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Showing posts from September, 2019

Veronica Mars, Season 4

Veronica Mars has got a Veronica Mars problem.  This is the inescapable conclusion one must draw from the multiple attempted--and, for the most part, failed--reinventions the show has undergone since the end of its first, transcendent season in 2005.  In those fourteen years, we've watched the show try to repeat history (the second season, which furnished Veronica with another high-school-set mystery reeking of sexual violence and the entitlement of the rich), switch formats (the third season, which split its storytelling into three multi-episode arcs, each dealing with a different mystery), attempt to switch settings (the "Veronica Mars, FBI agent" sizzle reel Rob Thomas produced in an attempt to earn the show a fourth season), make a time jump (the 2014 movie, which did have a mystery story somewhere in there but was mostly concerned with delivering all the fanservice viewers could stomach), and now, with Hulu's eight-episode revival, seemingly do all of those thin…

Ad Astra

For the better part of the last decade, one after another of Hollywood's A-listers have decided to make glossy, prestigious, semi-cerebral space-set science fiction movies.  Matthew McConaughey had Interstellar.  Sandra Bullock had Gravity.  Matt Damon had The Martian.  If you want to make a mini-trend out of the phenomenon, you could throw in Amy Adams in Arrival (if you're willing to extend "space-set" to include a story about aliens coming from space), Ryan Gosling in First Man (if you substitute Apollo program dramatization for science fiction), and Sean Penn in The First (if you extend your field to include television, and also your definition of A-lister to include Sean Penn).  Vague as they were about the film's events, the trailers for James Gray's Ad Astra seemed to suggest that it is now Brad Pitt's turn.  That he too, wanted a star vehicle with lots of gorgeous visuals (and thus opportunities for awed reaction shots) and a plot that riffs on th…

Recent Movie Roundup 33

I didn't write any film criticism this summer, because it was a singularly uninteresting summer for blockbuster movies.  I skipped most of the big titles and kept my eyes out for any interesting counter-programming (of which there wasn't a lot).  Which is why this roundup starts with a leftover review from early July, of a film that I imagine most of you have already forgotten.  Otherwise, however, as summer has wound down and film festivals have wound up, some engaging selections have finally shown up at my local movie theaters.  I still don't think 2019 is going to shape up to be a great movie year (and certainly not for genre and blockbuster movies) but this bunch of films is satisfyingly eclectic, and mostly satisfying.

Spider-Man: Far From Home - The second outing starring Tom Holland as the MCU's version of Peter Parker picks up eight months after the events of Avengers: Endgame, in a world reeling from the upheavals of the last five years, but still nowhere near …

Recent Reading Roundup 50

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We haven't done one of these in a while, and indeed the books discussed here cover a wide span of time.  They include two books that were nominated for the Hugo this year (though neither won), and another that was longlisted for the Booker award (though not shortlisted).  In the interim, I also wrote about Jason Lutes's Berlin, an omnibus containing his monumental comic about Weimar-era Berlin, over at Lawyers, Guns & Money.

Terra Nullius by Claire G. Coleman - The first hundred pages of Coleman's debut novel tell a familiar story.  In the baking outback and wilderness of Australia, multiple storylines relate how the Natives are abused, corralled, and brainwashed by the Settlers.  Jacky, a teenage runaway, reflects on his childhood at a mission school, where beatings and starvation were deployed to stamp out his culture and the memory of his family, and to instill in him a sense of inferiority that will make him a docile servant.  Esperance, a young woman living in one …