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Tag Archives: 2010s

Four in a Bed (2012): Roll Over, Roll Over

photo credit: Oregon State University

Yanusa Devon, Four in a Bed (No publisher listed, 2012)

four

Problem number one with this book: that only looks like one, and I don’t see a bed. photo credit: my copy

This was part of a series of cheap Kindle porn that got released under the wrong names, the cover is for Ceci Patricks’ Musings of a Sex Addict, but the text is for Four in a Bed. (Since I had the other book, I used the cover it should have had above instead of the cover it got.) This incredibly short “story” starts off sounding like a particularly bad Hustler letter written by a horny twelve-year-old who has no sexual experience whatsoever. And that’s the good part. By the third paragraph, the author has gone from at least rudimentary attempts at show-don’t-tell to sounding as if this is a school assignment and he wants to get it over with as fast as possible. He also pads things out by adding ridiculous, offensive stereotypes. “My wife Jade and Henry’s wife Bianca did a little lesbian act when we were completely naked and settled on our bed. Although Jade was bi-curious, I was strictly heterosexual. We only had sex with couples where the man was strictly heterosexual as well.” Seriously, do women exist who put up with the sort of idiotic double standard found in that passage? And who wouldn’t smack their husbands over the head for not including even a single detail in the first sentence, which in well-written erotica could easily be stretched out to two or three thousand words of tantalizing description? This is absolutely awful. ½ star because it’s not overtly morally objectionable, just stupid, naive, and terribly written.

Zarathustra (2011): Also Sprach Niemand

Brad Phillips, Zarathustra (Brad Phillips, 2011)

zarathustra

Somewhere in the back of beyond… photo credit: my copy

This feels like about half a story. There’s a fine line between revealing just enough to get your point across and not doing do, and getting to just the right side of that line is often tricky. Here, however, it might have been easier than usual. Zarathustra, for example, aside from the title only crops up in the last sentence. And, assuming the reference is to Nietzsche’s book rather then the founder of Zoroastrianism, which aspect of the book is being referenced here? It could be at least three, possibly a half-dozen, but none of them really quite fit. It rather goes without saying that for readers who are not polymaths, references to Zarathstra and Shemhamphorasch may end up going straight over their heads. Therein lies the paradox: those who get the references are far more likely to call the author out on the story’s shortcomings. * ½

Suicide Squad (2016): Desire Becomes Submission. Submission Becomes Power.

Suicide Squad (David Ayer, 2016)

suicide-squad-poster

Time to play. photo credit: flickeringmyth.com

After I saw the trailer for Suicide Squad the week before it came out, all the sudden I wanted to see the first superhero movie I’d wanted to see since Iron Man 2. It looked like ridiculous amounts of fun, starred Margot Robbie, who was so good in Z for Zachariah, and while I haven’t been a huge fan of the David Ayer directorial efforts I’ve seen, as a writer, man, he’s out of this world sometimes (two words: Training Day). And then the reviews started coming in, and they were terrible. But a friend wanted to see it and couldn’t find anyone to go with, and it was five bucks a ticket (and the theater in which we saw it, where I’d never been before, was loads of fun), so I figured why not? My ex-wife’s assessment of the film, which she’d seen the week before I did: “you get to see a lot of Harley Quinn’s ass.” What’s not to like? So we went, and while Suicide Squad is, on the David Ayer scale, far more End of Watch than Training Day, I thought it did its job, and even though I understand, and agree with, most of those critical reviews, I thought it did that job pretty well regardless.

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Plagued (2013): At Last, Someone Found a Reason to Visit Missouri

Better Hero Army, Plagued: The Midamerica Zombie Half-Breed Experiment (Storyteller Press, 2013)

Plagued

If every zombie looked like that, would anyone actually MIND the apocalypse? photo credit: Amazon

First off: if you’re going to use a pseudonym, at least make it sound like a human being’s name. Otherwise, you might find yourself releasing books under a name like Bolaji Worldstar77. Or Sunshine 44. Or Better Hero Army.

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Finding Dory (2016): Sigourney Weaver, Savior of the Universe

Finding Dory (2016): Sigourney Weaver, Savior of the Universe

Finding Dory (Andrew Stanton and Angus MacLane, 2016)

New-Offiicial-Finding-Dory-Movie-Trailer-and-Movie-Poster-

It’s a big ocean. photo credit: classymommy.com

To me, and I know I am in the minority on this, Finding Nemo (2003) has always been one of Pixar’s minor successes; it’s nowhere near as awful as their worst output, like Cars 2 or Wall-E, but it’s nowhere near as good as their classics (Toy Story, Monsters Inc.). And since Pixar’s track record with post-TS2 sequels has been, to put it kindly, abysmal, I wouldn’t have even gone to see Finding Dory if my four-year-old hadn’t begged. And I wasn’t exactly predisposed to liking it today; the mall had a Pokémon Go event going on, so it took half an hour to find a parking spot, and of course at a Saturday matinee, the theater was full of loud toddlers. (I’m not going to say mine is a model, but his mother and I have taught him that quiet is necessary in a cinema, and he mostly gets it.) And yet, I walked out of that theater amazed. Finding Dory is a far, far superior film to its predecessor, and continues the jaw-dropping revitalization of Pixar that started with Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur last year.

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Sarah Swallows (2012): …But You Don’t Have To

photo credit: Oregon State University

Francine Forthright, Sarah Swallows (Mmmmmore, 2012)

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This might have been less offensive had she swallowed lye. photo credit: my copy

SPOILER ALERT

Spoiler Alert!

There is one way to get an instant and automatic zero-star rating from me: include a scene that starts out as rape and ends as conventional sex. It’s even worse when that scene is the entire book. (zero)

The Conjuring 2 (2016): If You Don’t Shift This Crate of Brillo Pads by Friday, Vengeance Will Be Mine

The Conjuring 2 (James Wan, 2016)

conjuring2

They’re baaaaaaaaaaack… photo credit: movie-list.com

There’s a scene in The Conjuring 2—very early on in the movie, so this isn’t a spoiler of any sort—that really drives home how important cinematography is to an effective horror film. It starts with Billy Hodgson (Benjamin Haigh in his feature debut) has just gone downstairs to get a glass of water, and is sleepily on his way back up to bed. When he gets to the second floor, he stubs his toe on one of his toy fire trucks. After turning off the annoying light and sound features, he nudges it with his foot so it rolls into the tent he has erected in an alcove just at the top of the stairs. He stumbles back to his room. The camera moves with him, and the tent is always in the background. He almost gets there when there’s a sound of grinding metal, which we know is the sound the fire truck makes when it rolls across the floor, and the sirens go off very briefly—less than a second. He pauses for a moment, decides he must have been hearing things, and keeps on back to bed. As he’s getting ready, we can see a small portion of the tent through the doorway. The bottom of what we can see is about waist-high, so if you know anything at all about horror films, you’re expecting something to come bursting out of that tent. Instead, we hear the lights and sirens again, and cinematographer Don Burgess cuts to the bottom of the doorframe just as the fire truck comes rolling slowly up to the doorjamb. It’s just a beautifully shot scene, playing with the audience’s expectations and demolishing them at every turn, and it sets up the viewer to expect that this is not going to be your average horror film, at least not from the DP’s perspective. (If you search “conjuring 2 fire engine” on YouTube, you’ll find the sequence that happens just after this.)

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