I went to see Mugen Train – Demon Slayer the other day. I went in blind, having only looked at the blurb. Biggest hit since Spirited Away, a high watermark of the art form, etc. Since it was also in the arthouse cinema, I assumed it would be a self-contained thing. Boy, was I wrong. It’s a bridge of season 1 and 2 of an anime show. After a brief opening scene, it just sort of starts, or picks up, I guess, from the show. There’s a ton of convoluted background story and terms impossible to comprehend if you just walked in off the street. Like me. The animation was praised too, but I wasn’t that blown away by it. There was some cool stuff, of course, but the parts didn’t always work together as well as they could have, I thought.
T2 is not the seismic event the first Trainspotting was, nor could it hope to be. And that’s fine. Trainspotting was the cusp of adulthood and T2 is early middle age; where there was boundless energy, there’s now also a slight weariness that comes with age and a sense of melancholy. When Veronica points out (in Bulgarian) that Renton and Sick Boy live in the past, it’s a knowingly meta comment that somehow doesn’t grind the proceedings to a halt. A rare sequel that’s both fine and worthy.
You Must Remember This: Gossip Girls ➜
Karina Longworth’s podcast You Must Remember This is one of my favorites. For anyone interested in Hollywood history, it’s obligatory. The first episode of the new season, Gossip Girls, about Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons, is out today.
This season on You Must Remember This, we’re going to go back about a hundred years, to the very beginning of the idea of going “behind the scenes,” to talk about the two powerful women who invented and dominated Hollywood gossip as it was known in the 20th century: Louella Parsons and Hedda Hopper. Parsons and Hopper were both self-made women, single moms from middle America who shattered the glass ceiling; they were also small-minded, self-obsessed bigots who used their power to persecute outsiders, police sexuality, and ensure that the rich, powerful people who made movies lived in fear.
Sounds pretty great.
Watched the delightful Cranford with the missus, then its follow-up Return to Cranford. It was so bad. Critics seem to think it an improvement on the first series, and I just don’t get it. I think it must be a variation on the Phantom Menace effect, where the viewers try to delude themselves into thinking it wasn’t an overwhelming disappointment.
Another week, another single I like.
It’s probably safe to call me a film geek, and most years, I have seen at least some of the movies nominated at the Academy Awards. This year, though, I didn’t even know the show was on until someone mentioned Anthony Hopkins won best male actor. I suppose it’s the combination of kids and Covid. Or maybe it’s just me getting older.
The Super League's Own Goal ➜
I’m not a big soccer guy, but I understand why the Super League is enraging the fans. Phil of All That is Solid explains why it might also be a bad move for the owners:
Winning and losing have consequences: trophies and titles are always aspirational, but the struggle to maintain one’s standing in the rankings is the meat and gravy of football. Games might always be games, but it’s the stakes invested in them that matter, which probably helps explain why friendly matches never generate as much of a buzz. The super league might have its own title, but there is no price for failure. Coming at the bottom of the league does not mean relegation, nor are there any routes into the league. It is entirely closed up, a hermetically sealed panic room insulating self-styled elite clubs from the competition. This is nothing other than an attempt at an oligopoly.
The top clubs are owned by hyper capitalists and venture funds, so the fix is likely already in. But wouldn’t it be sort of nice if everyone said “enough’s enough” and just watched some other league?
Update: Looks like I was too cynical and that the whole thing collapsed after barely 48 hours. That said, I think something like this will still happen, but they’ll ned to be more circumspect about it.