About Brittany

Cold sober, I find myself fascinating.

Why Paddington 2 is a Better Movie than The Post

During the month of January, I have gone to the movie theater twice. One of the films I saw is a delightful, charming, and heartwarming film about friendship, family, and loyalty; the other is a star-studded, Oscar-nominated “thrilling” drama that puts the audience to sleep in the first ten minutes (if not sooner).

Yep. Paddington 2 is a superior film to The Post in every single way. Fact.

Paddington 2 picks up where the first film left off: Paddington is happily settled with the Brown family and an essential part of the fabric of the community. Aunt Lucy’s 100th birthday is quickly approaching, however, and Paddington has to work hard to buy her the perfect present: an antique pop-up book illustrating all the essential London landmarks. What Paddington doesn’t know, though, is that the pop-up book is actually a hidden treasure map, heavily coveted by washed-up actor Phoenix Buchanan (played to perfection by Hugh Grant). When Buchanan steals the book (in disguise, of course), Paddington is unjustly framed for the crime and sent to jail.

Yes. Paddington goes to jail! Gasp.

Poor Paddington. But Paddington, being Paddington, makes friends and improves jail-life for everyone: the uniforms become pink-tinged, bedtime stories are implemented, and there are orange marmalade sandwiches for everyone, even the hard-edged Mr. Knuckles!

Paddington 2 is better than the first Paddington (which is also charming and adorable), but it is most definitely better than a film that is nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture.

Rotten Tomatoes describes The Post as “a thrilling drama about the unlikely partnership between The Washington Post’s Katharine Graham (Streep), the first female publisher of a major American newspaper, and editor Ben Bradlee (Hanks), as they race to catch up with The New York Times to expose a massive cover-up of government secrets that spanned three decades and four U.S. Presidents. The two must overcome their differences as they risk their careers – and their very freedom – to help bring long-buried truths to light.” While that sounds promising, what that actually translates to on-screen is a very, very slow film with a minimal story and lackluster, underwhelming performances–including by the supposedly amazing Meryl Streep aka the most overrated, underwhelming actress ever.

Three-quarters of the film focuses on whether The Washington Post is going to secure The Pentagon Papers and scoop The New York Times. In the last quarter of the film, the papers are secured, and the debate on whether to publish them rages. It’s approximately 1000% less interesting than it sounds. All the President’s Men and Spotlight — two films that really showcase the tough grit, integrity, and relentlessness of journalists — it is not. Nothing is captivating or compelling, least of all the characters and the performers who bring them to “life.” Streep’s Graham is bland and lifeless; a somnambulant Jason Robards has more passion and believability as Ben Bradlee than Hanks can muster in two hours. I felt nothing for these characters or their dilemma. I was not moved to care, as interesting an example of media law The New York Times vs. The United States is. The only emotions I felt during the movie were agonizing boredom and relief when it finally ended. (I guess I also felt elation, early in the movie, when I spotted a movie poster for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid — and subsequently I would feel longing for that kind of sophisticated, witty film-making.)

With the current state of affairs, I understand the urgency and importance of The Post, but it really is lacking in acting (supremely disappointing) and storytelling (even more disappointing). The film has no heart, plain and simple. While watching Paddington 2, however, I was drawn into Paddington’s world, full of concern and love for Paddington just as all the other characters are in the film. I laughed, I was on the edge of my seat, cheering for Paddington, and in the film’s final moments, my throat even constricted and I felt a tear or two or a thousand welling up. Heart.

 

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Songs I Did Not Play at My Wedding Reception

If I were to blame my lack of updating this blog on one thing, it would not be the death of my beloved Macbook Pro (RIP) or lack of time or some silly nonsense, it would just have to be the fact that I am now a married Countess–Mistress of Collinwood, if you will–and I have responsibilities, people! (Nothing like poor Judith helping her dear Gregory– Reverend Trask’s great-grandson–rebuild his sadistic school or keeping herself out of the insane asylum, but responsibilities nonetheless!) But, beloved readers, I have not forgotten you.

My wedding day was perfect. Or at least I think it was. There was a lot of planning and stress, of course, but it was a fairly simple affair. (I think?!) One of the final things I worked out was the music playlist. I wasn’t too worried about the music because: 1) I have the best taste B) If all else failed, I would have just played Pet Sounds from start to finish ad infinitum and, D) I don’t think 99.9% of attendees paid any attention, anyway. And when I finally did create a dump playlist (you know, like a first draft–just get it down, man), it ran 3-4 hours for a 90-minute event. Oops. And so that is when the really hard work began: cutting songs. Should “Layla” be unplugged or not? How much Beatles is too much? (No such thing, I decided. Approximately 28.9% of the eventual playlist was by The Beatles, collectively or solo. Not that anyone was counting, except the one guest who dared to jest, “Too much Beatles!” To which I replied, “Off with your head, Alice!”)

I may be biased, but I would say the eventual playlist was perfect. There were, however, more than a handful of perfect songs that did not make the cut, and for no better reason than I have nothing better to blog about and have been stuck with the same playlists on my iPhone since my Macbook died, here’s me musing about why a few of them ended up on the cutting room floor…

“Cornerstone” – Arctic Monkeys

Tell me, where’s your hiding place
I’m worried I’ll forget your face
And I’ve asked everyone

I’m beginning to think I imagined you all along

This was actually in the playlist until, quite literally, the very last minute when I cut it – for time and because I had inserted another song that ended up to be that song. The lyrics really showcase how Alex Turner is heir to Jarvis Cocker’s throne of breathy, creepy, I’m-in-love-with-you-but I’m-not-stalking-you kind of thing. I mean, come on: I smelt your scent on the seat belt/And kept my shortcuts to myself. That’s killer. Oh, Jarvis, I used to think you were the real deal. I love this song. And the video. Arctic Monkeys are back this year, aren’t they? Hallelujah! 

“There Is A Light That Never Goes Out” – The Smiths

…except I wanted to play the instrumental soundcheck version, false starts and all. Even though Morrissey’s voice can be the most comforting sound in the world (I believe I once famously compared it to your mom cutting the crusts off your peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, even though I’m an avid devourer of crusts – hey man, this figure doesn’t happen all on its own), I love this instrumental version — such beautiful music, the perfect juxtaposition to Morrissey whinging (I use this word in a loving way, mind) And in the darkened underpass I thought oh God, my chance has come at last…But then, I think this ultimately reminded me too much of relying so solely on the music of The Smiths and Morrissey and staring out of bus windows on long, cold, wintry days. Too solitary to be played on my wedding day.

