November 2018 Media Consumption

MOVIES:

  • Anchorman - Adam McKay (REWATCH)

  • The Ballad of Buster Scruggs - Joel & Ethan Coen

  • Ran - Akira Kurosawa

  • Yellow Submarine - George Dunning

  • RBG - Betsy West, Julie Cohen

  • Widows - Steve McQueen

  • The Ballad of Buster Scruggs - Joel & Ethan Coen (REWATCH)

TV:

  • Fargo (Season 2) 4x

BOOKS:

  • The Trial - Franz Kafka

  • Kiss Me Like A Stranger: My Search for Love and Art - Gene Wilder

  • David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants - Malcolm Gladwell

 

A Sense of Community

I’ve been neglecting these more introspective postings for a while. Namely because it’s unclear to me if anyone reads them. I like to imagine there is someone out there who might.

To be alive today involves a constant negotiation with the superficial appearance of any given moment. Twitter replies, IG stories, news feeds, etc. To participate in the narrative of events, you must devote your attention to these ephemeral moments of pride, outrage and disgust. Most interactions with close friends seem to boil back down to this narrative at play, blurring the lines of distinction to whether independent ideas can still be tangible. If the human race was a television show, the ratings would be at an all-time high. We navel-gaze at our own follies and/or fortunes. We’re capable of being dramatic, hilarious, complex, disgusting, ill-fated - and watching it all unravel is wildly addictive.

We can set limits on how much access we will allow ourselves to use these services but it might only deepen the craving for what becomes forbidden. We love to hear ourselves complain much more than we do trying to devise a solution.

And if we’re making broad generalizations, Americans love to gripe about rising tax rates as if it’s an imposition of Satanic forces leeching off of their hard-earned livelihoods. To some, lower taxes means more money to spend freely as an individual, and therefore mitigating excess spending by a large inefficient government. I understand the intention. While that’s all good and well, we Americans still pay some amount of money to Uncle Sam. Taxes still exist. And right now, I don’t feel good about where any of my tax dollars are going. Try spending a day in one of your community’s underfunded public schools (I’ll bet there’s more than one option near you to choose from) and ask yourself if your tax dollars are being put to good use. Yet, a majority of us seem to accept these failures to innovate our most critical institutions as collateral damage that comes with the times; nothing to do about it. Call your senators. Donate money to the ACLU. Go to rallies. Post an impassioned couple hundred words on your Instagram. Then what? Do you see people taking the streets decrying “taxation without representation"?

This is where I bow out. I so no clear path to a solution for our deeply disabled society when all anyone can do is yell at one another. I’ve been to my share of rallies and believe that change is possible. But I’m pressing pause on cosigning with any organization claiming to represent my best interests. The only feelings of hope and positive energy that I’ve ever experienced came via tight-knit communities of people who care enough to show a little empathy to one another. Tribes. We don’t have to agree about everything, but we can at least understand our mutual respect for why we choose to coexist in a given circumstance.

In the past few months, I’ve felt so beaten down by the onslaught of information forced upon me, I’ve been hesitant to write much of anything. Especially anything with a real point-of-view. I’ve made things, but I’ve felt unable to truly buckle myself into the driver’s seat like I have been able to in the past. I aim to seek these places where a tribe mentality can still thrive and create opportunity for progressive thought. If you know of any, please send them to Jordan@jordanharo.net

October 2018 Media Consumption

MOVIES:

  • Lawrence of Arabia - David Lean

  • History of The Eagles - Alison Ellwood

  • 22 July - Paul Greengrass

  • When Harry Met Sally - Rob Reiner

  • In The Mood For Love - Wong Kar-wai

  • House of 1000 Corpses - Rob Zombie

  • The Brood - David Cronenberg

TV:

  • The Americans (Season 5) 4x

  • The House on Haunted Hill (Season 1) 1x

BOOKS:

  • The Chapo Guide to Revolution: A Manifesto Against Logic, Facts, and Reason - Felix Biederman, Will Menaker, Matt Christman, Virgil Texas, Brendan James

 

September 2018 Media Consumption

MOVIES:

  • Starship Troopers - Paul Verhoeven (REWATCH)

  • Max Max: Fury Road - George Miller (REWATCH)

  • Wings of Desire - Wim Wenders

  • Scanners - David Cronenberg

  • The Old Man and The Gun - David Lowery

  • Raising Arizona - Joel & Ethan Coen (REWATCH)

  • Mistaken For Strangers - Tom Berninger

  • American Animals - Bart Layton

TV:

