Thursday, January 31, 2013

media update: January

Pour a 40 out on the curb for my beloved Compaq Presario, which died last month after 8 years of faithful service.  I took it to the Geek Squad, and the look on the tech's face when I put that fossil on the counter was priceless.  She did her best, but the hard drive was fried.  She said they could send it out and try to get my stuff back, but it would be about $250 (with no guarantees it would even work) and I was like "um, nope".  I had most of my music backed up on my iPod and personal pictures uploaded to Photobucket, so it wasn't worth the money.  I did lose my fansubbed copy of Ai no Kusabi and tons of internet meme pictures, but it wasn't worth $250 to try to get that stuff back.  Oh well; if nothing else it taught me the importance of backing up my files on a regular basis. 

Anyway, while I was at Best Buy, I bought a new laptop, and may I just say I fucking hate Windows 8.  Hate, hate, haaaaaaaaaaaaaaate it.  It's obviously aimed at people who "live in the cloud" and can't wipe their asses without tweeting about it or updating their Facebook status.  I'm like, dudes, can I just fucking check some movie times or tweak my Netflix queue without eight thousand fucking tiles (sorry, "charms") popping up all over the goddamn fucking place?  Jesus fucking Christ!  I mean, if even Gabe Newell (the cofounder of video game company Valve; he worked for Microsoft for 13 years) has publicly decried it, you know it's a piece of shit. 

One more rant while I'm on a roll:  I got a book from the library (I know, right???  Contain your shock!), and about five pages in, there were fucking FRUIT SEEDS and oily stains all over the page.  According to the stamp on the inside, the library had owned this book for a whopping month.

Okay, it's not like I've never eaten while reading a library book, but you know what?  I've never left ACTUAL DETRITUS inside a book, or hairs, or squashed bugs, or any of the other things I've seen in library books.  (Or a Social Security card, which is probably the worst possible thing you could use as a bookmark.  Yes, I gave it to a librarian the next time I came in.)  Libraries are utterly sacred to me, so when people abuse the goods, I get real stabby.

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


1. The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis:  Hattie Shepherd has had a hard life:  she married young and gave birth to twins who died as infants.  Because she can't bear to have her heart broken again, Hattie's next nine children don't receive the kind of love or tenderness they deserve.  Each child (and one grandchild) gets their own chapter, and they're pretty sporadic in quality; some of them are excellent, and others are kind of boring.  It's not a bad book, but it's certainly not the masterpiece Oprah claimed it is.  (Not that I think Oprah's book club selections are always gold or anything---she's raved about some real clunkers---but I've found a few excellent authors through her, so I always give her recommendations a try.)

2. The One I Left Behind by Jennifer McMahon:  In 1985, a serial killer terrorizes a small Connecticut town.  The body of his final victim, an aspiring actress named Vera, is never found.  But when Vera shows up in a homeless shelter 25 years later, her daughter Reggie returns to her hometown to take care of her mother and see if she can find out the killer's identity before he strikes again.  Melodramatic and filled with typos and too many uses of "snarled" and "snapped", but I liked it fine.

3. The Wrath of Angels* by John Connolly:  Private investigator Charlie Parker hears about the wreckage of a plane deep in the Maine woods.  There was a very important list inside the plane, and some very bad people with very bad intentions are looking for it.  I gotta say, not much makes me happier than a new John Connolly book, and I really enjoyed this one.  My only real complaint is that there isn't enough Angel and Louis, but there never is. 

4. The Sweet Life by Francine Pascal:  Even though I thought Sweet Valley Confidential, the "adult" reboot of the Sweet Valley High series that I absolutely devoured as a kid, was garbage, I still had to read this one too.  Spoiler alert:  also garbage!  I mean, seriously, this is an actual line (check the top of page 22 if you don't believe me):  "By the time Elizabeth got home, it was twelve thirty and Bruce's Ferrari was in their five-car garage that also held Elizabeth's car and the Bentley for when they used the driver who doubled as a handyman but looked to Elizabeth like a butler that Bruce swore he wasn't."  WHAT?  And I will never be okay with Elizabeth and Bruce together.  Nope nope nope.  But even though this book was crappy in the extreme, I kind of enjoyed it...certainly more than Sweet Valley Confidential.  It left off on a huge cliffhanger, so there will undoubtedly be a sequel, and I will read that too.

...I hate myself.


Nothing this month.


1. Velvet Kiss vol. 2 by Chihiro Haru

2. Saga* by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples:  I have to wait until July for volume 2 and this makes me sad because Saga is so, so good.  Despite my mad love for Brian K. Vaughan, I didn't think I'd like this because it sounded a bit too sci-fi for my tastes, but it's goddamn awesome.  Gotta love anything that begins with the lines "Am I shitting?  It feels like I'm shitting!"

