June Summary

June is typically a joyous month in my household: two birthdays and a nameday, as well as Midsummer Day to celebrate; summer plans to be hatched; end of school and exams beckoning. This year has been slightly different. The boys have been on holiday but the older one has started a summer job, while the younger one has had induction days for Sixth Form College (partly online) and homework assignments, while I have been busier than ever at work. The weather has been rather changeable, making me almost want to switch the heating back on. Nevertheless, we had a once-in-a-lifetime birthday treat of high tea at Oakley Court Hotel, where the Rocky Horror Picture Show was filmed.

We were lucky with the weather, too: it was the one day of the week when there was no rain or gusty wind.

Reading:

I have read six of my 20 Books of Summer, and a total of 10 books this month. June has been the month of the most recent acquisitions on my Kindle, so the 20 Books of Summer choices are recent releases and include a Japanese thriller and a satire about social media, two books with tenuous links to Romania and two books that capture the millenial experience in Britain in the past few years. I also read a few bonus books linked to these: Mamie Luger by Benoit Philippon, which is certainly unlike anything else I have read before, a chilling story about a child murderer and rehabilitation by Fiona Cummins: When I was Ten, and Lucy Caldwell’s second collection of short stories. For the Virtual Crime Book Club, I had a good time reading Tom Bradby’s Secret Service, which had the interesting (and not all that implausible nowadays) premise that the future PM of the United Kingdom might be a Russian agent.

Films and TV:

Although most of the month has been given over to football watching with my older son – I remember bonding with my father over sports and enjoy doing so with him, even if I am not normally a huge football fan – I have also managed to watch some films and TV series.

The Outsiders was the kind of film I would have loved to watch in my teens and it was fun to see all of the child actors who then went on to become household names, but it was a little too sentimental for my taste (said the person who cries every time she watches West Side Story).

Sound of Metal was a tour de force of acting by Riz Ahmed and the first half was particularly interesting in his denial and fight against identifying with the deaf community, but the film then lost its way a little in the second half.

Billy Liar was every bit as funny, irreverant and poignant as I remembered it, with Tom Courtenay doing an excellent job of appearing at once infuriating and vulnerable.

It was the first time I watched Nightcrawler and I was chilled not just by the subject matter but by the charmingly psychopathic way in which Jake Gyllenhaal spouts inspirational slogans from self-help books – he is capitalism personified, the shameless go-getter we’ve been told the world (or is that just America?) needs.

Days of the Bagnold Summer was rather sweet and very relatable: a single mother having to spend the summer with her grumpy teenager, who had wanted to go and visit his remarried father in Florida. There was nothing grandiose or startling about the film, just a tender and very realistic observation of the mother/son relationship, which I am naturally rather partial to.

If you like sinister, not fully explainable TV series, then I can really recommend the Icelandic quasi-supernatural thriller Katla on Netflix. It has echoes of the French series The Returned, mixed with small-town Icelandic village feel of a Ragnar Jonasson novel The Katla volcano near the South Iceland settlement of Vik has been spewing ash for over a year and most of the inhabitants have been evacuated, but there are some foolhardy people who are staying on there. Then suddenly some strange clones or dead people reappear from underneath the glacier and turns their lives upside down. I found this far better paced and not as far-fetched or graphic as Fortitude. The characters are a lot more relatable and well acted throughout, although they might not have the big names of Fortitude. And the landscapes are just beautifully photographed throughout. You should also know that one of the writers on the show is none other than Icelandic writer Lilja Sigurðardóttir. I’m not a box set binging kind of person, but I watched all eight episodes in just 2-3 days (alongside the football matches).

10 thoughts on “June Summary”

  1. I loved The Outsiders as a teenager, we watched it at sleepovers 🙂 I have to admit I think it was a film very much for that time in my life, I’ve not been tempted to a re-watch!

    I wasn’t sure about Katla (I gave up on Fortitude in season 3) but you’ve definitely made it sound appealing.

    Tom Courtenay is brilliant, always so watchable.

    Wishing you a joyous July too, Marina Sofia!

  2. Oh, Oakley Court, how lovely! It seems like ages since I was last there. What a wonderfully atmospheric venue for your birthday tea!

    As for the films, I’m completely with you on The Sound of Metal. The first half is very compelling, and Riz Ahmed is amazing, of course – but the film loses momentum in the second half with the shift to Europe. Nightcrawler is brilliant, though. Shades of Scorsese’s The King of Comedy, I think…

  3. Oh, I love it that you were able to have tea in the Oakley Court, Marina Sofia! That must have been such a lovely experience! My husband will be interested in that – he’s a Rocky Horror… fan. I’m pleased you enjoyed the Bradby; I agree with you that it’s not at all implausible, and that added to it for me.

  4. How much do I love Tom Courtenay? Let me count the ways.
    Rocky Horror, complete blast from the past, how fun! Sheesh, the thing when I was young-young was to go to Philly for late-night screenings and throw popcorn everywhere. Glad you are getting in quality time with the boys.

  5. I love your film and TV recommendations. A friend recommended Days of Bagnold Summer to me, and I just added Katla to my Netflix list.

  6. Happy belated birthday twice 🙂
    I wonder if other nationals are as keen as Romanians to celebrate their name-day 🙂 Surely not here in South Africa.

    I also remember bonding with my father and my maternal grandmother 😉 over soccer. Even now, although the yards around us are so quiet, I can still hear the echoes of a goal cheering rising in unison from my Romanian neighbors 🙂

    Have a great July!

    1. My children’s father is Greek, so we’ve always celebrated name days in the family! Yes, it’s a shame it’s not more widely done in other countries… Thanks for following, looking forward to connecting with you more.

  7. We’ve been watching a fair amount of Nordic series in the last few months but not sure Katla will be for me if it has supernatural elements (I have too high a level of scepticism)

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