“You Do Something to Me” – Paul Weller

Dancing through the fire, yeah
Just to catch a flame
Just to get close to
Just close enough 
To tell you that
You do something to me
Something deep inside

Or, actually, anything by Paul Weller. No Jam, no Style Council, no Paul Weller Movement, no nuthin’. Probably because I wanted to marry Paul Weller for the longest time before I met my husband, and part of me still believes that in a parallel time storyline, he and I would end up together. Not something you exactly want to evoke on your wedding day, right?

“Slide Away” – Oasis

Ugh, I love this song. So much. Back when the Gallaghers were still saying nice things about each other, I believe Noel once stated that this was Liam’s greatest vocal performance, and Liam called it the greatest rock ‘n’ roll love song. So many great lines in this song: “I dream of you and we talk of growing old, but you say please don’t”, “Let me be the one who shines with you/In the morning we don’t know what to do/We’re two of a kind”, “I don’t know, I don’t care, all I know is you can take me there…”

I spent a lot of time debating this one–and which version. The album version is, of course, amazing, but it  have you heard it live? Oh my heart. Ultimately, comparing the youthful arrogance, energy, and unity of the Gallagher brothers’ chant of “WHAT FOR?” at Knebworth in ’96 and the tired resignation of the band’s performance of the song at the iTunes Festival in ’09 broke my heart. This band, man. Put your life in the hands of this rock ‘n’ roll band and they just might throw it all away. (Even though they told you they wouldn’t.)

“Baby, I Love Your Way” – Peter Frampton

I am not yet prepared to declare to world exactly how many copies I own of Frampton Comes Alive! (but hey, like most people, I only own one copy of I’m In You), but hey, I love that album and this song. But no matter how many times I listen to it, I still have difficulty listening to it without being reminded of a greasy Ethan Hawke (is there any other kind of Ethan Hawke? Just sayin’…) mocking it.

“Simple Man” – Graham Nash

Wish that I could see you once again
Across the room
Like the first time

What a song, man. (What an album! One of my favorite albums. Of. All. Time.) Graham Nash is the real deal for me, dude. He’s my favorite member of CSN(Y–what a loser, don’t get me started), with Stills a nose hair or two or heck, a mutton chop behind. This song, written about his breakup with Joni Mitchell, just tears the hearts to pieces, don’t it? I just want to hold you, I don’t want to hold you down. Duuuuuude. On a happier, note, I also wanted to play The Hollies’ version of “Just One Look.” I mean, Doris Troy is Doris Troy and all, but there’s just something about some scrawny white guys from Manchester singing Just one look and I felt so I-I-I’M IN LOVE! (If I could figure out a way to make the font get gradually bigger, I would.) Makes me happy just thinkin’ about it.

“That’s The Way I’ve Always Heard It Should Be” – Carly Simon 

Ah, my girl Carly. The day my husband proposed, we went record shopping, and I found a good lump of Carly Simon records. The clerk commented, “A Carly Simon kind of day, huh?” As every day should be. Carly once introduced this song as “a kind of weird song about marriage.” (Pssst, what do you think Art and George were talking about? Doesn’t George look perturbed when he discovers the camera watching him? Heh, heh.)

You say we can keep our love alive
Babe all I know is what I see
The couples cling and claw
And drown in love’s debris
You say we’ll soar like two birds through the clouds
But soon you’ll cage me on your shelf
I’ll never learn to be just me first
By myself

A great song. But maybe not one to play at a wedding reception.

“Your Smiling Face” – James Taylor

The real JT, people. What a jam. Unashamed to admit I know the words to this song by heart. No one can tell me that I’m doing wrong today whenever I see your smiling face my way…

And have you seen JT perform it on Sesame Street with Oscar the Grouch? No? Well, prepare yourself for a lil’ slice of divinity:

You know James, you’re so aggravating!

“Girl” – Davy Jones 

You know, it was a real turning point in our relationship when my husband admitted he had not seen every episode (or maybe even one episode) of The Brady Bunch. I think that stuff might just be in my DNA, and there’s a strong possibility that Mike Brady might just actually be my real father. So we watched my favorite episode of the series: “Getting Davy Jones.” And you know what? My husband-to-be didn’t exactly care for it. (His expression resembles the engineer’s in the studio.) YIKES! I had some real soul-searching to do that night. I mean, there are just some days when you feel like Marcia calling to tell her teacher that she couldn’t get Davy Jones and then–WHAM!–in walks Davy Jones…in the form of singing this song. See ya on the flip side, Davy.

“I Need You” – The Beatles

Please come on back to me.
I’m lonely as can be.
I need you.

Yep, there were a few Beatles songs that did not make the cut, and this one probably hurts the most. George never commented on this song, but it is one of his best early songs–so full of love and longing. The track features an effect called violining. George plugged a foot-controlled tone pedal into his trusty twelve-string Rickenbacker, allowing him to to quickly increase or lower the sound of the instrument. But you already knew that, didn’t you?

“You Didn’t Have to Be So Nice” – The Lovin’ Spoonful

Oh, I love this song. It is divinity. I have a vinyl record of The Very Best of The Lovin’ Spoonful, and it must have belonged to a radio station at one time–it’s marked WIDR all over, someone meticulously wrote the times of each song, and someone also lovingly inscribed the back cover: “All cuts are GREAT!” How true. But I wanted to play this song just because it reminds me of my husband — not because he is a Lovin’ Spoonful fan (“Who’s that?”, he would probably ask, bless him) or anything like that but just because he is the nicest guy. And he didn’t have to be so nice… I would have liked him anyway.

And just as a reminder of what a weird and wonderful world the 1960s were, here is–contain your excitement, ladies–Peter Noone introducing the Lovin’ Spoonful on an episode of Hullabaloo!:


“Without You” – Harry Nilsson 

I’m not really sure why I even put this in the running in the first place. The Badfinger version is probably superior (I debate this a lot in my head, but I’m 100% sane, I swear), but dang, if that band doesn’t break your heart. I think I like the Harry Nilsson version because 1) I instantly think of the cover of Nilsson Schmilsson (A+++ album & cover) and well, that’s like my life goal right there and 2) I’m 1000% convinced that if the note at 1:24 won’t grow hairs on your chest (just like any good ol’ jalapeno pepper), nothing will. I CAN’T LIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIVE, I CAN’T GIVE ANYMORE! How could anyone even remember that Mariah Carey sang this song after hearing Nilsson and Badfinger do it? I was more than a little shocked. And disturbed. And instantly signed up for another session with my therapist, Judd Hirsch. (Are you guys watching me for the changes and keeping up OK?)

