Life Vs Film in 2020

Happy New Year! It’s a new year (it’s not a new decade, don’t get me started), so let’s take a look at everything that happened to me in the past twelve months. Those of you who just follow my exploits on the blog will be forgiven for assuming that I’ve been in a coma. I haven’t, it’s just that, like pretty much every year, I started out on a fairly average trajectory and rapidly spiralled into doing nothing, but that’s only here, what about everywhere else? Well, I think the best way to look at this will be to run through my resolutions from 2019:

Review one List film a week.

This categorically did not happen. Not even close. I didn’t even hit one a month. In total, 2019 saw me write 8 reviews, and three of them were only because I signed up for them at Blueprint: Review, and indeed two of those were posted far later than they should’ve been (sorry David). I’ve crossed off a Coens movie, a Kate Winslet, five from the List and I foolishly spent time reviewing Bohemian Rhapsody just in case the List-makers took their regular asinine punt in that bizarre direction (instead they opted for The Greatest Showman, which belongs on a list of 1001 Movie Soundtracks You Must Listen To Before You Die, but certainly not a 1001 Movies list). I watched other films with the intention to the review them, but far less than I have in the past. Why? Time, really. I spend a lot of my time with my wife, shockingly, and she doesn’t necessarily want to watch List films, and I don’t necessarily want to not spend time with her, so here we are. I’m not blaming her, that’s just the reason.

Watch one non-List blind spot DVD a month.

Nope. I’d aimed to watch Tombstone, Blue Ruin, Species, Warrior, The Visitor, Way of the Gun, Killer Joe, The Skin I Live In, Three O’Clock High, Pontypool, Fermat’s Room and Rare Exports this past year, reviews not necessary, and I watched 7/12, so not great, but not horrendous either. It helped that two of them were Movies of the Month over at the LAMB, which of all the films in all the world, that’s a pretty phenomenal coincidence. Of the ones I watched, I really enjoyed Tombstone and Three O’Clock High. Warrior and The Visitor were good, Fermat’s Room was disappointing (it’s a maths-based locked room thriller, with nowhere near enough maths in it), Killer Joe lived up to the shock-hype, but I didn’t enjoy it beyond that, and Species was fine, maybe even a bit milder than I was expecting.

Finish watching The Wire.

I did this! I had two seasons left to watch at the start of the year and, whilst I’d planned to watch them before I visited Baltimore in April, I ended up finishing them upon my return and yeah, that’s a pretty phenomenal show. Season 5 has it’s nay-sayers, but it took some weird and unexpected directions that I was on board with. Oh yeah, I went to Baltimore. And Iceland too, with the same people I visited in Baltimore. Both were incredible, although we didn’t see the Northern Lights in either place. Huge thanks to Lindsay & Jason for putting me up in their incredible guest room and showing me around their amazing town, and to Jess & Rob for inviting me to their wedding.

Start watching Deadwood and Twin Peaks.

Nope. Not even opened the boxes. My wife and I have however continued our trek through ER; we’re now up to season 13, and John Stamos has just joined the cast. I also watched the entirety of the American Office (it’s on Amazon Prime, I watched an episode every lunch break for a while), as well as lots of Archer and some Bojack Horseman. There’ll be a Lambcast up soon with my picks for the Best TV Shows of 2019, so keep your eyes peeled.

Read a book a month.

No, and I’m genuinely annoyed at this one. I finished three books this year. I mentioned Death on the Nile in the February wrap-up (otherwise known as the last wrap-up I wrote), and then I went back to Moby Dick, like the fool I am. I finished that book, and I hated it. In almost every imaginable way. It’s awful. Chapters and chapters of whale anatomy and boating history, fictional or real. It’s just so hard to care, and in the end I don’t think I got any more depth on Ahab’s driving devotion to hunting the great whale than I already had from just knowing a little about the story beforehand. It may be one of the worst books I’ve ever read. After that I ready Stephen King’s Under the Dome, and it was like literary whiplash. I loved it. Such rich, developed characters, intricate plotting and all within quite a short time span. King has a tendency to balls-up his endings, but this was actually quite satisfying. The problem now is I’ve started Richard Ayoade’s The Grip of Film, and I’m just not enjoying it, and also a book called Raptor that is pretty crap. Maybe I’m holding them both to too high of an esteem by comparing them to Under the Dome. I think I may abandon them both in favour of something better.

