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9.30.2013

Heading into the October Country...

We're just a few hours away from that special time of year, folks. Yep, we're mere hours from a complete government shutdown the first of October, that wonderful month of cool evenings, rustling leaves, dark stories, and delicious thrills.

In years past, I've attempted the task of looking at thirty-one horror movies in thirty-one nights. I'm not sure if I'll have the stamina to keep that up this year, but there are a few classics in my Amazon watch list that I'll definitely look at this weekend.

I took my little girl to the zoo on Saturday and they were just beginning to get set up for Spooktacular. My gracious how that lit a fire under her! There's something uniquely magical about being four years old and knowing that you have a whole month to revel in the excitement of trying on a brand new exterior. Lyla wanted to be Applejack at first, and then it was Rainbow Dash. I think the latest vacillation is actually toward Rapunzel, and I fully expect that to change a few more times between now and the big day.

We've been reading from Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. We're planning a camping trip with some smores and the requisite campfire tales for later in the fall. We're going to watch some child-appropriate movies this weekend and start making some decorations for the front window. All of this while cooler air is blowing into Duval County and the sun is setting a few minutes earlier with every passing day.

I love all of the seasons. Each has its own special charm, of course, but October is my favorite month of the year. In fact, I just spent a few minutes down the rabbit hole of researching Moloch for a story. Looking into those materials shot a surge of creative energy right through me, and I'm pretty excited about getting back to the story in the morning. It's just the perfect time of the year to write something a little bit darker... 

 

9.24.2013

When Writers Attack

That little corner of the Internet occupied by we the bibliophiles has endured a few minor explosions in the last forty-eight hours in light of Stephen King's comments on the Twilight and Hunger Games franchises. I agree with the man, and I appreciate his candor. I read the first book in the Hunger Games series, and I didn't keep going after I was finished. It seemed to meander in places, and their were way too many easy fixes--rules changes and character flip-flops and things of that nature that just frustrated me. I only read a few chapters in Twilight, just to test the waters, before I knew it wasn't for me.

Is that an indictment on the writing? Sure it is, but that doesn't mean those aren't decent books. They just aren't for me. Anyone who has ever had a one-star rating (and I've had my share) on a creative work understands that not every story will resonate with every reader.

Fans of Meyer and Collins need not become so rankled by King's comments. Taste is personal and subjective. My favorite film of all time is Dumb and Dumber, by the way, so you probably see where I'm coming from...

King's view on horror not entering some contrived "golden age" is also well taken. I see fewer and fewer major horror releases and, even though I know there is good work being done in the genre (Ludwigsen, Ford, Barron, Sarah Langan), it seems like we've kind of hit a period of creative stagnation. I'd love to see something like an Ira Levin horror tsunami take place--a smart, well-written horror novel for adult audiences that doesn't pander and sweeps across the reading populace. Bring on the psychological horror that unsettles and inspires chills, but doesn't mine the schlock... 

When I read that book, I'll be sure to light the beacons, by the way...

I also really admire the man's discussion of speed in writing. His prolific nature is pretty inspirational:
King wrote The Running Man in a week's holiday from his teaching job, while also minding his young children. Books, he says, came in a "gush" to him: "It was like somebody yelled 'Fire!' in a crowded theatre and everybody's trying to crowd through the door at the same time – that was ideas and work."

It's a short interview, but interesting food for thought, to be sure... 

9.17.2013

Elysium



A vision of our apocalyptic future from Neill Blomkamp's Elysium (2013)

"Do you think I like breathing the air down here?"

Those are the words of military industrialist John Carlyle, a slimy one percenter played by the consistently excellent William Fichtner in the entertaining Elysium. Blomkamp does cluttered and depleted very well. The visuals here recall the slums from his superior effort District 9. Elysisum actually borrows quite a bit from that film. The droids are very similar to the aliens, and the action sequences and mechanized augmentations come straight from that earlier film.

Still, there is much that feels fresh here. The short interaction between Matt Damon's Max and the robot parole officer is priceless. More of that speculative satire would have been great.

The visuals of Elysium are great. Picture Rivendell in space and you're getting pretty close. Jodie Foster is excellent as a slimy minister of defense. She grimaces and sneers through the whole thing, and it's easy to forget how great an actor she is. I hope she does some more lead roles very soon...

Damon is good, but the script doesn't give him much to work with. Mostly, this is a plot-driven action flick. We learn a little bit about the characters in some brief flashbacks, but not nearly enough to fully invest in the story.

And Sharlto Copley gives a turn as Kruger that is pretty memorable. Kruger, from his creepy demeanor, accent, and high-pitched voice, is one of the better villains in recent memory. Dude exudes menace...

So it's a good movie, and I enjoyed it on the big screen. It works on an allegory on financial isolation and elitism, and it works as a decent sci-fi flick. Solid "B" for me, and worth your time and ten bucks...