Midnight Special

110 min.

The science fiction movie that could be better and different, but ended landing on cliched grounds.

midnight-special_wbA man escapes his (cult-ish) community with his son. When things grow into THINGS happening, it’s not just the community, but the government that starts to follow them. But what’s even going on with the boy, and why are there such rapid changes?

The first half of the movie doesn’t bother with chewing out answers and theories, it goes right to the point where you only get too impatient not to know.

Alas, when ignorance turns into omniscient knowledge, the movie loses its exciting, slightly feverish thrill and urge, and images follow which could easily fit in with Disney’s Tomorrowland. Director’s previous movie Take Shelter left me in shock, Midnight Special is nothing more than a lukewarm puddle.

Midnight Special, Warner Brothers 2016

The Fifth Season

Let’s start with the end of the world, why don’t we?

I’m pretty sure I don’t understand what kind of story I just finished. Not understanding like getting it, because half way in, I was pulled in. No, I’m just confused, lost. In over my head.

N.K. Jemisin is one of those authors I just really wanted to try once, and with no clear recommendations, any start anywhere is a good one.

For a long time, I wasn’t sure if this book was the right start. There’s no bright, light, breezy flow to The Fifth Season, and as every end-of-the-world book, it makes me go down the road of uncomfortable what-ifs. There is a lot of world and society and people to learn off, and when you feel like you might have a grip, Jemisin starts turning things. It almost feels like a point and click game, one where wander into bonus levels unwittingly (is this a flashback? A flashforward? What am I reading here?).

The Fifth Season is definitely at home in the category of epic fantasy, fantasy that has been invested in and that might stick with you for years to come. And like the most epics, it needs a bit of you to work out. After the first 200 pages I was glad I didn’t plan on reading more of it (it’s part of a series), after the second 200 I decided I was curious for more, but after a breather.

The Fifth Season, N.K. Jemisin, Orbit 2015

 

Stoker

99 min.

You don’t have to understand a movie to like it. I’ve been curious about Stoker for a while, stokerbut it leaving Netflix soon gave me the necessary urgency to finally watch it.

Stoker is one of those films in which the plot is almost a side project: it’s the actors and their surroundings that lift ‘mysterious man that influences bereaved family’ from it’s Lifetime/Hallmark risk.

It’s a film like an art piece: no clear hints on what to feel or what you should think about it. Is the stranger a monster or just evil, is India how she is because of her family or is her mother who she is because of India? Even after clues and climaxes there are still traces of insecurity: did all this really happen like this/that?

It leaves you with a slightly uncomfortable thrill, packaged in morbid prettiness.

Stoker, Fox Searchlight Pictures 2013

En dat is drie

Na tien pagina’s begon ik mij af te vragen waarom ik dit boek op mijn To Read list had gezet, na het eerste hoofdstuk bekeek ik de flaptekst nog eens: was dit misschien een verzameling academische essays? Nee, volgens de flaptekst is 1776 van David McCullough ‘stirring’, ‘a powerful drama written with extraordinary narrative vitality’. Misschien kan ik gewoon niet genoeg waardering opbrengen voor genoeg feitjes over de American Indepence War om een tweede Mount Everest mee te bouwen.

Eerder dit jaar gaf ik Toen ik fotograaf was van Félix Nadar op. Ik heb geen problemen met negentiende-eeuwse auteurs, maar hun verhalen moeten wel hout snijden op zo’n manier dat ik er iets mee kan.

Van een heel ander kaliber was The Ghost Network (Catie Disaboto). Ik dacht dat het een spannend YA mysterie zou worden Disabato houdt van footnotes, onbetrouwbare vertellers en zo weinig hints dat je er zelfs geen maquette-figuurtje van de Mount Everest mee zou kunnen bouwen.

Drie boeken van de veertig die ik begonnen ben dit jaar, vast geen slechte score. Toch, elke keer weer een frustrerende teleurstelling: ben ik dan nog steeds niet oud genoeg en belezen genoeg om elke keer een goeie uit te kiezen?

The Wicked Will Rise

The Emerald City was burning.

The second book in the Dorothy Must Die series. And, as how it usually works with second books/serialized books, the follow ups have to work harder to make the same impact. The Wicked Will Rise didn’t manage to do so.

Of course, with some new sides and characters of Oz added, Paige managed to keep some of the magic and twists introduced in the first book alive, but it isn’t enough to outbalance more of the same for the main character(s). Amy’s brattiness is only growing, and even with the excuses she has, it’s tough to accept. There is a glimmer of potential with more attention for the Ozma character, but that fades before it can become solid.

It’s not a huge letdown, it’s not boring or poorly written, it’s simply not a step up from the first book. Turn all this in a TV show and I’ll be watching (because it could be beautiful and wonderful), but I’m not in a hurry to read book number three.

The Wicked Will Rise, Danielle Page, Harper 2015

 

Godzilla

123 min.

It’s quite impressive how dull an action movie filled with huge monsters can be.

godzilla_warnerbrosFirst of all, it’s too long. Fifteen minute monologues and dialogues to explain what is going on and why we need to worry, while the introducing theme does that in a prettier way.

Second, it’s very dark. Not grim, but just the colours used. Do huge monsters not like sunlight? Was it cheaper to half CGI a MUTO because it’s too dark to see the rest of it?

The only pleasant surprise to all this is the role of Godzilla (which Netflix mentioned in its summary, shouldn’t that be spoiler-free?), but by then not even huge monsters laying waste to San Francisco (of course it’s San Francisco) can’t even turn the tide. It’s all one big mwah.

Godzilla, Warner Bros., 2014

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making

Once upon a time, a girl named September grew very tired of her parents’ house, where she washed the same pink-and-yellow teacups and matching gravy boats every day, slept on the same embroidered pillow, and played with the same small and amiable dog.

Van sommige boeken baal je gewoon dat je ze niet zelf hebt geschreven. The Girl Who [enzovoorts] is misschien geen hoogstaande literatuur of baanbrekend op welke manier dan ook, maar het is wel vol lol en plezier en avontuur en goede karakters en allerlei kleuren. Een pretboek.

September is twaalf jaar en vindt haar leven maar saai en vervelend. Een aanbod om naar Fairyland meegenomen te worden, wordt dan ook meteen geaccepteerd. Maar ja, mensen en sprookjeslanden..

Combineer dat met een verteller die op het juiste moment haar neus er in steekt zonder vervelend te worden en het is een sprookje dat je in handen hebt, een sprookje over een sprookje met iets meer realiteit dan verwacht.

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making, Catherynne M. Valente, Feiwel and Friends 2011