“Wish You Were Here” – Pink Floyd 

Reflecting on this playlist now, this is one of the songs that initially makes me scratch my head and wonder, Why did I want to play this song? But, you see, the answer is quite simple. The theme of the wedding reception was It’s A Wonderful Life (yes, the Christmas movie AKA the most perfect movie of all-time). Each table and its decorations centered on a quote from the film. My personal favorite? “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?” I decorated the table with old family photos — of my grandparents, their parents, etc. People I wished were there but of course couldn’t be. It was my favorite table. But nobody really ever sat there all night — maybe because there were already others sitting there.

And well, I love this song, and it is a love song–like the entire album–for Syd. And oh, how I love Syd.

“All or Nothing At All” – Frank Sinatra

All or nothin’ at all
Half a love never appealed to me
If your heart, it never could yield to me
Then I’d rather, rather have nothin’ at all

After the Beatles, Sinatra was star of the night. Or the playlist–whatever. The best version of this song (Sinatra recorded several, y’know) is, without contest, found on Sinatra and Strings. There, Sinatra’s vocal really captures all the incredible turmoil and pain of the lyrics. He’s not messin’ around, boy. The first Mrs. Frank Sinatra once commented that she never married again because well, how do you re-marry after being married to Frank Sinatra? That’s how I feel about Frank Sinatra’s voice. How can you listen to anyone else sing something he’s sung? There’s no getting over that voice, man. And he could sing it all.

“Annie’s Song” – John Denver

Come let me love you
Let me give my life to you
Let me drown in your laughter
Let me die in your arms
Let me lay down beside you
Let me always be with you
Come let me love you
Come love me again

If  you think you’re too cool to listen to John Denver, you’re not cool. At all. This is a beautiful, beautiful song. Not playing this song probably hurts the most. I should have cut something else in its favor.

Well, that’s all folks.

Much love & best regards (BLECH) FROM The Countess

IT (Andy Muschietti, 2017)

I’ve been meaning to write about IT for quite awhile…but then I got a little distracted. I saw It the first week it was released, but then I saw Dunkirk the following week and was kind of blown away and had to write about it right way, Tom Petty was dead, then he wasn’t, and then he really was, and I also developed this new hobby of trapping and killing fruit flies (it’s all in the flick of the wrist, honey). With these distractions fading to the background and Halloween (and Stranger Things 2) just around the corner, I think now is the appropriate time to talk about It. 

Let’s get something out of the way: Nothing can compare to the terror of reading the book. Nothing. Now, I’m not one of those snobs who thinks the book is always better than the movie because that’s just not true. Get over it. (I have written about this before.) But the terror and thrill of reading the book is something that is going to be impossible to translate to the screen. I made the mistake of reading It on my Nook Glowlight Plus (RIP my original Nook Glowlight and Barnes & Noble caring about their customers)…I’ll just say that when the back cover states that it should only be read in well-lit rooms, IT MEANS IT!!! If you have any doubts about Stephen King as a writer, read It because not only is It extremely well-written but It is also about much more than a dancing clown named Pennywise.

Now that we have established that is impossible for any screen adaptation to match the novel, we can do what everyone I know has been doing: compare it to the three-hour television mini-series produced in 1990.

As a child, the television adaptation was frightening, but so was the Radio City Hall stage version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. (Actually, that’s still a little scary.) For what It was, this version is a decent translation of the novel, albeit constricted by length and television standards (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing). After seeing the film version, however, the mini-series appears tame and dated, not to mention sleep-inducing.

On the big screen, there are changes: the childhood portion of the story (which is the sole setting of this adaptation) is shifted from the 1950s to the 1980s. Initially the change startled and bothered me, but the more I thought about it and continued to watch the film, it just made sense. The 1980s is far more relatable — soundtrack, cultural references, etc. — for a film audience today than the 1950s would be. Reflecting on the novel (and the 1990 miniseries), however, there is one part that the filmmakers chose to leave in (without explanation) that is out of place in the 1980s setting — Bill’s bicycle, Silver. The bicycle plays a key role in the novel, and its name derives from The Lone Rangerwhich is a lost cultural reference point for (I’m guessing) the majority of a film-going audience. In the film, the bicycle is still clearly named Silver, but it is unexplained, and there are no shouts of “Hi ho silver away!”, which is just sad (if only because it brings back memories of Captain Sobel in Band of Brothers). But, I guess that is really nitpicking and would only affect you if you’ve actually read the book.

The biggest change — in my viewing — was the fact that IT takes Beverly down into the sewers, luring the other Losers down there. I don’t remember that happening in the book, and it kind of soured my viewing. The filmmakers did, however, choose to omit that one scene from the book, so maybe this alteration was their way of strengthening the bond between Beverly and the other Losers.

Changes (major and minor) aside, the acting from the child actors is superb and a vast improvement from the miniseries (which, again, was decent). They perfectly convey the terror and trauma of battling IT and the bond of friendship between seven outcasts. Yet, my chief criticism of the film, however, has to do with the portrayal of these children — and whether they are 11 or 14 (or whatever age they are supposed to be in this new version), they are under 18 and so they are CHILDREN.

It is rated R, which doesn’t always mean much. With the graphic violence and horror displayed in It, an R-rating makes sense. Apparently, however, an R-rating gives the filmmakers the freedom to drop the f-bomb in every sentence of dialogue, 90% of which is spoken by these CHILDREN. This kind of vulgarity is not only done in poor taste, it is absolutely unnecessary. Yes, King uses language in his writing. Yes, real people talk like that (…but they don’t exactly sound intelligent or cool doing it, no matter what anyone might make you think). And yes, sadly, there are even some children who know and use this kind of language. But you know what? They don’t come out of the womb talking like that. It is learned behavior, and if they don’t learn it at home (which, sadly, some do), they are going to learn it from media. What an irresponsible and tasteless decision on the part of the filmmakers because the language does nothing to make the film better or more believable.

(I spent months researching and writing a 40-page thesis about the Hays Code and how filmmakers of the 1950s and 1960s made BETTER and more INTELLIGENT and more ARTISTIC films by WORKING AROUND CENSORSHIP LAWS AND NOT SACRIFICING THE STORY, so forgive me if I seem like I’m on a soapbox right now BECAUSE I AM. I have zero tolerance and respect for this kind of lazy, vulgar filmmaking, and the more I think about it, the more I dislike this film version because of it.)

I’m really worked up now. I really didn’t plan for this blog post to take that direction. I actually liked the movie when I was watching it…but I’m having a hard time reconciling that positive feeling with the idea of how lazy and tasteless the amount of language in the film is.

So I will returning to the night I first saw the film: IT scared me. I didn’t want to go home alone. I woke up multiple times in the night and was afraid that there was a dancing clown in the corner of my bedroom, or out in the hallway, or in the–heaven forbid–bathroom. I heard mysterious tapping noises in the kitchen. I was really scared. But then I watched the video for Billy Joel’s “Uptown Girl” for half an hour or more and felt totally fine.

