I don’t like ‘lol random’

I’ve been reading The Third Policeman by Flann O’Brien, and am finding myself generally annoyed with it, and had some curiosity why, since it seems like the kind of humor I used to really enjoy, in ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide’ for example.

I think the difference is that in Hitchhiker, things that appear random at first are explained later as part of the plot, in a sensible way that makes the seemingly random first encounter even more funny. Whereas in the Third Policeman, nothing ever seems related to anything else. I feel that I could open the book at any point and start reading, and have basically the same experience of confusion and general unease.

The ‘why’ and ‘how’ of things don’t always have to be answered for me. I have a pretty low threshold for sense, I think, compared to most people. But what I want is for what’s happening to at least have some effect on the character, or on me the reader.

The character in Third Policeman seems affected by nothing, even when told he’s going to be executed the next morning, he only has a sort of  halfhearted protest to it, and general idea that he might try to escape.

There were several times that things have been interesting to me, the reader, but had no bearing on the story and no seeming overall affect on the character. Those were fine I guess, but it’s like reading a disconnected series of essays on weird thoughts, more than reading a novel. Which would be fine, if it didn’t present itself as a novel right off the bat by giving the character a clear goal and a clear obstacle to overcome… then just completely disregarding them and jumping headlong into random nonsense for the rest of the book…

I have one chapter left, maybe it will all tie together in the end but I somehow doubt it.

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Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

Kafka has some way with words that makes everything seem like a slow, surreal nightmare. This story, in simple, straightforward language, manages that feeling while still being somewhat comical.

Gregor Samsa wakes one morning to find he’s transformed into a giant insect-like creature who’s smell and appearance so horrify his family that they can’t bear to be in the same room as him for more than a few seconds.

But, like The Trial, it all has the effect of a strange dream… an inevitable, existential horror creeping slowly but unerringly.

First he is sequestered to his room, only able to listen to his family or guess what they are up to. Then the furniture is removed from his room. Then the room (and he) gathers dust and trash and is left untended… and his relationship deteriorates at the same time.

And it all somehow evokes a feeling of… shrinking, of the world being stripped away until reality is a single room, a single floorboard at which your eye is pointing, unblinking.

A short, strange read. Well worth it.

Finding Frances

The feature length finale of the Comedy Central series ‘Nathan For You’ takes an amazing melancholy turn, when Nathan decides to use the show’s resources to find Bill Heath’s (the Bill Gates impersonator from previous episodes) long lost love.

Though still full of the same comedic flavor that Nathan is famous for, this is a heart wrenching documentary about a man that could not let go of the past.

Bill, now 76 years old, never married, and never had children, has spent his life always wondering what happened to his young love Frances, last seen over 50 years ago. Though it is never stated directly, it is implied that he never married or had children because he was always hoping to find her. Early in the episode we get many clips of him reminiscing about her, always saying ‘I should have married her.’

Nathan takes it on himself to help Bill find Frances, using ridiculous, roundabout tactics that will be familiar to fans of the show. But always present between the comedy is a thick vein of longing, and it will creep under your skin and leave your heart aching.

What kind of love must one feel to still wonder about someone from half a century past? What kind of emotions could prevent a person from moving on after so much time? The relationship of Bill and Frances is startlingly similar to that of Florintino and Fermina in Love in the Time of Cholera, except, as we find out during a heart squeezing scene where Bill reads through a box of old letters–Bill left Frances to pursue his career in acting, and regretted it ever since.

I won’t spoil the end, but as the episode progresses and Nathan finds more and more information about Frances, it becomes clear that Bill has held some kind of frozen image of her in his mind, a version of her trapped in amber and unchanging as the decades rolled by.

Is this how all love works? A first impression of overwhelming emotion seared into the brain, unable to be overwritten no matter what else happens with or because of that person. Do we have any choice but to cling to that moment when everything was perfect and amazing, despite all that has changed? That irrationality and inability to accept change–or even perceive it in some cases–is part of what makes us human…

The end of this episode left me with a surreal feeling of the gulf of time that can separate two people–a feeling of melancholy for the past, like opening a time capsule full of childhood mementos, or finding an old love letter in your attic.

This episode was better produced, and miles more meaningful than 90% of Hollywood movies today. Even if you’re not familiar with the show, and don’t care for absurdist/awkward comedy– I would recommend watching this episode. It is heartfelt, real, and peeks at some secret aspect of being human that hides within all of us.

I keep laughing

You know it’s a funny book when just thinking about it throughout the day makes you burst out laughing.

Me trying to describe it would not do justice to its hilarity, you just have to read it yourself. But… something about this kind of character is just so amusing–the just smart enough to think they are a genius guy who is actually not so bright, the delusions of grandeur, the missing of obvious social cues, the massive overestimation of their own importance–it’s just, endlessly entertaining.

And the best part is you are SHOWN all this, instead of being told. You have to see it for yourself, and when you do, it’s like ‘oh my god, this guy!’

