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☞ Properly, intentionally watched the following movies on Netflix: Serendipity (with Kate Beckinsale and John Cusack), and The Mummy (with Brendan Fraser). I may have romanticized what little I remembered seeing of Serendipity when I was littler; but the rewatch easily disabused me of those hazy memories. As for The Mummy, which I watched with a friend from the Sunnybook Farm server, many people have been known to say that this was their bisexual awakening, and now I know why.
☞ Binged the first part of Masters of the Universe: Revelation on Netflix. I had been calling it “the He-Man reboot” in my head, but after speeding through all five episodes so far, it was made clear that the show is not about He-Man after all. It includes him, but the show very much tries to be bigger than him. So far it’s lacking in this respect, so here’s hoping that part two will be an improvement of the first.
☞ Started on a new Webtoon called Reunion by stephattyy, and the twice-monthly updates really cannot come fast enough. It follows Rhea, who returns to the city after some time away and reunites with a childhood friend — only to realize that her friend may be harboring a secret. I would describe the color palette of this Webtoon as muted and rustic, which is probably what drew me to it in the first place. Now I stay because every character is just so good-looking. :3 — 11 August 2021
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☞ Swooned through two adaptations of Jane Austen’s Persuasion: the 1995 BBC film with Amanda Root and Ciarán Hinds, and the 2007 version starring Sally Hawkins, Rupert Penry-Jones, and extremely shaky camerawork. I’ve also started rereading the book, as one is always wont to do in these situations. I’d only read it once before, when I was fourteen. The letter scene made me cry then, but for the longest time I thought it was a minor scene and that I was a ninny for feeling so much over a single correspondence. Now I know better — about the scene’s importance, that is; not its ability to induce tears. One must always shed a tear or two when Captain Wentworth writes, “I am half agony, half hope.”
☞ Giggled over the 2008 TV series Sense and Sensibility, also a BBC adaptation of the novel of the same name by Jane Austen. While Ang Lee’s 1995 theatrical adaptation clearly has its lively screenplay (from Emma Thompson) and strong cast (also including Emma Thompson) going for it, the later version feels much more organic. Dan Stevens was downright adorable as the bumbling Edward Ferrars, which I found preferable to Hugh Grant who almost always just plays himself in films. That firewood-chopping scene was a masterpiece, a study in pining. Hattie Morahan and Charity Wakefield’s sisterhood is less intense here, but no less compelling.
☞ Read my first Sierra Simone series, and it has been quite an eye-opening, unexpectedly thought-provoking experience. Yes — uh, amen to that.
☞ Devoured the first season of Ted Lasso in one night and two mornings. The show is like a plate of Keebler Soft Batch chocolate chip cookies: so delightful that it makes you go, “How does it even do that?” and so scrumptious that there will be palpable hurt when it finally runs out. While other shows taking over pop culture these days run the gamut from epic showdowns to mind-boggling storylines, the more convoluted the better, Ted Lasso — man and show — operates on two far simpler things: optimism and kindness.
N.B. Ted Lasso — the man — originated as a character in a series of NBC Sports ads in 2013, to mark the network acquiring US broadcast rights to the English Premier League. Shown above is the very first of those ads, featuring some quips that may be familiar to those who have seen the newer show.
☞ Watched the 2007 adaptation of Jane Austen’s — yes! her! again! — Northanger Abbey, which is vastly different from any of the other Austen shows and films because of its Gothic aesthetic. Beta male Henry Tilney played by JJ Feild was a joy to behold, as was a certain scheming character’s bosom constantly spilling out of her dresses. My only real complaint is with Catherine Morland’s being played by Felicity Jones, who fits into period pieces well enough, just not in the Regency era or anything earlier than the 20th century. Anyway, this is by far the most Jane Austen content I’ve consumed in a seven-day period, but I couldn’t be more pleased about it. — 17 August 2021
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☞ Binged the first three seasons of Downton Abbey on Netflix. No other word captures the rate with which I consumed it: the episodes just kept playing one after another with little to no resistance from me. Somewhere in the middle of the fourth season was a very jarring plot point whose consequences I found I cannot bear to see unfolding in the succeeding episodes, so I will no longer be finishing the show all the way to the end. Still, the seasons I did get to watch were engrossing, if in many ways historically inaccurate.
