jazzfish: book and quill and keyboard and mouse (Media Log)
Elizabeth Bear, Dust (or Pinion)
Chill (or Sanction)
Grail (or Cleave)

I'm torn. The author's preferred titles have lovely opposing dual meanings, but the published titles are more evocative for me. Well, Dust is, anyway. And as a bonus, there are the lovely chapter headings with quotes from, among other sources, Conrad Aiken's lengthy modernist poem "The House of Dust." Oh well. Onward.

The Jacob's Ladder is a generation ship, launched around seven hundred years ago. Five hundred years ago, a series of disasters marooned the ship around an unstable star, and split the ship's governing intelligence into several separate parts. Now the star is threatening to go nova, and our heroes have to get the ship moving again, and find a place to make landfall before the ship completely falls apart.

Dust especially reads like a variant Amber Diceless campaign: the (essentially) royal family are, thanks to nanotech, long-lived, brilliant, just plain superior to normal humans ('Means', in another example of words with multiple relevant meanings), and rightfully distrustful of each other. Hence they spend a lot of time scheming and plotting and maneuvering around. This is not exactly a criticism: I love Amber Diceless, I especially love the later game Lords of Gossamer and Shadow, and I really enjoyed watching the various plots unfold, from the perspectives of characters who don't have quite all the information. It doesn't, however, make for a wholly satisfying read. "Oh, yes, I suppose character X was behind all this. We'll send people to arrest them." And, as in Amber, the gigantic cast of characters means that most of them end up feeling a bit shallow. I wanted to spend more time with most of them, to get to know them beyond just the image they put up.

Chill's big denouement felt a bit weak: not the event itself, the battle at and with the Leviathan that the long-dead crew imprisoned, but the reason behind it all. And Grail... the contact with the unexpected inhabitants of the planet they're heading for is handled so well on a character and dialogue level, and then the conflict is resolved by an almost literal deus ex machina.

Don't read these for the coherent plot, is I guess what I'm saying. Read them for the atmosphere and the characters and the journey. For Mallory the necromancer/gardener and the grove of fruit trees with dead people's memories, for the sentient carnivorous plants and Benedick's animate toolkit. For Perceval's wings, and Rien's bravery, and the Corwinesque Prince Tristen and solid practical Chief Engineer Caitlin.

Delightful, if unsatisfying. Recommended.


Dec. 28th, 2018 11:06 pm
jazzfish: book and quill and keyboard and mouse (Media Log)
"Blink" (Doctor Who S3E10), Steven Moffat

Sally's friend vanishes while they're exploring an abandoned house. It turns out she's vanished into the past, kidnapped by statues that move when you're not looking at them, and if Sally can't figure out what's going on with these weird DVD easter eggs she might be next.

Okay, so, I liked Blink less than most people seem to, and it took me a bit to work out why that was. The Weeping Angels are great: inventive and successfully creepy, and I love love love the bit where the TARDIS vanishes from around Sally and Larry, surrounded by Angels. Sally's a decent enough character, and while we don't see much Doctor or Martha what we get is perfectly fine.

My first thought was that it's a puzzle-box story, and that's just not what I'd expect to see from Doctor Who. But that's not really accurate: a lot of episodes have been "here's a weird thing, what's going on with it," layered throughout the story. It works well. But here I could see the gears moving, and that made the difference.

Specifically: I didn't ever get a sense that Sally and company were solving the thing, were figuring out what was going on. Instead they were just following a trail that had been laid down for them, by the Doctor and Martha, and by Kathy and Shipton. There wasn't any joy in the discovery. It was all "Oh, the police box. Oh, the list of DVDs. Oh, you know what I'm going to say. Oh, we shouldn't blink."

(It didn't help that Larry, Sally's most constant companion, is a slacker dude with no particularly redeeming features. That she takes his hand at the end of the episode is just insult to injury.)

