I haven’t been posting and I have a good reason this time. Two good reasons.

The first: I moved at the beginning of the month. That was a while ago, I know, but between moving and work there isn’t a lot of time left to fiddle around on blogs. There is also the matter of not having a desk, which makes working at the computer more than a little uncomfortable. I currently have a box. It is not a large box.

Second: My computer’s hard drive failed and because all of my money went toward getting an apartment and moving… there is no fixing it. I was able to rig up a working solution with my old laptop, which had no working screen and an obsolete version of Ubuntu installed (still better than Vista). Of course, I put that all together and then broke it with my meddling, which prompted an infuriating week and half of winged solutions.

It is all working now though, so hurrah to that. I have a ton of stuff to write and post and we’ll see if that ever comes about. For now, I’m in pain and tired and I’m heading back to bed.


Movie Log (2-25)

Both work and life has been stressful lately and I have been desperate to avoid thinking about things. That way lies a dread spiral of past mistakes and bad choices that I prefer not to revisit. I have turned to Netflix and Redbox to keep my mind off things. Mind you, I know jack all about reviewing films so don’t expect much from me.

The Brothers Bloom is almost one of my favorite films. I have seen it four or five times now and I am very fond of it, but I often forget that it exists between viewings. Better that than not knowing that it ever existed in the first place.

It is a quirky adventure romp, a Wes Anderson film that has been dialed back several notches so it isn’t quite as out there and awkward. There is plenty of humor to go around, but the narrative also dips into darker, more serious territory on occasion. Those worried that it might cut into the quirky fun of the film need not be as so little time is spent on these scenes that one can easily ignore both the elephant in the room and creeping realization of just how troubled one of the characters is (something that I did not get until I this viewing).

It is absolutely fine if you just want the funny ’round-the-world con flick. You aren’t alone. I haven’t done a search, but I doubt there are many people going on about the hidden depths of The Brothers Bloom. Though I would be interested in reading that article if any of you happen across one.

Adrien Brody’s Bloom mopes through the majority of the film but the rest of the cast and their characters are a charming, likable bunch. Mark Ruffalo makes for a convincing con man and manipulative jackass. Rinko Kikuchi gets like one line of dialogue and a song, but does wonders with body language and is fucking hilarious. Rachel Weisz’s Penelope, is a rich, lonely shut-in who collects hobbies as a hobby and essentially drives the film forward out of the sheer excitement of being free from the house she’s been confined to her entire life. She and Rinko Kikuchi stand out as the best performances in the film… these are the interesting characters. Fuck the brothers Bloom, I want to see Penelope and Bang Bang tearing across the world having adventures and blowing shit up.

It is a good film. Watch it. You can find it on Netflix US. While you are at it, watch Rian Johnson’s first film, Brick. It is nothing like The Brothers Bloom, but it is Joseph Gordon-Levitt in a high school neo-noir murder mystery. Both of these films are leagues better than Johnson’s third film, Looper, which I am sure everyone has seen by now.

I took a few chances on movies this time around, deciding on films that got some pretty poor reviews and plenty of bashing from the general audience. The vocal minority of that general audience that plays on the internet, at least. One of those films was Lucy, which I have been looking forward to since the first trailer.

Faulty premise? Oh yeah, it has that. Thing is though, that doesn’t bother me. I am not going to go apoplectic just because a science fiction film decided to fuck up the science. I just don’t have it in me to care that much. I like that the film took the notion that we only use 10% of our brain’s capacity, ran with it, and just kept on running all the way through the concept.

I enjoyed it a lot. Lucy’s constant evolution had me hooked. I wanted to see what came next, how she changed, the reactions to her change, and what dumb ass plan the bad guys would hatch to try and take her down. I don’t even mind Scarlett Johansson’s robotic delivery, one of the things getting tons of hate, because it ties into the narrative and makes sense.

Lucy isn’t necessarily deep and basing your science off of a fallacy probably disqualifies you from being labeled smart, but it is an entertaining film and manages to be entertaining all the way through. I’d watch it again in a heartbeat.

Deep in the depths of Netflix’s SF section was the new RoboCop, the second movie on this list with a hate parade marching after it. I understand the hate behind this one… I don’t agree with it at all, but I get it. Being a reboot is sin enough. Being a reboot of a cult hit is an affront to all that is good in the world. Even if the movie was brilliant, people would hate it for existing. I like reboots. So whatever.

Here’s the thing. I am not a fan of the original RoboCop. I saw it when I was a kid and enjoyed it, but it didn’t leave an impression on me then and it didn’t leave an impression the other times I watched it growing up.

I am biased against Paul Verhoeven because of Starship Troopers, which spawned an entire franchise based around a shit adaptation. However, that came later and doesn’t really have anything to do with this film. I just wanted to throw it out there.

The movie was what I expected it to be and, yet, not. The movie is nothing special, a generic piece of entertainment that you’ve seen time and time again even if you have never seen the original. It has flashy good looks, the acting is competent, and to its credit, the film does try its hand at satire for a while before ushering it out of sight.

I did not expect to see the sort of generic superhero origin story that has become tradition for comic book adaptations since Raimi’s first Spider-man film. I noticed the pacing issues right away, but I didn’t realize that this was the cause until later on. The set up is there:

The movie introduces the main character and then takes its sweet time turning him into the hero so we get some training scenes and proper motivation and conflict can be established. After that, a bunch of action is thrown in, the baddies get taken down, and the hero suits up again for the sequel. The good news is that it isn’t as bloated as your typical superhero movie. Unfortunately, the pacing goes a long way toward making it feel like it.