So I guess the point of this blog post turned out to be that Billy Joel actually cures all. Thanks, Billy!  

Survival Isn’t Fair: Dunkirk (Christopher Nolan, 2017)

Oh, my dear, dear followers of The Hand of Count Petofi, time has slipped away from us once again! Yet what is six months when you are a vampire or a werewolf or a severed right hand of a powerful warlock damned from here to eternity? Not long at all, I’d imagine. I was a little busy these past few months planning a wedding and getting married, but that is a novel or two thousand in itself. Returning to reality includes re-committing to writing and this blog, so let’s–in the words of the immortal, wonderful George Michael–GET BACK, HANDS OFF, GO FOR IT!

So I finally saw Dunkirk this week and, to be succinct, I loved it. Absolutely loved it. Yet, my movie-going partner, my new husband, had a lukewarm reaction to the film: he would rather watch Wonder Woman a thousand and one times before watching Dunkirk again. (Oh, Wonder Woman is beautiful, he says, but nowhere near as beautiful as you! Oh, yeah, sure.) No worries, my friends, this is not the first fissure in our brief marriage, and his reaction does not mute mine. What is disconcerting, though, is that there are others like him out there that share this opinion. The main criticism of the film is that it is devoid of palpable emotion and strong, developed characters to which the audience can attach themselves. And this, I believe, is missing the point entirely. For Dunkirk is not about that inexplicable bond found only in combat as in Band of Brothers or the journey of self-discovery each man undergoes while Saving Private RyanDunkirk is, quite simply, about survival. The will to survive is your main character, your driving action, your gripping emotion. Toward the end of the film, two evacuated soldiers are thanked for their service. “All we did was survive,” one of them snipes. “That’s enough,” the man replies.

Dunkirk tells the miraculous story of the evacuation of more than 300,000 Allied troops from the beaches of Dunkirk, where the enemy had forced the troops to retreat. Christopher Nolan tells the story from three different perspectives in a non-linear fashion: one week on land, one day at sea, and one hour in the air. (The confusion this method caused was actually my husband’s chief complaint. He’s, like, so linear. Kinda like a Zebra.) In each story, there is little dialogue, yet there is that will to survive (or, in some instances, the determination to help others survive) and the gnawing suspense: will they make it?

Nolan does not give the characters much to say, much less a background fluffed with reasons why they are fighting or what they are longing to return to back home, and I honestly can’t remember any of their names without looking up the cast list on IMDB (and even then, I have to see the photo in the context of the film unless the actor’s name happens to be Tom Hardy, then I just have to see the photo–for research purposes, of course). Yet the miraculous thing is, to me, it did not matter. I was captivated, from Tommy running to escape a German ambush in the opening scene to Farrier setting his plane on fire and raising his hands in the air, resigned to his fate. I was on the edge of my seat (literally, which my husband found equal parts amusing and adorable), anxious about each character’s fate. I wanted these men to survive. And I didn’t need to know anything about them to feel that way.

Because, as I see it, those men–boys, really–all had a similar story, albeit a different history: none of them really wanted to fight. (“Men my age dictate this war. Why should we be allowed to send our children to fight it?”) Of course they wanted to go home. But they were fighting because they had to. Stephen Ambrose has a great line in one of his books about this exceptional generation of men–how they would have rather been at home, holding a baseball bat instead of a Browning Automatic Rifle, dating, and going to college, but they fought the war, not purely by choice, and they did so with dignity and honor. (I would quote him exactly, but getting married also included moving to a space that does not currently have a separate west wing for all my books, so they remain nine minutes away from my current location.) They did it, and how indelibly grateful the world should be for that.

Dunkirk expresses that without saturating the film with sap: there is heroism in the film, there is fear, there is the reality and complexity of war and you are right there with these boys in the thick of it–yet, it should be noted and applauded, the film refrains from an excessively violent and vulgar portrayal of war. I think I could watch this film a thousand and one times and still be stunned by its technical brilliance, its carefully crafted story, the finest acting, and its riveting and, yes, palpable emotion. And I would still want every man to survive. I, too, would stay. For the French.
dunkirk-screencomment

“We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air. We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches. We shall fight on the landing grounds. We shall fight in the fields and in the streets. We shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender. And even if this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the Old.”   

Grab Bag, Round 3

It was recently brought to my attention that I had not updated this blog since December 6. I am not going to say it has been because I have not had anything to write about, but I really have not felt compelled to write or made the time to write for publication a priority. I am not going to say it has been because I’ve been too preoccupied (not “busy” — too many people are reportedly “busy,” and I am not one of them) becoming 1% fluent in French, devoting a lot of memory space to what cat treats my cats prefer (is this a warning sign for dementia?), and just generally loving my job and life and cats.

Oh, let’s be honest: I have not had anything to write about. And I can hear one of my writing professors tearing this sad, rambling excuse of an introduction apart. Get to the point! Where is there a kernel of truth in this? So sorry….but I really do remember what cat treats I buy my cats and which ones they prefer! Sigh. Without any further ado or anything in particular to write about…Allons-y! 

I’m glad Casey Affleck won the Oscar for Best Actor. Like really, really glad. 

The Oscars are not perfect because in case you have not noticed the world is not a perfect, fair place. Some of my favorite actors have never been awarded Oscars–some unjustly so (cough, cough Montgomery Clift!!!! cough, cough), some understandably so (Cary Grant was just so effortlessly good, everyone despised Robert Redford for being so good-looking and talented, and I need someone to explain why Richard Burton never won one to me actually)–and so it’s easy for me to be dismissive of the award and to say it doesn’t really matter. But at the same time, The Oscars are a recognition of the finest acting and do occasionally get it right. See: Marlon Brando, Daniel Day-Lewis…and, this year’s winner, Casey Affleck.

Affleck’s win is being reported as controversial because of the sexual harassment allegations made against him. I do not know if the allegations are true. I’m not condoning that behavior, but I do know that his acting in Manchester By the Sea is of the highest caliber. I saw this film in the theater in January, and it has been a long time since I have been so moved and utterly captivated by a performance. He inhabits the role so heartbreakingly completely, it really is hard to believe that he is just acting. His character hardly ever cracks, rarely lets us in, yet Affleck did a phenomenal job of making him real. Pure artistry. So he deserved the award. The award is for acting, not being a perfect human being. End of discussion.

(But can we discuss how it is even possible that he is related to Ben Affleck? Really?! Guess who stole all the acting genes?!!)

