Obsessions #8: I Love You, Emo Batman
Everything I read, watched and listened to in March
Hello dear readers of this newsletter! I meant to put this out last week, but unfortunately, after two long pandemic years, I finally became afflicted with la covide dix-neuf. Even though I am triple vaccinated, it still sucked. BA.2 didn’t come to play. Be careful out there!
This is Obsessions, a monthly newsletter-within-a-newsletter highlighting all of the things I’ve been reading, watching, listening to and generally obsessing over for the past few weeks.
What I’ve Been Reading
I’ve mentioned before that during the past few months, I’ve been in somewhat of a reading rut. Well, this month I managed to actually finish THREE books! Does this mean I’m back? God, I hope so. I think I’ve been putting too much pressure on myself to read Amazing Literature, so the books I finished this month were definitely more fun and lighthearted.
I read Misery by Stephen King for the first time and even though it feels a bit dated now, the gruesome moments are much better than they are in the film adaptation. I also read Fiona and Jane by Jean Chen Ho, a recent novel about the friendship between two Taiwanese-American women over a few decades. I found it quite cheesy, but I still managed to finish it.
The last book I read was another recently published novel, Dead Collections by Isaac Fellman. It’s a love story about a transmasculine vampire archivist (just roll with it). I found it a bit cheesy as well, but I finished it quickly and enjoyed reading it.
I guess the solution to a reading rut is: READ CORNY BOOKS!
What I’ve Been Watching
I Like Superhero Movies Now???
Ever since the trailer for Matt Reeves’ The Batman dropped in October, I knew I would have to go see it, despite the fact that I am not big into superhero movies. I even tweeted about my enthusiasm in advance.
While I wasn’t there at the midnight premiere, I was there on the second day it was out. Just as I intuitively predicated, I LOVED EVERY SINGLE SECOND OF IT!
From the moment “Something In The Way Started” played as Robert Pattinson drove his little motorcycle around, I knew this was a movie made for me, an emo. Despite the three-hour runtime, I was engaged throughout the whole film.
I was honestly kind of overwhelmed with how much I related to Pattinson’s portrayal of Bruce Wayne, a portrayal that Matt Reeves said was inspired by Kurt Cobain. Something about his overwhelming sadness and frustration just HIT me. The brooding! The eyeshadow! THE PAIN!
I think this emotional character connection was what really made me fall in love with The Batman, but there are numerous elements that make it an incredible film, like the exceptional lighting, production design and cinematography (done by Greig Fraser, who recently won an Oscar for his work on Dune). As well, the performances of Paul Dano as the Riddler and Colin Farrell as the Penguin were outstanding.
My newfound infatuation with Batman made me go back and watch Christopher Nolan’s acclaimed trilogy from a decade ago. I had only seen The Dark Knight before, so it was my first time watching both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight Rises.
The Dark Knight came out when I was in Grade 8 and all I remember from the time was a million bad Joker costumes at Halloween. I finally saw it for the first time two years ago, and while I enjoyed it, I don’t think I quite appreciated it as much as I should have.
Watching it now, it’s clear that it’s one of the greatest crime movies of all time for a reason, especially Heath Ledger’s terrifyingly chilling performance as the Joker. (Did you guys know he’s really good in this movie? I feel like people never talk about this.)
I would say that The Dark Knight is technically an incredible straightforward crime thriller, but The Batman has a level of artistry and emotion to it that blends the best parts of both arthouse and mainstream cinema, making it my personal favourite of the two.
Also inspired by The Batman, I went back through Robert Pattinson’s canon to watch more of the arthouse films he’s done in the decade post-Twilight.
Although I’m a big fan of Uncut Gems, I’ve put off watching the Safdie Brothers’ earlier film Good Time for a while, since I knew it was going to be a stressful watch. Which it was! But all the praise I’ve heard about it more than lives up to the hype. I particularly loved the frenetic shooting style and use of colour.