☞ Read Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman’s Dry. It’s nowhere near as brilliant as the Arc of a Scythe books, but what makes this standalone good is that it’s visceral and completely realistic. My thirst grew as the characters’ thirst grew. As they grew more desperate, I was praying for their ordeal to end. But most importantly, I like to think that catastrophe content is not so much about the catastrophe as it is about the way it forces us to think more carefully about our humanity; and Alyssa and Kelton’s story duly forces us onto that line of thinking.
N.B. An old film review of mine from this blog’s earlier days talks about catastrophe content and “the worst of all human fears.”
☞ Finally finished the webtoon Nevertheless, as well as the Netflix adaptation of the same title starring Song Kang and Han So Hee. It was, to put it plainly, an excruciatingly frustrating experience.
☞ Breezed through The Chair, starring the incomparable Sandra Oh, also on Netflix. It was easily a three-hour binge, since the six episodes are only about half an hour each. While it was a tad difficult as a Filipino academic to relate to American-college troubles like student loans and gender disproportions among faculty, I definitely know how it feels to want what’s best for the program one belongs to, despite opposition, sometimes detrimental opposition, from the bastions of old. — 23 August 2021
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☞ Started watching The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf while I waited in line for a very important errand, then finished up when I got home. I found the animated film a decent addition to the lore of the main Witcher show, though only insofar as it explains why there are very few Witchers left.
☞ Got started on Andrzej Sapkowski’s The Last Wish: Introducing the Witcher, one of two short story collections that take place before the main Witcher Saga. Two stories in, I felt an urge to rewatch The Witcher series on Netflix, so I also did that. The fact that the books are translated is very interesting: I’m curious how much of the nuances of the Polish language are captured and can be captured in English, and how much of the writing style of The Last Wish can be attributed to the translator Danusia Stok. But there really is no knowing for myself unless I actually learn Polish — and “Jak się masz?” is all I currently remember how to say, thanks to a random foreign language seminar I’d attended in college.
☞ Finished Ava Reid’s debut novel The Wolf and the Woodsman. The author captures the plot of this Hungarian-Jewish fantasy story best in her own words: it is basically about “eating things you shouldn’t eat.” The hype surrounding this book is well-deserved, truly: it read like a dream, and I would weep to be given the gift of writing anything half as dazzling or as eloquent.
☞ Discovered free books on the Kindle Store on Amazon, so I’ve embarked on a spree of low-profile, mostly self-published contemporary romances. Whee! — 30 August 2021
I N O T H E R N E W S . . .
◇ In the 2020 Summer Olympics that concluded in the early days of August in Tokyo, Japan, the Philippine Olympic team finished its campaign with one gold medal from weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz (women’s 55kg division), two silver medals from boxers Nesthy Petecio (women’s featherweight class) and Carlos Paalam (men’s flyweight), and one bronze medal courtesy of boxer Eumir Marcial (men’s middleweight). For the first time since 1932, the country’s athletes came home with multiple medals — owing to, but also in spite of, consistently next to no support from the national government. Even now, the sentiment remains: Imagine how much more Filipino athletes could achieve if they actually received proper funding and zero red-tagging from the powers-that-be.
◇ Around the same time that the last Olympics concluded, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its Sixth Assessment Report, which discusses the most up-to-date evidence on the physical science of climate change. The results disclosed in the 3,900-page report are, to put it delicately, not good. Some of the more ghastly findings: the planet’s surface temperature has risen faster since 1970, faster than any other 50-year period in the last 2,000 years; changes such as sea-level rise and glacier melt are now irreversible; and there is no region on earth anymore that has not felt the effects of manmade climate change. For those who may want an easier time of understanding the IPCC report, here is an explainer of the report from Australian climate scholars. For those who may be starting to feel all sorts of feelings from this news, here is a Twitter thread on climate despair from science writer Jessica Law.
◇ Lastly, to my Filipino readers, I am reminding you once more that voter registration for the 2022 national elections closes on September 30, 2021. There are currently calls for the registration to be extended in light of our unsystematic and unscientific pandemic lockdowns, but until an extension is confirmed, here are the Philippine Commission on Elections’ procedures for registration. Let’s go and make our votes count!
☞ Have you tried any of the books, films, shows, and webtoons mentioned in my weekly digests? How did August go in your corner of the world? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!