Monday 8 January 2024

Midnight Mass mini-review

Midnight Mass is dark, brooding, contemplative and fabulous. It's a slow burn show that dives deep into how people see what they want to see; how we are all in peril of grafting our desperate wants and desires onto pre-existing moral structures to justify them. 

More specifically, it's about how faith and God can be twisted into thought-pretzels and then used to justify heinous crimes. As the perpetrators descend into darkness, they don't even realize their moral compass has been inverted. They cling to a warped version of faith like a drowning person to a straw until the illusion can no longer be maintained.

Want and need are incredibly powerful perception filters, ones that can lead even the well meaning astray.

Midnight Mass builds well, laying out clues as it goes; you can see the twists coming, but they are so expertly built up, the reveals still have impact, like when we see the roller coaster drop coming: it builds anticipation, rather than being anti-climactic. 

It's not easily bucketed as a horror genre flick: those elements exist primarily to explore larger, weightier themes. More of a horror-drama-mood piece.

Unlike The Boy and the Heron, this limited series spoke to me, and the performances are absolutely top notch across the board. The journey of the priest was particularly fascinating, and Hamish Linklater puts in a superlative performance as Father Paul Hill. It's wonderful, full of nuance and pathos. 

When the show concluded, I still had questions about what the priest believed at various points during the series, or if he knew from the very beginning. 

I suspect the good reverend knew from the start.

He just wanted what he wanted so, so much, he couldn't be honest, not even to himself. 

Highly recommended. 

Watch knowing as little as possible. 

Sunday 7 January 2024

The Boy and the Heron

boy and heron poster

A new Miyazaki film! 

I was looking forward to this. 

Like Godzilla Minus One, The Boy and the Heron is set during the waning days of WWII, and follows the story of a young boy in the aftermath of his mother's death during an Allied air raid. He then slips away into an alternate universe dominated by giant militaristic budgies, passes through various Narnia-style gateways, runs into a younger version of one of his 'nannies' (one of the house keeping staff? A relative? I wasn't sure), and is guided about by an obnoxious Heron with a big warty-nosed dwarf inside it. 

Ultimately, he must take on the role as Supreme Storyteller from Loki to save the universe from destruction.

Or something. 

Honestly, this one didn't engage me.

I usually find a metaphor or theme that resonates, that I can connect to, in a Miyazaki film, but not this time. A boy dealing with the death of his mother is understandable, yet that storyline didn't play out in any intelligible way for me, nor was I inspired to analyze it over a piece of pie afterward, as Quentin Tarantino might.

I'll just leave this one for brighter souls than I. 

Like The Creator, though, it does look fabulous!

Friday 5 January 2024

Genocide in Gaza(?)

I don't always agree with John Mearsheimer, but he's well informed, smart, and always thought provoking.

On January 4th, he put up an article on his substack about the South African application with the International Court of Justice accusing Israel of genocide against the Palestinians in Gaza: 

“The application is a superb description of what Israel is doing in Gaza. It is comprehensive, well-written, well-argued, and thoroughly documented...

“...the application provides a substantial body of evidence showing that Israeli leaders have genocidal intent toward the Palestinians. (59-69) Indeed, the comments of Israeli leaders – all scrupulously documented – are shocking. One is reminded of how the Nazis talked about dealing with Jews when reading how Israelis in “positions of the highest responsibility” talk about dealing with the Palestinians. (59) In essence, the document argues that Israel’s actions in Gaza, combined with its leaders’ statements of intent, make it clear that Israeli policy is “calculated to bring about the physical destruction of Palestinians in Gaza.”

“...there is little doubt that the Biden administration is complicitous in Israel’s genocide, which is also a punishable act according to the Genocide Convention... I never imagined I would see the day when Israel, a country filled with Holocaust survivors and their descendants, would face a serious charge of genocide.”

Deeply disturbing stuff.