Tar, Don’t Worry Darling, 99 Homes, & Everything, Everywhere, All at Once.

How are you?

Here are my thoughts on a few movies I’ve watched recently:

Tar

Tár was very well-done, but not necessarily entertaining. It told an interesting story in a way that was deliberately slow, uncomfortable, and dull. There were parts when I was a little bored and right before things came crashing down on the main character, I was thinking– If something doesn’t happen soon… I’m going to mentally check out.

Because so many elements of the movie were so underdone, when the plot started to pick up and everything collapsed in on the main character, there was nothing to compete for my attention. The intrigue and questions surrounding Lydia (or Linda’s) actions were very pointed, which stood in contrast to the boringness of the rest of the movie. I didn’t like the main character; I think that was the point of the movie, but I liked that it did not necessarily force a lecture on the audience. Although the main character seemed very lost and ugly, I didn’t feel like the movie was trying to force me to think anything specific about her. I probably wouldn’t watch this movie again, but I think it accomplished what it set out to do. The movie was basically an ode to Cate Blanchett’s incredible depth and range of skills. I wonder what percent of the script she carried. She had a lot of monologues. She can do everything.

Don’t Worry Darling

I loved everything about this movie. I can’t say enough good things about it. I loved the focus on female pleasure. I loved the illustration of what happens when someone less powerful shares information that proves to be inconvenient for those in power. It reminded me a little of Mormonism and Utah. Florence Pugh is an incredible actress and Harry Styles has a lot of talent. Olivia Wilde is apparently a very talented director. The dialogue in the movie was entertaining, simple, light, and painted a clear picture of the bizarre world of the Victory Project. The visuals were like candy. In many ways it was the opposite of Tár though; it was so entertaining that when the plot needed to thicken, it had a lot of other elements to compete with. I was so lost in enjoying the dialogue, the relationships, the visuals, the characters- that when the dinner happened and things were escalating, although it felt realistic, the conflicting actions didn’t feel quite sharp or uncomfortable enough to stand out from the rest of the movie. I thought there could have been a little more cerebral discussion, tension, disharmony, ugliness, fear, and examples of the manipulative power plays that cult leaders tend to play. Apart from that, the ending had several surprises and left me feeling satisfied. Overall, the movie was generous and well-done. Thank you, Olivia Wilde. Please direct more movies.

99 Homes

Watched this because I am on an Andrew Garfield binge ever since watching Under the Banner of Heaven. 99 Homes told the fictional story of Dennis Nash, who was evicted from his home with his mom and son during the housing crisis of 2007 and 2008. I know that not all fiscal conservatives are as mean-spirited as Rick Carver, but I don’t understand how those types of predatory ‘business practices’ were forgiven so quickly. I love Adam Smith and the invisible hand- I love the innovation and creativity that are part of a free market- but lying and deceit are not innovative, and kicking families out of their houses is not creative. I don’t love that America has such a long history of ignoring exploitative practices.

The movie effectively illustrated how poverty is criminalized, and I would guess all of the things that happened in the movie did happen to people in real life. The movie did not feel like a lecture to me, but that is partly because I already agreed with it. I don’t know if the movie is compelling or persuasive for someone with a different mindset or if they would see it as melodramatic. Michael Shannon, Laura Dern, and Andrew Garfield made a great combination.

Everything, Everywhere, All at Once

I just couldn’t get into this one, probably because I haven’t seen the Matrix (🙄). Watch it if you want. I’m sure if I had a more creative mind and in-depth understanding of cinema, I could have gotten into it. I just thought it was weird.

Hope you are having a great Veteran’s day and can find some time to relax and watch a movie!

Shannon

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Lately

Risky business

How are you?

This past month has been a blast- flashy, friendly, bold, bohemian. I’ve tried things that have opened me up in really healthy ways. I got to see really funny live standup comedy- Sarah Silverman, Whitney Cummings, Erik Griffin, and Adam Ray. I’ve also met some sort of shallow people – Last night I shared an uber with someone who was bragging about all of the TikTok influencers he knew – he was very nice, but I said a silent prayer to never become the type of person who brags about that 🤭😅.

Hope you’re having a fab Halloween season and have some darling trick-or-treaters come to your door tomorrow.

xxx,
Shannon

Throwback Thursday

This magical angle makes me look much taller than I am. Also, why aren’t giant trebuchets more popular. They are wicked exciting, fun, decisive, reliable, and good for the environment.

Baby Shannon in London. circa 2009. We stayed in Queensgate and it was sunny and gorgeous almost every day.

Marina Del Rey in Los Angeles. I stayed in a house that Jack Nicholson used to get trashed at. I crossed that off of my bucket list immediately after adding it.
The prettiest tree. ily California

Hope you’re on your way to a good weekend.

Lately

How are you, summer children? 🙂 Here is my phone as of late and some life updates.

The Rachel Chase and Shannon show. We succeeded even without Mrs. Martin.