While we’re on the subject of actors…

This line was read out of a book I purchased recently: “Leonardo DiCaprio is to Titanic what Clark Gable is to Gone with the Wind.” I’ve been thinking about that sentence a lot. It’s a dumb sentence. Of course Leonardo DiCaprio is to Titanic what Clark Gable is to Gone with the Wind: they’re both the lead actors. Unless the sentence is implying that Titanic and Gone with the Wind are somehow in the same class of movies or that Leonardo DiCaprio and Clark Gable are in the same class of actors, which is an ugly can of worms I do not want to open. Hadn’t Leo’s career kind of peaked with Growing Pains?  Luke Brower, man!! Classic.

And while we’re on the subject of Growing Pains

Maybe I stopped updating this blog because 2016 was so darn depressing. (Jimmy Fallon’s assessment of Manchester By the Sea was so spot-on: the only thing more depressing than 2016.) We lost Mrs. Brady, Dr. Jason Seaver, George Martin, David Bowie, Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, and George Michael–on Christmas day, no less–to name a few off the top of my head. Really, when George Michael died, I felt like I’d been knifed. (Quick, which actor told Hedda Hopper the story of his life in one sentence was “I’ve been knifed”? Quick now!) I could not listen to his music for a few days because I just felt so inexplicably sad and his music had always made me happy. I’m over that now–YAY!!–but what a loss. CHOOSE LIFE!

So how was your last Christmas?   

Besides George Michael dying, my Christmas holiday was quite enjoyable. I did not ask for any books for Christmas this year because even though I am a firm believer that you can never really have enough books, my shelf space is trying to challenge that belief. Still, I received two absolutely beautiful books — a stunning annotated edition of Little Women and The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots, a never-before-published story by Beatrix Potter, freshly illustrated by Quentin Blake. I love them both (even though it will probably take me the whole year to fully digest the annotated Little Women)–so much so that I felt compelled to write my first Barnes and Noble review of The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots because apparently, there are people in the world who do not appreciate Quentin Blake’s talent as an illustrator aka people who have no taste. Ugh.

That reminds me of how I used to pollute the internet with my Paul Weller obsession…

And how recently, I watched the Showtime documentary about my almost favorite band aka The Jam, About the Young Idea. It was so great and totally re-awakened my love for all things Paul Weller. Once upon a time, Paul Weller was all I cared about. Like really. He stole my soul, and I’m not 1000% sure that he has given it back, but I have stopped stalking him obsessively. It probably helps that I was banned from Tumblr, my main outlet for expressing my Paul Weller obsession (because hey, no one in my vicinity cares about Paul Weller). But I wasn’t banned for being obsessed with Paul Weller. In fact, I’m pretty sure I was the only person on that website who cared about Paul Weller. I was banned for posting pictures of Morrissey. Yep. Steven Patrick Morrissey. You’re the one for me, fatty–you’re the one I really, really love… We should talk about that song sometime. It’s great.

Anyway.

I’ve been listening to The Jam and The Style Council and Paul Weller a lot lately after not listening to him extensively for a couple years anyway, and I still remember every line, every beat. That’s kind of alarming but also comforting. Is there a study on this phenomenon? I love to listen to The Jam when I am angry or frustrated or just have a lot of energy or am just breathing because I really, really love The Jam. Like, can “Going Underground” be my wedding song? And the public wants what the public gets, 
But I don’t get what this society wants! Paul Weller was–IS–an amazing lyricist, and I don’t know if enough people realize that. That guy could pack so much into just one line. Two lovers missing the tranquility of solitude. The world is your oyster, but your future’s a clam. And oh, who could pick just one line from “Town Called Malice”?

And then there’s The Style Council. Oh, The Style Council. More great lyrics, even better videos with Paul Weller’s often questionable haircuts and lamentable lack of dance moves. Really, that man should never have been without a guitar on stage. I could probably devote an entire blog entry to every Style Council video. But I doubt anyone would want to read that. Or would you?

Anyway, I love Paul Weller. Like a lot. And I just recently have been reminded of how much.

Remember when I told you this was my favorite picture of Paul Weller?

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Yup. Love this guy. He’s actually really talented and sometimes charming.

I still love Ellery Queen.

And I’m still sad there was only one season of the Jim Hutton series. But I still imagine Jim Hutton as Ellery when I read the Ellery Queen novels (which are a lot of fun to read), and I still watch the episodes over and over again, even though I know how they’re going to end. Why? Because Ellery has an expression for every emotion I’m feeling. Take a look…

I come home to find my cat has poop on her butt…again.

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I tell my ten blog readers that I’m going to start posting analysis and discussion of Style Council videos: 

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I see Marlon Brando in a Rolex commercial: 

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I need a sassy comeback, but can only muster a Melville reference: 

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Did I put deodorant on this morning?

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I realize it is 12:30 in the morning; I am always in bed by nine!

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Me currently:

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I told you I didn’t really have anything to write about. Well, didn’t I? All right. That’s all, folks.

 

Gilmore Girls And Those Final Four Words

Please note: Although this post will discuss details of the original Gilmore Girls series and Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, I will be considerate enough to give ample warning of major spoilers. 

When it was announced that Netflix would be producing four new ninety-minute episodes of Gilmore Girls, I was ecstatic. I have watched Gilmore Girls in its entirety so many times that it might actually be part of my DNA. I love the incredibly close relationship between mother-daughter Lorelai and Rory Gilmore, and I love the contrast of that to Lorelai’s own complex relationship with her own parents (who adore Rory and whom Rory adores). I love the quirky, small-town characters. I love the pop culture references. I love that Rory loves to read and write. I love that Lorelai and Rory eat nothing but junk food (as unrealistic as that is) and have movie nights and dance to the Monkees in your underwear nights. As deep-rooted as my love for this show is, then, there was also a great fear that these episodes might be disappointing. Yet, I told myself, it couldn’t be much worse than Season 7, a truly painful experience. The Palladinos, the creators, writers, directors, et al. of the original series, had departed at the end of Season 6, leaving fans to wonder what Season 7 could have/might have/should have been. With their return, Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life would provide us with that answer–as well as the final four words of the series, which creator Amy Sherman-Palladino had envisioned from the start. It just had to be good.

Except it wasn’t. It wasn’t good, it wasn’t funny, it wasn’t worth six hours of my life, and it certainly was not a satisfying end to the series. (And I do hope it’s the end this time because I cannot and do not want to take anymore.) In fact, the original series finale of Season 7 (which the cast and crew did not realize would serve as a series finale until the cancellation of the series was announced months later) was more satisfying and true to the spirit of the original show.

