What We’ve Been Reading
Clint’s Reading List
Everything’s Eventual – Stephen King
When I go on a King kick I really go on for it. Everything’s Eventual is a collection of 14 stories from the king of popular horror lit, and he goes for it with gusto. From “1408” to “The Autopsy” to “Lunch at the Gotham Cafe” we’re given the bizarre, the weird, the heartbreaking, and (in the case of “The Autopsy”) the darkly comical because seriously…some of this is hilarious. King has a real voice, with his everyman characters truly taking on some traits we can easily connect to. They laugh, they cry, they flirt, they feel lonely, and they talk like your gross uncle that you only see at Christmas or you weird but awesome friends that you went to school with. Each distinct story carries a distinct voice that somehow remains…very King.
The Defenders of Shannara: The High Druid’s Blade – Terry Brooks
I’ve been a Terry Brooks fan for a long time and I’m not giving up now. For some reason the new direction his stories have been taking has really been working for me. Early on the plots were interesting, if derivative. Then they got repetitive. Now, though, he’s trying things. They aren’t always great, they don’t all work, but when they do it’s fascinating and it’s worth reading. If you like fantasy this is probably a solid way to go (though I very much recommend ignoring the TV series and reading the book for Elfstones of Shannara instead).
What We’ve Been Watching
David Lynch: The Art Life – Lynch has been a fascination of mine for a couple of years now. The man seems completely insane, and really goes out of his way to push beyond the boundaries of normal cinema. This documentary does not really cover his career as a filmmaker, it covers his career as an artist and…well, a different individual. Lynch was, and still is, a painter. At least primarily. The displays of his artwork across the film show a magnitude of world inside of his head, and he discusses this freely as we’re shown the process of painting and creation of art in his studio. The film also serves as a biography of his life, with Lynch narrating and chain-smoking throughout the overview. Things ramp up till we finally end with the idea that he can turn a dark painting into a film, a moving painting with sounds and words. Those who have seen (and feign understanding of) his films can see how this works. His films aren’t nonsensical, they have a distinct arc and plot and voice. They are, however, super surrealistic and nontraditional. Lynch discusses the idea of surrealistic painting and surrealistic film, explaining his view on the entirety of it. The documentary is fantastic and, quite honestly, made my weekend.
Silent Running – I saw this as a kid, vaguely remember bits of it, but had not revisited it properly until now. Silent Running is a 70’s film on environmentalism, mentalism, and just going mental. It makes a clear statement but never allows this to justify the actions of its main character, instead just asking us to view them and judge for ourselves. The music is grating in places (the sing-songs written for the film are so obnoxious) but the score is minimal and, when not invoking music I heard in church as a kid, can actually be quite otherworldly and beautiful. There are also 3 little drone robots that will steal your heart so…watch this, get into it!
Aladdin – Oh hush, it’s magical. Seriously, this is one of the best Disney films we’ve gotten. I grew up on this one and it still sticks with you. A ridiculous performance from Robin Williams (who starts off trying to sell us what I’m fairly sure is a bong with a built-in grinder) and a wonderful cacophony of musical numbers make this so much fun. I went as Snake-Jafar for Halloween when I was little, I still know all the words to “Street Rat,” and yes I had a crush on Princess Jasmine (you know you straight fellas did to). No matter what age you are, where you’re from, or what you like…this is just fun. I cannot have picked a better Sunday afternoon watch.
Doodlebug – If you haven’t seen Nolan’s 3 minute student film…well, I’m not surprised. Most know Christopher Nolan as the director of sprawling, visually epic films and as the man who got the performance of a lifetime from Heath Ledger but this is an odd, strange little short. I won’t spoil the surprise for you but it’s a weird little watch, and you can see shades of his future endeavors in it. A rare freakshow for this director, who is now considered one of the most interesting, self-indulgent, and bankable names in Hollywood and who has great talent scrambling to work with him.
Archer: Dreamland – Honestly, this show has figured out how to continue. Keep the characters, soft-reboot every year, and just keep it fresh. Not all of them have been winners, but this season is off to a strong start with a new, genderless Pam and a Cyril with actual confidence. Top that off with Archer, bent on revenge in his quest to find Woodhouse’s killer. The kicker is that he’s in a coma, and Woodhouse is actually dead. I got turned onto this show right after the first season ended and I’ve stuck with it ever since. I’m all-in on this one, and at two episodes in I cannot wait to see how everything turns out.
The Fog – John Carpenter’s horror classic is one that I’ve attempted to watch a couple of times now. I’ve started it and been cut off, I’ve started it and literally had my power die (much to my terror and chagrin), and I’ve started it and had my niece jostle my hard drive and cut me off. I finally made it further than 15 minutes in and…this isn’t bad at all. The Fog is the story of a hidden murder and the ghosts returning to avenge it. The weird moment at the end, the one that saves the day, felt a bit like blue balls to me and I was just left wanting more. Carpenter takes care of me, though, always has. While I didn’t find this to be horrifying (it was scarier in theory than in execution) it is a perfectly good horror film, fun to watch, and excellently shot and performed. I can see why it’s a classic, but I don’t think that it’s something I’ll revisit often. For Carpenter revisits…I’d rather watch The Thing.
The Wailing – As a fan of Na Hong-jin’s previous directorial efforts, The Chaser and The Yellow Sea, I was really looking forward to his newest film and it did not disappoint. Hong-jin’s latest is a bit of a departure in genre, focusing on potentially supernatural events in a small village in South Korea. The film balances its genres well, going between police procedural, family drama, and spiritual horror with ease.
Your Name – This anime from Director Makoto Shinkai was released in Japan last year to pretty wide-spread critical acclaim and commercial success but only recently was released in America. Your Name tells the story of two highschool students, Mitsuha and Taki who begin to have dreams of being in someone else’s body. They slowly come to realize that these might not be dreams at all, but they are, in fact, swapping bodies with each other at random moments. The premise is a silly one, and Shinkai takes initially takes advantage of the silly premise, but where the story goes from there is surprising and emotional. Beyond the story, the look of the film itself is gorgeous and moving. It’s a one-two punch that makes for an entertaining and unique experience.