  1. No graduation for me. In order for my internship to be accredited, I have to pay the university 20k. So, full-time job instead.
  2. I am obsessed with Myers-Briggs (yes, still). Do you know your function stack! Here is mine.

3. Apples in cinnamon at 325 for 45+ minutes or until they’re really soft and sweet.

4. Ann Arbor trees, ftw:

5. I had to get a lot of blood drawn in June and it was not a good experience. In love with feeling good again

6. Accurate😂:

7.

8.

9. Visited the Grand Hotel on Mackinac-

10. Love you so much, Virginia, (even though you’re sweaty):

11. I’m reading Gabby Bernstein. She’s good.

Hope you are having the most lovely of days, weeks, years and that they’re filled with fun and meaningful happiness.

Small Talk, Medium-Sized Talk, Big Talk

Miss you, SF /\

Fam /\

BIFF /\

Michigan crew, celebrating being done with a really hard class. /\

Utah /\

Recent things & thoughts:

  • Currently am watching Under the Banner of Heaven. It’s intriguing.
  • The Supreme Court is freaking me out right now. I know the founding fathers intended to leave the Constitution open-ended, but that leaves so many opportunities for opinions that do not seem tethered to it.

Hope you’re finding and feeling some peace and love.

Semi-conductors are Cool & What-the-Heck Gas Prices

I’m working at Ford! And they are working on getting past the semi-conductor shortage. My sister worked on semiconductors out of college – she wore that cool bunny suit 😅- and she has a lot of expertise but she can’t even begin to describe the complexity. Each plant costs 29.5 billion. I’ve been spending all of my googles looking at different aspects of this problem and finding young people who know a lot on the topic. It’s interesting that it’s being taught in some high schools now.

I also have a question about inflation that I would like to ask a person (not the internet)- was cutting off the supply to the Canadian pipeline a cause of inflation? Is that the main reason that gas prices and everything else are so high? I ask that because I am really invested in ending carbon dependency (and hoping that Ford continues its hard pivot to electric), but I wonder if instead of cutting off the supply of carbon, we could focus on finding a replacement first…? Am I wrong?

Agency, Cinema, Art

Over winter break I watched a movie about Ancient Greece and one of the points it made was that democracy was the genesis of theater. This is because democracy was essentially the invention of choice and theater is based on choices that characters make – in thinking, in words, in action. Before democracy, the Greeks believed that the gods carried the fate of the future and everything was predetermined. But with democracy came choice and with choice came complex thinking, characters, characteristics, natural consequences. You bear the fruit of your own choices. In this new world, people began to create their own destinies with their agency. And those decisions create the intrigue.

Also, the idea in theater, and in cinema is that truth lies in multiple perspectives, which is another concept in democracy. The most powerful person does not own the narrative – the truth lies in multiple perspectives.

I have been thinking a lot about art partly because I am hungry for it and maybe slightly jealous of people who get to do it. I guess I am closer than I ever dreamed I would be, to screenwriting and acting. I really liked Ethan Hawke’s discussion of it here. I remember one of my first loves – I wrote tons of melodramatic, obsessive poems about my bursting heart and the fire inside me, haha.

My blog is certainly a form of release and creative expression, and I crave that so so much. I like my graphic art and my pictures but I think I like words and writing and giving thought to other people more. Sometimes I think I like the audience and the energy of it.

I miss going to theaters and laughing and crying with other people in the audience.

When I was little I was in a few plays and they were so fun (until I developed crippling anxiety and then it wasn’t fun). Being in a play is more fun than watching. Every time I leave a play in the theater, I think to myself, That was amazing. And the only possible way of enjoying it more would be to actually be in it.

But my question is– if art is just meant to be enjoyed by the artist, and it’s not meant to defeat any critics or prove any victory, then why show it to anyone? Why not just do it for yourself and love it permanently without facing anyone’s criticism? You don’t get to decide if someone else likes it or not, so why not just love it privately?

Ethan Hawke gives a good answer.

I also think there’s something liberating, cathartic about expressing yourself and telling another’s story in a public forum.

But how do actors feel when everyone says they bombed? Do they love their craft just as much afterward?

I once read that Johnny Depp never watches his movies, and if there is one actor who consistently looks like he is having fun on screen – it’s him. So maybe it really is the process and not the result that counts. Like honestly, if no one likes your work except you — so what. Who cares. right?

In other news, Michigan announced on Monday that we don’t have to wear masks on campus and it feels good but I also feel like I’m naked. Hope you’re well.

Surprise Weekend

Waiting for Douglas to fly in

We flew home to surprise my dad for his birthday this weekend. He had no idea! I rang the doorbell and we hid down the sidewalk. His face, when we ran up the path and yelled out ‘Surprise!’, was so SO shocked! I mean really shocked. He was so happy and a little emotional. We don’t all get to see each other often so It was really fun. Hope you’re having a great start to your week.

Don’t Look Up

Spoilers!

