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Showing posts from October, 2013

Movie Review: Gravity (2013)

Gravity is the most technically brilliant film of the year. It is a spare, intense story about adversity, hope, and the terror of space -- both the unforgiving space beyond the planet's atmosphere, and the emotional distance that damaged humans put between themselves and others. Director Alfonso Cuarón has crafted another masterpiece, ably assisted by Emmanuel Lubezki's cinematography, Steven Price's music, and Sandra Bullock and George Clooney's performances.

I recommend watching Gravity in 3D. It is so beautiful. Moments of camaraderie, fear, destruction, and serenity are perfectly constructed. One scene in particular made me think, "Michael Bay, eat your heart out!" Nothing I've seen so far compares to the achievements made by this film in visual and sound effects. The script also does a great job of balancing harrowing scenes with lighthearted one-liners, some of which are only funny because of the sheer enormity of what immediately preceded their utt…

Book Review: At the Mountains of Madness (1936)

H.P. Lovecraft is a hidden giant in the shadows, his name whispered reverently in the dark recesses of readers' minds. I was first introduced to Lovecraft during the nineties, when I discovered fanfiction. In those days, after the required prayer for the modem to connect, I would hurry to the desired website and immediately save the fanfic as a text file, in case someone picked up the phone. One fanfic writer in particular, Alan Harnum, creator of the magnificent Waters Under Earth, wrote Turning the Wheel, which he described as "1/3rd Stephen King, 1/3rd H.P. Lovecraft, and 1/3rd Rumiko Takahashi." Who?, said I. Anyway, 'twas a tale of eldritch terror from the watery depths, betrayal most foul, and the monsters in our midst. Happily, it was also well written.

At the Mountains of Madness is a good introduction to the Lovecraft legacy. Although written in almost bombastic horror-prose and heavily reliant on the adjective "decadent," it's an engaging nove…

Movie Review: Prisoners (2013)

Prisoners is a crime/mystery drama anchored by excellent performances courtesy of Wolverine and Donny Darko. Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal are ably supported by an all-star supporting cast, including the ever-amazing Viola Davis, Terrence Howard, Maria Bello, an unrecognizable Melissa Leo, and the reliably creepy Paul Dano. The writing is equally wonderful until the third act, when it appears to get confused and goes down into the quagmire with the audience in tow.

The first act of the movie is skillfully set up, and establishes Jackman as a family man with strong ideas about preparation and doing what is necessary. Jackman, Bello, Davis, and Howard are neighbors and parents of two teenagers and two young girls each. An incredibly warm and genial gathering further develops the typical middle-class comforts that both families enjoy, before an ominous shot of the front door heralds the arrival of the main plot: the two young girls have gone missing, last seen going off together to re…

Game Review: Resonance of Fate (PS3)

More like Resonance of Crap. This sad misfire (wink, wink) of a gun-focused JRPG tries valiantly to be original, and ends up being frustrating instead. Here’s my litany of rants:

Pointless Melodrama The opening was typical fare: a fight between two androgynous men, with lots of graceful slow-motion leaping to impossible heights and distances. The cinematic even had the restraint to pan the camera upwards when the kill shots came.
Then it went into a seriously embarrassing scene where one religious leader, the one with bangs and a ponytail, reveals Le Truth to another religious leader, the one with bangs and no ponytail, and bangs-only goes into a tortured whine about how he couldn’t possibly deceive his flock now that he knows that God is a giant, elaborate, gear-driven and presumably steam-powered mechanical device with lots of pretty jewelry. It was so awful that even Fragrant Husband was appalled, and this is a man who will watch cheesy sci-fi and horror movies for fun.
The rest …

Electric Run 5K

Last Friday night, the noble team Splendiferous, led by makeup expert and neurobiology PhD candidate Special K, ran a 5K. That's about three miles, which is barely any distance at all if you're a regular runner. What made this non-race so special was the fact that (a) it was at night, (b) it had glow-in-the-dark courses, and (c) everyone was there to party. Welcome to Electric Run.

I took the above images from the Electric Run website to offer an idea of what the funsies looked like. Electric Run Boston took place at Gillette Stadium. The event was supposed to start at 7:15 PM, but at that time Splendiferous was still doing photo-ops. Despite all the extra glow-in-the-dark gear we brought -- mostly bracelets and night sticks -- we still couldn't hold a candle (wink wink) to the other, younger participants of this event. One guy had re-purposed a biker helmet into a giant bug's head, complete with glittering eye appendages. Many folks had glowing mohawks. And tutus wer…

Book Review: The White Queen (2009)

The White Queen is a femme-tastic story of intrigue and fighting during the 15th-century War of the Roses in England. It is the first book in the Cousins' War trilogy by Philippa Gregory, author of The Other Boleyn Girl. The main character is the newly widowed Lady Elizabeth Grey, who seeks her lands restored to secure the fortune of her two young sons. She goes to plead her case to Edward, the York upstart fighting for the throne. As both Elizabeth and Edward are young, blond, and have super sexy faces, they immediately share a mutual attraction that further complicates the already protracted battle for rulership in England.

The novel begins with steamy romance novel-esque hidden glances and manipulations and gradually becomes a dark exploration of the depths of ambition at the heights of power. Once Elizabeth becomes Edward's queen, over the objections of the king's closest and most powerful ally, she and her mother place their relatives in high positions to enrich the f…