Meta Letta

Well, I think we can safely say the schedule has slithered out of my grasp just a little bit; this is only the second newsletter since the end of July. But truth to tell, this was nearly goodbye.

This once-weekly screed became fortnightly. Then, over the summer it slowly slipped into an ad hoc state that neither pleased nor satisfied, a state of unfulfilled promises and mutual frustration. This newsletter was nearly my Dear John to you. But it seems even a small trickle of serotonin is better than the alternative.

So, I am altering the deal, pray I don’t alter it any further. For now, we’ll try a monthly schedule. Not for me to gather more news and views, for me to watch more, hear more and think more. There is no end of material, even the outlines I jot down in the interim have become a teetering tower of overwhelming pressure. When the outline itself is approaching 500 words, this doesn’t translate into an easier ride, it merely increases the pressure of doing it all justice.

And so often, it’s that last aspect that’s the problem. “Doing it justice”. An impossible feat. No opinion piece, no review, no piece of writing at all or creative endeavour ever truly does justice to the vision. Creative works are abandoned not completed. It’s something I tell people a lot, but it’s something I have allowed myself to forget. If I had kept to my schedule, even with an abbreviated newsletter, I’d have delivered three times as many words as I ended up doing.

But I think that’s a good lesson for us all: You should definitely do as I say, and never what I do. But then, even I don’t listen to myself.


On My Screen

Lord of The Rings: The Rings of Power – Mildest Plot Allusions Only

There is a lot to say about this show. Amazon paid a quarter of a billion dollars for just the rights to it. And not even all of the IP, their rights mostly revolve around the main books and the appendices. It does not include the Silmarillion for some reason. I will be honest, when this was first announced back in the halcyon days of 2017, I was pretty scathing about their prospects. This was before Game of Thrones fumbled the landing, but also before Amazon’s other fantasy property The Wheel of Time fumbled their take-off. It wasn’t looking good, and my expectations were low.

When it launched I allowed the episodes to be drip-fed onto the streaming service, while the internet trolls dripped their hatred onto the socials. Galadriel was apparently too much of one thing and not enough of another, some of the fantasy creatures had the “wrong skin colour”, etc etc. All the standard diatribe that comes out with every new modern-day adaptation. And it certainly was an adaptation: Inconsistencies in the source material aside, the timeline posed a problem. The creators toyed with keeping the time-jumps intact but felt it just didn’t work narratively. Instead, they opted to compress sometimes hundreds of years of material so that they happened concurrently. Obviously this also annoyed the purists, but what can you do.

I enjoyed the show. More than I expected to. It had a couple of weaker moments, and one episode of filler to get everyone into their places for the finale. But overall, I looked forward to the episodes, I enjoy the characters, I enjoyed the journey. I enjoyed the mystery of Sauron‘s identity, and the finale worked very well for me. I think it was a good foundation for the four remaining planned seasons, to say nothing of future spin-offs. Amazon intends to make good on their investment.

Showrunners Patrick McKay and J.D. Payne are not the safe pair of hands Amazon could have chosen. Their previous gig was at Bad Robot, where they punched up scripts and developed several projects, such as an abandoned Star Trek movie. They’d been writing movies for a decade that didn’t manage to get made. But then they thought “maybe we should try this TV thing”. They ended up asking their former boss J.J. Abrams to put in a good word for them to cinch the deal, after at least eight pitches to Amazon. Some have tried to angle this as a story of nepotism: Two guys with zero IMDB credits getting their famous ex-boss to secure this prestigious gig. But I don’t see it that way. These are two hard-working creatives who have put in the work, endlessly, tirelessly. And while the end result has its shaky moments, I think they’ve started very well.

I’m looking forward to season 2.

Snack Sized

  • In brief Andor is excellent. Not just ‘good for Star Wars fans’, but across the board excellent. It’s political and clever and well-written, an excellent treatise on the formation of rebellion to oppression, that I should have seen coming from Tony Gilroy, writer of the Bourne Identity movies among many others.
  • Martin McDonagh‘s newest film The Banshees of Inisherin, reuniting the cast of In Bruges, was not the dark comedy I was expecting. It felt more like his theatre pieces, an introspection into male despair, mental illness and the Irish Civil War. Not the dose of levity I really needed.
  • Constantine is back! Not another attempt at an authentic depiction of the Vertigo Comics anti-hero, but the sequel to the 2005 cult Keanu Reeves adaptation. Director Francis Lawrence will return, teamed with Akiva Goldsman who has mainly written adaptations of popular franchises.
  • Netflix’s Enola Holmes sequel will begin streaming November 4th.
  • Netflix’s teen revenge drama Do Revenge was surprisingly fun. It wore its heritage on its sleeve with clear references to Mean GirlsHeathersClueless and countless others and was a welcome addition to the genre.
  • Watchmen creator Alan Moore warns that adults’ “infantile’ love of superhero movies can lead to fascism
  • Crime drama Happy Valley is shooting now, for a third and final season. I think this one will be a doozy. They barely pulled their punches before, but they’ve got nothing to hold back now.
  • Netflix’s The Witcher will officially be returning for a fourth season, but it will be doing so with a new Geralt of Rivia as Liam Hemsworthwill be replacing Henry Cavill after Season 3.

Soundbites

  • I’m going to be trying something new with playlists. I’m still keeping Spotify for now, but while Spotify is much better for sharing music, the sound quality is so much better on Apple Music. So for now, playlists will be up in both formats.
  • Some time ago I was lucky enough to attend an industry music event at The Roundhouse. I was pleased to see live performances from playlist alumni DylanBaby Queen and the inimitable Self Esteem. Other highlights can be found on the playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.
  • Taylor Swift‘s Midnights became the fastest album ever to surpass 1 billion streams on Spotify.
  • Another playlist alumni Little Simz won the Mercury Prize for Sometimes I Might Be Introvert.
  • I felt bad that it had been so long since the last newsletter and playlist. So I created another, in the more regular format, available on Spotifyand Apple Music.

Photo(s) of the Fortnight

This photo was taken at Kew Gardens’ Palm House and I’m actually quite pleased with it. The light was glorious, and the sun was just at the right angle. This was a photo that was taken when the opportunity arose, not purposefully made. Very much in contrast to this next one.

I have shot at Kew Gardens before, where I was fortunate to shoot a friend’s wedding. But I wasn’t happy with the photos I took of The Hive. So when I learnt I had the chance to go back, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to take another stab at it. This was very intentional and much more in line with what I was aiming for the first time around.


Denouement

I’m hoping the adage of ‘better late than never’ is true because it’s all I have!

Half of my drafts ended up being outdated by the time I got to them, in some cases twice over.

But here we are! We’re endeavouring to be back on a schedule!

For now, see you in a month!

Happy Samhain!