The new RoboCop is competently made and mediocre. I doubt that anyone would favorably compare it to the original, but it isn’t a bad movie. It could have been much worse. Much, much worse.

Have you seen 21 Jump Street? 22 Jump Street is the same thing, different movie. There’s an abundance of meta humor, which I love, and some very awkward humor, which I don’t. I liked it. You’ll probably like it if you liked the first one. That’s all I can really say about it.

Nebula Short Fiction Links

This is what I could find:

Blomkamp Confirmed for Next Alien Flick

Considering that this confirmation is based entirely off of Blomkamp’s Instagram account, I do wonder if this “announcement” isn’t somewhat premature. I don’t doubt that the film will happen, but you know… Instagram.

That said, the only surprise here is that it took so long for the news to break. Blompkamp appeared to be waffling about whether or not he even wanted to do the film in a recent interview (despite Fox’s apparent interest and all the work he put into it already), but I didn’t expect any other outcome.

After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall

After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall is the sort of mediocre that is a few steps away from being a really bad book. Its saving grace is that it is a novella and doesn’t quite have enough pages to take those final steps.

The writing is plain but no one gives a shit about prose, so I’ll just skip on past that.

The two main characters are the only ones in the cast with any sort of development and it all comes late and out of nowhere. The rest of the characters filter in and out of the story as needed, never sticking around for long and rarely getting more than a line or two of dialogue before being rushed back to storage. I say storage because they don’t even linger on in the background, which makes the world of every stage of the fall feel empty.

Pete, our post-apocalypse eyes and ears, is a generic teenager who spends the majority of the book angry, horny, and jealous. This means that a lot of his scenes feature things like sulking, masturbation, hate-fucks, and temper tantrums. A little before it becomes relevant to the plot, he realizes that the people he encounters, lives with, and abducts are all human and have feelings just like he does. It doesn’t change his character all that much, really, but it helps the lead-in to the ending go a bit smoother.

Julie… huh.

Shit. Let me revise the above.

Only one character gets any sort of development. Julie, master of the algorithm, mother-to-be, and POV for the beginning and during stages of the fall, remains pretty much static through the novella. She does discover motherly love after giving birth, but that revelation lasts only long enough for her to remember that she has algorithms to work on. The sudden onset of paranoia could have led to character development, but it really just amounts to Julie pretending she’s in a thriller so the author can ham-handedly steer her toward a convergence for the endgame.

Speaking of the end…

The ending of After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall manages to be both predictable and unpredictable all at the same time. Predictable because it ends exactly how you expect it to. Unpredictable because the what really happened twist at the end is literally a character shouting theories, which hadn’t been mentioned in the book prior to that point, at another character and everyone accepting them without question. If you are going to end something, you may as well end it by ramming it into a brick wall and reveling in the bloody, crumpled mess that results.

The best and most interesting parts of this book are the few, very short chapters that depict bacteria mutation and unexpected geological events. These scenes are straightforward with little variation, essentially the same scenarios carried out in a number of different locations, but they provide an impersonal view of the looming apocalypse from the perspective of the events that will cause it. And that is a breath of fresh air compared to the petty drama surrounding the other characters.

Perhaps the most baffling thing about After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall is that it won a Nebula award. I can only assume this happened because the rest of the novellas nominated were god awful.

Struggling On – To the Library and Back Again

I started off with a rule that I could only check out one book at a time, but that didn’t last long. Going to the library that often is too much of a hassle, especially since it is tucked into an annoying location. I seem to have settled on four books per trip, which seems to be working. Anyway, this week’s trip resulted in the following books:

After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall by Nancy Kress

I was in the mood for some space opera, but I didn’t realize until it was too late that the only author I know from that subgenre is James. S.A. Corey and I am up to date on The Expanse. This was one of the few recognizable titles in the SFF section of my library and I’ve been tempted by it in the past, so I decided to go with it instead of taking a chance on something chosen at random.

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

This one has been a long time coming. I once borrowed this from the library for my mom and made the mistake of taking a glance at the first page before getting out of the car. I spent an hour reading it in the garage before I was chased indoors by the summer heat. It was good, but I didn’t continue reading it because I was serious about the reviewing thing and had a ton of other books on my plate. I’m looking forward to this one.

The Dog Stars by Peter Heller

I’ve got nothing. People seemed to like this one back when it was released in 2012 and I was tempted to read it then but never did. Always late to the party.

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

I am apprehensive about this one. The book sounds great and Beukes’ previous novels have received all sorts of praise, but I can’t help but notice that her first two books were published by Angry Robot Books. Does that sounds like a weird reason to worry? I attempted to read a dozen or so of their releases and managed to finish only one of them. I gave up after that. We obviously weren’t compatible and I wasn’t going to waste my time trying and failing to read their books. Now I just view them as a taint upon their authors, apparently.

I am going to hope for the best with this one.

{Note: I’m posting these sorts of posts under ‘Struggling On’ because I refer to my crawl back from burnout as ‘The Struggle.’ A bit melodramatic, but I pretty much stopped reading for 3/4 of a year and feel like I have the right to be so.}