“The Avengers…what is that? Is that a band? Are you in a band?”

While I forgot about TIFF entirely this year, I did manage to squeak in a few films this month. Nothing earth-shattering, but entertaining.

  • Spider-Man: No Way Home (imdb | rotten tomatoes) was the expected rollick from this installment of the Spider-Man franchise. I’d waited long enough to see it that I already knew the big twist of this one, but it was exciting to see nonetheless.
  • Sleeping With Other People (imdb | rotten tomatoes) was a romantic comedy that came out of nowhere. A weird one too — clever, and also at times a bit more serious than you might expect.
  • Tammy (imdb | rotten tomatoes) wasn’t the best Melissa McCarthy movie, but even a lesser such film is still pretty funny. Susan Sarandon was an expected addition to the cast too.
  • Top Gun: Maverick (imdb | rotten tomatoes) was what I expected, but frankly quite a bit more. It could have been flashy garbage. It was certainly flashy, and a cheeky nod to the original (Iceman! Penny Benjamin!) but the ludicrous action was at least enticing.
  • The Good Nurse (imdb | rotten tomatoes) wasn’t one I’d heard about despite the star power involved (Jessica Chastain, Eddie Redmayne) but ended up being a well-done telling of a horrifying true story.

Dawn, Her Dad & the Tractor

Earlier today I watched a movie I’ve seen constantly in the PVR guide of late, but not watched: Dawn, Her Dad & the Tractor (imdb | rotten tomatoes). Some thoughts:

  • I could tell from the opening scene (the Halifax waterfront) that it was shot in Nova Scotia. Right away it moved to the countryside, what looked to me like the Annapolis Valley.
  • The acting was a little stilted. Felt like a low-budget Canadian movie…which it was, I suppose.
  • I’m sure she’s acted in multiple things, but the only thing I recognized the actor who played Tammy (classic NS name, BTW) from is RBC commercials.
  • I was trying to figure out who played the dad and suddenly realized it was the guy who played Ricky from Trailer Park Boys. Wasn’t easy to make that transition, but I got there.
  • My dad still has a tractor kind of like that one…a Farmall though, not a Ford 4000.
  • MANY mentions of 4-H, which took me straight back to my childhood.

It was a cute & moving little story, but to me — and I admit I’m biased here — the real star was the gorgeous Valley scenery. It was countryside I just drove through in August for pretty much the first time, and the pastoral green tucked between the hills, with the Minas Basin a stone’s throw away, and it felt like a whole other country. I miss it.

Post-Crime Redstone

Brother #2 and his wife were in town this past week-ish. We’ve had quite a good time, even if it went by really quickly!

Tuesday

Flight delays held up their arrival, but we had some lunch and enjoyed the backyard before walking down the street to Reid’s Distillery for a drink. (I had the afternoon off.) Later we had dinner outside on the patio at The Roy.

Wednesday

Since I had the morning off, we just took it easy before heading to White Lily for lunch — both brothers have now had the pastrami sandwich. We went back to the house where Lindsay and I worked for the afternoon, and they went to pick up their daughter for a visit. Once they were all back in town we ordered BBQ from Beach Hill Smokehouse, which has quickly become our favourite.

Thursday

I was in the office all day (and had a brutal commute home) but our three guests entertained themselves in the city. By the time I got home we needed a bit of leftover BBQ to tide us over, but later that night we ordered Maker Pizza so they could sample the garlic fingers. (Verdict: not bad.) We shut down the night with a bit of Mario Kart.

Friday

I went to the office in the morning, but came back for the afternoon. After work we went to see Thor: Love And Thunder (imdb | rotten tomatoes) which was not great, but was entertaining enough for a Friday night. After that they drove the kid back home while we ate some roti and caught up on Drag Race.

Saturday

The four of us were out the door by ten, aiming to get down to Niagara in good time. Unfortunately, traffic and an ill-fated coffee stop put us behind schedule, and we didn’t get to Leaning Post until noon. Still, we had a great time tasting outdoors on their patio, and left with quite a few bottles.

We had lunch down the road at Redstone, and once we got situated in a table where we wouldn’t cook, we enjoyed ourselves immensely. Collectively here’s what we had:

  • Cured Pacific Salmon w/ Cucumber, Green Goddess, Dill
  • Sweet Pea Cavatelli w/ Smoked Ham Hock, Egg Yolk, Breadcrumb
  • Meat Pizza w/ ‘Nduja, Soppressata, Pepperoni, Spicy Cacciatore, Mozzerella, Arugula
  • Fogo Island Cod & Chips w/ Celeriac Remoulade, Tartar Sauce, Hand-Cut Fries
  • Pan-Fried Pork Schnitzel w/ Mustard Spaetzle, Fried Caper, Crème Fraîche, Dijon
  • Various cocktails, ciders, and wines

We realized we were running out of time, so we only visited one more winery: Organized Crime. I hadn’t been there in ten years, and it’s really changed a lot. The chairs and tables on the front lawn — with a gorgeous view — were all either full or directly in the sun (and it was too hot for that shit) so we tasted under cover near the house. We left with several more bottles, and began the trek back to Toronto. Traffic was bad, but just usual-bad, so…not that bad.

We relaxed/napped for a bit, then went to dinner at Ascari Enoteca. We were sat indoors, which normally I wouldn’t want, but yesterday? Give me that air conditioning. Anyway, our meals were great:

  • marinated olives
  • broccolini fritti w/ tuscan battered broccolini, lemon zest, pecorino romano
    • 2020 Agricola Molino Sibillia Arneis
  • pea and mascarpone filled hand made agnolotti di piselli w/ mushrooms, crispy chicken skin, pea tendrils, butter sauce
  • three of us had the linguine special with octopus and ‘nduja and caper breadcrumbs, and it was on the whiteboard not the website so I don’t remember much more than that
    • 2015 Tenuta Di Nozzole Chianti Classico Riserva
  • desserts of rhubarb tart, lemon sorbetto w/ melon, port, and late harvest semillon

By the time we finished that we didn’t have much left in us but to walk home and enjoy the evening with a bottle of Piquette from Leaning Post.