Let’s talk about Season 7 for a quick minute. Everyone criticizes Season 7 for its too obvious pop culture references, poor plot lines, and characters not acting liking themselves. I’d argue that all started in Season 6, particularly the latter half. (Upcoming spoilers if you haven’t watched Season 6 of Gilmore Girls–and you’re not missing all that much.) Here are a few I can think of off the top of my head:

  • Luke has a daughter. Really? Like really? Poor plot line. And then…he’s not gonna tell Lorelai? For months? But OH WAIT, he NEVER actually does tell her. Lorelai walks into the diner unexpectedly and meets his daughter, who tells her she’s Luke’s daughter. Would Luke have EVER told Lorelai? This is guy we’re supposed to root for? No, thank you.
  • Lorelai gives Luke an ultimatum about getting married and when things don’t go her way (oh, no!), she runs to Christopher. OK, I get that. But then…she sleeps with him? But Luke’s the one! Yeah, okay.
  • Rory’s whole trajectory since meeting Logan Huntzberger is awful. He’s awful. Why did she date him so long? Remember when Paris described him as the guy “with the hair, and the chin like he’s the fourth Bee Gee”? Oh Paris, I love you. You rule the world.

So really, with the exception of Lane’s storyline in Season 7, all the other major arcs of Season 7 aren’t the fault of Season 7 staff and writers in my view. They’re just trying to muddle through the mess that was left to them. But I digress. Let’s now focus on THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY of  Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life.

Spoilers ahead for A Year in the Life, but I will provide additional warning when I discuss the last four words and major plot developments relating to it. 

THE GOOD
(Because nothing is really better than good in this show, sadly.)

DEALING WITH GRIEF

Edward Herrmann, who played Richard Gilmore, died in 2014 of cancer. His presence as an actor and his character left a huge hole in the series. Yet, his death (and therefore, the death of his character) brings out the best moments in this revival. (I don’t really like that word. It makes me think of Burt Lancaster of Elmer Gantry…) In this revival (there’s that word again…), only two characters develop or grow significantly–and they do so because of Richard’s death. Emily is completely racked with grief and incapable of dealing with it. Yet, by the end of “Fall” (the final episode in the series), she has dealt with it — by selling her home, terminating her relationship/position with her social circles, notably the DAR (“This is bullshit,” she states repeatedly in an applicant’s interview. Go Emily!), and moving away from her life with Richard to find her own way. Emily was a woman who did everything for her husband–every facet of her life was for him–and now that he’s gone, she has to pave her own way. To watch her do so is immensely satisfying and refreshing.

Similarly satisfying and refreshing is watching Lorelai’s grief reach a resolution. In “Winter,” we learn that she was unable to share a suitable remembrance of her father after his funeral, causing another rift with her mother. Lorelai’s complex relationship with her parents and watching them rarely and momentarily connect and communicate was always one of the most rewarding aspects of the show. And so, when Lorelai makes a heartfelt and emotional phone call to Emily, sharing her favorite memory of her father, it is, without a doubt, the best moment of this new series.

 WHAT’S THE WI-FI PASSWORD?

The world has changed since 2007, and a “NO CELL PHONES” sign is no longer sufficient for Luke’s Diner. This running gag, in which customers ask Luke for the WiFi password and Luke gives a different fabricated, ridiculous response each time, is delightful and 100% Luke Danes. Nice one.

SEEING OLD CHARACTERS AND STARS HOLLOW AGAIN 

 Even when the characters’ presence or interaction with other characters has no substance (see “The Ugly”), and the town’s musical wastes what should be valuable screen time.

PETER KRAUSE AS “PARK RANGER” 

I don’t know if you know, but after Gilmore Girls, Lauren Graham went on to star in the amazingly perfect NBC television series Parenthood, loosely adapted from Ron Howard’s 1989 film. If not, you should watch it because it’s, well, amazing and perfect. Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life features a few appearances from Parenthood alums, including Mae Whitman (Amber Holt), Jason Ritter (Mark Cyr), and, my personal favorite, Peter Krause (Adam Braverman). Who’s got the fever? Krause plays Park Ranger, who denies Lorelai entrance into the Pacific Coast Trail without a permit. How perfect is that? There is literally no way Adam Braverman is ever gonna let anybody through without a permit. I love Peter Krause. Or do I just love Adam Braverman? I can’t tell, but this part was great.

Now it’s time for…

THE BAD
(And I’m being exceptionally kind…)

IT’S LONG, BUT IT DOESN’T DO ANYTHING 

First, it’s six hours with no substance or plot or story to be found, anywhere. As fun as it was to see so many of the characters again, few of them added anything to the story. Paris Gellar rules, and she deserved more. She only shows up to answer the “Why don’t Luke and Lorelai have kids?” question. (And really, seeing where Luke and Lorelai are in their relationship by this point, I literally do not care why they don’t have kids.) There’s also Jess. Oh, Jess. Jess is great, I love Jess (who couldn’t love the artful Dodger?), don’t get me wrong, but he doesn’t add anything to the (non-existent) story or really move the plot along too much versus his return in Season 6, which prompts Rory’s return to Yale. (Well, he does suggest that Rory write a book…maybe I just wanted more Jess.) Of course, his final, longing glance at Rory is CHALKED FULL of meaning and significance.

On the other hand, Rory’s bump-in with Dean provides something resembling closure for the two and also highlights Dean’s significance for Rory–something the original series kind of let slide away. Time for another quick rant: Dean was a great boyfriend for Rory. And once again, the writing is to blame for his character’s flaws. Many believe Jess is Rory’s intellectual equal–which, hey, maybe he is, but don’t forget Logan went to YALE and wasn’t exactly brain dead–but Dean wasn’t always portrayed as so stupid, like he conveniently was once Jess entered the picture to heighten his allure for Rory. Sure, Dean was never gonna go to an Ivy league school and never aspired to, but he did have an interest in books and the world around him. He did urge Rory in Season 1 to read Hunter Thompson. Anyway, I always liked Dean and disliked Rory for the way she treated him in the end. Quick rant over.

Whereas Dean’s appearance is brief and meaningful, The Life and Death Birgade are the uninvited guest who stays ’til the end. Logan Huntzberger and his friends were meant to show Rory the “fun” side of money, whereas her grandparents had been the stuffy, uptight side. I always hated these guys. They were irresponsible, were disgustingly immature, and had no respect for anybody or anything. Ten years later, they haven’t changed one bit. Thirty-something year-old men who are still acting like they’re in college, buying bars in the middle of the night just because they can? Give me a break. And Rory’s whole tearful goodbye with them and how they meant so much to her was absolutely stupid. She should have moved beyond this, but she hasn’t.

