Friday, November 11, 2011

Movie Reviews!

Some call it the weekly roundup. That's cool. Just don't call it a rounddown. Because you need to round up to account for all the value.

I don't know.

Dante is an XTREME!!!! genius of the best sort: a computer programmer from the Mountain Dew era. He dwells in a dank cave illuminated only by dozens of computer monitors. The light falls upon trash, graphitto tags and lots and lots and lots of pornography. The only disappointing aspect of his XTREME!!!! persona is that he doesn’t have an XTREME!!!! form of transportation. Truly XTREME!!!! programmers must space out their supercomputers so that the heat doesn’t ignite a blaze and the density of the raw data doesn’t create a black hole. Therefore, for maximum efficiency they must choose an XTREME!!!! form of transportation– skateboard, rollerblades, ummm razor scooter, snowboard when in proper climes– to zip back and forth.

Hell’s Gate 11:11 begins with a scene set in the halcyon recent past. A man works on his porch while children scamper through fields, old folks sip lemonade, the mailman always has a kind word, the mechanic never rips you off and the radio speaks of the power of the number 11:11 wwuuuuuuttt?!?!?! Most of what I just said isn’t true, but the last bit about 11:11 is.

Then two men approach. The wife picks up the paper and recognizes them as escaped convincts. I guess they’re eager to go back to prison, because for no reason they start executing people. Only young Sara Tobias, the daughter, survives, and only because she’s got an AK and they didn’t make way, she’s got a long Uze and carries it all day. She’s like a female, kindergarten-age Charles Bronson.

The revenge subgenre is a strange beast. It can fall under either thriller or horror. A sub-sub is father revenge. A sub-sub-sub, which is pretty much always horror, is father revenge for the rape of a daughter.

The genre can be laid to rest. The pinnacle has been achieved with Seven Days.

To do this, we have to discuss what Bloodlust Zombies is: a comedy. It’s not a horror movie. It’s not even a horror comedy, such as Shaun of the Dead, which is a both a good horror movie and a funny comedy. I would hesitate to say that it’s even a movie in the Troma tradition, because gore is barely ever the focus.

Bloodlust Zombies is an indie comedy. The zombies are simply a stress placed upon office workers locked in a building, a situation to derive comedy from. They could have been bees, or dogs, or dogs with bees in their mouths and when they bark they shoot bees at you.

First, let’s clear up one thing. In Dutch, the title of this film is SL8N8. This is not the same as atrocities such as Se7en, which I pronounce Sesevenen. In Dutch, SL8 sounds like Slacht (rhymes with “frocked”), which means “slaughter.” N8 therefore sounds like Nacht, which means “night.” That’s pretty cool. Not at all like my favorite boy band, 5ive.

Bonus! My fav 5ive video! When the Lights Go Out:

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

On Voice

A little while back, in discussing revision, I noted that some authors believe that revision removes an author's voice from the work. First I called BS, then I noted that removal of one's voice isn't always a bad thing. Like so much in fiction, it can be good or bad, depending on your intentions and your awareness of it (that's why people say it's important to know the rules. Breaking rules is easy, as long as you're aware of what you're doing so you know how to compensate for it).

Personally, when I write, what gets me through the first draft is discovery. That's why I rarely plan far ahead. What I've come to realize is that the discovery that excites me most is the discovery of my characters. And for me, even when I'm writing in third person, one of the best ways to convey character is through the language. Vocabulary, phrase length, rhythm–it shows the reader so much about your character.

And it's fun. I don't get into over-the-top dialect too often. I usually think vocabulary is enough without resorting to a bunch of phonetic spelling or replacement of letters with apostrophes. It's still a lot of fun. I was told not too long ago from a person who read Psychomancer after reading Burden Kansas that they couldn't believe the same writer wrote both pieces. I don't think it was a compliment, but I'm going to take it as one.