3. The Boys* vol. 12 (final volume) by Garth Ennis, Russ Braun, and Darick Robertson

4. Batgirl: The Darkest Reflection* by Gail Simone, Ardian Syaf, and Vicente Cifuentes

5. Otomen vol. 14 by Aya Kanno

6. Soulless vol. 2 by Gail Carriger and Rem

7. Swamp Thing: Raise Them Bones by Scott Snyder, Yanick Paquette, and Marco Rudy

8. iZombie: Repossession (final volume) by Chris Roberson and Michael Allred

9. Sakura Hime vol. 9 by Arina Tanemura

10. 21st Century Boys by Naoki Urasawa

11. Black Bird vol. 15 by Kanoko Sakurakouji:  This is turning into Twilight with tengu instead of vampires, and I can't say as I like the change all that much.

12. Chew vol. 6 by John Layman and Rob Guillory

13. Love Makes Everything Right by Sanae Rokuya

14. Girl Friends* by Milk Morinaga

15. Sleepless Nights by Sachi Murakami


1. Another Happy Day:  Ironic title alert!  This is actually about a dysfunctional family getting together for a wedding, and although it's not as depressing as Rachel Getting Married (seriously, Glenn and I were fucking traumatized by that one), it's still a downer.  But it's got some excellent performances, especially by Ellen Barkin as the brittle mother of the groom, Ellen Burstyn as the family matriarch, and Ezra Miller as one of her other sons. 

Oh, and I have to share part of Netflix's description because it's absolutely perfect:  "Ellen Barkin [stars] as a divorcĂ©e trying to hold her own against a family that couches judgment in every smile."

Random thought that came to me while watching this movie:  No offense to Julia Roberts, but her Oscar rightfully belongs to Ellen Burstyn for her searing performance in Requiem for a Dream.  Absolutely brutal to watch, but one of the best examples of acting I've ever seen.

2. Looper*:  In this sci-fi mindfuck, Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, looking a little less dreamy than usual due to facial prosthetics) is a hitman who kills people sent from the future.  But when a surprising person shows up for assassination, he has to figure out a plan.  An extremely clever treat.

3. Total Recall:  Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell) decides to visit Rekall, a place where false memories are implanted to give the recipient the feeling of having lived a different life.  But the procedure goes wrong, and he goes on the lam.  I never saw the 1990 Schwarzenegger flick, so I can't compare the two.  But it's got some gorgeous visuals and fun action scenes, so I enjoyed it.

4. Compliance:  In this deeply unnerving film, a fast food restaurant manager receives a phone call from a man claiming to be a cop.  He says that he's investigating a theft by an employee named Becky, and he needs the manager's help interrogating her.  She brings Becky (played by Dreama Walker, better known as the anime-eyed "nice" roommate on Don't Trust the B in Apartment 23) into the back room and begins following the caller's instructions.  But even as the caller's demands become more outrageous, nobody---not the manager, not the other employees, not even Becky---thinks to question him or his authenticity.  Sound implausible?  Well, horrifyingly enough, this movie (and a particularly memorable Law & Order: SVU episode starring Robin Williams) was inspired by several true incidents.  It's a pretty chilling look at how people blindly follow authority, but I wouldn't recommend it as it left me feeling really dirty and depressed.

...okay, there's one more thing I have to say about this movie but it needs a SPOILER ALERT if you haven't seen it and want to, or if you're not familiar with the real case.

So there's a scene where the manager's fiance Van is in the back room keeping an eye on Becky, as per the caller's instructions.  The caller tells Van to spank Becky for being disobedient, and then you see a shot of Becky going down on Van.  You never actually hear the caller tell her to do that, but her body language (and Van's, for that matter) strongly imply that they aren't doing it of their own volition, but because the caller told them to.

This actually HAPPENED in one of the true cases, if you can believe it.  And I don't want anyone to think I'm blaming the victim here, but why for the love of sweet baby Christ in the manger would anyone believe that a COP would tell somebody to give someone else a blow job as part of a police investigation?  Especially when the cop is ON THE PHONE.  He's not there!  Just say you did it and he wouldn't know the difference!  If an actual cop was in the room and he was corrupt and pointing a gun at their heads, that's one thing.  But...augh, I still don't know how to process this movie and it's been 3 weeks since I saw it.

5. Frankenweenie:  After his beloved dog Sparky is killed by a car, young Victor Frankenstein revives him...with unexpected results.  I really wanted to like this, because I like most of Tim Burton's stuff and I'm a total whore for stop motion animation, but I thought it was incredibly disappointing, and G was actually livid after watching it.  (Choice G quote:  "If this emperor's new clothes bullshit wins the best animated Oscar, I will shit on the Academy's face.")  For all your macabre stop motion animation needs, may I recommend the excellent ParaNorman instead?  Thank you in advance for your consideration.

6. The Expendables 2:  Basically every action star ever stars in this flick about...oh, who cares.  You are either the target audience for this film or its mere existence makes you despair.  (Guess which category I fall into!)  It's very loud and incredibly stupid, but goddamn if it isn't fun.  And I appreciated them adding a woman to the mix this time, though she doesn't get to kick as much ass as the big boys.  I'd love to see Jeeja Yanin or Gina Carano in the next one; shit, if they got Jeeja Yanin, I'd see it in the theater, goddamn guaranteed.  (And for all your "awesome women kicking massive fucking amounts of ass" needs, may I recommend Chocolate?  Thank you in advance for your consideration.)