  • Neo Yokio (Season 1) - 1x

  • One Punch Man (Season 1) - 3x

  • Devilman Crybaby (Season 1) - 5x

  • This Is America (Season 1) - 1x

  • Ozark (Season 2) - 1x

  • Kidding (Season 1) - 1x

  • Succession (Season 1) - 10x

  • Maniac (Season 1) - 1x

BOOKS:

  • The Communist Manifesto - Karl Marx

 

August 2018 Media Consumption

MOVIES:

  • Best of Enemies - Morgan Neville, Robert Gordon
  • Heat - Michael Mann (REWATCH)
  • Cedar Rapids - Miguel Arteta
  • The Lives of Others - Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (REWATCH)
  • M - Fritz Lang (REWATCH)
  • Red Desert - Michelangelo Antonioni 
  • Wild Tales - Damián Szifron
  • The Last Waltz - Martin Scorsese
  • Easy Rider - Dennis Hopper (REWATCH)

TV:

  • The Americans (Season 5) 3x
  • Who is America (Season 1) 6x

BOOKS:

  • Foundation - Isaac Asimov
  • Hillbilly Elegy - J.D. Vance

 

July 2018 Media Consumption

MOVIES:

  • Beasts of the Southern Wild - Benh Zeitlan (REWATCH)
  • Come Inside My Mind - Marina Zenovich
  • Death to Stalin - Armando Iannucci
  • Sorry to Bother You - Boots Riley
  • Three Identical Strangers - Tim Wardle
  • Eighth Grade - Bo Burnham
  • Antes de Irme - Mariana Sanguinetti

TV:

  • I Love Dick (Season 1) 1x
  • The Americans (Season 3) 5x
  • The Americans (Season 4) 13x
  • The Americans (Season 5) 1x

BOOKS:

  • Medium Raw - Anthony Bourdian
  • The Hike - Drew Magary
  • Create or Hate - Dan Norris

 

June 2018 Media Consumption

MOVIES:

  • Thief - Michael Mann
  • The Social Network - David Fincher (REWATCH)
  • Annihilation - Alex Garland
  • A Fantastic Woman - Sebastián Lelio
  • Won't You Be My Neighbor - Morgan Neville
  • Winter's Bone - Debra Granik
  • Dennis Rodman's Big Bang in Pyongyang - Colin Offland
  • The Purge - James DeMonaco

TV:

  • Westworld (Season 2) 1x
  • The Americans (Season 1) 10x
  • The Americans (Season 2) 5x
  • The Americans (Season 3) 3x

BOOKS:

  • Ready Player One - Ernest Cline
  • Kitchen Confidential - Anthony Bourdain
  • Tribes - Seth Godin

 

May 2018 Media Consumption

MOVIES:

  • Amateur - Ryan Koo
  • Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World - Catherine Bainbridge, Alfonso Maiorana
  • Iron Man 3 - Shane Black
  • Foreign Correspondent - Alfred Hitchcock
  • Paterno - Barry Levinson
  • Andre the Giant - Jason Hehir
  • The Carter Effect - Sean Menard
  • Rocky II - Sylvester Stallone
  • Shotcaller - Ric Roman Waugh
  • Sound City - Dave Grohl
  • First Reformed - Paul Schrader
  • A Quiet Place - Jon Krasinski

TV:

  • Atlanta (Season 2) 5x
  • Counterpart (Season 1) 5x
  • Barry (Season 1) 3x
  • The Americans (Season 1) 2x
  • Westworld (Season 2) 3x

BOOKS:

  • Poetics - Aristotle
  • The Once and Future Liberal - Mark Lilla

 

April 2018 Media Consumption

MOVIES:

  • Veronica - Paco Plaza
  • I, Tonya - Craig Gillespie
  • Get Out - Jordan Peele (REWATCH)
  • You Were Never Really Here - Lynne Ramsay

TV:

  • Atlanta (Season 2) - 2x
  • Barry (Season 1) - 5x
  • Westworld (Season 2) - 2x
  • Counterpart (Season 1) - 4x

 

March 2018 Media Consumption

MOVIES:

  • The Florida Project - Sean Baker
  • John Wick 2 - Chad Stahelski
  • A Most Violent Year - J.C. Chandor
  • The Negotiator - F. Gary Gray
  • Betting on Zero - Ted Braun
  • Before Sunrise - Richard Linklater
  • Good Time - Josh and Benny Safdie (REWATCH)
  • Alt Right: The Age of Rage - Adam Bhala Lough
  • Beigels Already - Debbie Shuter
  • Antichrist - Lars von Trier
  • Take Your Pills - Alison Klayman
  • Notes on a Scandal - Richard Eyre
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi - Rian Johnson
  • The Armstrong Lie - Alex Gibney
  • Incident by a Bank - Ruben Östlund
  • Darkest Hour - Joe Wright