I have tendencies, and if you read enough of my work, you get to know my specific vocabulary, imagery I've come up with that I think is good enough to reuse, and just other signs of my own voice. But when I revise, I usually revise to minimize those things, and replace them with the voice of the character.

But but but! I want to be clear here: that's me. I can't imagine trying to hone a consistent voice, but I sure as hell am glad that some other writers have. A number of my very favorite writers have strong voices. Cormac McCarthy and Chuck Palahniuk are two. The result is that their protagonists all come off as being very similar, but it doesn't stop me from loving, reading and then re-reading their work. Kurt Vonnegut is another, though the effect of his strong voice is to make the narrator a character in its own right. In fact, you feel strongly that that narrator character is Kurt Vonnegut, and Breakfast of Champions seems to confirm that fact, since he is in fact present as a first-person narrator in the novel, watching events unfold as the worlds he's created collide.

So I guess, like usual, I'm advocating that you do what you want, and that the best way to be successful is to understand the effect you want to have and carefully consider how to achieve it.

Could that message be any more vague? I can't help it. I'm a naturally ambivalent person.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Movie Reviews!

Movies in the theaters but also for the home theaters watching the film qualityvideos at one's homeplace has become the choice of Americans in times of economics LINKSINTHETITLES

There is something about towns that are purposefully flooded by man-made lakes/reservoirs that totally captures my imagination. I find it fascinating and creepy, the idea of an entire town slowly disintegrating beneath a placid surface of water. Beneath Still Waters begins with this premise, and that 40 years after the town is flooded an evil force still lurking beneath rises again. This premise led to me giving the film a chance. It sounds so good that I hoped the movie would be as good as the concept. Hope is the form which disappointment first takes, and ultimately, Beneath Still Waters was a big disappointment.

Beneath Still Waters begins with one nerdy child awakening another nerdy child. Two nerds spring forth into the halcyon morn to find adventure, specifically in a nearby flooding town.

The Absent opens on parents who appear to be attempting to kill their son. I can’t blame them. He looks like an asshole.

So being a suspicious little asshole, the kid searches the house when his parents aren’t at home and finds that they’ve taken out a life insurance policy on him. He poisons them, they die, and at that moment his twin brother emerges and asks what he’s done.


There really is something freaky about puppets and certain dolls. Remember when Mr. Marbles goes scampering across the room in The Chicken Roaster episode of Seinfeld? Even that was creepy.

Remember in my last review, when I described the puppet maker as kindly? Well, turns out that depends on if your idea of “kindly” includes chopping the lobes from people’s brains and squeezing out the sweet juices within. Mine does, but I just want you to be able to make an informed decision.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Does Fiction Matter?

There's a war between the pragmatic and the artistic, and it blinds people to each quality.

The beauty of good computer code isn't diminished OR enhanced by the fact that people will pay for it, and that it results in useful things.

The beauty of good fiction has nothing to do with its practicality or its popularity. Neither being a bestseller or an underground cult favorite means anything. They may indicate its quality, or they may not.

The pathos of sacrifice: I don't know about this one. There is a beauty and maybe an admirability to sacrifice, but it doesn't give a person a free pass on the quality of what they would have created had they not sacrificed.

Does any of it matter? I don't know. I do know this:

If it helps get you through the day to believe that engineers or programmers are heroic and what they do matters and improves the world, you should believe it.

If it helps your sense of loss to believe that the pathos, dignity or morality of your sacrifice trumps what you would have done, and that that matters, then believe it.

If it helps to think that fiction writers are engaged in a heroic struggle, and that the beauty of story and language matters and that art improves the world, then believe it.

10. Don't expect much sympathy. After all, you did just get naked and hurl yourself into a brick wall. No one will feel bad for your broken bones, your bleeding head, or your separated spine. Doctors will actually be mad at you.

11. Also, if you are poor, no one will feel bad that you are poor. Instead of working, you spent your entire day hurling yourself naked at a brick wall and then recovering from this. What is wrong with you?