Update my sites, one a month.
Over on the LAMB I tidied up the Lambscores forum – this is going to be an annual thing so I’ll be doing that again soon, once the 2019 Lambscores are all finished – updated my Lambcast schedule spreadsheet and completely updated the Lambcast archives. Unfortunately that was all a few months ago and I haven’t kept up with it, so whilst that’s a much smaller job than it was this time last year, it still needs doing. Higher priority jobs are still the need to move the LAMB site to a new host, but also to work through the backlog of new LAMB memberships, which I’ve let languish a little. I’m going to try and process one new membership every other day until they’re clear. Apologies to anyone reading this who is still waiting. Here at LVF though, nothing has changed. Not a thing, other than I added the latest 1001 Movies additions to their list. Damn. Sorry.

See 24 films at the cinema:

This wasn’t an official resolution, but it should’ve been. I’ve got a monthly membership to my local Cineworld, and to make it cost effective I need to see on average two films a month. This year I saw exactly 24 films at the cinema, but given that one of those was seen at a different one (Joker, at the London LAMB meetup where I finally met my co-host Richard, along with his daughter Amanda, and I re-met Tony and David), then technically I failed. I did however get an email from my cinema saying that I saw 57 films at the cinema this year. This means a few things, most heinously that I’m a terrible person who has abused the ability to book tickets and not show up to the cinema, in this case 34 times. That seems way too high and I think it must be a mistake, but it’s something I’m going to try and not do this year.

Life improvements, one a month.
OK, here me go. Outside of media I think I’ve had a pretty great year. Except for this category, which kind of got ignored. Yes we went to a car boot sale and got rid of a load of hoarded crap, and most of what didn’t sell went to a charity shop (We also had a footstool nicked as we were setting up, a whole footstool! The audacity of some people!) and I’ve had a couple of tidy-ups in my shed and attic, but nothing that actually lasted. Oh, and we almost completely redid our kitchen, so we have a new downstairs W.C. and a larder (the walls just need painting, but that has been the case for 6 months now). Plus I dug up our patio and removed the plaster from our dining room (we’ve got a crack in the party wall of our semi-detached that required this, I won’t go into it) but neither of these jobs have been finished as we need someone to come and repair the crack before we can proceed, which means the garden and the lounge/diner are now somewhat reminiscent of building sites, meaning it’s just the worst possible environment to introduce… our new puppy! The little brown one is Charlie:

I’ll be honest, we kind of hate him. Murphy does too. He whines all the time and is stubbornly resisting any and all attempts to house train him, so the past month of having him has been less than fun. Plus his favourite pastime is chewing stones, which there are plenty of now there’s a sandpit where the patio used to be and bare brickwork/rough plaster edges instead of decorated dining room walls. He was literally just gnawing on a brick the other day. We’ll get there though. Eventually. I hope.

Prioritise my health.
Yes. Definitely. My main aim this year was to lose some weight, and I have done this. I am no longer medically obese, and whilst I’m not in the “normal” band of the BMI chart, I’m considerably closer than I used to be. So much so that I’m throwing the BMI ideal away and just being healthier, regardless of the resultant weight. Everything I’m wearing now didn’t fit me this time last year (except for the socks, and the glasses, although they are new as my previous pair fell off during an ill-fated stand-up paddle-boarding escapade in Mudeford Quay), and also none of it is new as I had a suitcase full of clothes that didn’t fit in the attic. I still have one t-shirt that’s a bit tight, so that’s my current aim.

Run every other day.
Hell. Yes. I smashed this one. Destroyed it. Out of 2019’s 365 days, I ran 187 of them. However some days I went for more than one run (I don’t recommend this, these are the days I came closest to dying this past year) so I went for a total of 218 runs. In 2019 I ran 1,763.2km (1,095.6 miles), including a few impromptu half marathons, some 5km Parkruns (including one half marathon with a Parkrun in the middle, again, this is ill-advised if you want to do anything else that day), a lot of runs to and from work, and many, many runs with Murphy. I ran in Cornwall (the hills of the Coastal path are a nightmare. I also mis-judged a step and fell in a prickle bush, so ran the rest of the route with a bloody tissue clutched at my leaking, perforated hand), I ran in Iceland (very strange, just running along a straight road for 4 miles watching the sunrise, then turning round and running back again, barely seeing a soul the whole time), but mostly in and around my home in Bournemouth and Poole. One run was on a treadmill, but it still counts, and almost all the runs were accompanied by podcasts, mainly the Off Book podcast, as it’s a weekly improvised musical show which regularly featured good songs to run to. I’m legitimately proud of myself, something I’m very unused to feeling. I think I might be a runner now.