7. About Cherry:  Angelina is an 18-year-old who moves to San Francisco with her lovesick friend, hoping to escape her unhappy home life.  She renames herself Cherry and begins working in the porn industry.  A strange mishmash of Skinemax and an afterschool special with delusions of grandeur.  There's no real reason to watch it unless you're dying to see the dude from Slumdog Millionaire jacking off.

8. The Possession:  This some stupid shit right hurr.  Based on a "true story", it's about a little girl who finds a strange box at a garage sale and begs her dad to buy it for her.  When she opens it, she inadvertently releases a malevolent spirit called a dybbuk.  Dad takes a road trip to NYC, tracks down a Jewish exorcist (played by Hasidic reggae singer Matisyahu), and they prepare to take the dybbuk down.  As previously mentioned, it's really stupid, but I was battling a bad cold and was curled up on the couch cocooned in blankets and piteously dabbing my raw nose every two seconds, and it was just about the perfect mindless viewing material for that type of situation.  Otherwise, skip it.

9. Pitch Perfect*:  A college freshman (Anna Kendrick, who I took a real shine to after her cheeky tweet about masturbating to Ryan Gosling movies) reluctantly joins an acapella group.  I wasn't sure I'd like this, especially because I soured on Glee so quickly, but it's really funny and features some great singing.

10. The Bourne Legacy:  In order to avoid certain facts coming to light, the CIA begins taking out several of its operatives...but one of them (Jeremy Renner) refuses to go down easy.  Way too talky for an action movie, but there are some good fights and an excellent motorcycle chase.

11. Taken 2:  Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson, badass as ever) has to go to Istanbul for work and impulsively invites his ex-wife and daughter to come along.  This turns out to be a bad idea, because the families of the men Bryan killed in Taken want revenge, and they kidnap Bryan and his ex.  (I don't think it's a spoiler to say that additional people will be wanting revenge in Taken 3.)  It's more of the same, but it's still fun.

12. Dredd:  In a dystopian future, law enforcement officers known as Judges have the authority to carry out any sentence they please.  Dredd and his rookie partner Anderson are sent to a massive apartment building to take down Mama, a psychotic ex-hooker who now controls the drug trade, but they have to get through 200 floors of her goons first.  (Which is strangely reminiscent of The Raid: Redemption.)  This movie made about two bucks, but it's enjoyable and filled with lots of action and gallons of gore.

13. Whores' Glory*:  A fascinating documentary about prostitutes in Thailand, Bangladesh, and Mexico.  It can be pretty devastating, like the scene where a man tries to negotiate a discount with the attendant while the prostitute stands there with a pained smile on her face or when another woman, her face bloodied by an angry madam, cries in a corridor, but (jarring soundtrack and one forced visual metaphor aside) I thought it was well worth a watch.  I'll tell you this, it will sure as shit keep you from feeling sorry for yourself for a long time after watching it.

Viewer advisory:  there's one graphic sex scene near the end.  It's not remotely erotic at all, but it's very explicit.


1. "Memorabilia" by Soft Cell

2. "Bedsitter" by Soft Cell

3. "Torch" by Soft Cell

4. "What" by Soft Cell

5. "Soul Inside" by Soft Cell

6. "Where the Heart Is" by Soft Cell

7. "I Feel Love" by Marc Almond and Jimmy Somerville

8. "Tears Run Rings" by Marc Almond

9. "Something's Gotten Hold of My Heart" by Marc Almond featuring Gene Pitney

10. "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" by Cyndi Lauper

11. "Money Changes Everything" by Cyndi Lauper

12. "Time After Time" by Cyndi Lauper

13. "She Bop" by Cyndi Lauper

14. "All Through the Night" by Cyndi Lauper

15. "Change of Heart" by Cyndi Lauper

16. "True Colors" by Cyndi Lauper:  This is one of only 4 songs that can instantly reduce me to tears.  The others are the theme from Somewhere in Time, "The Rainbow Connection" from The Muppet Movie, and "Hawaiian Wedding Song" by Elvis Presley (because one of my mom's last requests shortly before she died was to hear it again).

17. "Bad Religion" by Frank Ocean:  I am making a mix CD of songs about heartbreak and this is going on it.  Oh, that part where he sings "I could never make him love me."  Oh, the feels!

18. "Empire State Human" by Human League:  This is truly one of the stupidest songs ever, and it will always remind me of that frustrating skyscraper level in Lollipop Chainsaw, but I love it. 

19. "Bull in the Heather" by Sonic Youth

20. "100%" by Sonic Youth

21. "Sugar Kane" by Sonic Youth

22. "Kool Thing" by Sonic Youth

23. "Superstar" by Sonic Youth

24. "Expressway to Yr Skull" by Sonic Youth