RotW (8/9/10): Oz and James’ Big Gay Wine Adventure, The Haunting of Hill House, The Furies, Macbeth

Phew. So the last few Sunday afternoons have been uncharacteristically busy. One of those Sunday afternoons was spent celebrating turning 29, which means I’m only one year away from finally getting out of my twenties, so hooray for that.

But yeah, I’m hopelessly behind on this weekly round-up. And because it’s me, the idea of being so behind and having an imperfect record makes me want to scrap the whole project. I think that’s one of the real reasons I’m ‘rubbish at Sunday afternoons’ – I’m rubbish at them because it’s the bit of the week when I realise how much I haven’t done, and that usually makes me want to ditch the whole concept of productivity and just wait it out until Monday morning. I like fresh starts. I like new days with no mistakes in them. I hate posting a blog that’s called ‘Review of the Week (8/9/10)’. I’d rather just burn the whole thing to the ground and start again.

But fuck it. I’m not going to.

Oz and James’ Big Gay Wine Adventure
It’s not called that, but I have never called it anything else and I don’t intend to start now

a classic lewk for james may and a photo in much higher def than the actual series was filmed in

Back in the heady days of 2008, when Top Gear Classic was at its absolute highest manly-man-man peak, James May went on two gay boozy holidays with TV’s Oz Clarke in an attempt to learn about wine. I was gifted the DVD boxset by friends who’d recently started watching it for the first time, and had given up because James, The Only Good One from the original TG3, seemed distressingly ‘blokey’ in comparison to Oz. Even though at one point James says that his specialism at university was the harpsichord.

My absolute highlight is when Oz invites a fancy French chateau lady to dinner, and then ‘dinner’ turns out to be sitting on a rock in their campsite while James cooks Spam and beans.

The real wonder of watching this back in 2020 is what a low budget affair the whole thing was. Putting aside the fact that they frequently just pitch a tent in a vineyard because they clearly can’t afford hotels and Air BnB didn’t exist back then, it also looks like it was filmed on High 8 camcorders and cut together with Windows Movie Maker. It’s completely glorious. An artefact from a simpler time.

The Haunting of Hill House
Mike Flanagan broke my heart for 10 consecutive episodes DESPITE the fact that I was hiding behind a cushion

A shout-out to YouTuber Ladyknightthebrave for this one. I’m one of those people who will quite happily sit through a video essay about a thing I haven’t watched – I was also one of those children who liked to read the last page of a book first – and I honestly wouldn’t have tried this (sort of) adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s novel without watching this deep dive first.

Like Ladyknight, I’m a complete wuss about horror, but I’m trying to gently test my boundaries and hoo boy am I glad I went for this one. It basically tosses out everything from Jackson’s book except the names of the characters and the titular Hill House, so as an adaptation I don’t think it’s particularly successful (but let us never forget that this is also the story that was adapted into 1999’s The Haunting, featuring the funniest ever Owen Wilson death scene also Liam Neeson is in this fucking film i just can’t even).

But as a standalone? It’s a beautiful act of storytelling. I didn’t even know horror could be beautiful. But watching this episode by episode with my partner every night, and getting so frustrated during a weekend away in Kent that we had to wait a whole extra night to watch The Bent-Neck Lady, and then watching it and being THE MOST SAD, and THEN getting to watch Two Storms the next night – just – I can’t be eloquent about Hill House. It’s a properly ambitious, twisty, spooksome show and I really, really enjoyed watching it.

The Furies by Katie Lowe
DNF’d it, mate

I probably should’ve liked this book – it’s got a girls’ school, and teenage angst, and witchcraft-y cult-y stuff – and I stuck with it until about halfway through but… meh. Something about the writing style kept making me lose the thread of the scenes in a way that might have been intentional, but just ended up frustrating the heck out of me.

Anyway, no-guilt returns is exactly why I use my local library. Let me know if you finished it and it had a good ending or something, I dunno.

There was probably a lot more ~content~ consumed in the past 3 weeks, but equally I feel like I’m partway through a lot of things (and, as ever, the Bangel rewatch continues) so I guess more stuff to come in future updates? I did have a couple of thoughts about Doctor Who but you can find those on Twitter because mostly I just felt like shitposting when all I saw in my feed was sad memes of William Hartnell lol

I also went to Derby Theatre last week and saw their co-production with Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch of Macbeth and found it pretty dull tbh. I reviewed it for Exeunt and you can read that here. I will fully cop to being a privileged dickhead who sees too much Shakespeare but this one frustrated me quite a lot.

Anyway, see you next week, maybe, who knows, life is unpredictable, Sunday afternoons are still bewildering and Monday afternoons, doubly so!