What’s New on the Site
M. Night Shyamalan is Back and it’s Finally Worth Watching – Clint Westbrook’s Spoiler-free review of Shyamalan’s latest, Split.
Spoiler Review – Split – Christopher’s Spoiler-filled second opinion, and what it could mean for Shyamalan movies going forward.
What We’ve Been Watching
Ikiru – Speaking of Kurosawa… I rewatched this one in a desire to erase the Tolstoy reading from my memory and this does it masterfully. Very few films are as beautiful as this one, as our main character learns he has stomach cancer and only a short time to live. I read a lot about what death, and the fear of it, does to humanity and this is such a charming depiction of how fulfilling a small but kind act can be for a person. It is a reminder that death and its promise are not the boundary for any of us and that, in a way, we all need to look not just to work and finances but to just plain loving each other.
Travelers – I’m not very far in this show yet, but this is such a great premise. Several people die and, in the moment of their death, relinquish their bodies to people from the future who have come back to change something.
Netflix has really been killing it with their original series, from The OA to Marvel’s Daredevill and this seems like it might be yet another home run for them.
Moana – Disney’s had a pretty good year in the animation department, with Zootopia already having received critical and commercial acclaim. Their second effort of 2016 is no different, and I would say even better. Moana is a film that harkens back to more a more classic style of Disney films, blending beautiful 3D animation that has become the standard these days, with uplifting story and unbelieveably catchy songs. In fact, it’s a film that does not hide its musicality as more recent Disney films have seemed to do. It embraces it, and incorporates it wonderfully. If you’re a fan of older Disney films, this is an easy recommendation, as it combines what you’ve come to expect from modern Disney with what you may have missed from past films.
What We’ve Been Reading
Clint’s Reading List:
Bartleby the Scrivner – by Herman Melville
So who remembers that Melville wrote more than a book about a white whale? Right?
His short story is funny until it isn’t. Bartelby the Scrivner is such a heavy thing to read, all about sinking into hell with no one to truly understand you. It’s a story about class, about 19th century Law Offices, and about what weird characters emerge in that scene but overall it is about something that no one knew how to talk about during the time of its publication. Melville really hits hard with just how much of an issue this is and gets so much right. I always forget about how beautiful it is. This whole story is just hard to read but so very important, especially now when depression is something we see in people we love every day and have no idea how to deal with.
The Death of Ivan Ilych – by Leo Tolstoy
I’m going to be honest – Kurosawa did it better. Death is something Tolstoy, a Russian novelist of wide acclaim, inspected with a lot of care but it has been done better. By Kurosawa. By Aronofsky. By Ishiguro. There is so much to discuss and pick apart here but the key theme is that one must remember to live.
Saga – by Brian K. Vaughan
Ugh…BKV, you gotta stop man.
I can’t stand this comic. It’s too beautiful but it breaks my heart. Nothing happens in this latest issue that isn’t earned, but it’s still painful to read. They’re forty-two issues in and each time I think there will be a dip in quality it comes back and justifies the lull in the action, giving each moment meaning and pain. There is no win in this story, and you don’t do a little better each time. Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples continue to bombard me with heartache and frustration and honestly I cannot get enough. Each day a new issue comes out I cringe but it is always worth the wait, the read, and the tears.
The Fireman – by Joe Hill
I’ve been revisiting Joe Hill a lot lately. Whenever I am down he can either take me further or bring be back, he can reinvigorate me, and if you read my short fiction you’ll know I’m heavily influenced by him.
The Fireman is Joe Hill’s take on his father’s epic work, The Stand. The premise is solid, with people spontaneously combusting and potentially learning to control the fire within. I religiously read everything he puts out and while I found this a bit bogged down in references it still worked for me, each segment pulling me back into the world he created. A pregnant woman trapped in an apocalypse surrounding a disease that makes you explode? Who doesn’t want to read that! Joe Hill seamlessly weaves this into a grounded reality with characters that feel real, with hopes and dreams that are dashed against the onslaught of people who are frightened. I know this just came out in paperback recently, and that was the reason for my revisit. Everyone should check this novel out.
Locke and Key – by Joe Hill
Speaking of Joe Hill, I have been revisiting this series. A new standalone issue always draws me back to the original series and this is one of the best out there.
Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez did something special here. From start to finish, this is one of the best series I’ve ever read. No wasted space, no unnecessary exposition, this series seamlessly weaves family drama, dark fantasy, and high school together in such a wonderful way. I probably haven’t seen something this wonderful since Carrie, and it still comes together so well.
Christopher’s Reading List:
Locke and Key: Small World – by Joe Hill
Joe Hill is in the air! I stopped by my local comic book shop and saw the latest entry in to the Locke and Key universe, Small World. Locke and Key: Small World is a one-shot taking place during the “Golden Age” Era of the Keyhouse. The newest short story introduces another key in to the mix. As part of a Birthday gift, two little girls are given a replica dollhouse of the Keyhouse, and when the Dollhouse Key is inserted, they are able to watch the lives of all those that live inside play out like little miniatures. Of course, all does not exactly go to plan, and the Locke family must defend themselves from new dangers. It is a pretty short and sweet self-contained tale, and although there is not much to surprise the reader it is still a solid story well told and is well worth a trip back to that mysterious Manor in Lovecraft, Massachusetts.