TV:

  • Atlanta (Season 2) 4x
  • The Wire (Season 2) 1x
  • Ugly Delicious (Season 1) 2x
  • The Americans (Season 1) 1x
  • Waco 6x
  • Flint Town - 1x
  • Barry (Season 1) 1x
  • Twin Peaks (Season 1) 1x
  • Schitt's Creek (Season 1) 3x

BOOKS:

  • Survivor - Chuck Palahniuk

 

oscars 2018

The 90th Academy Awards has come to a close. How lucky are we that we get to celebrate movies, those who make them and the art of moviemaking on a stage nearly as big as the Super Bowl?

After my third rewatch, I still think Good Time should have been nominated for something though..

February 2018 Media Consumption

MOVIES:

  • The Florida Project - Sean Baker
  • The Square - Ruben Östlund
  • Wind River - Tyler Sheridan
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 - James Gunn
  • American Honey - Andrea Arnold
  • Black Panther - Ryan Coogler
  • 120 BPM - Robin Campillo
  • The Price of Gold - Nanette Burstein

TV:

  • I Love Dick (Season 1) - 4x
  • The End of the F *** ing World (Season 1) 8x
  • Chris Rock: Tamborine
  • American Crime Story (Season 2) 1x
  • My Next Guess Needs No Introduction with David Letterman 2x

BOOKS:

 

January 2018 Media Consumption

MOVIES:

  • Columbus - Kogonada
  • Battle of the Sexes - Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris
  • Stronger - David Gordon Green
  • The War Room - D. A. Pennebaker, Chris Hegedus [rewatch]
  • Phantom Thread - Paul Thomas Anderson
  • Force Majeure - Ruben Östlund
  • The Final Year - Greg Barker
  • The Hunt for the Wilderpeople - Taika Waititi
  • Good Time - Josh and Benny Safdie [rewatch]
  • Phantom Thread - Paul Thomas Anderson [rewatch]
  • Mother - Bong Joon-ho
  • Aliens - James Cameron
  • Paterson - Jim Jarmusch
  • The Apartment - Billy Wilder

TV:

  • Dave Chapelle: Equanimity & The Bird Revelation
  • The Show About A Show (2x)
  • Counterpart (Season 1) (2x)
  • Big Mouth (Season 1) (3x)
  • Mad Men (Season 5) (3x)

BOOKS:

 

December 2017 Media Consumption

MOVIES:

  • Schindler's List - Steven Spielberg
  • Ladybird - Greta Gerwig
  • The Heights - Ryan Booth
  • Icarus - Bryan Fogel
  • Coco - Lee Unkrich, Adrian Molina
  • Titanic - James Cameron Jake Kasdan
  • The Disaster Artist - James Franco
  • Orange County - Jake Kasdan
  • 8 1/2 - Federico Fellini
  • The Third Man - Carol Reed
  • The Problem With Apu - Michael Melamedoff
  • The Lost City of Z - James Gray
  • Call Me By Your Name - Luca Guadagnino
  • The Shape of Water - Guillermo del Toro

TV:

  • Mindhunter (Season 1) 8x
  • This Is Us (Season 1) 5x
  • The Wire (Season 1) 13x
  • Big Mouth (Season 1) 2x
  • The Crown (Season 1) 3x
  • Godless (Season 1) 2x
  • Wormwood (Season 1) 1x
  • Mozart in the Jungle (Season 1) 2x
  • Judd Apatow: The Return

BOOKS:

  • All The Light We Cannot See - Anthony Doerr

 

My Top Movies of 2017

  1. Good Time
  2. A Ghost Story
  3. Call Me By Your Name
  4. Lady Bird
  5. Dunkirk
  6. For Ahkeem
  7. The Big Sick
  8. Coco
  9. Dina
  10. Logan
  11. Blade Runner 2049
  12. Get Out
  13. Baby Driver
  14. Okja
  15. Wonder Woman
  16. Spiderman Homecoming
  17. The Shape of Water
  18. Ingrid Goes West
  19. The Meyerowitz Stories

Have not seen:  Phantom Thread, Mudbound, Molly's Game, Star Wars, The Florida Project, The Post, I Tonya, Mother!, The Killing of the Sacred Deer, The Beguiled, 120 BPM

Considering the Density of Time and Experience

For a moment, consider how often our minds are tricked into neglecting memories come and gone. Healthy mindfulness encourages us to focus our intention on the present. This is a tried and true way to curtail anxiety; I have no criticisms there.

