Weekly Ramble No. 14

I watched quite a few films with Siggy this week, helped somewhat by time off work for Easter. First was Philomena the story of an old Irish lady looking for her long lost son who was sold by Nuns to an American family. It was a hearty celebration of everything that’s great about the Catholic Church starring Judi Dench and Steve Coogan as Martin Sixsmith the journalist who helped make the story public. Part of that last sentence was a lie, can you guess which bit? Anyway it’s a bit of a tear-jerker all told, and pretty shocking.

Second was the wonderful Rogue One. This was the third time I have seen it, but it still delights me. What didn’t delight me so much was the poor collection of extras on the second disk of the Blu ray pack I purchased. I was expecting lots of lovely ‘making of’ stuff but felt rather short changed by what was included. I wonder if Disney are (a) holding out for some kind of special edition release around Christmas time and (b) avoiding too much content that might reveal quite how many reshoots were required to pummel the film into shape.

Third was The Other Woman an American comedy film starring Jamie Lannister from Game of Thrones, Cameron Diaz, that old bloke from Miami Vice, an ad-libbing comedy woman and a blonde girl with big boobs. If you like ‘men are twats’ revenge comedies then be my guest and laugh your socks off to this outrageous comedy hit of the year. Otherwise avoid like to bubonic plague. I’m trying to think of something nice to say, but I can’t. Moving on.

Fourth was Chef. This was an interesting feel good movie starring (written by, produced by…) Jon Favreau and a variety of familiar faces including bit parts from Scarlett Johansson looking hot with dark hair and tattoos, Robert Downey Junior (very funny) and Dustin Hoffman (playing it straight). Favreau plays a disgraced chef who takes his food on the road in a food wagon to rebuild his career and his family life. It is also an extended advert for Twitter. I kid not. Here’s a trailer:

We also finished off watching Homeland. Once it got going (i.e. the episode where something goes bang) this season of the tv series was pretty entertaining. Siggy and I are very unhappy about one of the main characters being killed off and confused as to how one of the other main characters escaped being killed in the last episode. How did I do? No spoilers there right?

Some of the action and procedures portrayed in Homeland seem like writers teasing out suspense or misunderstanding to assist the storytelling rather than a realistic portrayal of what could happen in the circumstances, but I guess that’s how the show has survived this long without getting canned. I’m not sure there will be another season since there are pretty much no loose ends that need tying up from the season finale.

Also on TV, this weekend marked the return of Dr Who. There were plenty of loose ends in the first episode ‘The Pilot’ which featured the new mixed race lesbian companion Bill very well played by Pearl Mackie along with comedy relief provided by comedy robot man Matt Lucas.

The episode very much had the feel of a reboot to kick off Peter Capaldi’s last season as the doctor. The storyline was very simple and allowed all the characters and the TARDIS to be (re)introduced and also provide Bill the motivation to want to go travelling with her university professor in a big blue box. The jury is still out on whether the writers can actually do Capaldi’s doctor (which I actually like a lot more than some regenerations) justice for a season and I am most intrigued as to how Missy and The Master can both be in the show. I am also holding out an ungrounded and unrealistic hope that somehow Michelle Gomez will be the next doctor.

I’ve also been cracking on with Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens – all the story chapters are now complete and I’m into playing the extra levels and replaying the story chapters on freeplay mode – where the fun really kicks in. So far I have avoided using any walkthroughs to get all the collectibles on each level and even found a little pot of gold inside the Millennium Falcon in the form of that 3D chess game they play in Episode IV (‘let the wookiee win’ right?) which basically shits tokens for very little effort by the player.

When I’ve not been going square-eyed in front of the idiot box I have been reading some more Philip K Dick. This week it was The Man Whose Teeth Were All Exactly Alike on my Kindle. What I thought was going to be a story about an android (or simulacra as he terms them) was actually a non-science fiction story set in American in the early 1960s published after his death. It is somewhat of a comedy of misunderstanding between two married couples who live near each other in a farming area but who have jobs in the nearby city.

There’s a lot observed early on about race relations i.e. the views of ‘normal’ white Americans when it comes to Blacks and Jews, the role of the woman as a wife (e.g. around working, staying at home, raising a child) and the unseen class system in the neighbourhood. Alcoholism, domestic violence and keeping up with the Joneses are also featured.

It’s not until over halfway through the book that the title can be understood when Leo Runcible one of the main characters – a jewish realtor – uncovers what he thinks to be a Neanderthal skull on his land. Experts are called in to determine whether the skull is the genuine article or a hoax. As a result a bigger truth is uncovered which leads Runcible to selflessly financially ruin himself despite being mostly disliked by the residents of his town. It’s a well-observed story, provides an interesting snapshot of American life at that time, and is far less ‘pulpy’ than a lot of his science fiction work.

Photo: taken by Siggy in our back garden.

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