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w/e 2024-02-04

I’ve only driven short distances – up to four miles at a time – in the Renault Zoe this week but no more motion sickness yet. Its automatic + EV nature is still miraculous: the smoothness, the (relative) quietness, the (relative) ease of driving. With the caveat that I’ve only been driving on familiar country roads, with little traffic, I find myself actually enjoying it. There’s still the usual underlying terror of embarrassing myself while attempting a simple manoeuvre, or of being involved in a horrific life-changing or -ending accident… but otherwise, pleasant!

§ This week we finished watching season one of This is Us. The only time I’ve ever previously heard of it was in an acting class a few years ago when a couple were working on a scene from it, and it turned out half the class were huge fans. I’ve never noticed it before or since.

I guess it’s a network (NBC) show and not especially cool or ground-breaking… but I really liked it. It does frequently layer on the emotion and sentimentality, with a deep catalogue of acoustic guitar folk singers queuing up on the soundtrack. But, as Tim Dowling put in his review of the first few(?) episodes:

Yes, This Is Us is wilfully saccharine, enough to make your fillings sing in places, and yes, it employs the time-honoured trick of undercutting all that syrupy sweetness with loads of clever, dense, hard-boiled dialogue, so that everyone ends up speaking in paragraphs. But it pulls off that trick very well, and that’s not easy.

There are some great performances and it’s honestly been a nice change to watch a show in which all the drama is about fairly normal human relationships, rather than murder, crime, evil galactic empires, etc.

Also – and bear in mind that I usually find flashbacks a pointless attempt by shows to make a simple story appear more complex than it is – its structure is one of its strongest points. It’s constantly flitting back and forth between two timelines, the past and present, and to different points within the past. And it works really, really well. Especially when you see flashbacks for the second time, having learned more about the characters, and with extra context for the scene.

We’re having a break from the sentimentality for a bit, but will be back for season two at some point.

§ We watched two films on telly this week:

  • Sound of Metal (Darius Marder, 2019) which was brilliant. I’d heard it was good but it was even better than I expected. Excellent performance from Riz Ahmed and the whole things was really affecting. On iPlayer at the moment, UK licence-fee payers.
  • Red Rocket (Sean Baker, 2021) which was good. Ambles along with a good performance by Simon Rex as a porn star returning home from LA. It reminded me of The Florida Project and only later I realised that was the same director. On Netflix.

§ That’s not a lot to show for a week, but that’s all I’ve got.

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