Don’t Look Up is definitely worth a watch. I thought the acting in it was stellar and the movie made some apt observations in the form of amusing satire: The general public is fickle, uninformed, cruel, with a pathetically short attention span. Politicians want to make everything into a merchandise-selling Broadway promotional. Most of the character’s motives are amusingly pathetic. Don’t Look Up condensed and delivered an incredible range of observations about American society in a funny way.

The movie has some weaknesses though; especially lacking in it are depth and structure. There were a few parts that had that depth — like when Dr. Mindy is getting out of his car and the whole street stops to look at the comet. I felt like that was a moment that was intended to be profound. But at that moment, I still hadn’t recovered from the satiring laughter that the movie evoked in so many other places. It required a bit too much cognitive and emotional dissonance. Most of the writing was so upbeat and jestful that when it sought to come back to earth and convey the gravity of the situation, it couldn’t. The plot felt like the house being carried away by balloons in the movie Up. Combining satire and a penetrating message seems perhaps an impossible task, but I definitely think this topic warrants a deep message. Although the nature scenes were beautiful, I didn’t feel like there was a penetrating message to the movie except for laughing at how stupid and obtuse people are.

Perhaps as a satire, the character development was not meant to be prominent, and apart from revealing a few layers of Dr. Mindy, Yule, Kate, and Brie, there wasn’t much. The plot also didn’t seem to have a lot of common threads throughout it. Different from a finely crafted show like Ted Lasso, It felt a little bombastic and perhaps unintentional. It felt like a song with too many key changes. I read that the cast was allowed to improvise as much as possible, and that made for some incredible scenes, but the overall movie felt a little disjointed. Good paragraphs but a jumpy essay.

I am a firm believer that only good movies deserve any constructive criticism, and in spite of my complaints, this is definitely a good movie. Cate Blanchett, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Rob Morgan, Timothee Chalamet, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Mark Rylance all deliver exceptional performances. Rob Morgan, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Jennifer Lawrence made a great trio. The scenes I’ll remember are when Dr. Mindy and Brie are getting to know each other– Brie talks about her socialite life and Dr. Mindy chooses to reciprocate by talking about when his pet died. Who knew Leo could be so funny? The oval office scenes were also apt and funny. I loved Dr. Mindy’s family. During Yule’s delightful, lovable semi-proposal in the car I was wondering to myself… in real life, are these actors as intriguing, charming, and normal as these characters are scripted to be? I have decided to believe that indeed, they are.

I found myself laughing at Meryl Streep as well as Jonah Hill and the accuracy of the rallies. I thoroughly enjoyed Hollywood’s take on Elon Musk/Jeff Bezos/Mark Zuckerberg. The nature scenes were poignant, beautiful; overall the movie held my attention. I know the reviews on this movie are very divided, but I give it either a B+ or A-. I liked it. But even if you don’t like it, you’ll remember it.

In keeping with my “Only criticize decent movies” policy, I won’t be delving into The Unforgivable. Honestly, it is just too awful to even know where to begin. It tries to make sense of something that feels way too contrived. I also won’t offer any constructive criticism of The Guilty but I will offer a quick recap of it: A woman who doesn’t take her anxiety medication decides to mutilate her newborn infant’s stomach. Makes total sense, right? Then her husband who is a convicted felon tries to bring her back to the mental institution for people who cut their babies into small pieces, and she calls 911 to tell a remarkably incompetent individual that she is being kidnapped. Her husband somehow forgets to call back and explain what’s going on. The only constructive criticism I’ll offer for both of these movies is that they each most certainly deserve their own Mystery Science Theater or Riff tracks. Although I do believe Hollywood is a cesspool of favors, quid pro quo, and connections(think Emily in Paris being nominated for an Emmy- only explanation I can think of), I also think there must be some sort of tenure or insane level of job security that allows these screenwriters to continue funding plotless, unrelatable movies that are consumed by the general public.

In other non-movie news, I tested positive for Covid and spent quite a bit of last week sneezing. I don’t feel super sick, but I do feel confused about how cautious I should be.

I hope you’re having a bright, delightful start to 2022. And I hope the year is filled with healthy progress and relationships for you.

Digital Design

One thing I’ve learned in my dive into tech is that the world will not slow down. The increase in demand for entertainment, cloud storage, big data, predictive analytics will only continue to grow. If you’ve got the luxuries of time and health, it makes sense to learn a new software, programming language, or both. Also, start your kids! They will likely surpass your (and my) technical skills by the time they are six.

One place that makes for a good start is Scratch. It’s a simple coding site built for kids. It’s actually pretty fun and the concepts in it are great for understanding the concepts of coding. Sketch is also a fun drawing app. It’s similar to Adobe Illustrator but simpler.

If you’re looking for programming inspiration, take a look at Codepen. And seriously, do not be ashamed of finding a simple program and copying it verbatim, letter by letter. Programming is really hard, and just exposing yourself to it still counts as progress. Brackets is a good editor.

Some cool websites to get you excited about digital design include bestfolios, httpster, awwwards, dribbble, and behance, among others.

Thank you so much for reading! I hope these inspire you and that you’re enjoying the Olympics.

Shannon