Well-constructed, neat ideas, execution left me cold. If I hadn't seen other Who, if I hadn't known how much heart this show can have, I expect I'd have been more favourably disposed towards it. But it could have been that little bit better, and I would have liked it so much more.
jazzfish: book and quill and keyboard and mouse (Media Log)
Cory Finley (dir.), Thoroughbreds

The trailer, which I saw sometime last fall and which successfully enticed me to see the movie. This trailer is pretty remarkable for how little it spoils: it gives an excellent sense of the movie's atmosphere, and some hints of characterization, while avoiding much in the way of details. My favourite kind of trailer.

Based on that I expected Thoroughbreds to be another Brick. Which it was, more or less, but more than that I got a fantastic character study and a couple of jumping-off points for some potentially interesting discussion. I don't know that I liked it but I haven't been able to stop thinking about it.

Spoilers follow. Bruce Willis was a sled all along )
jazzfish: book and quill and keyboard and mouse (Media Log)
Steven Brust, Vallista
Vlad Taltos #15

Wiseass ex-assassin offers to help out a very strange little girl and finds himself trapped in a very strange haunted house. Certain worldbuilding questions are answered in ways that make it look suspiciously like the author had them planned all along.

As has been the case since at least Athyra, and arguably since Teckla, Vlad books are mostly recognisably Vlad books but each one is doing something a little different. Which is neat; means that new ones feel familiar but not too same-y. It also means that occasionally they go pretty far afield into territory I'm less fond of. Athyra was one of those, at least up til my most recent reread. Vallista is another.

So: this is a ghost-story, and/or a haunted-house novel. (The chapter titles are all puns on famous ghost stories or haunted house stories, in addition to being relevant to the content of chapter in question.) As a Vlad novel this doesn't really work for me, possibly for the same reason that Dragon, as an in-the-army-now memoir, doesn't. That being: it's either the genre itself, or the way it's employed in the Vlad books, and I'm not sure which.

To the extent that there's a typical Vlad-novel structure: Vlad is presented with a problem; he flails around getting more information, often while trading snark with his friends; he eventually does something that brings a sort of resolution. I like this structure. It usually works for me. Vallista follows it, but not in a way that I enjoyed.

Partly this is, and I keep harping on this, the lack of secondary characters. I think more of it has to do with the nature of the flailing. The house Vlad and Devera are trapped in is weird, in lots of ways. Doors go to different places in the house, or outside it; members of the household are less than helpful in unexpected ways. I've run RPGs like this and enjoyed them; my players seem to have also enjoyed them; I think I'd enjoy playing in one. It's ... I was going to say "it's not a fun formula for a novel, for me," but no, Issola did something very similar, and I liked Issola quite a bit. So I guess it does go back to the lack of secondary characters. Loiosh helps but he's not quite enough on his own.

So: not a favourite but I'm glad I read it, and would happily reread. If you wanted more Devera: Vallista has more Devera than any book thus far, though not as much as you want. If you wanted more metaplot: Vallista has more metaplot than any book thus far except Jhereg or Issola, and even those are arguable. If you wanted to know what happens after Hawk ... hopefully that's coming soon.
jazzfish: book and quill and keyboard and mouse (Media Log)
The Great Big Dragaera Reread, part 6

If I were really serious about this, I'd do an appendix that included the canonically non-canonical "A Dream of Passion" (see part 1), the hilariously terrible Jhereg graphic novel, the non-excerpt "Klava with Honey" (see part 5), and the not-by-Brust choose-your-own-adventure-book Dzurlord which is mostly interesting because Brust's introduction explicitly states Dragaera is modeled on Europe. However, my comic books and paperbacks are all in boxes, so you get what you get.

Desecrator, Tiassa (long), Hawk )
jazzfish: book and quill and keyboard and mouse (Media Log)
The Great Big Dragaera Reread, part 5

VALLISTA HAS SHIPPED! *happydance* Guess I'll have to keep cracking on these. SUCH HARDSHIP.

It's interesting to move from "books I've reread so many times they're like old friends I've not seen in awhile" through "books I know pretty well and enjoy getting reacquainted with" and on into "books I like a lot but don't know as well as I could, or as I think I do."

