My Bloody Valentine (1981)

MV5BYmQ5MWI1ZGMtZThkYi00YTFmLWEzMjctNmJmNDliMzg0MTdlXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTQxNzMzNDI@._V1__SX1859_SY893_After I got off work on Valentine’s Day, we went out to the Alamo for a third time to see My Bloody Valentine, because I am nothing if not romantic. And to my surprise, although I saw the remake some years back, this is a movie I’d never seen before.

The plot is as follows: Twenty years ago, some miners were trapped in a collapse in the Canadian mining town of Valentine’s Bluffs, because everyone was busy at the annual big deal Valentine’s Day dance and forgot to check methane levels I think? One of the miners survived, went crazy, and killed a bunch of people the next year at the same party. So they’ve never held that party since, but hey, it’s been twenty years and there’s a new generation of horny post-teens who would rather drink and party than honor the dead of the past, and even the old people are thinking, hey, it might be nice to get back to what made our town great. Only, there’s a note from Harry Warden (the insane killer miner in the gas mask) saying, “Hey, bitches, you hold a party, I go back to killing everyone, just like old times!”

After the movies takes ten minutes or so to establish that summary, it commences to being an ’80s horror movie, so I think more or less you know what’s up from here. Important differences, though: the teens are actually grown-ass adults instead of being teens, with jobs (mostly down the mine) and actual relationships. I mean, they’re barely more than teens, but the difference shows, what with adult conversations that extend further than the “which of us will bang next?” you might get from, say, Friday the 13th. Then again, the prankster jerk is just as much of a teenager as ever, so maybe the differences aren’t as vast as all that after all. And there are certainly plot holes wide enough to drive a mine cart through.

Like I said, I think you know what’s up from here. Ultimately, I think I liked the remake better? But I appreciate that someone behind the camera wanted to make a serious movie that happened to include an insane murder miner instead of a horror movie. Not all dreams can come true, of course, but effort matters.

Majo No Takkyûbin

MV5BOTc0ODM1Njk1NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDI5OTEyNw@@._V1__SX1859_SY893_The second outing of the weekend was to catch the one Miyazaki movie playing this month at the Alamo Drafthouse that I both had not seen and could fit in my schedule[1]. Hence, Kiki’s Delivery Service, about a 13 year old girl sent out on her own to make her way in the world for a year, in the traditions of her people. Who are witches, I should probably add.

Based on the vehicles and architecture, and other clues, I’m guessing that the never specified timeframe for the film is in the late 1950s or early ’60s, and I’m also assuming the locale is Japan. The latter is more strongly implied than the former, but neither is by any means definitive. For most of the movie, I assumed the point was mostly to showcase the gorgeous animation and soundtrack, via long, contemplative shots of Kiki flying across the countryside on her broom, or walking through her new city, and that the job (she delivers things for people, as you might expect) and relationships she was forming were mostly beside the point.

But then my mental jokes about making a 13 year old run off and earn her own living were translated seriously onto the screen, as she quickly lost her [Japanese phrase that means joie de vivre] in the humdrum grind of using her heritage and passion as a means of keeping herself fed and housed. From that turning point and throughout the final act, the story turned into more of a meditation on whether and how she could come back to herself and find her happiness, and now I think the movie is a love letter to post-war Japan, unsure of herself and finding her footing after a resounding defeat.

But maybe it’s just a feel-good movie about a witch and her sarcastic cat. That’s cool too.

[1] The only other one I’ve actually seen was the only other one that matched up schedule-wise, sadly. (Mononoke.)

Deadpool

MV5BMjM3MjEwODA3MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzI4MzM1NzE@._V1__SX1859_SY893_Full disclosure: I am still years away from reading anything about Deadpool, and what I know about him could fit on someone’s palm as their cheat notes. He’s super violent, aware that he’s a character (or some other form of fourth-wall-breaking thing if not that), and he thinks he’s hilarious. I don’t even know if he’s actually hilarious, although the evidence points to yes.

