Stranger Things: Season 2, episodes 3 and 4

This show is getting dark.

There is something incredibly creepy about what is happening to Will, and I stayed up late to watch another episode I wasn’t planing on because of it.

This show really knows how to do creepy and dark, without having obnoxious jump scares or shocking blood and violence. That’s something I’ve realllllly been missing from movies lately!

Another thing this show handles better than Hollywood is nostalgia. There are so many references to 80s culture, but I still don’t feel banged over the head with it or pandered to. And it’s so nice to recognize a thing from my childhood and not want to throttle someone for re-imagining, remaking, rebooting or any other re-ing it.

Excited for whatever comes next!

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!

 

A slow burning fuse

I’m still reading  The Peregrine , and it is taking me a while. It is such beautiful writing but with no conflict, it is easy to set it down. But I always come back eventually, for the beautiful writing. It’s like an expensive box of rare chocolate, you have one now and then and savor it, instead of wolfing it all down in one sitting.

But now, about 30% through the novel, it is starting to grab me with interesting things. Things other than descriptions of nature. It took a long time to get there, but I don’t think it would have been possible without all the buildup and setting of the tone and scene. And it is amazing, once it starts…

Now I’m getting the ‘what will happen’ urge to go back to it. Now I know something strange is going on, and I wonder what the conclusion will be. But I really don’t think it could have been done if it just started out that way.

Some things require patience and build up and preparation… sadly, things most people don’t have time for in entertainment anymore. If something isn’t exploding on page one, we put the book down.

I found myself imagining how a movie of this would be. Just shots of birds and animals, and a man walking through nature, watching, and his reactions to it and slow change in personality… no dialogue, no running around shooting or crying or fighting or arguing. Just shots of hawks killing wood-pigeons, and the man staring weirdly at the picked clean bones.

I’d watch it… but it would never be made.

 

Annihilation movie

Have you seen this trailer?

I’m excited mostly by the ‘writer and director of Ex Machina‘ which is one of the few good sci fi movies to come out in years. The concept and ambiance of this novel (Annihilation (The Southern Reach Trilogy)) was very creepy, weird, and interesting, and if they can translate it into film it will be awesome!

It’s a big if, though. The trailer always looks awesome, but movies are experts at being piles of crap that look nice.

Every once in a while there is a gem though, like Ex Machina, or Arrival. I have some hopes that this could be one of those!

And if it is… maybe we’ll get two more with Authority (The Southern Reach Trilogy) and Acceptance (The Southern Reach Trilogy)!

Enduring stories

I just got some tickets to see The Princess Bride in my local theater for its 30th anniversary, and it has me wondering, what makes some stories stick around and stay loved over the years, and others fade away to nothing? It’s definitely not the ‘graphics’ or ‘effects’… yet this is what hollywood spends 90% of their money on.

Think back on the movies you watch over and over. Are any of them watched for the really cool explosion or fight scene, or awesome looking aliens or cityscapes? No… they’re watched because you love the characters, or the story is enthralling, or they are funny or scary or heartwarming.

I just read that more ‘Avatar’ movies are coming, at the expense of near 1 billion dollars. I’m sure they will be pretty, with all that money spent on computers… but will it have memorable characters or story? Does anyone remember any of the characters from the first Avatar? I vaguely remember an asshole general, just because I remember being irritated at how obviously I was being manipulated to dislike him. I remember the blue people… but not really anything about their personalities. I never watched it a second time.

The Princess Bride, on the other hand, I can tell you every character’s personality, their goals and desires, and a memorable line from them. I’ve seen it at least a dozen times, probably more.  This is more than nostalgia. This is spending time and effort on having memorable, likable characters with full arcs and motivations and integration into the story, instead of spending all your time and money on making things look cool.

The problem is, looking cool is what makes money. People are attracted to shiny, neat looking things. The 90 second trailer showing explosions and fights and crazy looking things is what draws people into the theater, so that’s what the Hollywood machine produces. It doesn’t matter if you forget it immediately after, or even if you hate it halfway through. You went into the theater, they got their money, and now they can start making another one.

It’s not all bad though. Even if we don’t have good movies anymore, at least we have good TV. TV shows have to be good, because if someone gives up after the first episode, the show is going to fail. So they are forced to make it engaging and addictive, instead of just cool looking enough to get you to start watching.

I only wish some shows were shown on the big screen every week!

The Talented Mr. Ripley, by Patricia Highsmith

The Talented Mr. Ripley did not end the way I expected, though, if I’d noticed that it was part of a series maybe I would have guessed.

I really enjoyed this book. The protagonist, Tom, is a disgusting creature, but consistently interesting. He, like any good villain, does not realize what he’s doing is wrong, he has perfect justifications for it and only the mildest bit of guilt.

I also liked his constant paranoia about being caught. He’s sure he’s messed up somehow, or forgotten something, or that people will see through his lies. That part makes him likeable enough to keep reading through the terrible things he does. His relief and surprise at constantly not being found out is identifiable, as well as the bit of arrogance and self satisfaction that comes along with it.

The end, though, as far as story structure goes, seems a bit of an anticlimax. He does so much stuff that all builds up to… him not being caught. I was expecting him to come crashing down and get captured, or at least be found out and have to flee. But everything goes exactly as he planned in the end and he escapes with the treasure, so to speak, and no harm to him at all.

I’m somewhat curious about the other books in the series, just to see if there is some kind of arc other than him becoming a soulless killer with no consequences.

Enjoyable book, though!

Sunday, and no Game of Thrones…

What will we do every Sunday for the next year and a half? What will we talk and theorize about? What will we yell at our friends for not watching? What will we spoil accidentally and ruin friendships over?

Well, there are other shows on their way. There is season 2 of Stranger Things this fall, though, being Netflix most people will probably watch it all in one sitting. There’s season 8 of Walking Dead, though I never watched that show past season 2 so won’t be partaking. There’s the new Star Trek Discovery, which I’m very excited and apprehensive about, but most people don’t care about Star Trek…

There are hundreds of shows out there, it’s hard to decide which one will be good. I don’t have enough time to try them out, so I’ll wait till I start hearing people talk about one as much as they did about Game of Thrones…