How’s everybody doing? Okay? Remember the thing about …something something real talk, ladies, you are enough, etc. Don’t be cry. Me encourage you. Okay, here’s what we’ve been watching, reading, and listening to lately. I guess this should be Christmas or Advent stuff, but, it’s not. I put up a bunch of lights, we do candle things, and we’re going to confession, and I’m enough, dammit.
If there’s a theme to these books, movies, and music, it’s “hey, there’s something to you, after all.”
Hannah and Her Sisters (Where to watch. We rented it on Amazon Prime for $3.99)
We boycotted Woody Allen movies for a while – not because we thought it would be immoral to watch them, but because, ew. If you’re still in that place, I get it. But after a while I got a hankering to see if the good movies were as good as I remembered (and those are the ones he made before he became an open degenerate, anyway).
Broadway Danny Rose was hilarious and sweet, and I liked it a lot, but Hannah and Her Sisters is terrific. It kept reminding me of a Tolstoy novel, where he just plunges you right in the midst of the lives of these fully-developed personalities in such a way that you understanding their pasts and their likely futures, and how they relate to each other.
I saw this many years ago and thought it was well crafted, but now, having gotten over two decades of marriage under my belt, I think it is a truly great movie about love. You want there to be good guys and bad guys, and there are, but there’s also regret, and recovery from passing madnesses, and redemption. Fantastic dialogue and acting, absolutely captivating setting and soundtrack, and a happy ending. Don’t get me wrong, it has people behaving very badly, indeed, but it shifts very deftly from wretched nihilism to a sort of tender, hopeful agnosticism that makes human life beautiful. Really kind of a masterpiece.
Wait, I take it back. That architect is a bad guy.
We’ve also been watching Malcolm In the Middle (where to watch) with the kids ages 11 and up, and it’s still a very funny show, but I guess I didn’t notice the first time around how hard they leaned into the whole “everyone’s laughing, but if this were real, it would actually be abuse” thing, especially as the series went on (we are currently on season 5, which is a very funny season. We just watched the one where Reese joins the army and Hal is under house arrest). I think the target audience is people my age, among whom it is actually very common to have discussions about our childhoods that seemed normal at the time, but in retrospect were actually. . . . yeesh.
Read aloud: The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander. The second in The Chronicles of Prydain.
I’m reading this aloud to kids ages 9 and 5, and they are enthralled. This one is more exciting and cohesive than the first. Lots of tests of character. I pause often to ask the kids, “Wow, what would you do in this situation?” and I am never gratified by their answers, but at least I can tell they’re paying attention.
I won’t mind taking a break from Lloyd Alexander for our next read-aloud, though.He is a good, vivid storyteller, but he can be a bit clunky to read aloud. We started on Prydain when we lost our copy of Wind in the Willows just after Toad’s friend’s stage an intervention about the motorcar. It will be a nice change of pace to get back to Kenneth Grahame’s prose, which is so lushly, lovingly written.
Benny also got a copy of Time Cat, also by Lloyd Alexander, for her birthday, but she hasn’t started it yet. A talking, time-traveling cat who goes on adventures with a kid. Seems promising.
I’m also reading Dragonwings by Lawrence Yep to myself (it’s a children’s book suitable for kids about grade 5 and up). Yep has a good, plain style and doesn’t flinch away from the awful realities of life for Chinese immigrants in California at the turn of the century, so it may not be great for especially sensitive readers. The protagonist is an eight-year-old boy who leaves his mother in China to live with his father, a former master kite-maker who now works in a laundry. It does a nice job of showing how myth makes its way into a family’s understanding of the world, a theme that fascinates me.
I’ve also been picking up Notes From Underground by Doestoevsky and reading passages at random before bed, which may not be great for my mental health, but I don’t think it’s doing any harm to the book.
And I ordered a paper copy of Cat Hodge’s Unstable Felicity, which is currently on sale for $8.99, because I will scroll through Facebook and Twitter for three hours straight, but I simply cannot read a book on a screen. Can’t do it. And I do want to read this book. (An audio version is also now available.)
Uh, Miracles by Insane Clown Posse
Damien made a reference to “fucking magnets, how do they work?” and I didn’t know what he was talking about, so he showed me this:
Okay, so this is objectively terrible work by some powerfully rotten entertainers, but I kind of love it. My mother would have loved it. Three cheers for the divine spark in every human, that makes even no-talent creeps in stupid face paint want to make a video encouraging people to think about how cool it is that there are mountains and rivers, and that children look like their parents, and there are stars and pelicans and shit. This is not good art, but it is real art, and even Juggalos need real art. Me gusta.
If you’re looking for something you can actually enjoy, you could do worse than the Hannah and Her Sisters soundtrack.
How about you? Watching, reading, or listening to anything that’s good – maybe better than you expected?
3 thoughts on “What we’re watching, reading, and listening to this week: In which Woody Allen and Insane Clown Posse have redeeming qualities”
I rewatched Hannah and her Sisters right before Thanksgiving, and it is very good even though many of the characters make terrible decisions. It also makes me long for conversations about books and art and music rather than real estate and politics.
I just finished A House of Ghosts, and it was great — like an Agatha Christie mystery but with real ghosts, set at the winter solstice in 1917; so enjoyable. Based on your recommendation I started Unstable Felicity yesterday, when I had to stand in line outside the post office for 40 minutes (there’s a reason why I always have a book in my bag).
I’m listening to Christmas music, specifically the album Queridos Reyes Magos (Puerto Rican music) and Gaby Moreno’s versions of “Peces en el río” and “Hacia Belén va una burra rin rin” (children’s songs, but so lovely I want to hear them over and over). And the Muppets. We listen to/watch a lot of Muppets here.
The Black Cauldron contains one of my favorite lines from any children’s book. When our heroes are struggling and struggling to get the cauldron home, and yet another setback occurs, and Taran says “If we think we can carry this thing all the way to Caer Dallben, we’re fooling ourselves.” And Eilonwy says “Maybe so, but I don’t know what else we can do, except keep fooling ourselves. And in a while we might be home.” I said that to myself so many times when my kids were little and life was overwhelming!
Over the years I have also wondered if “Hannah and Her Sisters” was as good as it seemed at the time, so thanks, maybe we will give it a try. Of all Woody Allen’s work, the one that we have kept watching and always enjoy is “Radio Days.” It’s a good New Year’s Eve watch.