DEJA VU 

Even though the show is lacking substance and story, it sure does love to repeat/re-hash story lines/conflicts from the series, particularly the last two seasons. Here’s a quick run-down:

  • The mess that is Luke and Lorelai. Why are they even a couple?
  • The Gilmores wanting Luke to franchise his diner and Luke not wanting to but not actually communicating that. You are not Charles Xavier, Luke.
  • Rory still being rankled by Mitchum Huntzberger. She is so timid and shaken by his appearance, and it is a sad contrast to the girl who sassed him in the elevator after Logan’s graduation.
  • Rory’s aimlessness and irresponsibility, which she already experienced with Logan and his friends during her sabbatical from Yale. I get it–to a degree. It’s a tough, competitive world out there–especially in her chosen profession. But I expect more from Rory. Not that she has to be a senior editor at the New York Times, but I expect more than frolicking with the Life and Death Birgade and showing up to an interview totally unprepared. I was disappointed in Rory (more of that to come) and didn’t see any growth or change in her at all. She was more like end-of-Season 5/early-Season 6 Rory than what I expected 32 year-old Rory to be. She’s got to get over the fact that everything is not going to go her way in life. She’s been spoiled and indulged and told she was smart and beautiful, and she therefore thinks everything should be handed to her. To quote Hall and Oates, I don’t go for that.

LUKE AND LORELAI? NO, THANK YOU. 

I love Luke Danes. I love Lorelai Gilmore. And for a time, I loved Luke and Lorelai as a couple. Yet, with time, I no longer 100% believed that the two belonged together. Still, seeing the two come together again in the original series finale was fine. But to find them having the same conflicts–hiding things from each other, for example–AND not being married after the hissy-fit Lorelai threw in Season 6/7 (Lorelai repeatedly expressed her desire to be married throughout the entire series, whether that was being like her mother or not) is ridiculous and downright unhealthy. I’m now convinced you don’t really belong together. Sorry. How you continue to be in a relationship–and how anyone roots for you–is beyond me. Literally do not get it anymore.

THE UGLY
(…and it is REALLY ugly)

You should stop reading if you do not want to read spoilers related to the last four words. 

STARS HOLLOW: THE MUSICAL

Although the series as a whole was short on story and substance, this segment of the show lasted way, way, WAY too long. In fact, after about five minutes of enduring what can only be described as torture, I fast-forwarded because I was so sick of wasting my time. I’m not even sure how long it lasted, but it was completely unnecessary. Stars Hollow’s quirky characters and town functions are central to the show and its charm, but this was entirely pointless. Not only did we have to experience one song from the musical but all the songs from the musical and we had to cast it, rehearse it, discuss it, and watch Lorelai have an epiphany (being that she needs to go hike the Pacific Coast Trail and find herself) because of it. So stupid, so unbelievable, and such a waste of time.

RORY AS LOGAN’S MISTRESS 

Yes, Rory (who has a clueless boyfriend named Paul that no one, including herself) is Logan’s mistress. Logan is engaged to marry a French heiress, yet he and Rory still “hook up” every time she comes to London. (By the way, how does she afford that? Must be nice.) Apparently, she didn’t learn anything from the whole sleeping-with-married-Dean fiasco, and she now thinks she can do the whole No Strings Attached (great album) relationship–even though she clearly could not do it before. That is so not Rory. It makes zero sense, and it is completely disappointing. You deserve so much better, Rory.

Now…we have to talk about those last four words. STOP–I REPEAT STOP–if you do not know and do not want to know those last four words.

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Rory: Mom?
Lorelai: Yeah?
Rory: I’m pregnant.

I don’t know about you, but I shouted in disbelief and disgust. That is the ending Amy Sherman-Palladino had always envisioned for these two? That is what Chilton and Yale and all those books (why is Rory never reading in these episodes?) and being hit by a deer and all that ambition were for? Don’t misunderstand me: there’s nothing wrong with being pregnant or being a mother. (Granted Rory decides to keep the baby…) I’m just disgusted and disappointed with the way it happened. Logan’s the daddy, obviously. Logan, who’s engaged to another woman, was once described as “Rory’s Christopher” — he is wealthy, reckless, rebellious, immature, but also kind-hearted and somewhat lovable. I just expect more of Rory and want more for Rory.

I understand that it’s supposed to represent everything coming full circle for the Gilmore Girls: Rory paralleling the path of her mother. Remember Rory’s graduation speech at Chilton? “My mother never gave me any idea that I couldn’t do whatever I wanted to do or be whomever I wanted to be. She filled our house with love and fun and books and music, unflagging in her efforts to give me role models from Jane Austen to Eudora Welty to Patti Smith. As she guided me through these incredible eighteen years, I don’t know if she ever realized that the person I most wanted to be was her. Thank you, Mom. You are my guidepost for everything.” And maybe Rory’s journey of having (or, perhaps not having) this baby will lead her to grow and develop as Lorelai did. I just wish it was under different circumstances, i.e. Rory not wasting her time running around with the Life and Death Birgade to the soundtrack of awful Beatles covers.

And it’s just so gimmicky. Ugh.

In conclusion, if you haven’t watched Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life or are contemplating watching it, heed my advice: Don’t. Just enjoy the first few seasons of Gilmore Girls–it was so good. As for watching A Year in the Life: I wish I hadn’t. (How’s that for four final words?)

Put your life in the hands of this rock ‘n’ roll band…

Oasis: Supersonic has it all: writing a certain song in the amount of time it takes six men to eat Chinese take-out, a speechless Liam Gallagher, ambushing a certain member of the band with a fire extinguisher because of his football preferences,a kiss for the camera, smashing a certain individual in the head with a cricket bat, the story of Abel and Cable, whispers of sausages, and much, much more. But how much do you want it?

The documentary, which played in US theaters for one night only (and that night was this past Wednesday, so sorry if you missed it, but no fear–it’s On Demand and iTunes and My Christmas List), focuses on the rise and early, insane success (covering, roughly, 1991-1996) of rock ‘n’ roll band (remember those?) Oasis, culminating in their historic performances at Knebworth Park. Combining audio interviews (no talking heads here) with Noel and Liam Gallagher as well as other band members, friends, family, and crew with live footage, never-before-been-seen-by-fans’-eyes home footage, and delightful animations, the story of this rock ‘n’ roll band and its two battling brothers is endlessly entertaining,  insightful, and surprisingly moving–just as advertised.

At the heart of Oasis, of course, has always been the combative, true love-hate relationship between Noel and Liam Gallagher. Their tension and explosive dynamic drove the band, while also ultimately killing it. In the film, the brothers offer differing explanations for their difficult relationship. According to Liam, Noel still holds a grudge against Liam for drunkenly urinating all over his new stereo; Noel rebuts that Liam has always resented Noel for his songwriting talent and being naturally assumed as the leader and decision-maker of the band. Noel offers perhaps the best explanation about the differences in their personalities: Noel is a cat, moody and valuing independence, while Liam is a dog, attention-driven and requiring constant attention (“play with me, play with me, play with me, throw this ball for me”).