Klava, Dzur, Jhegaala, Iorich )
jazzfish: book and quill and keyboard and mouse (Media Log)
The Great Big Dragaera Reread, part 4

I draw a mental line straight through Issola. You'd think that divide would be more reasonably put between Orca and Dragon, when the Vlad books got picked up by Tor, but no. In my head Dragon is the last of the Ace books and Dzur is the first of the Tor books, or something. I blame [SPOILER].

Also, I appreciate that Viscount is at least up-front about being composed of bound book-fragments. This does make writing about each individual volume both a) difficult and b) useless. However.

Issola, Paths, Lord, Sethra )
jazzfish: book and quill and keyboard and mouse (Media Log)
The Great Big Dragaera Reread, part 3

The Ace books have decidedly Aged Well, which is always a pleasant surprise. The treatement of Easterners feels remarkably relevant and contemporary (at least, so saith this white dude), and the sense of having wandered into someone's high-powered D&D game doesn't persist past Jhereg, or maybe Yendi. I'd definitely recommend them.

Athyra, Orca, FHYA, Dragon )
jazzfish: book and quill and keyboard and mouse (Media Log)
The Great Big Dragaera Reread, part 2

Aha, the Ace collected editions do have the Cycle poem, just at the beginning before even the title page.

I miss the original covers. Next time I'm reading my mass-market paperbacks.

(I am aware that I am not really posting, and am in fact engaging in some serious escapism. I'm overcommitted and somewhat burnt out right now, but I don't think I'm depressed.)

Palace, Taltos, Phoenix, Phoenix Guards )
jazzfish: book and quill and keyboard and mouse (Media Log)
The Great Big Dragarea Reread, part 1

I'm rereading all of Steven Brust's Dragaera books, more or less in publication order: fourteen mainline novels, five Paarfi romances, one side story, and three short stories.

Sparked by the impending release of Vallista and the realisation that I've not read the Ace volumes in, oh, probably not since Issola came out, despite having read them to exhaustion in the decade previous.

My mass-markets are packed up so I'm reading the Ace books in the SFBC collected editions. As far as I know the main changes are some terminology around pre-Empire sorcery ("raw chaos" to "raw amorphia" etc), and the removal of the Cycle poem at the front of Jhereg. I liked the poem, and it made the chapter headings make sense, but I seem to be in the minority.

The Book of Jhereg )
jazzfish: book and quill and keyboard and mouse (Media Log)
Luke Scott (dir), Morgan

Hanna crossed with Blade Runner, with the atmosphere of Alien. Those latter two shouldn't come as a surprise for the first film from Luke "Son of Ridley" Scott. I wouldn't call it a horror movie but I wouldn't necessarily disagree with someone who did.

The plot revolves around a bunch of scientists who've created an artificial young female human named Morgan. Morgan has poor impulse control and nonstandard thought processes. Lee has come from "corporate" to visit the remote lab and decide whether the Morgan project should continue. As you might expect, Things Go Poorly.

I liked it pretty well. I found Morgan's disconcerting affect and Lee's iron-clad control entirely believable. The setting (Northern Ireland playing upstate New York) is gorgeously green and foggy, and adds to the melancholy-ominous atmosphere. The only character who does something unforgivably stupid (psychiatrist Paul Giamatti) is established immediately as a pompous idiot; everyone else's stupid decisions are justifiable.

Here there be spoilers )

Also, a strong Bechdel pass. In fact, I believe it may fail the reverse-Bechdel, as I don't think there are ever any conversations between two male characters that aren't about a woman.
jazzfish: book and quill and keyboard and mouse (Media Log)
Ken MacLeod, The Restoration Game

I've read two novels by Jon Courtenay Grimwood: Stamping Butterflies and, um, End Of The World Blues. I remember very little about Stamping Butterflies except that I enjoyed the writing and that at the end it pulled the "universe reset" / "erase the fact that the story occurred" trick, which (it turns out) really, really irritates me. End Of The World Blues didn't do that; instead, it set up an intriguing premise and then used that premise mostly to illuminate a single character's life and growth in the way that more literary novels often do.

