Sunday, January 01, 2017

media update: December

Happy 2017, and good fuckin' riddance to 2016!  I want to believe that 2017 will be much better, but...uh...considering what's going to happen near the end of January, probably not.  (And a friendly aside to the Grim Reaper:  if you're still hungry after gorging yourself so often last year, feel free to take out Bill Cosby, Brock Turner, OJ Simpson, Jared Fogle, or any of their ilk as opposed to, you know, MY CHILDHOOD ICONS.)

You may notice this media update is pretty sparse by my usual standards, as I didn't get much reading done this month.  Southern California finally got the memo that it's winter, so I was able to walk on my breaks at work instead of staying inside to avoid heatstroke, and Hidden fucking City continued to eat away at my free time, so I wasn't getting much reading done at home either!

The movie list is also smaller than usual because G-Vo and I spent most of our time gaming: Sugar Smash, Hidden goddamn City, Sherlock Holmes and the Devil's Daughter (not as good as the previous games, and the ending was weird, but it was still enjoyable), and Dead Rising 4.  Ohhhhhh yeah.

Asterisks denote something I particularly enjoyed or found especially worthy of my time; double asterisks are reserved for the creme de la creme.  As ever, your mileage may vary.


1. The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen:  After the death of her mother Queen Elyssa, Kelsea was raised in hiding to protect her from those who would kill her.  When she comes of age, she returns to the kingdom to claim her throne and finds herself squarely in the crosshairs of those who aren't happy to see her again. 

Side note: Emma Watson bought the movie rights to this series, and from what I understand, she's going to play Kelsea.  This amuses me because Kelsea is repeatedly described as plain, and I doubt there's much you could do to ugg out Emma Watson!  They'll need Charlize Theron's Monster makeup artist to even have a chance.

2. Scythe by Neal Shusterman:  In the future, humanity has managed to conquer aging and death, but of course this means there are way too many people on Earth, so an elite group of people known as scythes randomly pick people to kill.  Two teenagers named Citra (this is YA, so of course most of the names are goofy; there are also characters named Tyger, Jacory, and Kohl) and Rowan are chosen to apprentice under a scythe, but neither one of them wants the job.  A very interesting premise, but it could have used some tighter editing and a good proofreader.  My personal favorite oopsie was when Citra is described as being incapable of doing things "half-fast".  I had no idea what he meant, but then I said it out loud and realized he meant "half-assed".  HALF-FAST.

3. The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen:  Sequel etc.

4. The Mothers* by Brit Bennett:  Unmoored by the suicide of her mother, 17-year-old Nadia Turner begins having sex with her pastor's son.  When she gets pregnant, she has an abortion, the effects of which will resonate through the rest of their lives.  Beautifully written and heartbreaking.

Side note: although the synopsis makes this sound anti-choice, I didn't take it that way, although other people may think otherwise.

2016 TOTAL:  119


1. Moranifesto by Caitlin Moran:  A collection of columns covering everything from the silly (the addictive qualities of the Daft Punk song "Get Lucky", her crush on Benedict Cumberbatch) to the deadly serious (female genital mutilation, sexism).

2. Kathy Griffin's Celebrity Run-Ins by Kathy Griffin:  The comedian spills the super salty tea on the many celebrities she's met.

3. Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton:  After several years of bulimia and alcoholism, the author found love, got married, had children, and published an instant bestseller.  As you might imagine, things were looking pretty good, but then she found out that her husband was cheating on her.  I'd give the first half of this book a star, but the second half gets awfully New Age woo-woo mushy.

2016 TOTAL:  24


1. What Did You Eat Yesterday? vol. 11 by Fumi Yoshinaga

2. Rin-Ne vol. 22 by Rumiko Takahashi

3. Sweetness and Lightning vols. 1-3 by Gido Amagakure

4. Food Wars! vol. 15 by Yuto Tsukuda and Shun Saeki

6. So Cute It Hurts!! vol. 10 by Go Ikeyamada

2016 TOTAL:  67 volumes of manga and 18 graphic novels


1. Doctor Strange**:  After a car accident robs him of the use of his hands, arrogant surgeon Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch, terrific as always) goes to Nepal in search of healing, and a whole new world of superpowers opens up to him.  Just a really fun movie, with some surprisingly good dialogue and trippy visuals that more than justified the extra cost for the 3D experience.  If you want to see it and haven't yet, I'd definitely recommend seeing it in the theater, assuming it's even still playing by the time I post this.

Side note: why do people like messing with Mads Mikkelsen's eyes so much?  In this movie, his eyes are charred around the edges; in Casino Royale, his eyes leak blood; in the trailer for the upcoming video game Death Stranding, his eyes leak black goo.  Considering how nasty Hannibal got, I'm amazed he made it to the end of the series with his eyes intact!

2. Don't Breathe:  A trio of teenage burglars hears about a rich blind man living in an abandoned Detroit neighborhood, and they think he'll be an easy score.  Big mistake.  A painfully tense thriller that gets almost grindhouse by the end.

3. Mechanic: Resurrection:  Retired hitman Arthur Bishop is forced out of hiding when an old enemy kidnaps his girlfriend and refuses to release her unless Arthur completes three more jobs.  The absolute best scene was spoiled in the trailer, but it still has a lot of fun action and Jason Statham in a wetsuit, which:  HNNNNNFFFFFFF.

4. The Darkness:  A family unwittingly brings a really crappy souvenir back from vacation in the form of a malevolent spirit.  This movie was HYPNOTICALLY bad, to the point that I didn't even want to stop watching because I was kind of impressed by just how terrible it was.  The best part was the 5 second clip of ParaNorman they showed near the beginning.  (ParaNorman is a wonderful movie.  Watch that instead of this.)

5. Suicide Squad:  A group of supervillains is recruited to fight a supernatural being.  It's just as incoherent and messy as you've heard, and the soundtrack is unbelievably distracting (the cost for music rights must have been stratospheric), but Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn and Will Smith as Deadshot are terrific.

6. Krampus:  A family comes under attack by Krampus, a creature from folklore who's basically the evil twin of Santa Claus.  WAY better than expected, and really fun.

7. Goat:  After suffering a horrifying attack, Brad decides to pledge the same fraternity as his brother in hopes of finding friendship and healing, but instead he finds the exact opposite.  This raw and disturbing flick is based on the memoir by Brad Land, which I read many years ago, but I'd forgotten most of the details.

8. Nerve*:  Desperate for money, Vee (Emma Roberts) becomes entangled in an online game with ever-increasing stakes.  We weren't expecting much from it, but it was actually quite entertaining!

2016 TOTAL:  103