classic orphan tale of David Copperfield, but set in the 1990’s Appalachian mountains. I’m not saying this is life-changing literature, but I haven’t been captivated by a story like this since A Little Life (for very different reasons). Demon Copperhead is better literature if only because it doesn’t let itself sink into the torture of its environment. It’s never exploitative, and always gracefully adventurous.
DAZZ VINTAGE FILTERS
Sometime around the pandemic, I got tired of photography. I don’t know if this is a function of age (what haven’t I taken a picture of already?) or culture (is photography even a valid medium anymore when anything can be AI-generated), but I know that neither my trustful Olympus nor my reliable 5D have left the house in quite some time. What I’m left with are loveless and flat snapshots from my iPhone. Just for fun I like to slap them with a vintage vibe. The new generation of iOS photo & video editing apps like Dazz do that well enough for me to leave my mirrorless and analog equipment at home.
SUMMER HITS IN ITALY
A playlist for those who are traveling through fields of burrata and memories of European summers; to be updated as we travel around Apulia2. And besides, some rules of engagement for a perfect Italian holiday:
Iced Tea Must Be Served In Wine Glasses
Card Games Are Mandatory
Sleeping In Is Out; Waking Up Early To Nap At The Pool Is In
Kindle Readers Are Not Optional, And If You Come With An iPad Instead, You Will Regret Your Life Choices
Do Not Kill The Baby Scorpion