Eat one fruit or vegetable a week.
I don’t think I hit this target, but I certainly ate more. There were quite a few punnets of grapes (though I’ve been put off recently given the last one I bought had a mouldy fingernail in it, which I didn’t find until I’d almost finished them), several butternut squash risottos (courtesy of the recipe from Binging With Babish) and a great deal of sweet potato. I’ve found sweet potato mash makes a nice base for a wrap in a packed lunch, with some chicken or chorizo in it. I’ve also eaten more of the salad accompaniment to restaurant meals. And parsnips. It turns out I actually don’t hate parsnips. I’ve tried sprouts again, these remain the food of the devil.

Sleep more.
Sometimes yes, sometimes no. This varies week to week and is largely out of my control, as it relates to whatever else needs doing in my life. Often my wife needs help with work or there are issues with the house/dogs/podcast that need doing by a certain date. If it’s podcast-related I’ve gotten better at letting that slide, but everything else tends to take priority over my sleep. The bottom line is I’m trying to do too much, something I’m amending in 2020.

Speaking of which, what are my plans for this year? Well, to put it bluntly, all the same things again!

Review one List film a week.
Same again. I don’t have my hopes up, but I’ll try. I’m going to focus on films that are covered on podcasts I’ve been waiting to listen to, which means the likes of The Third Man, 1941 (Spielberg) and Disclosure (Crichton) will be high up on the list.

Watch one non-List blind spot DVD a month.

The five I failed to watch are being rolled over and joined by seven more. This year’s list is as follows:
Blue Ruin
Way of the Gun
The Skin I Live In
Rare Exports
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
The Dead Zone
Marathon Man
The Station Agent
Kelly’s Heroes

Start watching Deadwood and Twin Peaks.
Pretty self explanatory. When I start Twin Peaks I’m hoping to do an episode-by-episode write-up.

Read a book a month.
Again, I don’t have high hopes, but it’s an aim.

See 24 films at the cinema.

A cursory glance at the new releases of 2020 shows at least 25 films I’d be up for seeing in the cinema. Of course, if the likes of Jungle Cruise or Bill & Ted Face the Music get terrible reviews, then maybe I’ll be OK to wait until they hit streaming, we’ll see.

Update my sites, one a month.
I need to actually make a list and form a plan, that might help. I’ll think of 12 specific things, and cross them off as I go.
OK, here’s the 12 things I’ll try and do, one a month:
Lambscores purge, New LAMBs backlog, Lambcast archive, update Lambcast spreadsheet – this is four relatively small jobs, so only counts as one overall.
New LAMB host site
Lambcast archive links
Acting School directory archive + links
Director’s Chair archive + links
MOTM archive + links
LAMB spreadsheet & email list
Start LAMB newsletter
General LAMB overhaul
Make LAMB site mobile-friendly
LVF Index images
LVF Header image
End of edit.

Life improvements, one a month.
Speaking of which, I’ll do the same here. Here’s what I’m thinking:
Fix crack in dining area.
Strip plaster from lounge area.
Redecorate lounge-diner.
Shelving in lounge-diner.
Re-patio garden.
Re-do rest of garden.
Paint kitchen.
Fix plumbing (you don’t want to know).
Sort shed – shelving, big sort out etc.
Sort attic – shelving, big sort out etc.
Sort house exterior (plaster is cracking etc.).
Sort/tidy front garden.

Prioritise my health.
There’s a few things I’m thinking here. I’ve had to see a physiotherapist recently with shoulder/back issues – ageing is fun – and I’ve been given some pilates-like exercises that I should be doing more than I am, so that’s on here. As is food and drink. I’m not a huge drinker, but I imbibe more fizzy drinks than I should, or diluted squash (it’s no-added sugar, but still), so I’m cutting back to just water pretty much exclusively, except for social/special occasions. I’m not going teetotal or anything, I’ll just be trying not to reach for an amaretto-and-Pepsi-Max when I’ve had a less than stellar Tuesday.

