The Tuesday Zone: The ‘Coherence’ of Indie Science Fiction

The Tuesday Zone

“Indie movies.” Maybe the term is overly-summative, but I think Second Breakfast writer Chris Melville captured the major cost-benefit of indie movies in his review of Short Term 12: there is artistic freedom that allows for something different, but that something different isn’t always successful.

Right about now, the two of you who read my review of The Kitchen might be getting deja vu. That was my opener for that article, and the statement remains relevant for Coherence (2013), a low-budget indie flick. The connections between it and The Kitchen are pretty strong, actually: both are almost entirely single-setting, taking place at a party (birthday in The Kitchen, dinner in Coherence), and develop the interpersonal drama through the numerous character interactions. The major difference is that, for the most part, Coherence is much more carefully made in terms of both writing and directing, both being done James Ward Byrkit, who co-wrote Rango (2011). Continue reading

Rooster Recap: “The Strain” Episode 7/8 – For Services Rendered & Creatures of the Night

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Hey guys – sorry to gang up two weeks, but I’ve been interviewing and it’s stressful and blah blah basically you’re going to get two in one enjoy. So much excitement in one little post. OH WAIT since The Strain basically plods along clumsily and awkwardly maybe not so much excitement.

Episode 7:

Actually though, this week starts with some fun times, namely in the form of “You’ve waited six episodes for this to warm up here have a reward.” We solve the mystery of who’s the lawyer lady’s husband, where’s he been, and hasn’t she turned already? Also aren’t there a bunch of strigoi/vamps running around – oh hey, let’s get that all out of the way before the credits with a scene that actually looks like it’s from a horror movie! Yay! Continue reading

Second Breakfast: On the Banality of Violence

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This week I’m not reviewing a movie. I’m basically writing an essay, which is a particularly disturbing departure from the norm because for the first time in seventeen years, I’m actually not a student, so writing an essay should be the last thing on my mind, but I’m passionate about this topic. As the title perhaps indicated, this week I am writing about the banality of violence in cinema. The question of violence is closely linked to that of the audience as voyeur. In much the same way that certain… ahem… parties will watch pornography to spy on the (artificial) sexual experiences of other (artificial) people, there’s an element of voyeurism to watchin’ dudes kill other dudes for the sake of watchin’ dudes kill other dudes. I’d be lying if I said was guiltless of this. Uh… of the latter thing… the dudes and the killing. Sometimes you just want to shut your brain off and watch some action. This is no way a jab at my colleague Drew Parton and his magnificent Mindless Action Mondays column, because that’s some intelligent and fun criticism right there. It’s difficult to get criticism that’s both.

No, what I really want to address in this article is not mindless action, but mindless violence, and the distinction is important. This is not a discussion of explosions and car crashes a la Fast and Furious 6, which is a borderline masterpiece; it’s a discussion of blood, pain, cruelty, and perverse heroism. I’m not going to say that this is a trend in blockbusters these days, because it’s always been somewhat present in film history, but blockbusters are a convenient target. Continue reading

SciFridays: “Jaws: The Revenge” (1987)

Baddie – False senses of security.

Lesson – There’s probably not another shark, just like there’s probably not another sequel.

Jaws | Jaws 2 | Jaws 3 | Jaws 4

Oh…Jaws 4. Jaws, the Revenge. Jaws, the one-sequel-too-many. The Jaws movie starring…Michael Caine? Wait…

I’m not sure where to start with this one, but, I guess I’ll start with the uh, the plot. Martin Brody has passed away – he had a heart attack, but don’t let that stop you from blaming the shark, because Mrs. Brody (reprised by Lorraine Gary) certainly doesn’t. She continues to live at home with Sean, until he’s also killed by a shark. It’s juxtaposed against Christmas carols, it’s pretty magical. Mike flies in from the Bahamas where he lives with his family, and talks Ellen Brody to follow him down to the Bahamas for some much needed R&R. She consents, but only because there are no great whites in the Bahamas. OR ARE THERE (hint: There totally are, for the purposes of cinema).

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A Bomb in the Lasagna: “Deep Breath” is a Breath of Fresh Air for Doctor Who

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This past Saturday, the world got its introduction to Peter Capaldi’s as the 12th Doctor on the legendary British series, and the Internet’s Favorite Show*, Dr. Who, with the Series 8 opener “Deep Breath”. The extended first episode (roughly 104 minutes with commercials), attempts to balance asserting its mission statement and telling a rousing sci-fi adventure, and largely succeeds. “Deep Breath” is an excellent first episode, declaring its differences from series passed while staying true to the show and its central character.

The episode opens with a T-Rex stomping through the river Thames in Victorian-era London, which – let’s be honest here, Rooster Illusionists—is a pretty great way to open a season in general. While the Doctor would usually be springing into time travel action the moment the dinosaur touched down in the river, the recently regenerated 12th is having a bit of an identity crisis, struggling to not only figure out who he is, but who his companion is as well. From here the intro is admittedly a bit of a slow, oddly paced burn. The urgency of dealing with a giant, carnivorous lizard in one of the most densely populated cities in the world is put on hold while Clara and Madame Vastra (a character I had to look up; there are admittedly holes in my knowledge of the Matt Smith era) discuss the Doctor’s new face and Clara’s hesitance about it. The plot moves at a much brisker pace once we are introduced to the real threat of the episode and Clara’s reticence about the newly old Doctor is put to the task when they are actively working to save London from organ-harvesting androids. From here the mixture of plot and character work are more neatly and fluidly integrated, culminating in some excellent character defining work for Capaldi’s Doctor as he faces the Big Bad in the episode’s climax. Once it gets going, the episode has the tension that’s integral to so much classic Who (even if the resolution to the business with the T-Rex is underwhelming). Continue reading

The Tuesday Zone: Will ‘Boyhood’ Be a Timeless Classic or Cultural Artifact?

The Tuesday Zone

Very few people will argue that Boyhood is a bad movie. The fact that no one is arguing that the “filmed with the same cast over 12 years” thing is a gimmick speaks to that.  That’s because Richard Linklater (Dazed and ConfusedBefore Sunset/Sunrise/Midnight, A Scanner DarklySchool of Rock), the writer and director, has an eye for detail and humanity in both of those jobs. I do have to admit that I had some issues with Boyhood while watching it, but during the drive home, those were washed away, and now I want to discuss exactly how Boyhood succeeds, and what its legacy might be.

My main concern was that this movie will become an artifact, rather than a canonical entry into the history of cinema. To make clear the distinction between those things, consider these two sets of movies:

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Mindless Action Mondays: This Movie is Expendable

MindlessActionMondaysBy Drew Parton

This week, I took a trip to my local cinema to check out the third “Action hero retirement home” film The Expendables 3.

When the first movie came out, I was immediately excited to see the 80’s cheesefest. In general, I think they’re okay, serviceable action films. I’m really ambivalent about the whole series- and the third one especially. There were some good parts, some bad parts, and some irritating parts. All in all, I think it’s a perfectly okay flick- but not something I’d recommend going to see in theaters.

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