Friday Flotsam: Post Lent Crash, John Wick, and More

1. This week has been largely consumed by the post-Lent crash; where you’ve spent weeks holding off from various temptations, denying yourself certain pleasures, then have a few days of intense emotional energy and effort in reaching the pinnacle of the liturgical year…and all at once, you’re done, and you can do all the things you weren’t allowed to do again, and you’ve just had a nice feast to boot.

The result is that all of a sudden, you don’t want to do anything difficult or demanding and you find yourself consumed by lethargy, wanting to do nothing but snack on rich food and enjoy the things you gave up for Lent. It hit me hard this year.

2. Though this post going up so late is actually not related to that (well, not entirely): I was helping my brother move for most of the day.

3. I caught John Wick 4 in the theater not long ago, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’d seen the first film, but not the second or third, but though I feel one would get more out of the film by having seen the others, I was never lost. The plot is pretty simple and in any case, no one pretends that it’s really important.

The way I described it afterwards was that it was basically a James Bond movie that cut out everything except the fight scenes and then ramp those up as far as they’ll go. It’s utterly ridiculous, almost more like a video game than anything else, but very stylish, gorgeous to look at, and a ton of fun. The sheer will to entertain was oozing from the corners of the screen, and it paid off.

It helps that these over-the-top fights almost all take place in absolutely spectacular locations, from an Osaka hotel that is designed like every Nihonophile’s personal heaven to a Berlin nightclub with blazing lights amid water and fire, to the streets of Paris. Along the way they stop by several Orthodox and Catholic churches, less because the film has anything to say about religion and moreso because the aesthetics of classical Christianity are really cool and striking to look at.

4. Honestly, my main motive for going to see it was the prospect “Keanu Reeves vs. Donnie Yen”, and it does not disappoint. Two super-cool action stars going head-to-head is a winning formula. Incidentally, one must recall that Mr. Reeves is 58 and Mr. Yen 59. Watching their action scenes, it can be easy to forget that.

(I also forgot that Mr. Yen was in Rogue One. He plays a blind guy here as well).

I was also delighted by the relatively small supporting performance by the legendary Clancy Brown, who will forever be Lex Luthor to me.

5. Incidentally, watching all the gorgeous architecture in the film, something occurred to me. I’ve heard the Medieval world described as one in which people lived among the ruins of works greater than any they could themselves create. This is actually only true in part and for a time, as when the Medieval world got going, architecturally speaking it absolutely blew Greece and Rome out of the water (granted, I’m fuzzing a lot given the time frames involved).

However, one could describe our world as one that lives in the shelter of works greater than any we create. Except, it is more bitter than that; we live in the knowledge that we could create as our ancestors did, but we do not. It’s an odd failure of will rather than ability, or perhaps of intent.

6. Apparently, Spy x Family is getting not only a second anime season (hooray!) but also an original animated movie (woohoo!) and a stage musical (uh…okay). I notice this seems to be a pattern, and the anime lifecycle works something like this:

Manga > Anime TV Show > Video Games > Animated Movie > Live Show / Musical > Moronically Bad Live Action Hollywood Version

(Though to be fair, I kind of want to see a MBLAHV of Bofuri, just out of curiosity).

7. My chief spiritual reading has been the letters of St. Francis de Sales. A lot of what he says in them pops up in the Introduction, of course, but it’s remarkable to catch a glimpse of such a personal side of the great Saint’s character. This includes the tender, as when he talks of attending the death of his mother, and how he couldn’t help weeping despite her exemplary end, as well as the amusingly commonplace, as when he ends one letter by saying he has to go break up an argument someone’s having.

I always like reading letters and such, because it feels much more like I’m getting a glimpse of the man himself, his day-to-day cares, thoughts, and concerns. It is all the more striking with a Saint, whom we often have trouble thinking of in terms of a real, living man making his way through his own pilgrimage. It makes one feel closer to him.

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