Thursday, April 01, 2010

media update: March

I just got back from beautiful (and chilly as fuck) Mendocino last night and have tons of shit to do, but I wanted to post my media update at least. I'll upload my pictures and get them posted eventually.

Asterisks denote something I particularly enjoyed or found especially worthy of my time; your mileage may vary.


1. Horns* by Joe Hill: Ignatius Perrish wakes up one morning, looks in the mirror, and sees horns growing from his temples. Initially, he thinks it's a hallucination brought on by heavy drinking, but it turns out the horns are real. He also has a new power to go along with them: people instantly blurt out their darkest secrets when they see him. He decides to use this power to his advantage and find out who raped and murdered the love of his life. Joe Hill is Stephen King's son (which, to his credit, he tried to keep secret for as long as he could in hopes of being judged on his own merits), and obviously he inherited some of his father's chops, because this book was fucking AWESOME.

2. House Rules by Jodi Picoult: Jacob Hunt, a teenage boy with Asperger's syndrome, is accused of murdering his social skills tutor. The police suspect him both because of his interest in forensics and because many of the symptoms of Asperger's mimic the actions of a guilty person. I was eager to read this because my brother has Asperger's (albeit a much milder case than the one in this book), but although she obviously did her homework, I was disappointed. She's famous for her twist endings, but I saw this one coming about fifty pages in. Also, there are a few glaring errors, like when a stolen Super Mario Brothers game turns into a Naruto game a few chapters later, and when the quilt Jacob's grandmother made for him is later described as a quilt his mother made for him. Standard Picoult fare.

3. Prima Donna by Megan Chance: A celebrated opera singer goes on the run after an attempt to escape her overbearing manager goes horribly wrong. She winds up at a brothel in Seattle and decides to turn it into a real theater, but her past comes back to haunt her. Enjoyable historical fiction.


1. Amen, Amen, Amen* by Abby Sher: A haunting (and occasionally funny) memoir of the author's lifelong battle with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

2. Still Life by Melissa Milgrom: An interesting look at taxidermy, ranging from the bizarre Victorian dioramas of kitten weddings to Damien Hirst's freaky preserved animals.


1. Batman: Cacophony by Kevin Smith, Walter Flanagan, and Phil Hester: Somebody once asked me who my favorite superhero was, and I cut my eyes at them and was all "Bish plz", because how could it NOT be Batman? He's a tortured hot rich dude who fights for justice! Anyway, this has some great lines in it (as you'd expect, since that is in fact "the" Kevin Smith who wrote this), but the art is so unbelievably bad that it pretty much ruined the whole thing for me.

2. Swan vol. 15 by Kyoko Ariyoshi

3. The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service* vol. 10 by Eiji Otsuka and Housui Yamazaki

4. Batman: The Cat and the Bat* by Fabian Nicieza and Kevin Maguire


1. Extract: A weird little comedy about a man who runs a flavor extract factory and his daily trials and tribulations, ranging from a gorgeous (and scheming) new temp to a lawsuit filed by a worker who lost his testicles on the assembly line.

2. Paranormal Activity: A young couple, plagued by a demon, sets up a camera in their bedroom in hopes of getting proof on tape. I fell prey to the hype machine and thought this would be utterly terrifying, but aside from a few scenes (and why ARE those shots of her just standing there so freaky?), it wasn't that scary. I liked it well enough, but it didn't rock my world.

3. Hannibal Rising: This was one of the worst books I've ever read, but I still wanted to see the movie just to see how it compared. Guess was actually decent, though of course it doesn't even come close to Silence of the Lambs. It's not a must-see or anything, but I was pleasantly surprised.

4. Shutter Island*: Leonardo DiCaprio plays a US marshal who is sent to Shutter Island, home to a mental hospital, to look into the disappearance of a patient. As the doctors and security at the hospital keep impeding his investigation, he begins to wonder if things are even more sinister than they initially appeared. It took a long time to get going, but once it did, it was wonderfully creepy. Without spoiling anything, it reminded me both visually and plotwise of a Silent Hill game (though not one in particular).

5. Ponyo: In Hayao Miyazaki's latest, a goldfish princess escapes her overprotective father and meets a little boy. She wants to turn into a human so she can be with him all the time, but doing so will throw nature off balance. As you'd expect, the animation is gorgeous and marvelously detailed (my favorite moment: an octopus slowly crawling into a house), and the all-star voice cast is good (with the odd exception of Cate Blanchett, who sounds like she took a handful of downers). I thought the story was lacking, though, so no star.

6. Up in the Air*: Ryan Bingham's job consists of flying around the country and firing people. He loves it because it keeps him from having to stay in one place and form emotional or physical attachments. (In the few scenes shot in his apartment, it looks like nobody even lives there.) But two things happen that startle him out of his complacency: a new hire wants to start firing people over the Internet instead, and he falls for a fellow traveler. George Clooney is at his charming best in this sweet and melancholy movie.

7. In the Loop*: A political satire about British and American politicians trying to decide whether to go to war. I'm not ordinarily big on political stuff, serious or satirical, but this was so frickin' FUNNY. It earned an Oscar nomination for its screenplay, but I think Peter Capaldi, as a hilariously foulmouthed and verbally abusive press secretary, deserved a nomination too.

8. Jennifer's Body: When a rock band's attempt to sacrifice her to the devil fails, Jennifer is turned into a succubus who feeds on teenage boys, and her best friend Needy tries to stop the carnage. Considering that it was written by Diablo Cody, I thought it would be WAY better than it was. It still had some good lines, but it was pretty disappointing overall.

9. Dead Snow: In this Norwegian splatterfest, a group of friends goes to an isolated mountain cabin for vacation and gets attacked by Nazi zombies. Gloriously gory fun.

10. The Brave One: Jodie Foster plays a woman who becomes a gun-toting vigilante after she and her fiance Sayeed Jarrah David are brutally attacked. It's basically Death Wish in a bra, and although it features good performances and some surprisingly funny lines (courtesy of a wisecracking cop), it's depressing as hell.

11. The Princess and the Frog*: In 1920's New Orleans, Tiana is a young woman who dreams of opening her own restaurant, but when she kisses a frog (who's actually a prince under a voodoo curse) in hopes of making her wish come true, SHE turns into a frog too! They set out together to undo the curse, and I bet you can guess what happens next. Still, it's a very charming, beautifully animated movie that just about anyone would enjoy.

Side note: it's rated G, but there are some freaky scenes involving a voodoo practitioner that might terrify very small children.


1. Silent Hill: Shattered Memories (soundtrack)

2. "Telephone" by Lady Gaga

3. "Three-Way" by Magnetic Fields

4. "I'll Dream Alone" by Magnetic Fields

5. "Skinny Little Bitch" by Hole