Coffee is a lot more than just a drink; it’s something happening. Not as in hip, but like an event, a place to be, but not like a location, but like somewhere within yourself. It gives you time, but not actual hours or minutes, but a chance to be, like be yourself, and have a second cup.
–Selected Writings, Gertrude Stein
The Pale Horse, the latest Agatha Christie adaptation from screenwriter Sarah Phelps, released a trailer (below) this week. It stars Rufus Sewell and Kaya Scodelario, which is spot-on casting because they’re both compelling but it’s particularly easy for them to tilt over into being unlikable as characters. The plot is set in the 60’s and focuses on Mark Easterbrook (Sewell) , who wakes up next to a dead young woman, and is drawn into the mystery surrounding her death when a list of names is found inside her shoe and people from the list keep dying. Scodelario co-stars as his icy wife, a role I’m sure she’ll chew up with ease. The two-episode series airs February 9th and February 16th on the BBC, and it looks like it may release on Amazon Prime on March 13, 2020. Here’s the trailer, and a slightly spoilery review from Empire.
The Internet lit up with glee when some Yorkshire police nabbed a distinctive ring and ah, attempted to return it to its owner.
I remember the first time I heard a Joni Mitchell song. It was “Both Sides Now” – I came upon it directly after listening to Leonard Cohen’s “Famous Blue Raincoat” for the first time, which is as it should be, and a story of music and magical discovery all its own. What I remember about “Both Sides Now” is that it was one of the first songs to give me that sense that all great songs do: that is has always existed, that I was already aware of its existence, and that when I heard it, synapses in my brain fired to make this unknown thing instantly familiar, recognized, remembered – and loved. All of which is a long way to say: read this article – Anatomy of a Perfect Album: On Joni Mitchell’s Blue[Lithub]. “Both Sides Now” isn’t from Blue – “River” is, which is another classic, and a Christmas song, shot through with a gorgeous yet assenting wistfulness that sweeps you along its rich turns and delicate melancholy like the river of the title. Mitchell teaches us how to embrace loneliness as a friend rather than an enemy. “Only a phase, these dark café days.”
Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite placed first in the Indiewire’s critics poll for 2019, which polled 304 movie critics from around the world to pick the best movies and performances of the year. I loved Parasite, but the fact that it’s the pick for best movie of the year really speaks to the paucity of transcendent or even brilliant films this year. The movie is brilliant, but flawed, and it’s not even among Joon Ho’s two best films (of which one would certainly be the scorching, unforgettable Mother). The 50 Best Movies of 2019, According to 304 Film Critics [IndieWire]
What I loved this week: a Stumptown song, a ballad about missing Glasgow, and of course, Pink Floyd.
This week’s episode of Stumptown (great show by the way: far better than it has any business being from the premise and trailers), ended on a song that immediately caught my attention, which turned out to be this GORGEOUS, instantly gripping 60’s ballad from The Animals:
“If you ever change your mind
About leavin’, leavin’ me behind
Oh, oh, bring it to me
Bring your sweet lovin’
Bring it on home to me, oh yeah”
In 2014 to celebrate Black History Month, NPR Books asked Afua Richardson, an award-winning illustrator who’s worked for Image, Marvel and DC Comics, to illustrate something that inspired her. She created this extraordinary video – 50 seconds that perfectly melds the oral, visual, and textual traditions of storytelling into something of pure magic, resonant with historical echoes.
My recent absolute obsession has been USA’s Playing House, a comedy that recently wrapped its second season. It’s flown a little under that radar due to being on USA, which is just now branching out to comedy, but it is hysterical, warm, and at times, giddily romantic. I’m in it not least for the sizzling, ongoing chemistry between Jessica St. Clair’s Emma and her high-school boyfriend/first love-turned-cop Mark (Keegan-Michael Key from Key and Peele). Emma rejected his proposal, took off out of town, and has come back thirteen years later. Let’s just say the sparks aren’t dead, and since I’m a huge sucker for old friends or people with a history falling back in love, this is right up my alley.
I was pretty excited for Yong Pal before it aired, because I really like Joo Won (despite not liking most of his drama choices in the past), and was intrigued by the high-energy teaser and the promise of the premise, which made it sound more than a little like City Hunter. In case you don’t know, the premise is a nutshell was: Joo Won is a doctor who moonlights as a surgeon to gangsters and criminals in order to raise money to pay his little sister’s expensive hospital fees. Kim Tae Hee is a rich heiress who lies in a (induced?) coma. Their paths cross.