But sometimes it's easy to forget how much life we have all lived. Think about how much you've seen in your ____ years of life! You maybe only 10 years old and have already witnessed so much beauty hidden within the world. Sweet utterances from a friend that flash by your eyes like a soft breeze - gone with the wind as quick as it passed you. Or a lovely interaction with a kind stranger. Even a tragedy contains so much to learn and grow from. Sadly, the eloquence of the most special details within fading memories are even harder to picture. Wasted metaphors.. a graveyard of sonnets that flew by without the acknowledgement they may have deserved. Songs, paintings, films, smells can trigger it - bringing forth a treasure trove of emotion forged through experience to the forefront of our mind. It's easy to avoid paying attention at any given moment. I know this firsthand as a filmmaker; MY JOB is to suspend your belief and hack your mind for a moment. At least currently in my country, it's arguably more convenient to suspend reality than it is to nourish yourself. We have millions of solutions to view media made by someone else, but fewer options to educate ourselves. Yet, seemingly most people WANT to check out and forget about their lives for a little bit. Plus, some people are just too busy for honest emotional reflection. Maybe we do this out of protection and self-preservation? I don't know the answer. But consider what would an authentic emotional response be without one's own cocktail of memories, experiences, wishes, desires, hopes, scars, wounds, horrors, dreams?

If you ask me, it seems as if the key to mindfulness is within a healthy balance of appreciating the past, cherishing where you are now, and honoring your intention towards tomorrow. But I'm no yoga teacher so you probably shouldn't take my advice.

JH

On Love and Attention

I just watched Greta Gerwig's new film 'Ladybird' which gracefully took me into an introspective headspace along with the story's themes and characters. The middle American coming-of-age story is familiar, but this one feels like the one that got it right.

There was one line of dialogue that stuck with me as I exited the theater: when Ladybird/Christine is chatting with her Catholic nun principal, the latter presupposes that love and attention are essentially the same thing. Thinking back on it, this felt like one of 'Ladybird's' biggest motifs. Amidst the setting's stiff suburban American monoculture,  the characters we are led to root for are the ones who are simultaneously remain attentive to themselves, others, and their surroundings despite the easy inclination to become passive, despondent, blank, and purposeless. The film's closest thing to an antagonist - a selfish emotionally stunted rich boy who coherses Ladybird into taking her virginity - is more concerned with nihilism and contrarian opinions than paying attention to anything in his own life; never able to look his sorta-girlfriend Ladybird in the eye. We even catch a glimpse of his father - who looks to be completely laid out on tranquilizer pills; unconscious, unaware, and possibly physically ill - providing a potential forecast of his son's future, while Gerwig plants her flag in the ground regarding what kind of life philosophies she values.

"Anybody who talks about California hedonism has never spent a Christmas in Sacramento," is the opening quote, supplied by OG snarkstress/literary god Joan Didion. This seemingly kicks off a film that's trying to tell us how shitty suburban life is. Thankfully, the film takes a mature leap away from easily channeling an exhausted conceit and instead gives us something new and denser to chew on. Most interestingly, in that aforementioned scene between the nun and Ladybird, the nun mentions how its clear from LB's college essay that she really loves her hometown of Sacramento. This comes as a surprise to the rebellious, hair-dyed, angsty East Coast wannabe much in the same way that we as the audience are starting to learn that this isn't just another suburban-commentary flick. When she ultimately leaves Sack-town for New York City, she felt a tremendous homesickness that is associated with the love she felt from her parents - most particularly her mother with whom she has wrestled with across emotional peaks and valleys for most of the film's duration - all back in that crappy town she put up with for 18+ years of her life. Realizations of similarities and differences between her and her mother sparked a newfound maturity that elevates her further than her surroundings, but realizing upon being in a new unfamiliar place that her surroundings mirror what she loves the most. Therein lies Ladybird's poetic, wildly resonant (at least, personally for me) catharsis.

JH

On Being An Idealist

I'm an idealist living in 2017.

I often wake up filled with dread that somebody is going to cut me down today. So then I go inward and ask myself what I can do to minimize the damage.

I frequently worry about all of the same fates that I grew afraid of during my earliest years of my mind's development. So then I go out of my way to allow myself to make certain mistakes that will ultimately test my threshold for fear.

