Monday, May 20, 2013
Gone South Pocket books Paperback 391 pages Gone South is a part of one of may favorite literary sub-genres. Weird Crime, adding horror or bizarro elements to a crime novel almost always works for me. This is one strange southern gothic crime novel but it is so perfectly with brutal and beautiful moments it is hard for me to imagine anyone not enjoying it. Opening with an amazing first line… “"It was hell's season, and the air smelled of burning children...." It is the story of Dan Lambert a Vietnam vet who is having a rough go of it. He has leukemia, his wife kicked him out, he can’t find work and now the bank wants to take his truck. He tries to reason with the loan officer and stuff goes well south. He didn’t mean to kill the guy things just got out of control. So he takes off. The bank puts a reward on his head and before long every two-bit bounty hunter in Louisiana is after him. The characters in this novel are vivid and interesting including A bounty hunter named flint who was recruited out of freak show(he has a third arm, well actually he has a little twin brother he absorbed before birth) and his Elvis impersonator partner. Well trying to escape Dan has an adventure meets up with a young woman disfigured by a large birthmark and they journey together as she is looking for a healer. Dan doesn’t believe in the healer known as the bright girl but as they travel deeper into the bayou the journey continues to get even stranger. McCammon is one of my favorite writers and may be the best pure story teller writing genre novels. He gets compared to King, but he is far more consistent than King. He milks the south setting in this book to create a novel that is unsettling , funny and at times charming. Is it McCammon’s best? No and that is the scary thing. Fans of weird crime should not miss this one.
Saturday, May 18, 2013
Space Battleship Yamato So a few years back Japanese director Takashi Yamazaki made an above average sci-fi action movie The Retunrner. It involved alien invasion, time travel and giant transformer robots. It is not exactly high art but I enjoyed it. So I decided a few days back to look up what he had done since. Recently he made this film and I wanted to see it. SBY is based on a classic Anime show, it has been updated and made live action here in a highly entertaining space opera. With awesome CGI space battles, dog fights and a slightly dark tone it is pretty much like a Japanese BSG. Here is the set up. The earth is almost dead after a war with an alien species. A battle in orbit of Mars may have been the last stand. A message sudden arrives telling the humans that solution to the radiation on earth could be found on a far off planet. So on desperate mission to save humanity Battle Yamato heads into deep space to try and save humanity. Fans of Japanese anime science fiction like Robotech/battle of planets can’t really go wrong. I really thought this movie was fun. Fantastic space battles, and an interesting story. Sci-fi fans check it out.
Thursday, May 16, 2013
Casshern Film review Casshern is an amazing Japanese sci-fi film remaking a classic 1973 Anime. This film mixes a classic Anime feeling with a steampunk feel and it looks often like Terry Giliam designed a lot of the sets and fictional equipment. This film takes place in alternate history where a block of Asian nations and Europe just finished a war that lasted 50 years. A Japanese scientist discover something he calls neo-cells which he uses to create Neo-sapians super humans. The government tries to exterminate them. Thus begins a battle where the evil Neo-sapians resurrect the robot armies of Europe and Casshern fights them to try and save the day. I saw this film when it came out in 2004 at the Asian film fest in San Diego. Shortly after that Dreamworks bought the U.S. Rights but only released the film on video. I believe they re-edited it slightly to try and make the story more clear. This is a really neat looking movie that requires a strong suspension of disbelief but as a super hero sci-fi movie it is pretty impressive. I think the movie pretty enough to watch without even following the story it looks that cool. Check it out.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
My Kingdom Film review So serious Kungfu fans know that the roots of Wuxia cinema pre-date film with the long tradition of stage operas. Three of the biggest names in Kung fu movies have their roots in Peking Opera. Famously Sammo Hung, Jackie Chan and Yuen Biao were classmates in one of the schools which have reputation for brutal methods. Jackie Chan is not here, but Yuen Biao has a great cameo in the opening duel scene and Sammo Hung has an excellent job directing the action. My Kingdom is the story of two young Opera actors who are training under their master played by Yuen Biao. Their master is disgraced after losing a duel challenge from a big city stage actor. When they go to Shanghi and challenge the man who disgraced their master they become stars in the big city. Soon the stardom effects the brothers. At the same time a series of murders incite a mystery. The stage fights are amazing and the best thing about this movie. The story is confusing; characters behavior changes in nonsensical ways just to move the plot. In the end I can’t tell you this is a good movie, but I can say that the amazing stage duels by Peking Opera actors are cool as hell and worth seeing.
Red Claw by Phillip Palmer Orbit books 451 pages I have very mixed feelings on this book. A part of me really liked it. It is a bold novel in many ways. Seeming on some levels it seems to be a gonzo tongue in cheek version of Avatar. The text breaks lots of rules. First person journal entires with footnotes, Third person action, present tense, past tense…the writing style is kinda of a mess. A pretty and often inventive mess I was laughing often and entertained reading it. The novel takes place on a hostile jungle world called New Amazon. The main characters are scientists and military types. One on the planet they discover a race of Godzillas one of whom they capture. There are killer robots and just about everything on New Amazon wants to kill humans. At first I thought it was a beaituful mess, but towards the end of the novel I wasn’t laughing much. I was tired of the narrative crazy-ness. The novel started to feel long. In the end I felt this novel was not for me. I couldn’t pan it because I liked most of it. I was impressed with it’s invent-fullness and I did laugh a bit. Towards the end the novel finally seemed to be more clearly making a point. I think readers looking for more bizarro style Sci-fi will enjoy it.
Monday, May 13, 2013
Good for Nothing ( A Kiwi Western) While the setting of most Westerns are mostly American many international cinemas had produced some of the Best Westerns ever made. Of course every knows Spaghetti Westerns often filmed in Spain from Django movies to the best films of Sergio Leone all of the Italian westerns took place in the American West or Mexico. In recent reason two awesome westerns were made that had international settings. The Korean western “The Good, The Bad, The Weird” was set in a old west like 1930’s Manchuria. The Australian Western “The Proposition” took place in a dirty nasty old west like outback. I was hoping for something similar setting out of this western filmed in New Zealand. While the setting is never spoken or identified in the film it takes place somewhere in the American West. Good for Nothing is a low budget film by a first time director and it shows. Some of the performances are strong but most are flat. The plot and the film has potential to be darkly humorous but the delivery is not there. The best part perhaps is the performance of lead actor Cohan Halloway. He manages to make his Character despicable for most of the film and later likable. All this with out saying anything for the first half an hour except “My dick is broke.” As good as he was, I was equally unimpressed with the other lead Igne Rademeyer. Her performance was flat to me, and since she was producer on the film I wonder if the director had bias that favored her despite the weak performance. Uneven with a weak script that fails to deliver on the dark humor of the concept. The suspense and tension is well done, but there are so many moments where the female lead fails to act in her own defense(just to drive the plot) that it will drive many viewers nuts. If you are going to watch a western from down under stick with the Amazing aussie one- The proposition.