Derik Badman's Journal

2020-05-30 09:54

A stressful, busy week at work, means not a lot of writing. I'm still struggling with the feeling that I need to be able to do too many things at too high a level. I feel like I'm reaching a point where jack of all trades is not good enough for the scope and scale of the work, but with all the economic uncertainty lately I can't expect there will be a chance for me to move into a more specific specialized role at any point. I was not feeling great off and on for the past week too which hasn't helped and then we had some downtime yesterday which just made things worse, as I had been hoping to take the day or at least the afternoon off. Last time I was going to take a day off something else came up and I couldn't.

The weather has turned this week though, warmer, sunnier, more like spring-summer than it had been. Though that means my office temperature was in the 80s a lot this week, as we haven't turned on the a/c yet. But it was so pleasant out this morning when I took my walk. Rain fell hard last night as Lianne and I were playing a game of Scrabble, and this morning things were cool and still wet, with rain still dripping from the trees. I saw a yellow-shafted northern flicker for the first time (I had to identity him later). A large bird (smaller than a crow but bigger than a bluejay) with a trapezoidal black bib and a triangular red spot on the back of his head (and apparently yellow on the tail though I missed that), he was pecking at the cracks in the sidewalk, hopping along staying just a bit ahead of me as I watched. Really beautiful bird, one more for my still theoretical "animals on the block" list.

Sitting out on the porch again this morning and it is still really lovely, the right temperature with a nice light breeze. I have no plans for the day, no plans for the weekend. I'm not sure if that is good or bad. I'm still struggling a bit with a uncertainty about what I should be doing with myself. Lately it's been a lot of movies, some reading... not much else. I haven't played any video games since the stay at home order started; I haven't worked on my stories for a few weeks now; I did some minimal rpg prep (and that has so far gotten me through 2 sessions plus probably one next weekend); I haven't worked on any coding projects in weeks; I haven't drawn anything in a very long time; I haven't played music in more than 5 years. I'm just not sure what holds my interest I guess. Maybe this is my version of a midlife crisis. I'm not looking for a new wife or a fancy car just... something to do.

The one thing I have accomplished (as this journal shows in evidence) is watching a lot of movies (and tv shows, which I don't always write about). I watched Mati Diop's Atlantics on Netflix the other day. I had heard really good things about it when it played some festivals last year (she was the first black female director to be in competition at Cannes) and I was not let down at all. Highly recommended. The film takes place in Senegal (which I had to look up to place on the map, its the north west coast of Africa) and is wonderfully rich. The setting is an unknown one to me, but it never felt completely different or that my interest was solely in the location, but it was interesting to see parts of the lives and milieu of people of different classes in that country. The plot starts off with a bunch of men who have not been paid in three months for their construction work. They seem to be working on some kind of buildings that are in the shadow of this giant curving skyscraper that is frequently shown in the distance jutting into the sky with no other buildings of even close to the same height in the area. The design of the building and its singleness in the landscape makes it look like something out of a science fiction movie, like a spaceship landed. The contrast is even more striking the more you see of the streets and buildings where the narrative takes place. It is a constant highlight in the movie of class differences.

The plot shifts pretty quickly to one of the young men's girlfriend, Ada. She is in love with him but is betrothed to another (wealthier man). One night she goes to a friend's bar/club and... it is just women, many crying or looking forlorn. The men went off on a boat in an attempt to get to Spain for work (this is apparently the plot of Diop's previous short film). Ada's boyfriend went too. From here the plot follows two interrelated lines, one is about Ada as she struggles with the idea of marrying this other man, missing her boyfriend, and what happens when people report seeing him after her future bedroom in her future husband's house is burned. The other is more of a group narrative involving a variety of the young women and what becomes a supernatural fantasy. The supernatural aspects slips in slowly and is primary to the plot but is never too overt. It is more like a ghost story than anything else, as the spirits of the young men (dead at sea we learn) inhabit the girls and confront the man who owes them their salary.

The film is engaging in story but also beautifully filmed. The cinematographer is the same woman who filmed Sciamma's Portrait of a Lady on Fire, one of my other favorites from the year, and the long shots of the landscape and the Sugimoto like images of the ocean and the horizon punctuate the more conventional shooting of the actors and their settings. This is one I would watch again.