I truly believe that making someone smile can truly aid anyone who was around to witness that moment - like free medicine for the soul. If you're lucky and get a laugh, that's bonus. So I try to go out of my way to make people feel respected and comfortable.

Don't get me wrong, I can be cynical with the best of them. I love misanthropic, dark humor focusing on the worst, most bitterly uncomfortable tendencies in humanity. Every year until about a year or two ago, while making New Years' Resolutions, I would remind myself to stop being negative. While from time to time I do still remind myself to stay with a positive outlook, I have stopped adding it to my resolutions because it's not as critical of an issue as it used to be. Cynicism fueled my views like cancerous cells replicating faster than cellularly permitted. What changed? It's complicated, but between a combination of watching a close friend die, having a near-death experience of my own, and navigating up and out of enough peaks and valleys - I began to develop the confidence that I had been lacking so I could evolve to be that positive force I knew that I could be. The same way a fisherman familiarizes her or hisself with tides, weather forecasts, fish behavioral patterns, depth charts, bait variability - they must inevitably teach themselves how to accept wins and losses - or else why get out on the water?

When we can find the hidden elegance and romance within the simplest, glory-free, and most mundane aspects of daily life, then we truly become our best selves; for life is a constant negotiation of balancing the highs with the lows.

Human beings are filled with potential to do anything we put our mind to. It's as easy as making the choice. So let's do some good while we're all here.

JH

Waffle House

There's something special about sitting in a waffle house alone on a Wednesday at 11 PM.

Nobody knows you.

Nobody cares.

People are nice here.

Nice enough.

Nicer than most in this big cruel world.

They pretend to be neighbors even if it's for a fleeting moment in the night.

And in this moment they might as well be; together outside the lines of the noise and the facade.

It's an earnest slice of a sight unseen.

Devoid of politics, fancy things, fancy frilly tastes; an over-air conditioned piece of American paradise.

Waffles and bottomless black coffee.

"Do you want pecans added in that waffle for a quarter?"

"You bet."

The waitress smiles.

She doesn't eat here, but she works here anyways.

To live. To get away from all the facade.

JH

December 6th, 2017

If somebody gave you the chance to take a brief temporal trip into the future, would you do it? It sure changed Ebenezer Scrooge's life when he did it. So why wouldn't you?

Personally, I'd be horrified to see the future. Because then what else would I have to live for? Isn't a sense of discovery in unearthing life's nuanced meanings what we all are here at this party for?  To actively seek the paths leading us towards a better sense of a form of an answer to the question "why"? Nobody simply understands the meaning of life like arithmetic - didn't you see Good Will Hunting? Plus, scientifically speaking, don't we need each other as a society to come to such a wizened and enlightened conclusion?

Yet we cope by asserting judgment upon a stranger in passing. Maybe we blind ourselves from what love is standing right under our noses because we think it's not good enough. Assumptions turn into lies that we tell ourselves over and over again until they become truth. We ignore our innermost feelings to instead chase out the emptiness inside of us - a rationale that only invites more emptiness into the soul. It's all narcissism. And what's uglier than that? Narcissism veiled within our daily habits.

Granted, some folks default to their ego-driven independence because they think it's all they're capable of harnessing within themselves. But great - you won the promotion, you got the gig, you went the distance. But then what? What happens when you can't lift that weight? Run that mile? Spend that money? What about the rest of that potential and self worth you left sitting back at the door before you chose to enter the Tunnel of I?

I, like i'm sure anyone reading this, have been accused of being narcissistic in my own life by another human being. I love to talk and could chat up a wall if I chose to, but I could then take a vow of silence for the next three weeks. It would be strange but doable. Enthusiasm can sometimes be confused by selfishness - especially by a truly narcissistic individual. If a feeling of passion is present - then I believe you've found your path towards enlightenment. Which brings me to my final point..

The idea of entitlement as a feeling of arrival is a myth. We could die tomorrow. Find that path towards being a better you. Live for today like nothing is promised. Within reason and while respecting your neighbors, of course. But I really believe that the world would become a slightly better place if we all as a society had a little more courage and compassion for one another. 

In conclusion - and before I run off the rails and sound like a bad self help book - whenever I reach a boiling point with the amount of self absorption present in the world around me and am unable to vent-write (like I am doing here) I will cite one of my favorite lines from one of my most beloved poets and singer-songwriters, Jeff Tweedy.

"Come on, children.
You're acting like children.
Every generation thinks it's the last.
Every generation thinks it's the end of the world.

It's a feeling we transcend,
That we're here at the end."

Indeed, Jeff. Thank you.

JH