Watching and Reading.

WE OWN THIS CITY

Based on a true story and a subsequent book, this is a compact, thoughtful and passionate indictment of police and political corruption. Jon Bernthal’s soulful and self-destructive performance gives the whole story a raw and rugged authenticity. It is a considered production with the same melancholy wisdom as The Wire.

THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER by Carson McCullers

There is a languid, almost child-like sincerity in this, a portrait of small lives and how they intersect. It manages the trick of a sophisticated and delicate narrative, where it appears almost formless, but in truth, is executed with an exquisite, humble eye for the humane and wounded. Strange to read a book written a long time ago, and realise that some people captured exactly what you’ve gone through, at one time or another, and it’s there on the page. Part of the magic of the written word, for me. As my tastes have evolved, there is a pleasure in seeing the small, intangible events within someone captured on the page. The aim, with the Ron books, is to have that alongside the bigger events and spectacle. The aim, anyway, but this was a book, which was lovely in a sad way.

The Northman

Robert Eggers is one of those director/artists whose work is always distinct and involving. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing all his work, and much like Ari Aster or S Craig Zahler, their work borrows from genre as much as literature. This latest film of his, combines Norse mythology, familial revenge and an insight on the cost of vengeance. The cast includes Alexander Skarsgard, Anya Taylor-Joy and Nicole Kidman but the most magnetic performance comes from Claes Bang, who shows a complex, emotive man capable of doing awful things and also showing remarkable tenderness under the stoic veneer. It also has great, vicious fight scenes with an attention to detail which adds to the overall immersion. Eggers is so good, that when gods appear, you are not taken out of the movie.

Billy Summers by Stephen King

It was a good book, but a little insubstantial and the central message felt clumsier here than anything else I have seen from him in a while. There’s a better book in here, but King is entitled to meander, and I still consider myself someone who loves and respects his work. A hitman on the last job, which goes south the way falling in love happens: slowly, then all at once. There’s a literary conceit here, which adds a layer of commentary on stories, and their power to change the teller, as well as some noir touches which have the requisite bite from him.

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