New year. New Sunday. Same stuff.
NOT the same stuff. Different stuff. 2020 stuff. Well, not yet. There’s still plenty of stuff that I missed from last year that I’ve still got to get through.
Let’s take a look at what’s been keeping me going over the festive period.
I’ve been working through some of the best books from 2019.
My review for Night Boat to Tangier can be found here, and (spoiler) I absolutely loved it.
Now I’m working on 4th of July Creek, which follows a care worker in the American hardscrabble struggling to keep his life together as he comes up against in his professional life – namely with his concerns for the son of a apocalyptic survivalist by the name of Jeremiah Pearl, who foresees a dire future for the world and the United States, and takes his family out into the wilderness to prepare for it. It’s pretty freaky, and I’m completely in. A full review will follow next week, but what I love about it is author Smith Henderson’s commitment to tone and feeling above all else. I crave art which allows me to grasp onto something otherwise abstract and difficult, but Smith Henderson imbues his prose, his structure, his grammar, and story, with this strained sensation, this tension which suggests that something tremendous is about to break.
I’ve also got a nice little edition of The Call of the Wild on the go to keep my hands on some real pages (the others are on Kindle) and I’ve recently downloaded Ann Patchett’s The Dutch House on Audible because, 1: I’ve heard such good things, and 2: it is Tom Hanks narrated.
For some reason or another I’ve not really been jamming to much recently, but the undeniable soundtrack to my festive period has been from a surprising source. Or, maybe not that surprising. I’m a big fan of a perfectly formed pop song, and Harry Styles has delivered a few of them with his new album Fine Line.
I’ve been messing around with a few different games recently, but I’ve not managed to be completely absorbed by anything.
I went back into Sleeping Dogs – the open world action game from Square Enix. Set in Honk Kong, it puts you in the shoes of an undercover detective recently arrived back after a stint in the US. Amongst the plentiful side missions, radio stations, and lots and lots of driving about, is the sweet and intricate martial arts combat system which sets it apart from its open world partners, plus it’s story is way more interesting than most of those competitors to boot.
Forza Horizon 4 has also received a recent re-download as well, and that game is perfect for what it is. The open world driving is gorgeous to look at, the tinkering and customisation is sophisticated, and the structure of the game allows for it to be constantly rewarding.
In between that, there’s been plenty of matches in the bizarrely named e Football PES 2020. It’s a stupid name, but a fantastic football game. They’ve found the perfect balance of arcade and simulation when it comes to what matters – on the field action. Off the field, FIFA has PES beaten hands down but on it, for me, there’s only one winner. Passing is more satisfying, the goals fly in, and it’s not over complicated. It’s the classic, easy to play, difficult to master trick. By comparison I find FIFA to be needlessly fiddly, and ultimately unsatisfying.
So a film called Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker came out and some people had some strong, strong opinions about it. I might be beyond being mad about Star Wars, but I also can’t pretend to have been able to simply relax and enjoy this latest iteration in the galaxy far far away.
For me the issue is simple: none of the set pieces really landed for me. Attack of the Clones is definitively not a good movie, it is frustrating and boring and confused and the performances are incapable of reviving a rotting, bloated stench of a corpse. But.
You remember the duel in the rain between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Jango Fett on Kamino? You remember the sound Fett’s depth charges made as they continued their battle on the way to Geonosis? You remember the arena battle? All the lightsabers lighting up in unison and Mace Windu decapitating Jango (!) ? Of course you do. All those moments were awesome. As a stupid little kid they were enough for me to convince me that I loved Attack of the Clones and that the Star Wars universe was the place I wanted to be, where I wanted to spend all of my time.
I did not get that feeling with TRoS. I’d seen it all before. Now, if some other stupid little kid remembers those moments like I remember the end of Clones, then I’ll be glad.
At the end of the day, isn’t stupid little kids exactly who Star Wars is for?
Anyway. Forget Star Wars, I watched Dazed and Confused and Everybody Wants Some !! in a Richard Linklater double header, and…