My first Discworld novel, and a jolly good one it is too, affectionately satirising print journalism amid a noir-ish whodunnit plot. I’ll even forgive Terry Pratchett for refusing to pick an ending (he strings four or five of them together here) because the writing is so charming. Thanks for the tip, Bee.
It totally, totally sucks that there's no mp3 player option for listeners like me who want to take all their music with them wherever they go. We're back to where we were over a decade ago, when disk space was the only limitation; now we're being limited by corporately contrived and dictated habits. Fuck that shit.#link
He describes himself as a storyteller, not a filmmaker, so the lack of opportunity for making his kinds of films hasn't put a damper on his work, what with his books and spoken word shows and all sorts. (In any case, he'll hardly top the films he made between the mid '80s and mid '90s.) #link
Better late than never, here's what I had to say about a kids' movie, for kids, that's pretty bad but not nearly as bad as the critics say (I see its RT rating's gone up slightly since writing, but 29% is still artificially low). #link
They said it was as good as the show, and they were right. It’s a comic aimed at kids, for sure, but nothing’s watered down, the humour’s just as surreal, with that same vein of pathos running deep throughout. Fantastic stuff.
David Shoemaker’s book-length adaptation of his ‘Dead Wrestler of the Week’ column for Deadspin could do with another pass by a copy editor more familiar with the subject matter (I wasn’t even looking out for them but there are at least two glaring timeline botches in the text). It also leans a little too heavily on the Barthes quotes to square a generally low-brow pursuit with a high-brown mindset. Still, as an intro aimed at the curious to explain why long-time fans like me still carry the torch, it does the job. In other words, you don’t need to be into wrestling to read it; in fact, it’s probably better if you aren’t.
Week 692 was fast and slow. The Sunday saw a trip to the National Crafts and Design Fair at the RDS; I have to say it was underwhelming compared to the last time we went two years ago, but at least we found an Xmas present or two. Plus some lovely jars of chutney. You can never go wrong with some chutney.
Monday to Wednesday was spent on production on the final newspaper of the year, which was as variably paced as usual, hectic hours broken up by periods of waiting, whether for copy or adverts or corrections or what-have-you. But the pages got to the printer on time, without headaches or hair-pulling. I was supposed to have some extra work prepping for stuff in the new year by the end of the week, but it never materialised, so my Xmas hols started early.
Robert Rubsam writes for Backlit about the neo-folk-centred music and arts festival, its blind spot where it comes to those with National Socialist tendencies, and how easy it is for good intentions to get mired in bullshit. It's something that was on my mind earlier this year with regards to the Bölzer 'controversy' (tl;dr version: dude has tattoos that could be construed as crypto-Nazi, in a band with songs that make some hay of the are-they-aren't-they angle) and I considered hashing it out here, but decided in the end it would be more trouble than it's worth. (FWIW I did reach out to the man in question, who declined to comment, which is his prerogative.) #link
Or why Frozen (which came out a year ago now, jeez) left Dani Colman cold. And yeah, I can hear people moaning 'but it's only a Disney movie, for kids' but there are a lot of smart people who champion this film as some kind of revolutionary thing when it's nothing of the sort, and that needs to be said. #link
This has been on my 'to read' list for too long, so I'm posting it here as a prompt, and for future reference as it's basically a how-to guide for media and the internet. With all his hires recently -- including my old internet friend Mat Honan -- it's pretty obvious Peretti wants to be more than just a meme generator. (Also, I love Q&As, I much prefer them over conventional prose-y interviews because they strip out all that density and make both sides more explicit: the interviewer's angle, and the subject's honesty.) #link
Altman feels a tad slight; 90 minutes surely isn’t long enough to survey the great director’s life and career. But to be fair, it’s a documentary that picks the man Robert Altman over the work that made his name, and tells his story via the people who were closest (or should’ve been closest) to him, his wife and children. There is a 2009 biography that likely goes into far more detail, and other sources that examine his films (Rich Hall’s fantastic doc How The West Was Lost is particularly good on McCabe & Mrs Miller); this slots in as a worthy complement.
The Wild Bunch is one of those mythological Great American Movies that can’t possibly live up to expectations. And the start doesn’t promise much, its static, fussy staging straight out of the television of the era. Sam Peckinpah was a TV veteran, so that makes sense, but he’s aware of the freedom of the big screen, and his eye for subtext is there. The opening shot of children pitting to scorpions against one another is a broad-stroke but appropriate metaphor for the film we’re about to see, where William Holden’s band of outlaws (including a magnetic Ernest Borgnine and the great Warren Oates) slips the clutches of Robert Ryan’s posse of hired goons to do One Last Job, but end up embroiled in some serious political corruption down Mexico way.
Such a small film in many ways; most of it takes place in a single house, with a handful of principal players. But I think that’s what makes it so powerful, because it brings near inescapable esoteric horrors so terrifyingly close to home. That the likes of Pinhead can be reasoned with despite their unknowable nature (at least at this stage of the saga) makes it even stronger; he’s not just your run of the mill evil villain, it’s up for question whether he’s even a villain, let alone evil. Sure, it’s not quite the film Clive Barker set out to make (meddling by financiers put paid to that, like it did to an even greater degree with his next film Nightbreed) but he gets enough of his original story on screen to make a real genre-busting difference.
Christopher Nolan does it again with his least original production yet, a would-be heady epic that’s neither heady nor epic enough. At least it does have a discernible story, with a beginning, middle and end, which is more than I can say for The Dark Knight or Inception or the like. But beyond the pseudo-profound bluster, Interstellar is fairly hackneyed stuff, an ‘anyone can be president’-style fable of a crack pilot turned humble farmer (Matthew McConaughey at his most folksy) who leaves a dying Earth headed for a wormhole that links to a distant star system, and a potential new home for humanity.
Just the one press screening for me since my last weeknotes, of sports biopic cum true crime drama Foxcatcher. It’s not out till January so I won’t have my review scribbled up till after Christmas, but suffice it to say I liked it a lot, especially Steve Carell’s performance: the scariest screen presence this side of Javier Bardem in No Country For Old Men. Seriously.
There have been other screenings, of course, but the dates and times didn’t work with my schedule; among the gems I’ve missed (the ones I know of, anyway, as I’m not on Fox’s or Universal’s PR radar yet) is Paddington, which, inexplicably, has been getting almost universal praise (I’ve seen the trailer and it looks rotten). We’ll see what’s left for the rest of the month, as the press machine tends to wind down early for the end-of-year break.