Run every other day.
I’m going to keep this up. Honestly I… I think I like it, and I’m definitely getting better. On Christmas Day I got up, took the dogs for a walk, deposited them back home to my sleeping wife and announced I was going for a quick run, on my own, and it was one of the best runs I’ve ever had. I ran 10k, a festive-themed musical podcast playing the whole time, the roads were clear, air was chilly but fresh and I hit a pretty decent personal best, getting home in a little over 48 minutes. And that was it, I was energised for the rest of the day. If you want to take up running and want some advice (no-one asked, but I’ll offer it anyway, that’s what being a runner is all about), I’d suggest trying to fit runs into your existing schedule. So where I normally cycle to work, some days I’ll run. Or where I’d walk the dog, I’ll run with him instead. If I need to pop to a shop that’s a mile or so away, I’ll run. The little things all add up, and I’ve already run a 10k this year with Murphy just this morning.

Eat one fruit or vegetable a week.
I feel I should at least try and keep this up. I’d like to eat more plant-based meals and fewer animal-based, I just need to do more research and forward planning. Any advice is welcome.

Sleep more.
Yes. This. To sleep more, I must do less, so I’ll be stepping back from a few other projects this year. I’ll not go into more details yet. The blog isn’t going anywhere, don’t worry, but I’m going to do my best to get at least five hours sleep every night.

What are your resolutions for 2020? And how was your 2019? Whatever you did and whatever you’re doing, I wish you all the best.

10 thoughts on “Life Vs Film in 2020

  1. Resolutions:
    Work on tech skills for the podcast.
    Find something to be happy about every day and track them.
    Cut my popcorn consumption in half.
    Organize my financial Life.
    Start my relocation to Texas.
    Read more books and less online b.s.
    Take another trip by car across the country.
    Whatever else I can think of.

    • They all sound great Richard, good luck.
      My therapist recommended making a list of 5-10 positive things that happened every day before going to bed, and that really helps me not to fixate on the negatives. Even little things like riding to work on freshly pumped tyres or listening to a good song.
      I need to stop or at least reduce cinema snacking too. I don’t go for popcorn as it’s ridiculously expensive, my weakness is sweets. Toffee bonbons, I love ’em.

  2. I love that I read this in your voice. I feel like even though you didn’t hit some of the things you wanted to do… You still did quite a lot of other things? It’s when you think “wow I didn’t do XYZ and I have no idea what I did instead” that’s when you’re in trouble! I cannot believe you ran every other day, that seems so incomprehensible to me and if that’s all you did this year I’d be impressed.

    P.S. Don’t feel bad if you don’t end up recapping every single episode of Twin Peaks. You’re probably better at deciphering weird shit in films than I am, but I could watch several episodes and literally have no clue how the story progressed or what even happened, at least not without giving it several hours of thought.

    • Yeah, when I got to the “life improvements” section I genuinely forgot about pretty much everything in there. Even the puppy. That was a real stream of consciousness for a while.

      I ran A LOT, too much maybe, and I have felt so damn tired for most of the year, but also pretty great. There were days where I’d take Murph for a run in the morning (6k), drop him home then run a detour, hill-filled route to work (+10k), work a full day with maybe a walk at lunch and having to go back and forth a few times between the two factories I work at, then run home (+7.5k), finally have a shower, then take the dogs for a walk. Those days were mistakes.

      I’m aware that Twin Peaks is a whole heap of weirdness, but beyond women carrying logs I don’t know much more about it.

  3. Love your recap & same as Rebecca, I could read the whole thing in your voice. I miss you and am so grateful that I got to spend so much time with you & Aisha this year. Can’t wait until you both make the trip to Baltimore.

    Even if you didn’t hit all these goals, what you’ve accomplished is very impressive! I’m shocked your running didn’t result in better sleep habits though.

    I hope you do some form of recapping Twin Peaks- even if it’s like three mini reviews in one post as you make your way. I have a feeling your musings will be highly entertaining.

    • Oh I cannot wait to come back! Gotta track down that Baltimore Cyclops.

      Don’t assume that I didn’t sleep because I wasn’t tired. I am constantly tired. I’m yawning right now. I can sleep anywhere, at any time (usually in the car, but also in the cinema, weekly engineering meetings, on a wildly pitching boat or in an active MRI machine, to name a few specific examples). No, my problem is staying up too late getting stuff done, then getting up early to walk a dog or two before going to work. Also I don’t like napping.

      The Twin Peaks thing is getting a lot of attention! I’ll make a concerted effort to start it this year. No idea when, or how regularly (I’d like it to be a weekly post), but I’ll get there!

  4. Pingback: 2020: What Kind of Year Has It Been? Plus Plans for 2021 | Life Vs Film

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