These posts are starting to feel a little more like a chore each week, so I think next week will be my last installment of Colin’s Quarantine Diaries. Not sure if I (or anyone else on the blog) will feel compelled to write much on here after that, though I suppose we have Criterion Month coming up in July, which weirdly isn’t that far away.
I’m not sure that things have quite started shifting back to normal, though it’s probably more likely that this is the case if you don’t live in a big city. But for me, the past week has seemed to be a lot of talking about transitioning towards normal rather than any action being taken to do so. Which is fine. Everybody being a little cautious about when is the right time to start living life in the outside world again is by no means a bad thing, especially when there seem to be plenty of people that are more than happy to throw precaution by the wayside. I, however, was not one of those people this week, since I spent just as much time inside watching movies and TV and listening to music as ever.
I guess the biggest news for me pop culture-wise this week was that I finally saw James Cameron’s Titanic. Yes, that’s right. I’ve fancied myself enough of a movie buff to review movies for all these years on this blog and yet I never got around to seeing one of the biggest movies ever. I suppose this came as a result of never having seen it when I was a kid, and not having to endure the awkwardness of seeing mild nudity while watching it with my parents. Then into my teenage years and college I just never had a burning interest in seeing it. So at a certain point, it just felt natural to keep up this streak of going my whole life without seeing a movie everyone had seen, since it didn’t seem like seeing or not seeing Titanic was going to severely alter my enjoyment of life as a whole.
But… earlier this week, I ended up watching A Night To Remember — the 1958 film based on the events surrounding the sinking of the Titanic — and so it just seemed time to watch this cinematic monolith. And it was pretty good! I’ll admit the love story at the heart of it is just fine — not terrible, but also not terribly transcendent. Though I suppose dissecting the idea of class through a romance on the Titanic, a ship where people were literally divided up by class, is an interesting one (if a little obvious). Though whatever shortcomings it has from a storytelling angle is more than overcome by the movie’s meticulous recreation of that doomed ship, as well as the amazing set construction and staging of the film’s climactic sinking scene.
I didn’t really have any reason to revisit Ghost World other than that it’s a movie I like a lot and it’s leaving the Criterion Channel soon. Though I think this was the first time I’d revisited it since reading the comic it’s based on, and of course, the thing I was struck by after reading the comic was how much the movie actually has a plot in comparison. Granted, it’s a plot that’s low-key enough to let all of its weird characters and encounters take center stage, while making the movie feel just loose enough to resemble the many mundane adventures that come with being an American teenager. It’s a movie that despite coming out in 2001 feels incredibly ’90s, due to its slacker-y aesthetic and the general apathy of its main character. It also might be the movie that best captures the boredom of being a suburban teenager without ever being boring.
While we’re on the trials and tribulations of being an American teenager, I started watching Never Have I Ever, the new Netflix teen comedy from Mindy Kaling. Last year’s Booksmart felt like an indicator that the teen coming-of-age genre is starting to be a place where different perspectives are welcome, and this show centering on an Indian-American girl and her group of diverse friends in a typical middle-class setting feels both familiar and fresh at the same time. I’m just a few episodes in at this point, and I’m sure it’s breeziness will make for a good, low-stakes watch in the latter days of quarantine.
Perfume Genius is an artist I’ve known of for a while, since Mike Hadreus’s project has been no stranger to critical acclaim throughout the 2010s, though I never actually went to the trouble of listening to him. I suppose this is because Hadreus’s songs do have a kind of subtle grace that never quite grabbed me in an immediate way, though with his latest release Set My Heart on Fire Immediately receiving some of the best music reviews of the year, it seemed time to check out a Perfume Genius album. I’m not sure I’m ready to declare it a masterpiece, but I like it quite a bit. The way the album rides the line between luscious pop and more theatrical elements is a nice feast for the ears, while Hadreus’s voice floats angelically above it all.
While we’re on the topic of Seattle artists, I feel like I need to send out a parting RIP to filmmaker Lynn Shelton, even though I haven’t had time to revisit or catch up with any of her work. Her death this weekend was more than a little shocking, and I think she was someone that all film fans from Seattle have rooted for. For one, because she truly seemed to love Seattle, and also she just seemed like someone that everyone in the Seattle arts community, as well as the independent film community, had a lot of love for. She seemed like an all-around decent person and it’s sad that she passed away when it seemed like she had plenty more movies and TV ahead of her. Luckily, she was prolific enough that I’ll have some catching up to do.