Read it, you won’t regret it, even just the first quarter of the book is worth it already.

Happy Death Day

In the style of Groundhog Day, or more recently Edge of Tomorrow, Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) is a college student living the same day over and over. Except she keeps getting murdered.

I never know what to expect from movies anymore, but I usually default toward expecting them to be dumb. This one was less dumb than I expected, and actually turned out to be a lot of fun.

Different than most slasher, horror flicks, we get a lot more death in this one because the main character can die over and over in all kinds of ways. It’s not very gore heavy, which is great by my standards, but it still manages to be very tense.  The fact that you know she’s going to just wake up each time she dies makes it even more impressive that they kept any tension at all.

I laughed a couple times, smiled more than a few, and cringed and gasped once or twice too. But most of all, my attention was held the entire time.

Only a few things irritated me, one being when she finds out that Carter–the guy who’s dorm room she is waking up in over and over–and she didn’t have sex (which she’d assumed she must have) but that he just put her in his bed because she was pass out drunk. There is a little smile and ‘dawwww moment between them. But all I can think is ‘she’s feeling warm and fuzzy that he DIDN’T RAPE her?’ But I guess expecting not to be raped on a college campus might be a lot to ask these days…

Another thing that annoyed me is, sorry to spoil but, there is never a reason why she is living the day over and over. The opening leads me to believe it has something to do with her mom’s death, but that never comes into play.

In Groundhog Day we find out he had to be a good person, in Edge of Tomorrow it was alien blood/slime, but in this one it’s a big ???

That, however annyoing it might sound, is actually not a big deal though, because the movie is so fun, and Jessica Rothe is so good. I expect she’ll be in a lot more movies soon, she was very charming and convincingly scared or terribly mean as was required of her.

Good stuff!

 

Dead Snow

I watched this zombie movie on Halloween and was pleasantly surprised. I was expecting a stupid gorefest with maybe a couple laughs, and what I got was actually a well crafted monster movie.

One thing that a lot of these type movies don’t understand is that if you play your hand too early, the audience is gunna be bored for the rest of the movie. This one does it right by having a slow buildup, and making you wait until nearly an hour into the movie to get a clear picture of what is going on.

This may make the film sound boring, but it definitely is not. It builds up, letting you get to know the characters, and when the action hits it hits hard and fast.

In case you didn’t already know, this movie is about Nazi zombies in the woods. Your typical ‘college students go to a cabin to die’ story, but it somehow felt fresh. Maybe because it was so well written and well paced for a movie of this kind. Do be warned though, it is in Norwegian, with English subtitles.

There were some very clear nods to the Evil Dead movies, but this is definitely its own film. I enjoyed it a lot, and I laughed and cringed more than a few times.

If you like zombies, comedy horror, and lots of blood, you’re gunna have a good time!

Dumb and Dumber To

Well I wouldn’t bother writing about this except that I made a point to write a post about EVERY movie I watched this year that I hadn’t seen before. So, here goes.

This movie was stupid, mean-spirited, thoughtless and lazy. And that coming from a fan of the original.

It started out promising. The idea of Lloyd faking a coma for 20 years just to say ‘gotcha!’ to Harry is pretty funny, and I probably would have laughed a lot if it hadn’t been given away in the trailer. The jokes after that are low hanging, predictable and mean. And when the jokes weren’t mean or gross, I felt like i was being mocked. Everything else was a cheap callback, stealing any positive feelings fans might have had for the original, instead of coming up with their own jokes. Much of the main plotline made no sense, many of the jokes were impossible to have occurred in real life, (like, physically impossible) And Jim Carry’s face has never been more punchable.

Just to make sure this wasn’t me having a case of the olds, I rewatched the original right after watching this horrible sequel.

Even 20 years later, when I’m an adult and rarely watch comedies, I found the first one to be charming, heartfelt and funny. Yes it’s stupid. Yes the characters might as well be mentally handicapped. But they have motivations and you can almost believe they might be real people, instead of walking gross-out punchlines that could never exist in the real world. Incompetence is real, and the original movie is actually internally consistent. The characters don’t appear places without having to get there, or disappear for a few scenes then reappear saying they’ve been to Mexico, like bugs bunny popping up out of his hole.

The people in the sequel could never have been real people. They have no redeeming factors, skills or anything positive about them. Even their friendship seems false most of the time. In the original, Harry and Lloyd are dumb, yes, but even they show some skills. Lloyd tricks Sea-bass into a free meal, and Harry is actually charming enough to get Mary to go out with him a second time. In the sequel, Penny has to be (and is) portrayed as an imbecile in order to show even a brief interest in either of these characters.

I also got the impression that the Jeff Daniels must have been forced into doing this movie somehow, because he didn’t seem to be trying, and often it felt like he was making fun of me for even watching.

The whole movie just felt thin, hostile, and cheap.

Not recommended. Just watch the original again if you want that nostalgia.