Obsessions #14: Paul Mescal Is My Personal Irish Daddy
Everything I've been reading, watching and listening to in January
This is Obsessions, a newsletter-within-a-newsletter highlighting everything I’ve been reading, watching, listening to and generally obsessing over for the past few months.
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What I’ve Been Reading
Good Girl by Anna Fitzpatrick
Anna Fitzpatrick’s debut novel has been on my radar ever since it was published last year by Toronto’s Flying Books. It's billed as Secretary meets Fleabag, but I found it was more Girls meets The Worst Person in the World.
I loved how readable the prose was, as well as the exploration of power dynamics on a personal and societal level. It’s a great addition to the “meandering millennial woman” genre. Every time the narrator said "Your feeling are valid" to her friend, I died.
Some of My Best Friends: Essays on Lip Service by Tajja Isen
Catapult Editor-in-Chief Tajja Isen’s first book is a really strong essay collection. The pieces are well-researched and analytical about broader social justice subjects, while still incorporating elements of personal memoir that tie them into Isen’s life.
I enjoyed all the pieces, but the two middle essays "This Time It's Personal," about the personal essay boom of the mid-2010s, and the titular "Some of My Best Friends," about the ways white women weaponize their identity, were especially compelling.
Letters From Montreal: Tales of an Exceptional City edited by Madi Haslam
Letters From Montreal is a small collection of the best of the titular column from Maisonneuve magazine. It features lots of great snippets of la vie montréalaise, including excellent and unexpected trivia.
There are stories about Montréal landmarks like Mont-Royal, Schwartz’s, Depanneur Le Pick Up, Place Saint-Hubert and public parks galore. This is a light and fast read that would be a great gift for anyone who’s lived in the city.
What I’ve Been Watching
My favourite book I read this past month was Don DeLillo’s White Noise, which you can read my long review of here. I was a bit concerned about the movie since I hadn’t heard a lot of praise for it. However, I thought it was an excellent adaptation of the novel while still being its own unique work.
It remains true to the book’s spirit but changes certain elements to make it more narratively palatable and visually striking as a film. I really loved the performances by Adam Driver and Don Cheadle, as well as the use of saturated colour.
It’s definitely weird and certainly won’t be for everyone, but I think it’s my personal favourite Noah Baumbach film. I think reading the book beforehand and knowing it’s intended to be a satire would be the best way to go into it.
Why pay $150 to cry about your dad in therapy when you can simply spend $5 to rent Aftersun on VOD? In all seriousness, this movie hit me like a fucking truck. I can’t recommend it enough if you want to feel like you just got harpooned in the heart.
Aftersun is the first full-length feature by Scottish writer and director Charlotte Wells. It follows an 11-year-old girl and her young father on a week-long vacation at a resort in Turkey.
Based on real events in Wells’ life, the film is an incredibly emotionally resonant exploration of girlhood and parenthood. I was really blown away by how it explored the father-daughter relationship and how empathetic it was toward both of the main characters.
There’s so much to gush about this film, from the cinematography to the exceptional performances by newcomer Frankie Corio and my personal Irish daddy Paul Mescal. If you remember how great Mescal is in that one therapy scene from the Normal People miniseries, imagine him doing that for 102 minutes! Don’t go near this one without tissues at the ready.
Speaking of emotionally resonant cinema rooted in subconscious childhood feelings, Skinamarink scared the fucking shit out of me. Made by Canadian director Kyle Edward Ball for $15,000, this experimental horror film loosely follows two young children seemingly trapped in their home.
But the plot is unimportant; Skinamarink is all about the VIBES. Comprised mostly of dark shots of ceiling fans and nightlights with blown-out audio to accompany them, this movie is long, slow and terrifying.
It’s certainly the type of film that will either really work for you or won’t. While I was frozen to my seat in fear, my boyfriend was dying of boredom. It’s coming to Shudder on February 1st, but I would recommend seeing it in a theatre to get the full experience.
If Skinamarink sounds too scary, may I recommend M3GAN? Gay Twitter’s favourite android doll launched the greatest new horror IP in years. If a robot singing a lullaby version of Sia’s “Titanium” can’t make you laugh, I don’t know what will.
While I had fun watching it, I do wish it was even MORE unhinged like James Wan’s previous schlock-fest, Malignant. Luckily, M3GAN’s already been greenlit for a sequel, which will hopefully be even wilder, and I cannot WAIT for the inevitable Chucky vs. M3GAN cinematic crossover event.
If you want to read a great piece on the queerness of M3GAN, check out this newsletter from Megan Milks.
What I’ve Been Listening To
Little Gold Men
The Oscar nominations have been announced and campaigning is in full swing! What better way to follow along with all the drama than with Vanity Fair’s excellent Little Gold Men podcast?
While it focuses on film and TV all year round, this podcast is the most exciting to listen to during the height of awards season AKA right now. With only six weeks until the Oscars, Little Gold Men is the perfect companion to keep you up-to-date on who’s leading the pack in every race.
As for me, I’m already brainstorming my Oscar night menu: Everything Everywhere Bagels, Triangles of Sandwich, Glass Onion Dip, Sarah Cauliflower Bites and Paul Mescal Margaritas.
The Queen of Pop is heading on tour this summer and I’ve got tickets! Nosebleeds, yes, but tickets nonetheless. To prepare, I plan on doing a Madonna deep dive all year long to get me even more excited.
The always excellent music history podcast Pop Pantheon recently did a four-part series breaking down every twist and turn of the iconic blonde’s 40-year career. While I was already a huge Madge fan, these episodes only convinced me even further of her greatness, particularly her mid-to-late ‘90s era, which I was less familiar with.
I also recently came across the British podcast Inside The Groove. While the final episode aired in December, the podcast has a back catalogue of more than a hundred episodes, each breaking down a different Madonna track à la Song Exploder. I really like how this podcast showcases Madonna’s musical artistry, as this often gets lost underneath how impactful she’s been culturally.