Thursday, January 02, 2014

media update: December

Happy New Year, everybody!  I can't believe 2013 is over.  It was kind of a wash; nothing really terrific happened, but nothing really bad happened either.  Well, I guess the gallbladder surgery was no picnic, but considering that it's major surgery, it wasn't that bad.  So yeah, a wash.  Here's hoping that 2014 is supermegafreakin' awesome for everyone who deserves it!  (Assholes and bad people, of course, can have a breathtakingly shitty 2014 as far as I'm concerned.)

No video game review this month.  G-Vo and I finished Deadpool, which was pretty funny, but the action was standard boilerplate and it didn't really warrant a full review.

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


1. Ashes* by Ilsa J. Bick:  Trying to come to grips with her inoperable brain tumor and the deaths of her parents, Alex decides to go on a solitary hike in the woods.  But during her trip, an EMP of unknown origin hits, turning some people into bloodthirsty monsters.  And for the first time in a long time, Alex finds her will to live.

Yeah, yeah, it's the first volume in yet another postapocalyptic YA trilogy, but it's goddamn good; it's like The Walking Dead meets Cheryl Strayed's hiking memoir Wild.   I loved it so much that I went back and added it to my favorite fiction list of 2013.  It ended on a cliffhanger, but it didn't matter because soon after finishing, I went to the library and checked out...

2. Shadows* by Ilsa J. Bick:  ...which I can't review lest I spoil the previous book.

3. Monsters* by Ilsa J. Bick:  Ditto.  I'll just say it wraps up perfectly, and that I'm glad I discovered this series shortly after the final volume was published.  That way, I was able to mainline all three books in the course of two weeks!  Anyway, I highly recommend this series, though I should warn you that the violence can get VERY graphic.  Don't let the YA tag fool you.

Side note: at the very end of the book, there's a list of characters and a recap of what happened to them in Shadows.  I have no idea why they put that at the end of the book, but if you need a refresher, go to the back of the book first!  Just be careful not to spoil the ending for yourself, of course.

4. Delirium Stories by Lauren Oliver:  A collection of three short stories about minor characters in the Delirium universe.  Not necessary unless you've already read and enjoyed the Delirium trilogy.

5. Becoming Marie Antoinette by Juliet Grey:  This novel is told from the perspective of Marie Antoinette as she leaves her home in Austria and goes to France to marry the dauphin, ending just as she and Louis become the new king and queen.  There are two more novels covering the rest of her life, and although this wasn't phenomenal, I'll probably still read them.

TOTAL READ IN 2013:  63


1. Anything That Moves* by Dana Goodyear:  Usually books about food make me ravenously hungry, but this one sure didn't!  It covers the extreme foodie movement (think raw milk, marijuana infused dishes, and bugs), and although it can get really gross, it's very interesting, especially the section on an underground farmer's market in Venice, California.

TOTAL READ IN 2013: 22


1. The Joker: Death of the Family* by way too many people to list here because this story arc spanned several different series.

2. Hyperbole and a Half* by Allie Brosh:  The best of the blog collected in one full color volume, in addition to some new stuff.  Her series on her battle with depression is one of the best things I've ever read on the internet.

3. The Last of Us: American Dreams by Neil Druckman, Faith Erin Hicks, and Rachelle Rosenberg

4. The Walking Dead vol. 19 by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, and Cliff Rathburn

5. Deadpool: Suicide Kings by Mike Benson, Adam Glass, Carlo Barberi, and Shawn Crystal

6. Judge vol. 2 by Shiki Tonogai

7. Blue Is the Warmest Color by Julie Maroh

8. Batwoman vol. 3 by J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman

TOTAL READ IN 2013: 102


1. All the Boys Love Mandy Lane:  Mandy (Amber Heard) is a beautiful high school student who's lusted after by every boy at school.  When she and her friends go on a weekend trip to a secluded ranch, a mysterious killer begins picking them off one by one.  An interesting throwback to 80s slasher flicks (even the title screen is an homage), but if you've ever seen a horror movie in your life, it is VERY predictable.  There was also a serious missed opportunity where a future victim plays with magnetic letters on the fridge.  The killer could have made a perfect anagram out of the exact same letters Future Victim used.  

