Maybe it’s the clean slate of a new year, but for me January has been a really good month. And that includes the things I was watching, listening to, and reading. Here’s a look at some of my favourite things from the past month.
Album: Assume Form by James Blake
If there’s one thing I’ve been obsessed with this month, it’s the new album by James Blake, which came out on January 18. Even though it’s only been out for a couple weeks, I’ve been playing it constantly. I don’t usually listen to albums over and over again in a short period of time, but there is something so relaxing about this album. Blake has really grown as a songwriter and the most straightforward approach of Assume Form suits him beautifully. There’s no way this doesn’t end up being my favourite album of the year.
All things Lost City of Z
I caught a 35mm screening of James Gray’s The Lost City of Z in January, and MAN this thing blew me away. The movie had gotten a fair bit of praise when it came out in theatres last year, but I just couldn’t muster up enough excitement to watch it until now. But it’s exquisite, compelling, beautiful… All the complimentary adjectives. And while I’m usually not super tuned into the subtleties of film vs. digital, it looked amazing on 35mm. I also loved the Christopher Spelman score, and have found myself listening to it quite a bit in the weeks since. And just to cement my status as full-blown fangirl, I also have the Mark Grann audiobook queued up and waiting for me on Scribd.
Book: Bad Blood by John Carreyrou
My favourite read of the month was John Carreyrou’s nonfiction book from just last year, Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup. It tells the story of Theranos, a biotech startup that claimed they found a way to test for a multitude of diseases using just a single drop of blood from the patient. Too bad the technology was bogus and their tests didn’t work. Carreyrou gives a detailed but extremely readable account of everything that went down when Theranos soldiered on and decided to pretend nothing was wrong. It’s a fascinating tale of how ambition and greed can bring out the worst in people, and it’s also just a highly entertaining read. Even if you don’t typically enjoy nonfiction, I think most people would find something to like with this.
At the Cinema: The Yards (plus James Gray)
Yes, we’re back to James Gray. Along with The Lost City of Z, I also caught a 35mm screening of The Yards (which I’d also never seen), including a post-film Q&A with Gray himself. Gray proved to be an incisive, hilarious, and sassy guest. (He also accompanies every one of his anecdotes with an impression of the person he’s talking about.) It was definitely a treat. Previously, the only Gray films I’d seen were Two Lovers and The Immigrant, which both got a bit of a shrug from me, but I guess I now have to consider myself a convert. Patiently awaiting Ad Astra.
At the Cinema: The Sixth Sense
This was a rewatch for me, but my first time seeing it on the big screen and only my second viewing. It of course plays completely differently on rewatch, but is a blast in its own right as you notice all the things you missed the first time around. Also fun was the fact that someone in the group I went with had never seen the film before, and miraculously made it to 2019 without having the twist spoiled.
Top 5 first-time watches of January
- The Lost City of Z (2017)
- Our Little Sister (2016)
- The Yards (2000)
- Stagecoach (1939)
- Beau Travail (1999)