Derik Badman's Journal

2020-06-27 09:24

We watched Josephine Decker's Shirley last night, and I enjoyed a lot more than her previous Madeline's Madeline see March 30 2020. This one had the same sense of unusuality and expressiveness, but also was more understandable narratively, and while not a totally straightforward story, it felt like it progressed and resolved. The first thing I noticed about it was how much the camera moves, it almost never stops, not in a super shaky way, but almost like someone constantly moving around the characters looking at them. There is one interesting scene that cuts between closeups of the two female leads and each cut seems to get the camera a little closer to the actor and also move around enough so it looked they they were moving closer to each other.

The color of the lighting was also notable and impressive, often naturalistic, and often very yellow which expressively felt appropriate as kind of jaundiced light on the situation. The light also seemed to help a bit with the differences between the reality of the story and the reality of the novel being written by Shirley (Elisabeth Moss, who is excellent as always), which at times inserts itself into the film. At one point, late in the movie, Shirley is walking in the woods following the other lead (it's sad I can't remember her name), but also thinking about the protagonist of her novel. We see Shirley's head from behind at the right side of the frame, the path and trees and woman ahead, then the camera moves so Shirley's head shifts across the frame to the left side and simultaneously the background ahead of her shifts to show the other woman in a different light. It was really cool but not too flashy.

The music in the film was also really well handled, often as much sound effect as music, working really well along with the narrative and actors and the feelings, much more integrated than a conventional score.

Having said nothing about the story (it's about the writer Shirley Jackson and the young wife who comes to live with her, when the young husband professor starts working for Jackson's husband), it's a movie worth watching and maybe rewatching.

I've also been rewatching Star Trek: Discovery, having made it through TNG and a few of the related movies (which are... just not that good). I'm finding rewatching, knowing the major plot twists adds a level of understanding to a variety of scenes that you read/understand differently a first time through than a second time through. The writers did an excellent job of providing multiple explanations for certain surprises in a way that made the surprises, truly surprising, but also, on rewatching, makes you realize it was all well planned and plotted.

Started a new (old) video game yesterday too, Ashen (on the PS4). Mechanically it's very much a Dark Souls clone. Almost everything about the mechanics is nearly identical. It's a similarly dark fantasy, but feels much less oppressive and is certainly less difficult than the Souls games. For one thing, you always have a companion character with you (which apparently can be another remote player if you are hooked up for that, I'm just playing with a computer NPC). This certainly provides an easing of the difficulty. Above and beyond that, the game, despite having no difficulty settings, is clearly not made to be as punishing. So far I've gotten through a few missions and 1 boss fight, and I only died once (and that was from drowning because I didn't understand how swimming worked).

The game is also a lot more open as far as landscape goes. There are caves that are more dungeon-like, but outside you are not stuck in the limited pathways of a Souls game. This allows for more freedom of movement (including climbing and jumping) though it also means enemies can suddenly appear just about anywhere if you aren't careful. So far, I'm enjoying it.

I was going through old stuff in my Evernote yesterday (I'm transitioning mostly away from Evernote, this journal is all written in Joplin) and found a bunch of things I had totally forgotten about inclusing a 30k word "collage" I made of comics criticism I'd written. I'm not totally clear on why I did it, I think there was a potential for some kind of publication that either fell through or I let the opportunity drop or something. At first I was completely baffled by it, not at first realizing it was all pre-written material (of my own) assembled together. I couldn't believe I had written 30k words of something and 7 years later totally forgotten about it, but, on the other hand, that's how my mind works a lot. I tend to forget a lot, too much.

But now I'm wondering if I should do something with that piece. It seems pretty interesting when I skimmed parts of it. It could be a zine or just something I post on my site.