What’s New on the Site
Suspiria – Vile, Depraved, and Stunning – Visceral, slow, and beautiful. Read the full review here.
Halloween Scores with a Desperately Needed Course-Correction – Great follow-up to the original film that stumbles a bit, but is ultimately satisfying enough to warrant more. Read the full review here.
Overlord is Glorious B-Movie Trash – All hail the B-movie! This was an absolute blast and a half that I cannot wait to show to as many people as possible. Read the full review here.
What We’ve Been Reading
Clint’s Reading List
This is How You Lose Her – Junot Diaz
An entire book about cultural toxic masculinity! This one is actually fascinating because it chronicles semi-autobiographical stories from the author that are fictionally exaggerated but…are they? He’s recently come under fire in the #MeToo movement and that kind of makes his entire premise here fascinating and uncomfortable. Worth checking out but very raw sexually and linguistically, it will make you uncomfortable but maybe it should.
Interpreter of Maladies – Jhumpa Lahiri
Another cultural study, this time in Bengali heritage. This also deals with the relationships between men and women, the control that exists and the power struggles that quietly rage behind the scenes. Lahiri is more focused on the cultural aspects but given that the issues of gender are woven into that it works to serve as yet another talking point on the subject. Highlights in the collection for me were the shorts “Sexy” and “This Blessed House.”
The Underground Railroad – Colson Whitehead
What if the Underground Railroad had actually been an underground railroad? This sci-fi-esque premise is one that serves to draw an alternate world, using towns and regions to display different forms of racism that the author suggests we’re still dealing with. Civil Rights movements are just starting in this period, and it’s pre-Civil War, so the plight of an escaped slave is something to see. The transportation matches the cities and the thematics surrounding them and it all works incredibly well.
Dreams of My Father – Barack Obama
He’s eloquent, and that’s always been the case. Barack Obama published his first memoir before becoming president and there’s a struggle in this for him, a juxtaposition between himself and his eventual becoming that leaves him more vulnerable here. He’s searching for his identity as a black man, as the son of his father, and he’s searching for identity in the masculine figures in his life. The work he does professionally collides with his desire for a male figure to emulate in his community and in his personal life and it brings him back to Africa, to he other relatives he’s never met on his father’s side, and the memoir climaxes into full understanding of who he is, where he’s from, and what he can become.
Elevation – Stephen King
I’m really into this periodic one-shot thing King is doing lately, with brief little stories being released for quick digestion. I had fun with Gwendy’s Button Box a couple of years ago and now we have another brief effort in Elevation and I couldn’t be happier with this. More will come later in the week from WD;ED on this story, but I think I need to put this title out there into the universe. King tackles small-town prejudice and lack of understanding, aggression and fear, and how kindness can make you lighter than air in the face of adversity. I cried, and I’m okay with that.
Christopher’s Reading List
They Both Die at the End – Adam Silvera
They Both Die at the End left me emotionally exhausted. In an alternate present, death is predictable, broadcastable even, and when it’s your time to go you receive a phone call letting you know sometime in the next 24 hours you will be punching your ticket. Not much is known about how these predictions are made, or what the details of your timely demise will be, only that it is unavoidable. It’s a clever hook that immediately sets the mind ablaze with creative possibilities, however, author Adam Silvera uses this premise to tell a much more grounded story. A story about two young teenagers, desperate to live a lifetime in a tragically finite amount of time. The metaphor works well, re-framing the way we live through the filter of our inevitable demise. It’s not exactly light fare. But it works, and Silvera goes beyond the morose and existential dread, crafting characters you genuinely come to love, and read with growing trepidation about the potential of their loss. Its story lands like a punch in the gut, but, much like the characters in it, hopes to stay on your mind long after it has run its course.
What We’ve Been Watching
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina – Welp, I guess I’m firmly into teenaged shows about Satan-worshipping witches now. I grew up watching the Melissa Joan Hart television series and was hoping that this would stick more to the recent comics run, approaching darker tones and Lovecraftian horror in a way that hadn’t been touched by the character before. The show definitely keeps the camp of its origins, but manages to work in a creep factor and sass that haven’t been present before and it really works. It’s a shame that the show feels meandering in places. While there is an ongoing arc and I genuinely enjoy where it went, there were times I wondered if this season could have been a couple episodes shorter to tighten up the plot a bit. It’s structured for binge-watching, but isn’t written for it. Odd, but overall it works.
Castlevania – Finally. Video game adaptations aren’t even hit and miss, they’re mostly just failures. Up until I watched this we’d had….Silent Hill? Is that the only good one? Still? Yup, okay, just checking. Warren Ellis penned this series for Netflix and while season 1 was pointlessly short it was enjoyable. Now that season 2 came out and we have 12 episodes (they tell one story together, it’s just one season that got broken up) it’s something I’m overjoyed to call a good video game adaptation. I’m happy with it, and I didn’t think that was going to be possible. I’m still stinging from other attempts like Doom or Assassin’s Creed, but this is able to be funny and dark and exciting and gorgeous to look at. I’m not a fan of the anime aesthetic in most things, but it works for this because of the nature of the story. A rare surprise.
Cloverfield – With Overlord coming out this week and all of the discussion over whether or not this would be labelled a film in this franchise, I thought I’d revisit the original and see if it still held up for me. Turns out this is still my favorite kaiju film of the modern era. Is Shin Godzilla better? Sure. Is Kong: Skull Island more fun? Absolutely. This, however, is something interesting in that it launched JJ Abrams and Matt Reeves into the stratosphere on the big screen and revitalized the found footage genre. All of this could be for better or for worse, but it’s happened and we can’t change it now. I really do love this weird little film, just a quick story about some people who are, frankly, a bunch of self-involved people that are struggling to survive a giant monster attacking New York City. They’re not heroes, they’re not special, and they really aren’t even decent people. But they have a camera, and they give us a look at their last hours in a way that really spoke to me.