Home video confirms this: in one of my favorite moments, Noel is intently focused at the mixing board in the studio during the recording of (What’s the Story) Morning Glory, and Liam pokes his head through the door, eventually dancing his way through the room, attracting all the attention. Yet, despite all their differences and jealousy, they each acknowledge the other’s strengths (often telepathically, according to Liam)–Liam praising Noel’s talent as a songwriter, Noel declaring Liam “cooler than me” (“There’s not a day go by that I don’t wish I could rock a parka like that man,” he states) and the greatest singer and frontman of his time. And even amidst all the tension and arguments, you can still see the inexplicable love and affection the two have for one another.

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“If this ever goes on video, I would apologize, but I’m not gonna ’cause he’s a PRICK!” Noel Gallagher

Aside from the basic differences in their personalities, however, the film highlights another dissimilarity between the Gallagher brothers: what exactly constitutes a great rock ‘n’ roll band. Noel believes in the power of the music and its fans, while Liam firmly believes that no rock ‘n’ roll band is truly great without the antics–being arrested (or, even better, deported–while en route via a ferry, no less), tearing up hotel rooms (“that’s a lot of work,” notes Noel), taking loads of drugs, and, of course, sex. (Never mind that The Beatles did just fine without this kind of lewd behavior–at least in excess or in public.)

During the group’s first visit to the United States, they appeared at the famous Whiskey A Go Go. Reeling from the effects of crystal meth (also known as ninja speed in some circles), the performance was a shambles: the group members weren’t always playing the same song (Noel apparently had a different set list from everyone else), and Liam may or may not have thrown a tambourine at his older brother. Disgusted by the band’s performance and behavior, Noel briefly left the band, retreating to San Francisco to meet up with a girl he’d met at an Oasis gig. When Noel told her he was leaving the band, she responded, “Well, what else are you going to do?” Lacking an answer, Noel wrote “Talk Tonight” and returned to the group. The dynamic between Noel and the rest of the band, however, had irrevocably changed: it was no longer a sense of “us,” it was now a sense of “me [Noel] and them.”

This revelation is one of the most moving and honest in the film. The Gallagher brothers have always been unabashedly honest, but their honesty throughout Supersonic is often startling. For example, the band’s first drummer, Tony McCarroll, has repeatedly been portrayed as incompetent and dim-witted in the band’s history. The Gallaghers (and others as well) concede their cruel treatment of McCarroll in Supersonic. “Whatever he [McCaroll] says is probably true,” Noel admits.

Noel similarly crushes the myth that the band suddenly became cohesive, successful, and talented once he became part of the picture. The band struggled to be noticed–until fate stepped in and the band tagged along to play at a gig in Glasglow with the band of Alan McGee’s ex-girlfriend. “There were seven people in the room, and he was two of them,” Noel later explained. McGee fell in love with the group on the spot and asked if they wanted a record deal. Wa-hey!  

Except there was no celebratory mood of “we’ve made it!” on the ride back home that evening, and the band struggled to record their first album (recorded on two separate occasions and finally successfully mixed by Owen Morris as a seemingly last-ditch effort–“Do whatever you want [with the tapes],” Mark Coyle instructed him). Yet, when fans sang along to the nonsensical lyrics of “Supersonic” on the day of its release at a gig, Noel began to realize the power of the band and its fans.

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Witnessing Noel’s haircut during his days as an Inspiral Carpets roadie on the big screen alone was worth the price of admission. More of this, please.

Despite the band’s arrogance, Noel, in one of the film’s most touching moments, attributes the dominance of Oasis to the group’s fans. Just as he did not realize he wanted to be in a band until he heard his songs being played back to him by his bandmates (his aspiration, up until that point, had been to simply keep his job as a roadie for the Inspiral Carpets–and, hopefully, get a new haircut), he similarly did not realize the power of his songwriting until hearing countless fans singing “I know a girl called Elsa/She’s into Alka-Seltzer/She sniffs it through a cane on a supersonic train” (…seriously, what?) along with his cocky younger brother. Oasis played to a record-breaking crowd of 250,000 during their two-night performance at Knebworth Park; however, Noel declares, that was not because of anything the band had ever done. It was because of the 2.6 million people who applied for tickets; it was the fans.

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Oasis, 1994: Tony McCarroll, Bonehead, Noel, Liam, and Guigsy (who is stoned through 98% of the film, suffering from nervous exhaustion the other 2%).

Yet Oasis is a truly unique phenomenon that will likely never be repeated. Cocksure and controversial, the Gallagher brothers were the most forceful rock ‘n’ roll stars the music world had seen for quite some time (maybe ever)–and hasn’t seen since. They were a group of homely (except for Noel and Liam, who was truly beautiful–and knew it), average musicians (no virtuosos ’round here) from a council estate who gained a record deal by fate, destiny, foreordination, whatever you want to call it. They produced the fastest-selling debut album (up to that point) and the second-fastest-selling album in U.K. history back-to-back, and their incredible songs, as Noel predicted, have (thusfar) lived forever.

Yet, the scale of their success is somewhat lost to our culture, partly because we have nothing to compare it to. When is the last time an individual (never mind, two of them) said exactly what s/he thought (even if it was as unfortunate as “Taking drugs is like getting up and having a cup of tea in the morning”)? When is the last time hundreds of thousands of people gathered to hear a single group perform–and they were actually focused on being a part of the experience instead of being apart from the experience by seeing it through their cell phone camera? No, as Noel states in the film, we live in a celebrity-driven, social media-crazed, self-absorbed culture. The internet is our global village, not the park of an English village with a population not even totaling 5,000. We take images of ourselves, not the world around us. And, Noel ponders in the documentary’s final moments,what does that mean for our history?

Supersonic reminds us of how much Oasis meant (and means) to so many people and what a cultural loss we are currently suffering through. Its only downfall is that it concludes with the historic concerts at Knebworth. Oasis should have disappeared into a puff of smoke at that point, Noel affirms, and Bonehead agrees. (The band instead continued, with various lineups, for 13 more years.) Liam disagrees, arguing that just because you’ve reached a peak and are likely to not go any higher doesn’t mean you just stop and give up. I’m not sure who has the stronger argument, but I do know I still miss this group of arrogant, disruptive, not-the-best-looking group where the whole was greater than the sum of its parts, exemplified by thousands of fans, not the lead singer, singing the chorus of one of their best-loved songs. So maybe Liam was right–you shouldn’t just stop and give up. At least not today.