I also watched The Lighthouse, another extremely stressful beloved A24 film. I adored both Willem Dafoe’s and Pattinson’s performances, which are intensely unhinged. While it was technically an incredible film in nearly every way, I found it was missing a slight emotional piece with the characters that would have really nailed it for me personally.
The last R. Pattz I watched was Cosmopolis, a 2012 David Cronenberg film based on the novel by Don Dellilo. I thought I had seen the movie when it came out, but the more I watched the film, the more I realized that I had confused it in my brain with 2010 box office flop Remember Me, also starring Pattinson. Anyways, it was bad lol.
What I’ve Been Listening To
Hearing an exquisite use of Nirvana in The Batman made me want to go back and listen to more of the band. Even though I was something of a teenage punk historian, I never really liked grunge: it was too fuzzy, too depressing, too dull. However, as an adult two years into a pandemic with no end in sight, Cobain’s misanthropy absolutely hits differently.
The main two albums I’ve been relistening to are Nevermind and In Utero. I know a lot of people know this already, but Nevermind is truly mind-blowing. The sequencing of the first five tracks alone! (Did you guys know that Nirvana is a really good band? I feel like people never talk about this.)
Crash by Charli XCX
Moving on to things unrelated to The Batman, the queen of the electro avant-garde is back with a new album and this time it sounds like… mainstream pop?!
I first got into Charli XCX when she released her mixtape How I’m Feeling Now in the early days of COVID. Instantly, I was hooked. I feel pure ecstatic joy whenever I listen to her music, in a way that I haven’t since I was eight years old and listening to the Beatles. She’s been my most-played artist on Spotify for two years now and I’ve been eagerly awaiting Crash for months.
And it’s AMAZING! Holy shit, she did it. I love Charli’s avant-garde musical style but on Crash, the songwriting is pure mainstream pop. The songs are tight and the hooks hit. There’s a strong early Lady Gaga/Janet Jackson vibe that makes the album land especially well for me.
While I loved all the singles she put out, every B-side is a banger in its own right. I’m particularly obsessed with “Every Rule,” a rare Charli ballad. I have tickets to see her at the end of the month and I am praying to every God imaginable that it doesn’t get canceled because I need to openly weep for and worship my pop QUEEN!
Dead Eyes is a podcast described as “like Serial, but about something that doesn’t really matter.” Over three seasons, American improv comedian and actor Connor Ratliff explores a small moment in his past: getting fired from a small role in the 2001 HBO miniseries Band of Brothers for having “dead eyes.” And the person who fired him? Well, that was none other than “America’s Dad,” Tom Hanks.
Ratliff brings an investigative approach to an otherwise mundane personal story. He interviews his old casting agent, her assistant and other actors who auditioned for the show. As the series goes on, he even talks with Hanks’ son Colin and in the recent Season 3 finale, Hanks himself.
While the first season is great throughout, the other two are much more spotty, making the entirety of Dead Eyes somewhat of an uneven listen. Still, when it works, it works extremely well. By focusing on such a small incident, Ratliff actually explores much greater themes like the nature of failure, rejection and shame. It’s an oddly moving listen and I’d recommend it, particularly for those who work in creative industries.
What I’ve Been Cooking
Just as much as I’ve been in a reading rut, I’ve been in a cooking rut too. I think sometimes I rely so much on finding new recipes that I forget that you can… just cook without one. Some of my best meals this month didn’t use a recipe at all. A favourite of mine was a salad I made with arugula, quinoa, beets, pumpkin seeds and a jammy egg.
Stuck at home with COVID for the past week, I’ve also been forced to clean out my pantry and fridge. I made Allison’s Roman Pantry Pasta and finally used up all the preserved lemons I made at the start of quarantine. I also made tacos with tofu, pinto beans and homemade flour tortillas, which were awesome. Anyways, I am very excited for SPRING PRODUCE! Bring on the asparagus, bitch.
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