(UN)POPULAR CULTURE

The home of writer & author A. J. BLACK

Welcome to October! Because there’s not enough useless information floating around on the internet, I thought I would update readers of this blog as to what I’ve watched/read over the previous month, each month, in the form of TV, movies and books.

Some of this I will have reviewed on the blog but others I’ve just been watching for enjoyment with Mrs Black. This edition covers September which, well… ended up being quite a difficult month for several personal reasons, which means we’ve both digested far less than we normally would have. So this may be a shorter piece this time around!

Let’s start this month with Film *and* TV…

FILM / TV

I’m badging these together this time around because we’ve had a *very* slim month for TV, for some of the reasons outlined above. I tend to watch more telly with Mrs Black than alone and all we have really watched is… Mindhunter.

I got five episodes into this back in 2017 before I fell away into the minefield of other media, so we have gone back from the beginning and just finished the Charles Manson episode, mid-S2. Its rapidly becoming a modern favourite of mine, replete with confident storytelling that over these two seasons has evolved. Anna Torv’s starchy psychologist is a bit dull but she’s a rare weak link in a quality heir to Hannibal, Zodiac and The X-Files.

This month I’ve digested far more in the way of cinema.

I was pretty thrilled to get hold of a new BluRay of Peter Yates’ 1963 debut, the underrated and super cheesy British musical Summer Holiday, which has been a favourite since childhood – singing along to that was a joy! Speaking of Blurays – Eureka Entertainment released a cracker in Fred Zinnemann’s 1952 classic Western, High Noon. What a disc! Packed with extras. Absolutely one of their strongest re-releases and well worth picking up.

It was more of a mixed bag in cinematic terms. Rambo: Last Blood turned out to be a pretty rubbish right-wing American vengeance fantasy, though James Gray’s Ad Astra starring Brad Pitt was a gorgeous, if somewhat derivative mediative space fantasy with weighty themes was much more enjoyable.

Beyond that, I managed to take in a few cool film events this month. The Empire Strikes Back live in concert at the glorious Royal Albert Hall and at the BFI for James Bond Day, 50th and 40th anniversary screenings respectively of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and Moonraker, both of which were ace. Majesty’s even had an in-person Q&A between David Walliams and one-time Bond himself, George Lazenby. A great couple of cinematic trips.

BOOKS

So I’m increasingly unlikely to hit my target of 100 books this year but I am about to clear my 50th, thanks to a couple of mammoth reads this month.

It took me a good couple of weeks but I ploughed through Stephen King’s It, ostensibly to watch Chapter 2 of the movie adaptation (which I didn’t then get to). A great book for about 800 of its mammoth 1200 pages before it becomes an almighty slog toward the end. Ditto Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, which I ploughed into to try and read before the movie (which again I didn’t get to!). Two celebrated books, both with enormous amounts to recommend, which end up swamped in their own minutiae.

Those are the two that have kept me busy for much of September!

PODCASTS

Another fairly light month for released podcasts, and indeed recorded ones. The biggest was the launch of my latest new We Made This venture, Motion Pictures, with my friend Carl Sweeney – we started discussing Geriatric Action Cinema to tie in with Rambo. This looks set to be a hugely fun podcast endeavour.

Have a great October, folks!

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