dill & fennel

January

2021! We made it! This year so began with a lot of the show Taskmaster, which is delightful.

Books

The Dragon Republic — R. F Kuang

After the whiplash of the first book in the trilogy from school-based fantasy to brutal warfare, this book was refreshing in being exclusively brutal. I’m excited to see how the series ends, and it’s also nice to be so clearly rooting against the Hesperians.

Trick Mirror — Jia Tolentino

A wide-ranging essay collection on modern social networks, marriage, and assault. Definitely worth a read, though at times it’s pretty tough to get through depending on your background. Fuck marriage. Fuck Twitter. Fuck the world of conservative “christianity”.

Random Acts of Senseless Violence — Jack Womack

This was a wild book. Written as diary entries, it follows the quick dissolution of a middle-class life in New York with the backdrop of the US falling apart completely. I’m not a huge fan of books that affect a dialect, but eventually it was easier to follow. A very depressing speculative fiction.

The Quantum Thief — Hannu Rajaniemi

Ooh, a new trilogy to dive into. I had a pretty hard time understanding a lot of the technology terms Rajaniemi made up, but by the end I’d gotten used to them enough that I could just enjoy the story. This book was nowhere near as confusing as Ninefox Gambit, but definitely required a bit more investment than many mainstream sci-fi tomes.

Company Town — Madeline Ashby

A cool take on post-climate-collapse sci-fi, with a complicated badass protagonist. A good escape read for the holidays.

Movies

The Dig

A rather interesting film about excavating a ship from a mound in rural Suffolk.Theres a wild WW2 backdrop, and a lot of Fiennes looking pensive as all getout. Everyone is in love with someone they shouldn’t be, and I kept hoping the kid was actually from the future.

Insomnia

Robin Williams is so good in this. I haven’t seen Insomnia since opening weekend, and also forgot it was a Nolan. I still need to watch the original. This is a great view of Pacino slowly losing his mind. I had this a little confused with One Hour Photo so I kept expceted a scene to take place at a CVS or something.

The Prestige

The one time Wolverine and Batman worked together with David Bowie to make powerful magicks. I honestly forgot this was a Nolan film, but I’ve loved it every time I’ve watched it. Just so fun and clever. I wonder how Golem’s cats are doing?

Never Rarely Sometimes Always

Easily the best movie I’ve seen in a long time. The level of kindness and empathy for the challenge of being a young woman in the world is outstanding. Really incredible performances from Flanagan and Ryder with a candid view of how amazing Planned Parenthood is to top it off. The focus on women caring for each other was spot-on.

The Bourne Supremacy

In the world there is only one good supremacy: the Bourne kind. Brian Cox rules in this, but I wish Julia Stylse and Franka Potente had more to do. I’m rewatching this series and it’s mostly holding-up.

Our Little Sister

I love Koreeda movies because they so beautifully humanize a great deal of pain. From his slow pans, to the way he shot the room to make you feel part of the family, this movie ruled.

The Lost City of Z

It turns out the story of this movie’s protagonist was much more racist and absurd than presented here. The vaporization of bullshit explorers of other people’s lands is a bummer. This was well-shot despite apparent massive innacuracies. Pattinson did a solid job.

Yes, God, Yes

A delightful look at a religious youth that was spot-on. I wish I had a cool dyke bar to escape to from youth retreat, but otherwise this was pretty much what creepy youth camps were like. Dyer is excellent, and Simons perfectly inhabits a shitty priest.

Promising Young Woman

Woah. I think I’ll have to rewatch this to really get the full impact, but this was intense and Cary Mulligan was fantastic.

The Platform

This was an interesting psychological sci-fi. We never learned why he brought a book.

Strange Negotiations

Hoo boy this took me back. I saw Pedro the Lion play every year for a while back in Austin, and his break with the religion he was raised with matched-up with mine. This was a sweet and sad documentary about how lonely the road can be, and the life of a medium-famous rock musician.

Exit

Tried to watch this on a night I was sleepy, and reader, it did not keep me awake. Good, but it’s in the uncanny valley of the past.

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

Is this in the MCU? One of my favorite parts is when someone cites military legal code and a short while later a woman says “is there still an Internet cafe around here?” I’m pretty sure reacher would still need to go to court for a lot of murder.

Paradise Hills

Mills Jovavich rules. This movie is kind of a mess, but points for a bit of queerness and a strong aesthetic. You just don’t see a lot of bondage gear in white these days. Also, milk is always sinister and gross.

The Operative

For a spy film this left a lot on the table. There were some pretty tense scenes but I’ve seen Kruger do much cooler stuff. I’m looking forward to the next season of Tehran to get my fill of Mossad spy stuff.

Enemy

Villneuve is wild. This was definitely the strangest of his films I’ve seen so far, but I loved the yellow-tinged madness.