What We’ve Been Reading
Clint’s Reading List
Human Acts – Han Kang
South Korea is going through yet another regime change at the moment, but Kang explores others from the past. She took a heavy part in the translation of this novel and her words come through beautifully. The story revolves around the death of a boy among thousands and the lives of those adjacent to it. This novel is all of heartbreaking, exciting, saddening, and thrilling without really offering many true thrills. As a follow-up to her popular novel The Vegetarian, this had a lot to live up to. Kang succeeds on most levels and delivers a powerful and important novel.
Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Ghost Prison – Haden Blackman
Star Wars went through a recent Vader fascination. We had a new comic, we had new action figures, we got some badassery from him in Rogue One, but Dark Horse was giving the fans what they wanted a long time ago. Set in the aftermath of an attack on the Emperor’s life, this chronicles Vader’s attempts to hunt down the assassins and their financiers with the help of two Imperial officers bent on aiding him. Augustin Alessio comes in with art that resembles oil paintings and is absolutely beautiful to look at, an exciting entry to the Star Wars EU Mythos and the best of the “Darth Vader and…” series.
Swamp Thing – Scott Snyder
This was such a fun debut in the New 52. The character and writer had been around for a while, but seeing them come together like this was wonderful. When Swamp Thing doesn’t appear for 7 issues, only to pop up with wings and war, you know that something odd and special is coming. Snyder took it too far (at the behest of DC) and drug it out for 18 issues, but the whole of the story is still a fun read and the art is stunning.
Christopher’s Reading List
Nineteen Eighty-Four – George Orwell
George Orwell’s Dystopian Masterpiece has been at the forefront of a lot of people’s minds recently, and for good reason. The horror of unchecked power, surveillance, “doublethink” and “newspeak” resonate now more than ever with a lot of people. And although it has become cliche to talk about how this novel predicted the perils of living under Big Brother, it’s a terrifying, heartbreaking world worth revisiting.
What We’ve Been Watching
Cat People – The 40’s were a great time for horror (and the first cinematic universe, so suck it Marvel!) but this has been one of my recent favorites. Release in 1942 and directed by Jacques Tourneur, the film was regarded as middling by many but involves a lot of horror techniques that are still in existence today (such as the “Lewton Bus” thing, Google it!). Simone Simon is the star here, playing a frightened woman who respects the superstitions of her past. Touching on physical intimacy and sexual frustration, the film is an early precursor to things like Halloween or It Follows in that regard as it uses sex and physical interaction as a metaphor for horror. This is a must-see for horror fans and for those interested in cinematic origins of modern story techniques.
Aliens – Bill Paxton died and that’s just a hard thing. He was a favorite of mine. Because of this, I got in some real fruity shit and popped in Aliens. I’d forgotten just how much I love this film, and I tell lots of people just how much I love it on a regular basis. This is one that stuck around after perfecting a genre. Action had been heading this way and here we saw a culmination, taking Ridley Scott’s Lovecraftian horror classic and turning it into a testosterone and estrogen-fueled nightmare world where not just the strong survive, but the clever and driven. This took the original and turned in an entirely different direction that captured audiences over seven years after the release of the first film. James Cameron may have strayed from this kind of film, but it remains a masterpiece of female empowerment and manly action/subversion to this day.
King Kong – The new one comes out this week, so I thought I’d revisit the 1933 original. This is one groundbreaking piece of monster movie, with everything from a pervy Kong sniffing his finger after sticking it up Faye Wray’s dress to a tribe of cliche natives and even dinosaurs (with wonderful but timely special effects!). King Kong was a favorite of mine growing up and as an adult I can’t help but revisit it once more, regularly, and just sit back in joy as I watch all this black and white, stop-motion glory.
Logan – Hugh Jackman’s Swan Song to the character he has been playing for nearly two decades is so much more than I expected. I’d heard strong buzz going in, that it was not just a great superhero movie, but that it was a great movie, period. And it certainly rose to those expectations, even surpassing them. It’s a movie that stands on its own in a brilliant way, while also reaping the benefits of a long legacy of films before it. The result is a culmination of storytelling, and potentially the end of an era.
Good Morning Tri-State – Mark Proksch, of The Office and K-Strass the Yo-Yo Guy fame, and Jason Woliner teamed up to make a pilot a few years ago that never made it to air. It was a fake morning talk show, flipping the concept of the K-Strass gimmick. Instead of being the guest on an unsuspecting talk show, Mark Proksch would play the unraveling host and invite on unsuspecting guests and co-hosts. It’s a shame the pilot has never made it to air, until now, and it’s well worth checking out at the link below.