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Showing posts from June, 2017

Colossal

Going into Colossal with only the film's trailers and promotional material to prepare you, it's easy to expect an entertaining but fairly shallow handling of its premise, in which a hard-partying alcoholic (Anne Hathaway) is kicked out by her boyfriend and returns to her home town to wallow and hang out at a bar with her childhood friend (Jason Sudeikis), before discovering that she mysteriously has control over a giant monster that has begun menacing Seoul.  Despite the weirdness of that description's final turn, there's something very familiar about that combination--a melding of mumblecore character drama and out-there genre elements, along the lines of The One I Love.  So while you might expect Colossal to be good, you also expect its genre components to be merely a jumping-off point, a particularly on-the-nose metaphor--alcohol makes our heroine, Gloria, into a literal monster!  (There is, in addition, an uncomfortable undertone to this premise, in which a white w…

Five (Additional) Comments on Wonder Woman

I didn't expect to have anything more to say about Wonder Woman after publishing my short review of it.  But in the week that followed, the film has stayed with me, particularly the ways in which it complicates (and fails to complicate) the conventions of the superhero narrative.  Partly, this is just the shock of the new.  The MCU--and particularly those parts of it that are a bit more politically engaged--has gotten more than a little top-heavy, constantly bumping up against the limitations of its genre when it tries to do anything interesting with it.  Wonder Woman isn't kicking off its own cinematic universe, but I'm sure I'm not alone in thinking that we'd all be better off if WB wrote off its previous three DC movies and used Wonder Woman as its template going forward (and, at least until November, we can all pretend that this is what's going to happen).  Without the baggage that the MCU has accumulated, DC is in the enviable position of being able to lea…

Review: Dreams Before the Start of Time by Anne Charnock at Strange Horizons

My review of Anne Charnock's third novel, Dreams Before the Start of Time, is up at Strange Horizons.  I took this review as an opportunity to air some of my frustration at one of the most glaring blind spots of science fiction (and perhaps fiction and public discourse in general), pregnancy and fertility.  A genre that likes to imagine that it will dismantle any commonplace of modern life, and ask how changing it changes humanity, has been deafeningly silent on one of the most basic, common human experiences.  It's as if science fiction writers believe that there's nothing to change or innovate when it comes to how we create children, even as the real-world state of pregnancy undergoes massive upheavals due to public ignorance and indifference.

It's perhaps because of my eagerness for science fiction that engages with fertility that I found Dreams Before the Start of Time a little underwhelming.  Some of what Charnock does in this book, which follows several families …

Recent Movie Roundup 25

This bunch of movies is something of a transitional group--a few of the early blockbusters of the year, but also some of last year's art-house movies that only made it into Israeli movie theaters recently, and one movie that I wasn't expecting to see here at all.  The coming summer doesn't have much that appeals to me (though I was excited to learn, just today, that both Colossal and The Big Sick have scheduled Israeli releases), so this might end up being the most intriguing group of movies I see for some time.
Get Out - It's a bit of a shame to come to Jordan Peele's blockbusting debut film so long after its release, given that its topic, twists, and most memorable moments have been the subject of so much discussion (not to mention GIF-ing and meme-ifying) in the intervening months.  I would have loved to approach Get Out knowing a lot less about it (but then, until very recently it was quite unusual for Israeli film distributors to even purchase films by or about…

Recent Reading Roundup 43

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The first few months of 2017 reading have not been as breathtaking as the comparable period in 2016.  Nevertheless, the feeling of having gotten my reading mojo back persists, and this list of recent reads, a mostly-literary bunch (a lot of my recent genre reading has been for my New Scientist column, and you can find mythoughts on those books there) with a few awards contenders and interesting also-rans thrown in, represents a strong first half of the year.  At least one of these books, I think, will end up on my year's favorite list, and almost all of the others are books I'm glad I took the time to read.

Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer - It's interesting that in the space of a single year, Tor published two debut novels about non-dystopian, non-corporatist future societies in which the boundaries of national and ethnic identity have been replaced by global affinity groups, to which people assign themselves according to their interests and philosophy.  For all my res…