This is a great problem to have. As soon as I’m done with Foundation by Peter Ackroyd, all of the treats below are waiting to be read.
The Grimm Conclusion (Grimm Series #3) by Adam Gidwitz (Third in a YA trilogy – if you enjoy Fables, Once Upon a Time, or just plain good, funny breaking-the-fourth-wall humor, TRY IT)
Nevermore – A Novel of Love, Loss, and Edgar Allan Poe by David Niall Wilson, Lisa Snellings (Illustrator) – Edgar Allan Poe on vacation at the Great Dismal Swamp.
Breed by Chase Novak – Urban horror by an Author Who Usually Doesn’t Do That Type of Thing
Firstborn: A Novel by Lorie Ann Grover – Interesting dystopian YA
The Attic and Other Stories by David Evans Katz – I bought this one because according to the blurb these stories are “in the tradition of M.R. James, (and) H.P. Lovecraft” SOLD!
Mao’s Great Famine: The History of China’s Most Devastating Catastrophe, 1958-1962by Frank Dikotter – And some history to round out the waiting list
New DVD/BR purchases from Scream Factory – they seem to be the company releasing all the good stuff.
Pumpkinhead Collector’s Edition BR (1988) Dir. Stan Winston – “a Grim Fairy Tale”
The Battery DVD (2013) Dir. Jeremy Gardner – heard a lot of good things about this one.
(or, why I’m looking forward to American Horror Story: Freak Show, even if I won’t get around to actually watching it for a while)
Confession – I’ve actually only watched the last episode of AHS’s first season. But I have the first and second season on Blu-Ray/DVD, will be getting the third season (AHS:Coven) as soon as I can, and plan to do the same for as many seasons as this show lasts. Why?
AHS isn’t exactly my cup of tea as far as the genre goes. What would be for me? Well, until one of the BBCs decides to adapt The Complete Ghost Stories of M. R. James, I’m out of luck. But in terms of “props” “street cred”, or just basic “respectability” I think AHS is the TV equivalent of Silence of the Lambs (1991). As with that movie, AHS is a show that people who hate horror movies watch. It gets on the cover of magazines besides Fangoria or Horror Hound. It helps move horror beyond the genre ghetto into mainstream pop culture.
In a way, AHS and (and the newer Hannibal on NBC)have been part of two trends. First is the splintering of audiences due to Cable and other outlets. NBC and FOX want the eyeballs currently going to HBO and Netflix; if that means going with shows that are more purely genre than in past years, so be it. Second is the “Geekification” of American entertainment and pop culture. Being a genre geek fan has changed. Loving genre shows is no longer something you didn’t admit around the water cooler; instead it’s a prized segment of the audience, valued for their disposable income if nothing else.
Back to Lambs. I read the Thomas Harris novel, then saw the movie back in the day. It was ok, but by no means the scariest book or film adaptation I’d seen. It was, to me, just okay – but not much more. But to see it win multiple Oscars with respectable actors – besides making the usual boatload of cash – that was something different. A movie classified in the Horror genre making a ton of money AND getting critical raves and recognized honors at Award Season? It was the first time I remember seeing a horror movie being treated as the belle of the ball, and not just the red-headed stepchild. Hannibal is proving to be a much creepier viewing experience, but I know that even if I don’t love it, Silence of the Lambs is a favorite for many.
I may prefer the Ghost Story wing of the Horror House, but the success of AHS is a great thing the Horror genre as a whole. Maybe they’ll do a good old fashioned Jamesian arc next season?
8/30/14 at Oak Creek Value. Worth the $2.00, but a bit talky and plodding a film sold as a kids’ action movie.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier – 4/5/14 at Marcus SouthShore *Worth watching on the big screen*
Oculus – 4/18/14 at Marcus SouthShore *Worth repeat viewing and owning* *Surprise horror movie find*
Jodorowsky’s Dune – 4/19/14 at Landmark Oriental *Worth seeing on the big screen*
Godzilla – 5/18/14 at Marcus Majestic UltraScreen and 5/24/14 at Marcus SouthShore *Worth repeat viewing and owning*
X-Men: Days of Future Past – 5/25/14 at Marcus SouthShore *Worth repeat viewing and owning*
Maleficent – 5/30/14 at Marcus SouthShore *Not a waste of time, but not worth repeat viewing*
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – 7/12/14 at Marcus SouthShore *Worth seeing on the big screen*
Guardians of the Galaxy – 8/9/14 at Marcus SouthShore *Worth repeat viewing and owning*
Maybe the first sign that Maleficent was not the movie I expected? I was one of the only adults in the theater not accompanying one or several children. I went into this movie expecting something more in the mood of Snow White and the Huntsman. In my view, you can’t blame a movie for not being what you expected, or fitting the expectations you place on it.
Maleficent isn’t a bad movie, but it would’ve been a better one if its story had been allowed to exists as its own creation. By trying to shoehorn the main characters’ backstory into the Sleeping Beauty template, Maleficent does neither itself nor Sleeping Beauty any favors. If I am watching a movie, anything that pulls me out of the movie’s world to think “well, that doesn’t make sense”, “why would a character do that?” or “gee, this movie is getting really long” – that’s a point against it.
In Maleficent, this take-me-out-of-the-movie element is the contortion of the male characters into helpless dupes or one-note villains. In order to make the title character heroic, all of Maleficent’s “bad” qualities – everything that made her the enemy of Aurora and Philip – are dumped on Aurora’s father. In order to make Maleficient the real “true love” of Aurora’s life, Philip is transformed into a helpless, passive character who is literally carried into the castle to wake up Aurora, then discarded when he doesn’t serve that purpose.
If the only way to make a female character empowered and heroic is to make the male character helpless, passive one-note plot devices, then neither gender is done any favors. Snow White and the Huntsman, for all its flaws, gave both main characters strengths and weaknesses. Neither was all good or all bad, all action or all passive. Frozen didn’t take the focus off its main female characters, but allowed the male supporting characters make contributions, or act in good or bad ways according to their character.
Maleficent looked amazing. I loved seeing the addition of the sourpuss fourth fairy godmother to watch over Aurora. And as stated in the beginning, the story of a powerful fairy queen who comes to love the child of her enemy, despite the wrong done to her, would’ve made a good movie – but it’s wasn’t this one.