Category Archives: SD/TV

Impulse Buys for Early October

I am buying the heck out of these things right now. Total pay-day treat.

Each thing comes with my absolute recommendation, and yeah, if you buy using the linky things, I do get a little kickback. Microscopic, actually, but still kinda lovely, so I’d really appreciate it if you did!

 

This was one of a few films I saw in the last few months that I really thought wasn’t as well received as it deserved. It seemed to struggle on three fronts: incredibly badly marketed from the off, it was fighting against such terrible word of mouth and low public awareness even before release that it was probably always going to open badly, and then when it was released, it was such a loving adaptation that it didn’t offer anything beyond what we had already seen in the hundreds of movies inspired by it.

However, after a slow start, this won over everyone in the large group I saw it with at the cinema. The director shines when handling the CGI characters, who out-real central actor Taylor Kitsch until he finally catches his stride around the beginning of the second act. I liked it.

 

This is pretty much a straight-up fight movie, in the same vein as Rocky, but the emotional core of it is so well-crafted and sincerely delivered, and the actual scenes set in the ring so beautifully choreographed and shot, it totally knocked the wind out of me.

Now I just have to see whether it has the same impact on me in front of my wife as it did watching it in the house on my own with her away for a week.

The truth is I’m generally a little under-fed and over-tired when she’s away, so I may have been in an emotionally weakened state.

 

Nobody pays enough attention to Tarsem Singh.

Admittedly, this may be because his interests as a director run more to aesthetic and artistic beauty than coherence or emotional characterisation, but his movies really are so beautifully made that he should command a much larger audience than he does.

That said, The Fall manages to hit all targets that I require to consider it a damn-near perfect film. It’s an amazing combination of Tarsem’s incredible eye for location and spectacle, two beautifully natural central performances from Lee Pace and Catinca Untaru, and a narrative that weaves fantastic flights of childish whimsy and real-world melancholy into something utterly satisfying.

Not everybody will love this film, but if you still love The Princess Bride, this is a brilliant companion piece for it in your grown-up film collection.

 

For a while now I’ve been reading Avatar’s sharp and horrific web-comic “Crossed – Wish You Were Here”, but Kieron Gillen’s recent interview with the writer Si Spurrier (on Gillen’s podcast Decompressed, which is must-listen for people interested in creative process) reminded me that I wanted to own it, now that it was in print.

The whole thing is already available online, and you can read it all here, but be warned: while Spurrier and Barreno do a great job of tempering the horror with creeping mundanity, the grotesque moments are really very, very grotesque, and as much as I hate the concept of trigger-warnings, Crossed as a comic franchise should probably come with a dozen of them.

Especially if you like dolphins.

 

I’ve only read one issue of Wolverine & The X-Men, but it’s one of two X titles – X-Force is the other – that leaves an incredible impression on me whenever I catch even the shortest excerpt.

I think it’s down to the addictive mix of Jason Aaron’s tightrope walk between lightness and X-mutant melodrama, and Bachalo and Bradshaw’s cartoony and rammed with detail art.

The bits I’ve read remind me of the best of Chris Claremont’s later 80s work, when he’d team-up with Alan Davis or Art Adams for absolutely screwy but paradoxically high-stakes mutant mayhem, but without the over-written excesses that re-reads of those comics tend to reveal.

Basically, I’ve been looking for an excuse to pick up more since reading that one issue a few months ago.

 

This final one is a bit of a surprise for me.

I bought the first volume of this as part of a batch of similarly spontaneous purchases, from Amazon sellers who had it cheap.

I’d liked the look of odd issues of Marvel’s Stephen King adaptations when I saw them on the shelves, but suspected that they were a glossy but flawed endeavour. After all, why bother doing a good job of an adaptation, when King’s name would sell the books whatever the quality?

And having read The Stand nearly twenty years ago, I had my doubts as to whether it was even possible to adapt such a huge work well, or if King’s original book would even stand up to that much scrutiny so many years on.

Revisiting the story does show that like John Carter, King’s work sometimes doesn’t fare so well alongside the more modern stories that he influenced, and Aguirre-Sacasa and Perkins haven’t helped that mildly anachronistic feeling by fixing the work in the period in which it was written. However, with the writer’s well-measured and well-achieved mix of prose flourishes and comic looseness, and the artist’s beautifully drafted location and character work, that slightly off period feel has the odd effect of really grounding the narrative, and giving it a creepy and portentous atmosphere.

I’m really looking forward to finally reading this next volume.

Lost 0616 – What They Died For

Jeremy Paxman is doing the full Morris, about the spree shootings earlier today, so it seems like as good a time as any to escape into the brighter, sharper world of Lost.

Oh, yeah, I forgot… Previously on Lost, three beloved characters got obliterated. One literally, and two disposed of at the bottom of the ocean, where their bodies won’t ever be retrieved. Sigh.

So, we start on Jack’s eye – this shot is a favourite convention of the show, and if somebody hasn’t already compiled all of them together, somewhere, it’s bound to happen soon enough.

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Lost 0615 – Across The Sea

So we’re scant episodes from the end of the line, and Lost decides to take another step out of it’s ongoing story to tell us a tale of the distant past. As with “Ab Aeterno” a few episodes ago, I’m guessing it’ll give us some interesting but not vital background, that this late in the day will frustrate those of us eager to see how it all pans out, but that we’ll probably appreciate a lot more on later viewing.

I think if I was writing the final season of a show like this, with the working knowledge that geek love is a painfully co-dependent and resentful sort of love – as likely to exert the full, grumpy weight of thwarted expectation and entitlement as it is to just revel in the exhilaration of being taken on a fun ride for forty minutes of every week – and I knew that we’d managed to get the incredibly versatile and captivating Alison Janney on for an episode, I think I’d probably be unable to resist the mischevious instinct to use her as a mouthpiece for a fond yet firm assertion that I felt the audience needed to hear, too.

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Lost 0614 – The Candidate

So Jack saved Locke, and he thinks he’s a candidate for a surgery that Jack is developing. John Locke doesn’t want to be a candidate, though. He seems to recognise the phrase. Jack could do with having House MD on his side.

Jack wakes to Sayid telling him that they’re on Hydra island. Sayid even makes a joke. Actually, I reckon Sayid might be back on the turn again.

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