Sunday, August 27, 2006

Catch Up

Okay look lively you lot. We've gotten way behind and there's a whole lot to catch up on. Here's a quick summary of everything I've read, seen and listened to in the last few months.

Howls Moving Castle

Generally very well done (and as with all Miyazaki films the animation is spectacular) but the story was kind of dull.

Layer Cake

Pretty fucking good. Not as funny as Snatch or Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels but a cool, entertaining movie nonetheless.

Midnight's Children (Salman Rushdie)

I know this won the Booker Award for 'Best Book of the 20th Century' but I found it quite boring, although I did appreciate some of the clever things he did with how the story was framed.

Everything and More (David Foster Wallace)

A non-fiction popular maths book by the guy who wrote the behemoth novel Infinite Jest. Fascinating stuff, if you like maths. Some day I'll have to write a post about just how much maths freaks me out...

Spawn (Todd McFarlane)

The first trade collection. Cool concept but a cheesy execution. The animated TV series was far better.

Napoleon Dynamite

I left off seeing this one for a while because movies with a cult geek following like this one often don't live up to their reputations. This one's an exception though. Absolutely hilarious, and with a moral that I found quite touching: It doesn't matter how much of a loser you are, find something you love and do it well.

Dark Horse

A really random Dutch film. Suffers a little from pretentious European Art Cinema syndrome, but is generally entertaining for most of it's length.

The Brown Bunny

What a pile of shit. Yes the twist ending was clever in how it put the rest of the film into focus, but the rest of the film is a total bore-fest, and the climactic blowjob scene makes a joke out of the whole thing.


Not a chore to watch but it doesn't have much to recommend it beyond the clever gimmick of having the lead character played by completely different actresses throughout the film.


From the writers of Cube (one of my favourite sci-fi movies) comes a stupid comedy with a similar plot hook. Unfortunately these guys are far better at making up interesting concepts than at writing comedy. It had it's moments but was pretty lame a lot of the time.

The Proposition

An Australian movie written by Nick Cave. It's a great, moody outback western for the first three quarters of its running time, but the ending completely lacks any emotional punch.


A kind of counterpart to the Blues book I read earlier this year. This one is not as snarky, and the writers are (as you might expect) far more reverent to the material (with typical Jazz fiend snobbery), but it makes up for that with an abundance of photos and quotes and interviews from those who lived through the Jazz era. (The Blues book lacked these things, as bluesmen tended to die young or just wander off and disappear.)

Dante's Equation (Jane Jenson)

A trashy sci-fi novel from the writer of the brilliant Gabriel Knight series of adventure games. It's generally a pretty fun read, but I could have been spared some serious forehead slapping if they had had it proof read by a scientifically inclined editor. Just a paraphrased example:

“Oh my God! This is like no sine wave I've ever seen before!” says the brilliant scientist. They both looked at the screen. This is what they saw:

[picture of a square wave].

Sun Ra: Space is the Place

A fun B-movie, if you're not too bothered by the (heavy) reverse racism. Plot summary: Sun-Ra returns to Earth in order to take all the black people to up to his paradise planet where they can live unmolested by whitey. The devil tries to stop him.

Stardust (Neil Gaiman)

An actual, no irony allowed fairy tale, sticking to all the conventions of the genre but still making a damn fine novel. More than makes up for the disappointing Anansi Boys.

Pattern Recognition (William Gibson)

Now this book just made me angry. It starts out with incredible mood, full of post-modern malaise and seems poised to delve into the conflict between art and money, and how discerning what is genuine is being made harder by the trends in today's advertising, but in the end it just goes nowhere. Fuck you William Gibson! Now I'm going to forever wonder just what would have happened in the book you started writing.

Peeping Tom

On his newest album Mike Patton goes in an upbeat, hip hop direction. It's good and I'd recommend it, but it's far from his best work. The single 'Mojo' is easily the best track on the disc.

Dear Wendy

Seriously, what the fuck? I have no idea how to describe this movie, in fact, I have no idea if I even liked it or not...

Faster Pussy Cat, Kill Kill!

This legendary B-movie certainly fulfilled its title's promise of PG13 T&A, but while it may have been provocative when it was released, by my standards it was not terribly interesting.

Valley of the Dolls

Another, not quite so legendary B-movie (it will always be overshadowed by it's sequel). Worth watching for some great 70s cheese and some entertainingly hysterical overacting, but only if you have nothing better to do. It's quite lengthy and the plot is very dull.

Ichi the Killer

A moderately disturbing anime. Again pretty tame by my standards, but I'm told that the live action movie it was based on was better.


An acoustic album by Swedish death metal band Opeth. A few songs are absolutely brilliant, most of the rest are quite good but others fall a bit flat. It's an admirable change of pace for them but they should probably keep concentrating on rocking out.


That'll do for now. There's a bunch more stuff I want to write about, but they're all things that demand more than a paragraph each.


Reel Fanatic said...

I love Miyazaki to death, but as get old his plots seem to make less and less sense, as with "Howl's Moving Castle" .. I had no idea that Nick Cave had written a movie .. I'll definitely have to check it out on DVD!

Jon said...

Well Howl's Moving Castle isn't Miyazaki's story, it was based on a book by Diana Wynne Jones. It would be interesting to see if the book made any more sense...

The Nick Cave movie is worth watching, but the resolution doesn't quite do justice to the setup.