My January has been monopolized by moving into an apartment and traveling to California for work and to see friends and family. In between all that, here’s what I was watching, reading, and listening to this past month.
Godzilla Minus One
A masterpiece. I saw it the last day it was playing in theaters in New York with Ryan and Allyson. Emotional, relevant, and with a banger of an old school soundtrack. Godzilla is a scary monster here, putting immense pressure on the humans who are squarely the focus.
Half watched this at Allyson’s cat’s birthday party (no explanation coming). I love the evil butler and all his pratfalls; it’s Disney edging in on being funny. Also, still racist.
I missed this in theaters, but got to see it with friends. I purposely didn’t learn anything about it before seeing it, hearing that that was the way to go. Good movie! Dark, twisty, character piece; a trembling quest for power soaked in pivotal sex.
While I enjoyed it, the hype was too big for the reality by the time I saw it, so I couldn’t help but be a little let down.
Also, I know the realities of commercial film making, but it never fails to take me out of a movie when there’s flaccid dick throughout a sex scene. What, another universe where everyone is always skunk-funkin’ humping, but simultaneously has crippling E.D.? Get outta here.
This movie rules. My second watch, I got to introduce a group of friends to it, which was really fun. A love letter to food, it’s a movie about the title character learning how to be an amazing ramen chef in 1980s Japan, told like a western. It’s funny! You’ll also never see eggs the same way again.
Weird: The Al Yankovic Story
As you’d hope, this movie is as funny as it is no longer locked to the Roku streaming service. Did you know Roku had a streaming service? If not, I’m sorry for burdening your head with this information. Consider relieving that stress by watching Weird: The Al Yankovic Story. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry (because you remembered about Roku). You’ll marvel at the absurdist deconstruction of the music biopic that somehow doesn’t make you think of Walk Hard, although now it will, because I just said Walk Hard. Remember that movie?
Anatomy of a Fall
Saw this in the theater with Dave and Jessica in LA. Heavy. Long. Unexpectedly a courtroom drama, and nominally a murder mystery, but really it’s a sympathy-switching excavation of a couple’s emotional struggles. In French, but the main character is German, but speaks English.
Gary Gulman: Born on 3rd Base
If you’re sleeping on Gary Gulman, wake up! One of the best stand ups working right now. Thoughtful and heartfelt, without ever sacrificing the funny. That is not easy, but enjoying this special is. I don’t love that sentence but I’m not changing it.
Not much going on in the reading department this month. I finished reading The Ghost Brigades, and started reading The Lost Colony, which are parts two and three in the snarky Starship Troopers-tracking Old Man’s War series from Jon Scalzi. It’s fun.
In The Lost Colony, there’s aliens who have intelligence, but no consciousness. Or, no consciousness without a machine. They switch it on periodically, but get overwhelmed, so largely stay emotional robots. METAPHOR????
I’ve been doing more re-listening to old favorites on my own time, as well as being gifted new sounds from my cousin. Sometimes those sounds are music.
Alice in Chains
I’m listing the whole band here; I’ve listened to it all in January. They’re a band that meant a lot to me growing up, whether it was stutter-step head banging to Them Bones, or big feels tearing up to Down in a Hole. Their come-back album Black Gives Way To Blue came out when I was in the hospital getting chemo; it felt like both me and the band were reconciling our pasts at the same time. Dark, dissonant, and maybe sometimes hopeful. That was meaningful.
If you like Grunge or Metal, you already have an Alice in Chains opinion. If you don’t like Grunge or Metal, maybe listen to the acoustic Jar of Flies EP or Heaven Beside You off of their self titled album. You may be pleasantly surprised.
The Donnas - Spend the Night
I find myself putting this album on heavy rotation every few years or so. It’s such chunky, dumb-fun rock n’ roll. If you ever wondered what it would sound like if the girls smoking behind the school made bone-crunch party riffs, you owe yourself a night with this one.
Devo - Duty Now for the Future
The black horse Devo album, and low key one of their most influential. If you vaguely know Devo as the band behind Whip It, and don’t know what “de-evolution is real” means, go listen to Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! and get correct. If you know all that noise and Freedom of Choice, check out this transitional synth rock gem. There’s one or two regrettably stupid moments, but the overall irony-soaked Americana effect shouldn’t be missed.
My cousins introduced me to nts.live, an eclectic DJ-controlled live internet radio station. Previous broadcasts are also archived, so there’s a lot to explore. Miss having humans tell you about good music? Miss no more.
Another cousin introduction, Grey Factor were a flash in the pan local LA synth punk band before that was a thing. Their (small) recordings were recently compiled and remastered. They sound good.
If you take nothing else from this article, watch Godzilla Minus One. If you take absolutely nothing from this article, I think I’m going to count that as an accomplishment.