Because, yep, I saw Deadpool (the movie) on Thursday night, with a delightful plate of chimichangas[1] in front of me, and here’s the deal. I’ve loved far more of the Marvel movies that have come out this century than not, and can only rate them correctly with distance. I therefore won’t say more than that this is definitely good. What I can say unreservedly is that it is by far and away the funniest superhero movie I’ve ever seen. If you ever wondered what a superpowered fight would really look like, or wished they didn’t censor themselves so heavily, or wanted the characters to be noticing the same dumbass discrepancies you do? This right here is your movie.

If you don’t like comics, I doubt this would bring you around, though. But also, while I’m dealing in irrelevancies: man, Ryan Reynolds has been a in a lot of comic book movies. (I bet this is the one he’s remembered for.)

[1] New knowledge: he likes chimichangas I guess?

Welcome to Night Vale

61b0tVzWgaL._SL300_In a first for me, I listened to an audiobook that I had not previously consumed with my eyes. I don’t expect to repeat the experience, but Welcome to Night Vale is a special case. I’ve been listening to the podcast for about two years now, after hearing it evangelized during New Year’s 2014, and when they announced the book, they also announced the the audio version would be narrated by the same person who has performed as community radio host for Night Vale lo these many years.

So, anyway: obviously the performance was dandy. If Cecil were not good at his job, I never would have gotten far enough down the rabbit hole to be aware of this book. (I mention performance mainly because I might listen to reruns of books in the future, and it will be more relevant for books not based in part on someone’s voice.)

As for the story… I’m not sure how accessible it was (or was meant to be) to a new reader, but to be fair, the podcast is barely accessible, unless you just love it right away. It tells the story of a couple of previously named bit characters as they interact with each other, the town, and a mysterious, previously unnamed major character. Which I think was the best way to handle it. Give the fans something to chew on while giving the newcomers people who have never really mattered before, so they can come in fresh.

Overall: it’s a good book, about time, family, parenthood, and the different ways these things affect each other and also, of course, how they affect people. Plus, there are terrifying librarians and tarantulas and video stores to contend with. There’s no good reason why you wouldn’t like this book. But then, there’s no good reason for anything, really.

Ultimate End

510TQ731k4LWell, I am straight up disappointed by the ultimate final novel in Marvel’s Ultimate continuity. See, the other times there have been big crossover events, I’ve read all of the affiliated books (in publication order, natch) because they were crossed over in, y’know, the same publication line. Whereas Secret Wars is a crossover among multiple Marvel continuities, none of which I am current on other than this one.

Which means that I was reading a sideline on the main story, without any context for what was supposed to be going on. I’m not saying there wasn’t any emotional impact; Bendis knows his job. But when I don’t know why things are happening[1], it’s hard to get involved enough to really get it. So, that was lame.

Bright side: I’m only 37 years behind on catching up with the other continuities so I can reread this with the proper context! So I’ve got that going for me, which is nice.

[1] Example: An army of Thors flying around enforcing God’s will. Um… what? Why? Who? So, yep. Also, the entire final issue was predicated on something a character learned in a different book. Sigh.

Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition

91jwO5PCReL._SL1500_A quote from my review of the first Uncharted game, lo these many years ago: Pretty much, it’s a Tomb Raider game where they reduced the budget on breast motion physics and invested that money into storyline and dialogue. It was, I think, a good trade.

I have a feeling that someone paid attention to that sentiment, because just a few years later Eidos rebooted the Tomb Raider franchise with exactly those modifications to the bottom line. And while I like the Uncharted series quite a lot, Lara Croft is a character I’ve been following for decades. Seeing her in the game she’s deserved ever since her inception was a pure joy.

Tomb Raider charts her progress from young archaeologist on her first big historical search to seasoned fighter of enraged beasts and evil men, not to mention world-class gymnast, expert mountaineer, and well, tomb raider. Which is to say, yes, it’s kind of silly if you don’t willingly blind yourself to that kind of thing. But the game solidly scratched my exploration and collection itches, redeemed a character that had always deserved better, and told a really good story along the way. I look forward to snagging the sequel.

Horns

MV5BMTQ2Nzk5NzIxMF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTM2NTc5MjE@._V1__SX1859_SY893_Mary picked Horns for movie night, a film about which I knew very little. Basically, just an image in my head (not dissimilar to the one in front of you) of Daniel Radcliffe with some, y’know, horns growing out of his forehead. It turned out to be pretty interesting, though! Mainly by that I mean that its philosophical / religious underpinnings were thought-provoking. If your very presence brought out people’s darkest secrets and basest impulses, who would you hang out with? Who would you avoid?