Verdict: Grimwood writes well and succeeds admirably in what he sets out to do, and that goal does not line up at all with what I want out of a book. To quote James Nicoll, I don't mind hidden depths but I insist that there be a surface. Or, in this case, that the surface be integral to the story that's being told.

I mention Grimwood because The Restoration Game does something similar to those two books, but it works for me. I think.

This is not a spoiler: the opening scene of the novel involves space-cops discovering that some jerk has set up a computer running a simulation of a universe and all the life in it, including the sentient life. Said sentient life are scientifically advanced enough to start bumping up against the limits of the universe's physics engine. Creating such a simulation is a horrific crime against those sentients-- but the space cops may have an idea of how to fix things. And then much of the rest of the novel is a contemporaryish (set in 2008, written in 2010) spy thriller revolving around something strange that's going on near the border of Russia and Georgia.

I like spy thrillers, so I was predisposed to like this... but I also like weird worldhopping near-future cyberpunk, and End Of The World Blues left me cold. That said, Restoration Game wisely doesn't try to do anything clever with its frame story except use it as a) the Macguffin and b) closure. It's a spy thriller that peters out to a weirdly philosophical resolution. It's not even deus ex machina (dea in machina, rather, the goddess entering into the machine) because nothing gets solved by the arrival of God, they just talk for awhile. It's just ... what it is.

It helps, I think, that Restoration Game explicitly acknowledges its setup from the start. You know, unless you aren't paying any attention at all, that the world is "just" a simulation, though that doesn't make it any less real to anyone involved. It doesn't come as a surprise when the curtain gets tugged away and then pulled down altogether. It feels more like a natural conclusion. Everything drawn together.

I've been chewing on the question of whether I liked it for the past three days. I think that's a good sign.
jazzfish: book and quill and keyboard and mouse (Media Log)
Ghostbusters (2016), Paul Feig (dir.)

I'll be honest: I had mixed hopes for the new Ghostbusters movie. I liked the last two McCarthy/Feig collaborations, The Heat and Spy, but the Ghostbusters trailer looked ... questionable at best. Then again, I do enjoy getting out with friends, and Steph was super excited about it. So, what the hell.

Verdict: it's good.

Comparisons to the original first: it's more action-y and less witty, especially in the last third. It's also WAY less wincingly sexist (seriously, Venkman is just AWFUL for so much of that movie). And it's got great cameos by many of the original cast, which, yay.

What's good? Holtzmann, of course. Kate MacKinnon's off-balance-FOR-SCIENCE-AND-GADGETS schtick is maybe even better than Egon's was. Leslie Jones's Patty is good too, believable and respectable and a full character in a way that maybe Winston Zeddimore never got to be. (Sidenote: Ernie Hudson's story of the rise and fall of his part is heartbreaking and I would pay good money to see the Winston movie.) Chris Hemsworth as Kevin the himbo secretary is PERFECT. "Which of these makes me look more like a doctor... the one where I'm playing the saxophone, or the one where I'm LISTENING to the saxophone?"

What's not so good? Oddly, the leads. Melissa McCarthy is basically playing Melissa McCarthy, and when it works it's good and when it doesn't it's just kinda there. Kristen Wiig's nervous-academic, half Ray half Venkman, works but doesn't quite gel with the rest of the team dynamic. They're all funny and competent, don't get me wrong, they just ... felt not quite together.

CGI is CGI is CGI, it's very pretty and didn't do much for me. The extended ghost-fight in the third act dragged on a bit. Honestly the entire second act dragged. In the first movie this is when they're being the Ghostbusters and being super-busy capping ghosts and arguing with William Atherton's EPA agent, and here it's ... they take a couple of jobs and figure out what's going on and get low-key arrested by Agent Omar.

But it's funny. Not enough consistently low-key chuckle-funny for my taste, but a decent amount of laugh-out-loud funny throughout. And the most cringeworthy moments are in the trailer, so if like me you're considering passing on it because of the trailer, don't. It's a good time.

