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Showing posts from September, 2015

A Review of "The Suicide Theory" (2015)

The Suicide Theory is the kind of movie that will be polarizing depending on how you feel about interconnected plot elements.  If you're of the mindset that these kinds of connections are predictable or mere contrivances, then you'll probably hate it.  But if you (more accurately) recognize this as "tightly constructed storytelling," then good news!  You'll enjoy this film.

I'm hesitant to go the whole hog and give this a perfect score only because I found it just a tad too slow and there's one particular plot thread that left me really confused.  Other than that, TST is a nifty drama that brings new meaning to the phrase "no loose ends."

The film is principally concerned with two key words that show up on its poster: suicide and fate.  A despondent suicidal man, Percival, hires a hitman, Steven, to kill him.  Percival would just kill himself, but it doesn't work; he's seemingly immortal, and all attempts he's made so far have simply…

It's hard to talk about art without sounding like a snob.

I specifically made a point to use Mondays for my Writing Journal updates because I like the idea of starting out the week with some self-reflection.  It reminds me what it is I hope to achieve with my novels and how I hope to get there.

But I noticed a problem lately: it's hard to talk about writing - or any art form, really - without sounding like a snob.

I don't mean to.  It just kinda happens.  I'll think, "Man, lately I've been really focusing on this plot detail involving religion.  I should hash that out in my journal and see if I can reach some clarity."  Then I'll re-read that post like six months later and I'll want to kick my own ass for being so pompous.

Hell, even my original title for my writing journal - "The Rejected Writer" - seems like an exercise in autofellatio.  "Hey, I'm going to turn my constant failures at traditional publication into a quasi-clever jokey screen name!  Somebody pleeeeeeeease pay attention to …

Week in Review: 9/27/15

Movies I Watched in the Last Week
1) The Suicide Theory - I loved this movie quite a bit.  A quick peek at review aggregate sites shows me that it's a bit polarizing and some people found it over the top... but that boggles me.  It's a really well-constructed drama that's more of an exercise in "how can we tie this all together" than it is in "how can we make you believe this all could actually happen."  I highly recommend it.

My Rating: 4.5 / 5

I am not fond of the phrase "nom nom."

The older I get, the more I find that I'm not actually all that upset by new trends, music, or technologies.  I've always feared I'd be the sort of cranky old guy who whines about minor inconveniences because he feels like the world owes him something, but not so far.  Each year that passes, I find myself more and more enchanted by change and the capacity of our planet and our species to surprise us with something new.

But there is one thing that makes me cranky.  And no matter how high on life I might feel, I immediately turn into a 90 year-old curmudgeon waving a cane at all the whippersnappers when somebody does it.

It's when people talk to me like a fucking baby.

"Nom Nom."  Ugh,..

No, wait, that was too quiet.  Let me do that more accurately:

A review of "Tales from the Crypt Presents: Ritual" (2002)

The Short Bit for People Who Don't Like to Read Reviews Dull, condescending, and with a touch of misogyny, Ritual is a slog that feels endless at 100 minutes.  If they completely shed the Tales from the Crypt branding and hacked 20 minutes out of the run-time, this might be a marginally good made-for-TV movie, but as it stands, I can't really advise that anybody watch it except out of TftC completism.
My Rating: 2 / 5

"Patch Town" (2014) probably won't be the next big cult movie, but it's at least accessible.

I have a tendency to assign way too much societal value to movies.  I think maybe it's because I connect with so many of them in deeply personal ways, so I assume everybody else must have had the same reaction.  So there are a ton of movies that I see and I think, "Wow, that must have been a huge event when it came out!  I bet everybody was talking about it all year long!"

And then later I find out that, no, barely anybody was talking about Dark City or Ravenous when they came out, and although audiences were generally favorable toward Goon, it was not a particularly impressive release.

Patch Town represents, to me, something of the inverse of this phenomenon.  It looks like a movie that was intentionally meant to be a cult film with the hope of drawing in a smaller audience of devotees who would keep talking about it on Twitter (aka, the Sharknado effect), but which perhaps succeeded with too narrow an audience and will end up being forgotten as a result.  I could be wro…

I'm obsessing about my blog stats too much.

