My wife has been in Chicago all week for a work event, so it was just the kid and me over the weekend. We got up Sunday morning and drove to a nearby town for breakfast, and then watched Beauty and the Beast in a packed theater at 11 o’clock in the morning. You can read about that in yesterday’s post.
On Tuesday night, the weekly movie night my daughter and I started back when it was just the two of us, we watched the Goosebumps movie. I only ever read one of the books as a kid, which is weird, because I devoured horror stories back then. A lot of people who loved the books have problems with the movie, and I assume they have good reasons. Coming to the movie fresh, I enjoy it quite a bit. I’ve never been a big Jack Black fan, but he’s tolerable as the cranky R.L. Stine in the film, and the script is clever and fun. And speaking of fun, we went and saw Beauty and the Beast last weekend.
Over the weekend, I read The Desert Places by Amber Sparks and Robert Kloss and illustrated by Matt Kish (Curbside Splendor, 2013). It’s a primordial fever dream of a book that looks at the essence of humanity, and evil, and God, and one comes away feeling all three might be the same entity. Short and anything but sweet, this is a book that peels back the bloody skin of human origins and endeavors and pokes at the splintered bones and teeth under the surface, as our quest for knowledge and greatness have led to bloodshed and horror. It is evolution and progress painted on a cave wall in the blood and viscera of some Old Testament sacrifice. It’s was fascinating and unexpected. I also read Rebecca Dunham’s excellent collection Cold Pastoral for review.
Last night I just laid on the couch all night watching classic movies. I got on a Lupe Velez kick and Hell Harbor and Palooka. She’s incredible. She’s the smallest person on screen most of the time and you absolutely can’t look away from her. She hogs the camera. Her movies are so hard to find though. I need to find a way to track down more of them.
I also watched The File on Thelma Jordan for the first time. I love Barbara Stanwyck, but it the film as a whole felt somewhat flat to me. I thought the concept for it was great, but the early stages of the love affair felt absurdly rushed, and the ending felt false. The ending is a great example of the Hays Code betraying narrative, which it didn’t always do. Another issue? Theresa Harris is technically in this movie, which amounts to about two seconds of background screen time. A fine actress who had been toiling for twenty years in inadequate roles, and she’s relegated to the background here. I get so frustrated when I think about how underappreciated she was in the very white Hollywood of the golden era.
My friend Katy and I are going to be working on an essay series about our favorite 90s albums, and we’re going to started with Hole’s Live Through This, so I’ve been listening to that this week. So much guttural emotional power on that album.
In some exciting personal news, I passed my Cicerone exam, so I’m now a Certified Cicerone! I already lead a monthly beer class and tasting series, as well as other professional tastings, but I’m really hoping to begin doing more of them soon.
Here on the blog this week I reviewed Julia Eff’s cryptozoology zine Lizard People, Dear Reader, wrote about some current obsessions from classic Hollywood, and shared some impressions from my first viewing of the new Beauty and the Beast.
The title of this post comes from the song “Doll Parts” by Hole from their album Live Through This.