2. The Wolverine*:  Wolverine is living in seclusion when he's summoned to Japan by an old friend.  Wolverine agrees, but it turns out to be anything but a pleasurable vacation.  It's a lot of fun, and I enjoyed the which I mean both Japan and Hugh Jackman shirtless.  GodDAMN!

Side note:  be sure to watch the credits!

3. R.I.P.D.:  After being killed in the line of duty, a cop (Ryan Reynolds) is assigned to the Rest in Peace Department, which protects the living world from "deados".  I hoped it would be the fun kind of bad, but it was just plain bad.

4. 10 Items or Less*:  An actor (who is never named; he's just listed in the credits as "Him") doing research for a role runs into a testy grocery store clerk named Scarlet.  He's fascinated by her ordinary life, and after her shift ends, he bums a ride in order to get a better look at how she lives.  It's a enjoyably quirky little film, oddly reminiscent of Lost in Translation, and Morgan Freeman is excellent.  (As opposed to, you know, his usual underwhelming performances.)  I especially liked the scene where he's astounded by the bounty of Target.  I do wish, however, that they hadn't included the wacky scenes in the credits because I felt they lessened the impact of the ending.

5. The Purge:  In the near future, the US holds a yearly "purge" that lasts for 12 hours.  During that time, any crime is legal, even murder, and emergency services are suspended.  Rich people buy expensive security systems and barricade themselves in their homes until the purge is over, but the poor are shit out of luck.  James Sandin has made a fortune selling those security systems, but he didn't count on his young son taking pity on an injured man and letting him inside.  Unfortunately, the man's attackers don't take too well to losing their prey, and the Sandins find themselves under siege.  Interesting premise, poor execution.  I also found myself distracted by Lena Headey's terrible wig.

6. Elysium:  In the future, the very rich have fled Earth to live on a luxurious space station called Elysium.  Back on our planet, Max (Matt Damon) is exposed to radiation at his job and learns that he has five days to live.  He wants to take an illegal shuttle to Elysium and use one of their "med beds", which can cure any illness, but Elysium's secretary of defense (an unusually hammy Jodie Foster) is determined to stop him.  I wanted to like this movie, because I loved District 9 (which was also written and directed by Neill Blomkamp), but the allegory was incredibly heavy handed and the ending sucked.  Beautiful visuals, though.

7. Equilibrium:  In a dystopian future where emotions are suppressed through mandatory drug use in order to prevent World War IV, a cleric (Christian Bale) tasked with keeping the peace skips a dose of his medicine and discovers what he's been missing for so many years; chaos ensues.  Some good gun fu and an interesting concept, but you can safely skip it. 

8. The World's End*:  Gary King (Simon Pegg) longs to go back to his teenage glory days, so he gathers up his old friends for an epic pub crawl that doesn't go quite how they planned.  The less you know, the better, so I'll just say it's a bittersweet end to the Cornetto trilogy. 

9. Incendies:  After their mother dies, Jeanne and Simon go to the Middle East to fulfill her last wishes.  It's well done and has some interesting plot developments, but my god was it DEPRESSING.  Padre wanted us to see it because he was so blown away by it, but once it was over, we all just sat there in a shellshocked state.  I would never have finished it if I'd been watching it on my own.

TOTAL SEEN IN 2013: 128


1. "Teenage Enema Nurses in Bondage" by Killer Pussy

2. "I Kiss Your Lips" by Tokyo Ghetto Pussy: No, I'm not on a mission to download songs by bands with the word "pussy" in their names; this was sheer coincidence.  Sometimes magic just happens.

3. "Eclipse (All Yours)" by Metric

4. "Neutron Star Collision (Love Is Forever)" by Muse

5. "In Anticipation of Your Suicide" by Bedroom Walls

6. "Hearing Damage" by Thom Yorke

7. "The Violet Hour" by Sea Wolf

8. "A White Demon Love Song" by The Killers

9. "I Belong to You" by Muse

10. "La Receta" by Kemo the Blaxican

11. "Sister I'm a Poet" by Morrissey