I sometimes have this weird nightmare where I'll be invited to speak at a work-related function (or some other event where there's a decent number of people who would recognize me), and although everybody will be polite and really receptive at first, I'll open the floor to discussion by saying, "Any questions?" And then some guy in the back will raise his hand and shout,

"Why do you write your blog?"
And I'll just be totally speechless.  Probably my cheeks will burn red and I'll run off the stage (if it exists) to go hide in the corner behind a fifth of Jameson (if it is served).

I can give general reasons why I thought a blog would be a good idea, but over two years into it, I still can't explain why I'm writing it.  My stated reason is that I wanted to manage my time better and I needed a formal journal to track how much effort I'm putting into my writing.  My backup reason is to have some place to market my books and generally kee…

A suggestion to villainous overlords everywhere...

...stop killing all your own guys.

Listen, Evil Ones, I know you're cranky and you don't tolerate failure well.  But you have to be a little more patient when your goons make mistakes.  Remember when you told them not to try fighting Jason Statham?  That was sound advice, right?  You have safety and strength in numbers.  So let's not go and waste all that time you spent training your goons in a single moment of anger.

And believe me, I get it.  I know how much it sucks when Dumbknuckles Pantshit thinks he kidnapped The Chosen One and it turns out he only nabbed the next door neighbor's kid instead because they both happened to be wearing blue caps.  Trust me.  I've had my fair share of idiots on the payroll.  It's maddening.

A review of "The Eternal" (1998) (aka, "Trance," aka "Kiss of the Mummy")

The Short Bit for People Who Don't Like to Read Reviews I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around The Eternal, but I think I kinda liked it.  It's a beautifully shot movie about a bunch of alcoholics who go on a supernatural adventure in Ireland, and it plays out like their dream in a bout of whiskey sleep.  It's funny, but I can't tell if it's supposed to be, and it's creepy, but not necessarily because of the horror elements.  I think I'll give this one a middle of the road rating and a marginal recommendation.

My Rating: 3 / 5

I'm ambivalent about "The Skeleton Twins" and I think I might hate mumblecore.

Here's a great hook for the Internet: I have no strong feelings one way or the other about The Skeleton Twins.  Riveting, right?

I'll hand it to Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig: they each put in amazing performances.  Luke Wilson has a good turn, too, but since he's a more minor character, nobody's celebrating him very much.

The characters are strong and believable, their inner turmoil is well-realized and immediately empathetic, and the story is tragically grounded in the banality of daily misery.  All of this is good stuff.

But it's also just kinda boring.

"The only art form..."

The other day I had a moment of panicky self-reflection out of nowhere.  These things happen from time to time because I spend a lot of time listening to the voices in my head, and they're kinda miserable.

More specifically, it came up when I was listening to a back episode of the WTF podcast.  (So, an actual voice in my head for once.)  Maron was interviewing the guy who drew the original Walking Dead comic, and he said something to the effect of, "comics are the only art form where you can interpret events in your own voice."  (I'm paraphrasing this very badly.  He made his point more clearly and I'm sure it sounds terrible secondhand.)

I dismissed it at first.  I hear the phrase "the only art form" used a lot when people talk about why they're passionate about one particular form over another.  "Theater is the only art form where the audience is a direct participant" or "Music is the only art form where words don't matter"…

"The Cobbler" might be Sandler's best movie in years, and that's tragic.

The Cobbler is kind of like a case study for the phrase "damning with faint praise."

This is definitely a Hollywood Punching Bag situation.  Right now it's got a single digit rating on Rotten Tomatoes and rests under 30% on Metacritic, and I've heard nothing but bad things about it.  I'd love to be the one guy who gives a dissenting positive review, but... well, it may not be the worst movie of the year, but it sure ain't "good."

Before the bad, let's talk about the positive, however briefly: It's a surprisingly low-key movie (by Adam Sandler standards, anyway) with a couple of moments of effective sincerity and a promising premise.  The cast, including Sandler, does a good job, and the movie is shot well.

