Inside Llewyn Davis

105 min.

Wat gebeurt er in deze film? Nu ja, een man loopt vaak rond met een rode kat.

poster inside LLewyn Davis
CBS Films 2013

Llewyn Davis leeft in de jaren zestig. Hij zingt folkliedjes en speelt gitaar. Het lijkt er soms op dat hij hier beroemd mee wil worden, maar Llewyn is de eerste om dat te saboteren. Wat hij dan wel wil (met zijn muziek, zijn relaties, zijn hele leven) is onduidelijk.

De film is een soundtrack bij een personage dat alleen lijkt te bestaan met en door zijn muziek. Hoogte- en dieptepunten worden er van afgeleid, terwijl echte problemen afgewimpeld worden. De kat is zijn enige connectie met andere mensenlevens.

Inside Llewyn Davis is een warm en tegelijkertijd gevoelloos dobberfilmpje met geweldige soundtrack en acteurs die zichtbaar goed in het vel van hun karakter zitten.

Inside Llewyn Davis, CBS Films 2013

Something Rotten

‘Jurisfiction is the name given to the policy agency inside books.

After the messy disappointment of The Well of the Lost Plots, Jasper Fforde is back to deliver. Absurd, smart, silly and amusingly confusing. It’s full on Thursday Next.

Hamlet is walking around in the new world. So is the Minotaur, under the name of Norman Johnson. A politician tries to start a war with the Danes and everything Danish, Thursday has a son (Friday) with an eradicated husband and a croquet game needs to be won to save the world. There are also Neanderthals, evil mega corporations and chimeras, sometimes with a human arm. And don’t forget the jumps between fiction and real life, like the jurisfiction agent that happens to be a huge hedgehog.

To some this will sound as too hysterical, too crowded to have room for a plot. The first is a matter of opinion, the second definitely isn’t true. Thursday is juggling 3 – 5 cases and real life problems at the same time, and almost all of them get tied up neatly.

Tickled and relieved I can conclude that Fforde didn’t lose it after all.

Something Rotten, Jasper Fforde, Hodder and Sloughton Ltd 2004

The Wall

We sprint for the ball, shoulder to shoulder, our backpacks thumping from side to side.

How children learn that the enemy is still human and that the ones allied to you can be the enemies. With Palestina versus Israel on the background.

As the title says, the story is a modern fable. Tunnels to another world, discovering that things you knew aren’t really what they are. An unlikely friendship and an evil stepfather. It’s written in a light, airy way that gives room for the story to put its weight on the reader’s shoulders. Because even though this is fiction (the author underlines that fact in the acknowledgements), this could well be happening on any side of the Wall down there in the Middle East.

I don’t know if The Wall: a modern fable will suddenly change someone’s mind on the subject, but it’s very successful in showing the hopelessness of it all. How human everyone involved is, even though it would be easier to view one side as the monsters and the other as the victims. It might leave the reader with a slightly bitter feeling: how can things down there ever change when confrontation is the only way to change minds? But it also shows that there are other kinds of confrontation than violent ones, and maybe that’s the one part that might lead to a happy ending.

The Wall: a modern fable, William Sutcliffe, Bloomsbury 2013

The Cabin in the Woods

105 min.

The Cabin in the Woods was being hauled for being a fresh take on the very-well-chewed horror and (teenage) gore genre. It’s clear that that’s how the movie starts off as well, down to the tagline: You think you know the story. Well, even if you didn’t know the story to start with (dumb(, drunk) teenagers make dumb mistakes in horror setting), the movie hits you around the head with it quite often. Too often.

Lionsgate 2013
Lionsgate 2013

The – quite old looking – “teenagers” fill the known cliches, there is a grumpy, creepy guy on the road to their cabin and there’s a selection of triggers to make the horrors come out. Only this time there are people disappointed that they went with the red neck zombies again because darn how do you ever win a bet on ways to die like this? The cabin is there for a reason, as are the death traps and the monsters. An underground company has control over a lot of nightmare creations that they can use to kill for the satisfaction of the gods living deep underneath the earth’s crust. If they don’t get their rituals, the end of the world will happen.

That’s a semi-original route to take, a nice meta comment about horror and its tropes. So why does the film try so very hard to be an unoriginal horror film? Why is there too much time spent on another gory death instead of the story about the organization, the god (how did they restrain it? How did they set up a deal with it?) or how they even find their victims for the rituals?

A for effort, D for the finished product.

The Cabin in the Woods, Lionsgate 2013

Stormnacht

Ik hoorde de postbode door de gang naderen.

De Dresden Files, die moet je lezen! Gigantisch leuke fantasy! Nou, vooruit dan maar. Ik sta altijd open voor suggestie. 

Stormnacht, het eerste boek van de Dresden Files, is een pulpromannetje: er gebeurt veel, er zijn wilde, vreemde karakters die makkelijk uit elkaar te houden zijn, er is zoveel plot dat er geen tijd is om adem te halen en er is een bevredigend einde, netjes opgerold in één hoofdstuk. Hap, slik, weg.

Harry Dresden is een magïer, een echte. Hij leeft alleen in een wereld (hedendaags Chicago) die niet in magie, demonen enzovoorts gelooft. Geld verdienen is dus pittig, maar gelukkig is er een politieagente die af en toe zijn hulp nodig heeft.
Natuurlijk verzamelen aan het begin van het boek meerdere zaken, zijn er mafia bedreigingen en loopt alles in de soep.

Stormnacht is een galopperend paard van een verhaal dat op de laatste bladzijdes verrassend kalm tot stilstand komt. Het is compleet, het is vermakelijk. Een prima pulp aanrader.

Stormnacht, Jim Butcher, De Vliegende Hollander 2009

A Darkling Plain

Theo had been climbing since dawn: first on the steep roads and paths and sheep-tracks behind the city, then across slopes of shifting scree, and up at last on to the bare mountainside, keeping where could to corries and crevices where the blue shadows pooled.

The end of the series. Wars, disputes and moving towns versus static towns come to a climax.

The characters we know are traveling into the four corners of the world, adding more world-building and diverse detail to the known story. Time has passed, the conflict has hardened, conspiracies have bubbled to the surface and the city where it all began – London – seems to be not so very dead after all.

The 500+ pages (about 200 more than the earlier books) may look impressive, but with Reeve’s light, easy style it is impossible not to breeze through them. The characters stick to their characteristics instead of clogging the story up with unnecessary redemptions. Real life happens in a very fantasy world and there’s an ending that will make you weepy. A satisfying conclusion for an original series.

A Dark Plain, Philip Reeve, Scholastic Press 2006