And safety lights are for *dudes*.
jazzfish: book and quill and keyboard and mouse (Media Log)
J. Michael Straczynski (dev.), Babylon 5, most of.

General: Groundbreaking but flawed. Fatally hamstrung by attempts to tell a single story over five seasons through the loss of actors and network sabotage. (Full disclosure: I also despise bound book-fragments and have trouble reading individual issues of comic books rather than full storylines.) I don't regret having watched B5 but I doubt I'll go back to it.

S1: Occasionally cringe-inducing, but decent. I'm enjoying Sinclair, and the Sinclair/Ivanova/Garibaldi triangle. G'kar is a jerk and Londo is mostly kinda sympathetic. Delenn needs more to do. Vir and Lennier are great. Needs more Kosh, and more Morden.

S2: Sheridan feels like a nonentity; half his appearances make more sense if I think of them as written for Sinclair's background instead, and the other half lack personality. Londo's transformation to jerk is complete and I find myself sympathising with G'kar. Needs more Kosh, and more Morden.

S3: Looks like Londo will suffer no consequences for committing fucking GENOCIDE at the end of last season. On the bright side, Sheridan developed a personality! Also the return of Sinclair, who... I can understand why the actor had to be replaced. On balance this is probably my favorite season. Needs more K-- DAMMIT.

S4: Meh. The conclusion of the Shadow War feels rushed. The quick and easy resolution of the civil war even more so. I cannot believe that the people of Earth just said "Oh, we've been duped into believing the xenophobic crap Clark was selling us, our bad" and embraced Sheridan with open arms. I also disapprove strongly of G'kar suffering for Londo's sins.

S5: No Ivanova. No real point to the story. We abandoned ship not quite halfway through. I've been meaning to at least watch the Neil Gaiman episode and the closer for over a year now and haven't managed to work up the desire.

(Currently watching Futurama, which holds up surprisingly well.)
jazzfish: book and quill and keyboard and mouse (Media Log)
16) See ten movies at the Vancouver International Film Festival. (10/10) 2015-10-04

I did not expect to knock that off the list this year, but this was a decent year for VIFF movies. And I've still got at least two more coming this week.

Very good: A Tale of Three Cities, High-Rise, Ayanda
Good: 600 Miles, 808
Not bad: Beeba Boys, The Anarchists, The Classified File, A Perfect Day
Not my thing: The Assassin

many many films )
jazzfish: book and quill and keyboard and mouse (Media Log)
Hadean Lands, Andrew Plotkin

Not quite four years ago I backed my second-ever Kickstarter project[1]. I'd known Zarf in passing for about a decade at that point, and known of his work for, mm, twenty-some years. Throwing money at him so he'd a) make another big game and b) create tools so that other people could make similar games was kind of a no-brainer.

He'd planned on having the game done in a year, maybe a little more.

It shipped a couple of days ago.

I meant to post this yesterday morning, when it was live. I am afraid I was distracted by a formula for an alchemical fungicide, and then by my inexplicable failure to create a resonant oculus ("an exceptional tool for observing unseen influences"). So: I am pleased to report that it has been entirely worth the wait.

The plot: you're an ensign on His Majesty's Marcher (an alchemical starship) The Unanswerable Retort. Something has gone horribly wrong, and it appears to be up to you to figure out how to put it right.

This is an old-school text adventure. You type commands (GO NORTH, GET COIN, UNLOCK OAK DOOR WITH RUSTY KEY) and the game carries them out. It includes a tutorial for brand-new players. I cannot speak to the tutorial as I haven't played it; been too busy diving in.