Unfortunately, the actual story above said underpinnings was not really worth holding up. What started as a moody murder and identity mystery quickly lost track of itself in an admittedly compelling relationship history, and by the time it found its way back, all of the moodiness had been lost in a generic anti-feminist fist fight between two guys over the fate of a dead girl.

It’s too bad, though. The principle actors were solid, and I think there’s a really excellent movie buried in the premise. This just wasn’t that movie.

The Hateful Eight

MV5BMTY4MTMxNTMxM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODcyNjMzMjE@._V1._CR4,4,554,751__SX1859_SY893_I saw The Hateful Eight at the Alamo Drafthouse this weekend, partly because I want to see all Quentin Tarantino movies but mostly because that was the best of the buy one get one deals this week. (I still need to see Star Wars there.)

Here are the things this movie definitely delivers on: 1) Title accuracy. It is probably almost a spoiler to say that I do not know for sure which eight characters the title refers to, but there’s no doubt that there were some extremely hateful bastards up in this film. 2) Being a Quentin Tarantino movie. Somewhat stylized despite it being a period piece (the period is the post-Civil-War West), ultraviolent, as obscenity laden as it is probably possible for a movie to be, and full of detailed but meaningless digressions.

I don’t want to get into the plot, because it works pretty well coming in cold, but what it most reminded me of was Tarantino’s version of The Canterbury Tales. I’ll say this in its favor: I did not feel like I was in the theater for three hours.

Hawk

91I7kmF-y7LThe only upside of accidentally reading the newest Vlad Taltos book a year late is that it probably indicates a proportionally shorter wait before the next one. Well, no. There’s also the upside that it’s even harder than in most long series to discuss the Vlad books without spoilers, so yay that anyone I know who cares about them has read this ahead of me, right?

Anyway, Hawk. Some Vlad books are about wars or gods or really amazing dinners or the dissolution of relationships, but my favorite ones (and, I think, the author’s favorites as well) are the ones where Vlad gets to wax rhapsodic about how very clever he is, doling out bits and pieces of his plan timed for maximum effect. You know how, if Holmes rather than Watson were tasked with writing down all his stories, people would think him a huge asshole? Vlad’s narration is just like that, but since he’s obviously an asshole from the start of things, it somehow works.

So yeah, it’s a caper book, and you know by now if you like Taltos books, so you’ll either read it or not regardless of what else I’d say, so I won’t say a lot more. Thing one: obviously if for some reason you don’t know if you like Taltos books, don’t start with this one. (I’ve covered this ground before.) Thing two: I am always most pleased when the story moves forward instead of jumping back, and this was one that moved forward. Thing three: There were hints of previous stories that I either don’t remember or haven’t been written yet, and both options itch maddeningly at my brain. It may be nearing time for a reread? At least they go fast. Thing four: The itch puts lie to my thing two; the real truth is that I am most pleased by whatever Vlad book is in front of me at the time. …except maybe Teckla.

Limitless

MV5BMTY3NjczNzc5Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMzA2MzQyNA@@._V1__SX1859_SY893_I kind of wanted to see Limitless a good long time ago, because of how I like Bradley Cooper and the plot seemed cool in a wish-fulfillment kind of way, but I never did. Then recently CBS released a show about it, which I did watch, and it turned out a) to be good (and more importantly, fun) but also b) a sequel to the movie rather than a reimagining of it. So at that point, I had to watch it. Which I have!

And, yeah. Wish fulfillment is the name of the game. You just take this pill, and suddenly you can remember everything you’ve ever seen or learned, not to mention how easy it becomes to learn new things and make new connections. And the downsides are… well, fairly minimal.[1] From there, high stakes cats and mice, criminal enterprises, stock markets, genius books that capture the public imagination: you know, the kinds of things people would do if they had, er, limitless potential.

Recommended to people who like brain wish-fulfillment or Bradley Cooper. Not recommended to people who like Wars on Drugs. Oh, and the show is definitely better, if for some reason you feel a need to choose between them.

[1] There are more realistic downsides in the show, which is early on often a remake of the movie after all, but smarter.