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Tag Archives: 2000s

Slaves to Do These Things (2009): Selling One’s Soul to God Is to Betray the Other

Slaves to Do These Things (2009): Selling One’s Soul to God Is to Betray the Other

Amy King, Slaves to Do These Things (BlazeVOX Books, 2009)

slaves

Carpentry is a dirty business. photo credit: Amazon

Every once in a while, I run across a poet—the last one was Timothy Donnelly, over a decade ago—whose work feels like it’s introducing me to a new language, one that is parallel to ours, but lying just beneath the surface, a language where quotidian words are used in new, unfamiliar, and exciting ways. Slaves to Do These Things is steeped in this kind of language, but still oddly grounded; it feels kind of like an unholy union between Donnelly and, say, Matthea Harvey. And since I basically worship both those poets, you probably know what I’m going to say here.

By the way, if you’re reading this on the day I post it, head on over to Folder Magazine. King is the featured poet this month. (The timing of the posting of this review is, of course, not a coincidence at all. Both King and Folder deserve far, far more exposure than they have gotten to date.)

I come for you on the people’s chariot
interpreted in nightgown,
sidelined, and smoking,
breakfast huevos in hand,
for we are poorer figures with lust,
and poorer still, talking this city
from block into block into
that which sells
a plastic surprise
in the snake oil’s morning,
a unisex of truth bearing.”

…begins “Stimulus Package”, and you see what I mean? “The people’s chariot interpreted in nightgown.” That feels like something that would make perfect sense if you just looked at it a slightly different way. And it works. Some of the language in here just blew me away. (I singled out the line “Leaning into backdrafts just to glow”, from “The Fear of Hope Is Also Beautiful”, in a social media post the other day.)

I’m stunned, and kind of in love, and need to get my hands on everything this woman has ever written. *****

Capsule Reviews, November 2014

Only late enough that December’s capsule reviews are coming next Monday…
[update 25Nov2014: and this should have been posted yesterday, but WordPress seems to be having problems with graphics uploads for some reason. I will get there, honest…]

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Ring (2002): One Ring to Bind Them

The Ring (Gore Verbinski, 2002)

[originally posted 3Dec2002]

Naomi Watts screams at a well on the movie poster.

That well? Still scary.
photo credit: onelifemovieposters.com

Here’s something I never thought I would say: we have before us an American remake of a top-notch foreign film, and that remake is better than the original. All hail Gore Verbinski for finally showing his potential at creating commercially accessible fare (after all, the man created the Budweiser frogs!) on a big screen at feature length. Both his previous tries (Mouse Hunt and The Mexican) have been spectacular failures; The Ring is just as spectacularly a success.

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Insomnia (2002): …Is Sometimes Its Own Cure

Insomnia (Christopher Nolan, 2002)

[originally posted 3Dec2002]

Robin Williams and Al Pacino take up most of the movie poster, with a small nod to the original poster at the top.

One-Hour Photo meets The Devil’s Advocate in the gripping exploration of two actors whose careers had gone well off the rails.
photo credit: flickfacts.com

I hate to think it’s true, but having now seen Chris Nolan’s other two films, Following and Insomnia, I’m starting to think Memento—one of the finest films ever made—was a one-shot deal.

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Amélie (2001): Jeunet Without Caro: Oil Without Vinegar

Amélie (Jean-Pierre Jeunet, 2001)

[originally posted 3Dec2002]

The title character, in a red blouse, smiles against a green background on the movie poster.

Impish or Satanic? Your call.

For the past two years, I have been reading reviews of Amélie that all have one thing in common: the word “sweet.” I have no idea what film these people were watching, but it wasn’t the twisted little minor gem I saw on Sunday night. “Sweet” may be the last word I’d have come up with in trying to describe it. I should have had more faith in the brilliance of Jeunet. (Of course, all of these same people persist in describing Audrey Tatou as anything from “pixie-like” to “gorgeous,” as well. I found her rather disturbing-looking, as I find everyone in Jeunet films.)

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Gone (2007): And Yes, Forgotten

Gone (Ryan Ledwidge, 2007)

A wide-angle shot of our three roadtrippers graces the movie poster.

The horizon: as empty as this film.
photo credit: bryininberlin.blogspot.com

I continue to lack an understanding of why this film has ever been, much less continues to be, compared to Wolf Creek. The two films don’t even reside in the same genre of film, much less the same subgenre. Gone is an attempt at a cerebral thriller, far more in line with the various attempts to adapt the Ripley novels than a Wolf Creek-style gore film. The comparisons are sure to create unreasonable expectations in the minds of potential viewers; I can tell you this from personal experience. Not that I would have found the movie good had I known what I was getting into anyway; that just added an extra level of disappointment.

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Caliban and Other Tales (2002): O Brave New World, That Has Such People In’t!

Robert Devereaux, Caliban and Other Tales (Leisure, 2002)

[originally published 13May2002]

Caliban, resentful, stares out from inside a bush on the first edition cover.

This thing of darkness I acknowledge mine.
photo credit: horrornovelreviews.com

Robert Devereaux is one of the modern masters of the horror novel. Here, he turns his twisted eye to shorter fiction (well, for half the book), and we have to ask ourselves the question we have to ask with all novelists working in another genre: is he as good in medium B as he is in medium A? That’s a choice each reader has to make on his own, of course, but as far as I’m concerned, he may actually be better in medium B. “Ridi Bobo” is such a stroke of pure genius that, ten years from now, it may have entered the same space in my head reserved for such once-in-a-lifetime magnum opi as Richard Christian Matheson’s “Red” or Dan Simmons’ “Summer of Monsters.” Yeah, it’s THAT good. [ed. note 2014: twelve years later, it has indeed.] Who in the name of all that’s holy would think to cross a hardboiled detective story with a bunch of clowns? Bob Devereaux, that’s who. (And for those who always say the same things in response to such a comment, the point isn’t that you could have done it; the point is that you never thought to do it. Now go away.)

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