The game's puzzly, but not impossibly so. The structure I've seen thus far:
  • First, a basic puzzle-type task, which serves as a tutorial for 'how to do alchemy.'
  • Then, a locked door that can be opened by creative application of the previous.
  • The game then opens up a few more areas, and gives you a few more keys, to doors that have to be opened in order.
  • The last of those doors leads to an area roughly the size of the entire area you've previously seen, with a number of things to do and a locked door at the far end.
  • Once you've puzzled out how to open that door, you have free access to most of the rest of the map.
  • At this point the game becomes a firehose of information: alchemical formulae, ingredients, concepts, and the trick becomes sorting and managing all this information. That's where I am.
All this ought to be overwhelming and tedious. It's not, because Zarf has implemented shortcuts. You have to do a ritual, or solve a puzzle or unlock a door, by hand once. After that you can just PERFORM TARNISH CLEANSING RITUAL or UNLOCK DOOR and the game gathers the ingredients or key and goes through the necessary steps. In addition, if you can't remember where you saw or left something, you can RECALL CONVEX LENS and the game will tell you "You left that in the Opticks Lab."

Not to mention that the prose is first-rate. "You smell copal incense, machine oil, rosemary, alcohol, and blood. Creaking, bending steel beams... no, that's not an odor. Why did you think the bulkheads were crumpling in on you? What would that even smell like?"

Hadean Lands is available for iOS in a native app, or Android and PC/OSX/Linux through a (free) interpreter. I believe it will set you back about five bucks.


If you have fond recollections of the old Infocom games: buy this.

If you enjoy throwing yourself against locked doors and attempting to concoct and (mis)use strange formulae: buy this.

If you snickered at an alchemical starship named 'The Unanswerable Retort': buy this.

It's good.

[1] My first-ever backed Kickstarter project has yet to deliver, because the creator turned out to be a flake. In retrospect this should have been obvious at the time. Supposedly the writing is done and it's in layout now. I believe the traditional next step is to whine that there are no more funds left to print or ship the book.
jazzfish: book and quill and keyboard and mouse (Media Log)
Final count: of seven movies, one I very much enjoyed, one I enjoyed well enough, two that were alright, two that I disliked, and one that utterly baffled me. Down from last year, which had two I liked a lot, one that was alright, and two that I disliked. Oh well.

Zero Motivation, Ow, Elephant Song, Libertador )
jazzfish: book and quill and keyboard and mouse (Media Log)
Vancouver International Film Festival time again.

Based on an unscientific and statistically insignificant random sample, film is unsurprisingly terrible at women. Also at making movies I like.

Black Fly, Rekorder, The Fool )

Both Black Fly and Rekorder have, as their last scene, a backstory revelation that is supposed to cause one to Finally Understand the characters' torment and See The Film In A New Light. This lazy O.Henry crap is something newbie writers are warned against, and now I understand why.
jazzfish: book and quill and keyboard and mouse (Media Log)
Ben Wheatley (dir.), A Field in England

I saw this movie over a month ago. I'm still not entirely sure what it was I saw.

The plot, such as it is: in the midst of a battle in the English Civil War, Whitehead the scholar has been tasked with arresting a man who's stolen some valuable documents from his master. He falls in with two soldiers, one a drunkard and the other a fool. The three of them are accosted by Cutler, who lures them on with promises of an alehouse. Cutler turns out to be an assistant to the alchemist O'Neill, the very man Whitehead is meant to be arresting. O'Neill forces Whitehead to use his psychic gifts to locate a treasure that's been buried somewhere in the field they find themselves in, and the others to dig it up.

From there things get weird. (Ha.) There are hallucinogenic mushrooms, there's a broken scrying-glass, there's what might be a wizard's Certamen or might be simply a bad trip. In the end Whitehead may have grown into an acceptance of who he is and the life he's been born into. Alternately, everyone may be dead. It's hard to say.

The movie's been advertised as a horror movie, which is almost entirely inaccurate but no more so than any other descriptor I can think of. It's less disturbing than, say, Jacob's Ladder. It may be the most sui generis movie I have ever seen. It's funny and visceral and beautifully shot and on rare occasions oddly touching, and sometimes very difficult to watch. The scene of Whitehead and O'Neill in the tent had me wincing-- and all we see is a tent, and all we hear is screaming.

It is an Experience. Had I more film vocabulary and inclination/ability to dissect visual arts, I could have a field day working out what it all implied and suggested-- not meant, nothing so direct, but how it worked and what exactly 'worked' means in this case. As it is, it washed over me like an unexpected ninety-minute ocean wave, leaving me shivering and wide awake and pretty sure I'd just been hit by something I couldn't describe.