Sunday

We dragged ourselves up and out of the bed for coffee and a trip to the Leslieville Farmer’s Market. We hadn’t been in quite a while (and obviously they’d never been) so it was nice to walk around, check out the vendors, drink some fresh juice, pick up some flowers and fruit and bread and a bottle of wine from our Leaning Post friends, and head home. Having a car certainly made it an easier situation to wrangle than last time when we were crashing into an Uber with too many bags.

We ate a lunch comprised of market finds, and they took off to spend more parent-daughter time before leaving tomorrow.

Like I said, it felt too short, It’ll be good to get back to NS next month and pick up where we left off.

The second symphony

Near the beginning of the pandemic I backed a new kickstarter project by someone I’ve followed on Twitter for quite a while named Matt Brown. I used to listen to mamo, a podcast he co-hosted. I know he lives in Toronto, maybe even roughly the same area as me. I know we’ve traded tweets a few times. I know he works for TIFF. He’s in that sphere of people I feel like I know, but we wouldn’t recognize each other on the street. Or he wouldn’t recognize me, certainly.

Anyway, he launched a kickstarter to self-publish a collection of essays about Mad Max: Fury Road, a movie I very very much liked. I backed it, and the book arrived in the fall of 2020. Because I’ve been sucking so hard at reading I left it in my living room, not in the study with the rest of the books, a victim of my best intentions to read it “next” despite my throughput being zero.

But this year, with my love of reading feeling renewed — I’ve now finished two books in three weeks, as many as I’ve read in the past two years combined — I’ve read Brown’s book The Cinema Of Survival this week and really liked it. You can read reviews and buy it here, or buy it non-Amazonly here.

[A side note: I’ve never really embraced Goodreads, but it made me think of an earlier book-sharing site which Amazon bought and folded into Goodreads called Shelfari. I don’t know why it popped back into my head, but it did.]

.:.

Cover photo from the kickstarter page

Somm

A few years ago, on a flight to London (which seems as exotic as a rocket ride to the moon now) I watched the third installment in a documentary series, called Somm 3 (imdb | rotten tomatoes). It didn’t seem to matter much that it was out of order.

Earlier this week I finally got around to watching the first installment, Somm (imdb | rotten tomatoes). Some of the faces were familiar as they appear in the third documentary, but other than that it was an interesting, and nerve-wracking, journey on the obsessive torture tour that is the Court of Master Sommeliers exam. Good god. I’m hoping the second one, Somm: Into The Bottle (imdb | rotten tomatoes), is a little less harrowing.

Also: while I’m fascinated by the wine subject matter, it’s been rather difficult to watch — many allegations of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and rape have been levelled at members of the court since the documentaries came out, and several characters featured in one or more of the docs were expelled. One looms very large over the whole series: Fred Dame, who the candidates revered as some sort of god and who sat at a place of honour with Jancis Robinson and the late Stephen Spurrier in the third episode. Judging by the filmmakers’ instagram account another installment in the series is coming; I hope it addresses the toxicity in which these compelling stories were unfolding.

“You British don’t have a monopoly on snobbery, you know.” “Well, not a monopoly. More of a controlling interest.”

It seems that all my outings last week led to me getting sick. Not with COVID, but with the bug that appears to be going round. I took most of Tuesday and Wednesday off this week, which means I’m even further behind on…well, everything than I was before.

I did manage to watch a couple of movies while sick, like Tenet (imdb | rotten tomatoes), The Mauritanian (imdb | rotten tomatoes), and The Power Of The Dog (imdb | rotten tomatoes). Apparently I had a real hankering for Benedict Cumberbatch.

“I’ve never been so scared in my entire life. And I was in an elevator with Saddam Hussein.”

Somewhere, hither and thither, I’ve snuck in watching a few movies over the last (checks notes) eight months.

All were a little better than I expected (and four of the five have virtually the same RT score) even Greenland, which I really expected to be garbage that just played in the background. I do love a good disaster movie though.

“Money is an iron. Those creases all get smoothed out by money.”

After a tough work week (though, admittedly, my vacation day on Friday was super-relaxed) we decided to watch a movie after dinner. We could have gone with something light and fluffy, but instead finally watched Parasite (imdb | rotten tomatoes).

The best-picture Oscar was deserved, in my opinion. So good, so thoughtful, so richly-shot. Such incredible imagery: Ki-Jung smoking calmly, feet tucked up on the toilet exploding beneath her, stairs which almost served as a character. It was funny, biting, deep, well-acted, sad, important.

Highly recommended, as if you needed me to tell you that.

NAS

As I type this I’m waiting for my new Synology DS220+ Network Access Storage device to set itself up. Of course I named it Illmatic.

I’m excited to get all my old media loaded onto it and install Plex, so I’m not constantly swapping files onto backup & media drives. I’m also excited that Lindsay will have a place to back things up, finally. 😐

Let the final phase of this bullshit year begin

I’m on vacation now, more or less. While I might work a bit more between now and 2021, I’m pretty much shut down.

We obviously couldn’t go home to NS this year, but we have a bit of NS here — my niece is staying with us for a couple of weeks. We picked her up from school today, and have hunkered down. There’ll probably be some Pandemic tonight.

I’ve set up our new Samsung QLED TV. I’d made Lindsay watch Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back, so now we’re watching Jedi. I plan to binge season 2 of The Mandalorian as soon as possible. That is all the planning I, uh, plan to do in 2020.