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The Terror, season one (2018) review

Watching AMC's The Terror (2018) season one, I found myself thinking of movies like The Edge (1997). In that movie, a billionaire and his film crew are stranded in the Alaskan wilderness while also being pursued by a giant bear (eat your heart out, Shakespeare). The beast is certainly a problem for them, but the bigger issue is the land itself. The Edge  was set in Alaska; The Terror  occurs in Antarctica, a cold, desolate place that makes the former look tropical. There's also a monster involved that's anything but a bear. I enjoyed The Terror  very much, and for reasons I didn't foresee going in. I'll explain those in a moment.


Fair warning: I'll be spoiling the hell out of this show. If you haven't see in it yet, watch it blind first. You'll thank me later.

The year is 1845. Two ships—curiously named Erebus (the Greek god of darkness) and Terror—sail for the Frozen North, bent on discovering a passage to America. For them, it's an adventure. Alas,…
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Vulpiano Records Ten-Year Cassette Review

November 17th marked the ten-year anniversary of Vulpiano Records, the independent record label launched by Marilyn Roxie. Marilyn has continually promoted a variety of styles—ambient, acoustic and electronic—and has supported independent artists from around the world for over ten years.


The ten-year anniversary is marked by a special event: a C45 cassette tape with a custom shell, box art, and collectible inside—either a rainbow-foil tarot card, or a collage artist trading card (selected at random). [The quality of each of these components is equally impressive. However, the greatest aspect has to be the music itself.

In terms of quality, this is a very consistent set, with a lot of variety from a wide scope of artists from around the world. Yet, it feels less eclectic and more cohesive, each artist having submitted something truly special that amounts to a highly engrossing and engaging listen. One of the artists themselves, Marilyn has demonstrated an incredible ear for selecting a…

Joker (2019) review

Watching Joker (2019), I sometimes forgot it was a comic book movie. It plays out much more slowly, with camera angles and takes that feel more at home in noir or hard-boiled crime movies. I enjoyed myself to an extent, but I also had my fair share of criticisms. This isn't a bad thing in and of itself, but it is noteworthy to confess I felt the negative aspects on my first viewing. In this review, I'll explore both sides of how I felt; there will be spoilers.


As far as I understand the character, Joker has little if no origin story. He's always the Joker. Seeing him as someone else feels a little strange, and takes some adjustment; it's hard to imagine him a victim with self-esteem issues, and having to discover his killer instinct, but that's how the movie plays it. Arthur Fleck, a clown by trade, dreams of becoming a stand-up comedian. The son of a shut-in, aging single mother, we learn he has a condition where he laughs uncontrollably when stressed. This, and b…

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019) review (video script)

This is the script for my YouTube audio review of André Øvredal’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019). There will be spoilers, including images from the film.



Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is Øvredal’s first film since directing The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016). That film was R-rated and featured a good deal of suspense; it hid its monsters as much as it showed them. By comparison, I’d argue that Scary Stories has the superior monsters, but it has no idea how to present them, let alone tell a scary story.

Written by Alvin Schwartz, the original books weren’t effective because of the words; they were effective because of the artwork. Produced by artist Steven Gammell, the illustrations disturbed parents so much the books were banned for years. When publishers tried to restore the books, they removed Gammell’s artwork, replacing it with pictures fans did not like or want. After many years [in 2017], the books were finally re-released with Gammell’s pictures intact.

Gammell has a u…

Midsommar (2019): Review

When I watched Midsommar (2019), I found myself comparing it to Hereditary (2018). That movie took its time, introducing its characters inside a single location, which then became the the film's main setting. Midsommar, by comparison, rushes the tragedy. I'm not against having an opening accident, one the heroine must retreat from to heal elsewhere. This approach worked in The Descent (2005) because Sarah's woes weren’t so easily escaped; they followed her into the caves. 



The opening tragedy in Midsommar hardly seems to matter at all. Most of the movie takes place inside a village in Sweden. The deaths that occur at the start involve people we never meet, who die in their sleep. They are never mentioned; we don't know their names. In other words, they’re not the crux of the drama; there is no drama. There are suggestions of drama, but these are rare and frustratingly brief. When the boyfriend chooses the village for his thesis project, his friend—another PhD student—is…

The Dark Crystal: AoR - The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

For October, I'm doing weekly write-ups on  The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (2019). This week is my final write-up (for now). In it, I wanted to explore what I liked, disliked and hated about the show. Spoilers!

Note: Originally this article was meant to be titled "Criticisms," but after some consideration I realized I couldn't think of enough criticisms to merit an entire article! That's not to say that I don't have problems with the show. Just, after watching through it twice—and sporadically peeking into individual episodes after that—I haven't come up with much. So this article might be a little lopsided.



The Good

Believe it or not, my favorite aspect of the show is the photography. There were certain action shots (with the Arathim in particular) that involved a lot of digital effects. However, the camerawork did less to highlight that issue and more to emphasize how real everything looks. Closeups occur generously throughout, framing the puppets (a…

The Dark Crystal: AoR - Sexuality, Women, and Queer Identity

For October, I'm doing weekly write-ups on  The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (2019). This week, I wanted to explore the show's portrayal of three separate facets: sexuality, women, and queer representation. Spoilers!



Sex

Unlike violence, sex in AoR is merely implied—largely through the presence of different Gelfling family groups. Curiously, Rian's mother is out of the picture; Brea's father is never mentioned; and Deet has two fathers, but no mother. All the same, Rian and Mira were an item, kissing much like any couple. Sex is certainly present, but only for a moment, and nowhere near to the same pointed degree as the violence and gore.

I've always found that curious—what's forbidden and what's allowed, and how sex is generally taboo when violence is not. And some pretty awful violence occurs in AoR, make no mistake about that. In terms of sex, the raciest bit is an off-screen kiss between Rian and Mira. Their conversation leading up to it is loaded wit…