There are some awful stereotypes and caricatures, but for the most part it is not cruel or exploitative as many of Sandler's films often are.  Other than one appallingly offensive transvestite character who serves as the butt of a few …

A review of "Captives" (1994)

The Short Bit for People Who Don't Like to Read Reviews If you're looking for a unique romantic drama with a dash of crime suspense, Captives is a good bet.  It's a well-acted and surprisingly believable romance with the unique and unexpected premise of one of its leads being a prisoner.
My Rating: 4 / 5

I can be a cranky old jerk about Slenderman.

I was listening to back episodes of MonsterTalk the other week, and I got into their episode on Slenderman.  (If you don't listen, by the way, I recommend it.  A good show that's sometimes a little bit dry, but always interesting.  Plus, they've got one of the better themes out there.) (Another aside: if you're into excellent podcast theme music, which is an incredibly specific subgenre, check out Flip the Table.  Now that's a theme.)

It's an excellent episode that deconstructs the history of Slenderman as a phenomenon and its bizarre evolution from an Internet meme to a piece of folklore to a really tragic and frustrating tabloid piece.  This naturally invites plenty of fascinating questions about belief and the human instinct to assign reality to those stories that resonate most deeply with us.
But for some reason, my gut reaction was just to scoff and go, "Pshaw.  I was there when Slenderman was invented.  I liked it before it was popular."

My new book has a final(ish) title. Here's why the others didn't work.

So, it appears I have settled on a cover and final title for my next book.  Time for the grand reveal, soon to be plastered ubiquitously on my blog and Google+ profile:

I sure hope people like it.  I'm starting to get tired of changing it every week.

So, aside from revealing the cover, I thought today I'd do a bit of back story on this book.  I spend a lot of time in my Monday writing journal philosophizing about writing, but I feel like I don't always spend too much time talking more specifically about what I'm writing.  I guess I feel it would be too self-aggrandizing or something.  But I figured I'd change it up a bit today and talk at length about the specific thought processes that led to Bitter People Without Souls.

Be warned: I'm about to get into deep detail about a subject that maybe only ten people in the world will be interested in, eight of whom don't even know me yet.  Unless you're specifically interested in the different titles I previous…

I finally watched "JCVD" (2008)

JCVD is another one of those movies that I heard great things about when it first came out, but I never made the time to watch it.  Now I regret that I waited so long.  It feels like I could have been part of something awesome, and now I'm just trying to catch up.

It's strange for me to watch it after I watched Birdman, another self-alluding movie about movies that features an aging actor saddled with demons who is struggling to stay relevant.  The two would make an excellent double feature.

What's strange is that I think I liked Birdman better for reasons of accessibility - the way its narrative is constructed is much tighter and less redundant than JCVD, which unfortunately lags in the middle when it retreads some scenes a little too much - but if I was going to recommend only one, I would recommend JCVD.

Hipster Holy Grail: Written In Blood (2003)

The Hipster Holy Grail is a weekly experiment where I try to find and review a movie that's at least 10 years old and has less than 1,000 ratings on IMDb. I always hope to discover something amazing. Sometimes I don't.  This week, I watched....

The Short Bit for People Who Don’t Like to Read Reviews
Written in Blood is about as generic as thrillers get.There are a few moments where it almost breaks free from its clich├ęs and becomes something interesting, but at the end of the day, it’s just another cop movie.Check it out if you haven’t seen enough of them, but don’t beat yourself up if you skip it.
My Rating: 3 / 5 (Shitty Ending)

I'm struggling to think of something clever to say about "Rollergator" (1996)

Words fail me.  Just... just try to watch it yourself.  You don't even have to watch the full thing.  You can just check out this clip.

I just... I....

Look, you all know I dig a bad movie from time to time.  You all know I love cult movies (and movies about cults).  I do the Hipster Holy Grail each week specifically as a way to go check out something that's been overlooked and give it a bit of attention.  Whether it's good or bad, I just enjoy talking about the movies that we've overlooked.

So I watched Rollergator thinking I'd do a full HHG review of it.  But... I just can't.

All the Other Nonsense That Got Pushed Off the Main Page (Post Archive)