I think I'd recommend it but I'm not sure who I'd recommend it to.

(Trailer. Other, more coherent, opinions: Greer Gilman, whose brief review put this on my radar some months back; Sonya Taafe.)

Jim Jarmusch (dir.), Only Lovers Left Alive

I confess, I was sold on this from "Tilda Swinton as a vampire." Indeed, it has that, and Tom 'Loki' Hiddleston as her vampiric lover, and John Hurt as a vampiric Kit Marlowe, and Jeffrey Wright as a human doctor who seems to have wandered in from another type of vampire movie entirely.

This is like no other vampire story I've ever read or seen. Unsurprising; it shouldn't be my kind of thing. The lighting, the camerawork, even the dialog, all feel slow and langorous. Images, ideas, pop up because they fit and then are discarded: the wooden bullet, the mushrooms, even Ian. This is a movie that is very much in love with being a movie, and is taking its sweet time about it. If it were in prose I expect I would find it deathly dull; on screen it's absolutely perfect for what it's doing. (Jeffrey Wright's character seems to think he's in Dracula, or maybe Interview; he doesn't seem to grasp that they just don't care about him. This is, as you might expect, hilarious.)

I think (he said, reflecting on the movie and on [personal profile] rushthatspeaks's review) that this is in part because it's Adam's (Tom Hiddleston) movie, and Adam is overcome by ennui. Tilda Swinton's Eve is clearly still having a lot of fun with her life, but she also cares for Adam, and so she travels from Tangier to Detroit. (Side note: early 21st century Detroit is an amazing, amazing setting for a vampire movie.) And then, for reasons which aren't exactly plot-related because the movie doesn't have a plot as such, only characters and events, the two of them are forced to flee back to Tangier, where perhaps Adam will learn to enjoy unlife again after all.

Visually stunning, very funny, and some amazing acting from everyone involved. Highly recommended.
jazzfish: book and quill and keyboard and mouse (Media Log)
Francis Lawrence (dir.), Constantine

I'm a Hellblazer fan from way back (where 'way back' is defined as 'the late nineties,' which will get me scoffed at by people who actually are Hellblazer fans from way back). I got excited when I heard they were making a John Constantine movie, a decade ago now, and then immediately switched from 'excited' to 'indignant' at the reveal that the actor playing Constantine was Keanu Reeves. (John Constantine has blond hair and a Liverpool accent, as well as a great deal of personal presence and charisma. Keanu Reeves ... does not.) So I never got around to seeing the movie. From everything I'd heard, that was quite okay.

Then at some point I became a fan of Tilda Swinton, because she is awesome, and at some point after that I found out she was in Constantine. And I stumbled across a cheap copy of the DVD on Monday night, and [profile] uilos needed a Bad Movie to distract her from test stressing, and, well.

So, that was two hours of my life I'm not getting back.

How bad was it? Chas Chandler, London cabbie and Constantine's oldest friend, became Chas Kramer, Constantine's young apprentice, portrayed by Shia LeBoeuf. That right there pretty well sums it up.

Everything about the movie that wasn't either Tilda Swinton's Gabriel (who is fantastic in her one scene in act one and in the last twenty minutes, and otherwise entirely absent) or Djimon Hounsou's Papa Midnite was terrible. Not even 'so bad it's good' terrible either, just plain bad. The plot makes almost no sense, the characters (again, Gabriel aside) are an insult to cardboard cutouts and occasionally have similar names to characters from the comic, and the scenery... um. They sure do love their early-21st-century CGI backgrounds.

On the other hand, it's made me want to dig out my old back issues of Hellblazer, and to rewatch The Prophecy (starring Christopher Walken as Gabriel and Viggo Mortensen as Lucifer), so I guess it wasn't a wholly negative experience.


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Adventures in Mamboland

"Jazz Fish, a saxophone playing wanderer, finds himself in Mamboland at a critical phase in his life." --Howie Green, on his book Jazz Fish Zen

Yeah. That sounds about right.

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