Sunday, August 16, 2009

Genres & Judgements - Fathers and Sons, the Sexually Depraved, Dirty Cops and Prawns

First up, the song of the week:

"Little Toy Gun" by honeyhoney, First Rodeo (2008)

I'm still riding high with Explosions in the Sky this week, but here's a song by honeyhoney that I was into a few months back. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like it caught on since then and, at this point, probably won't. But it's catchy, kinda fun and the video features and was directed by Kiefer Sutherland. That's probably the only reason it made it to my radar in the first place, but I'm glad it did. The album is pretty decent overall, but the song is definitely the choice number. Enjoy.
As promised last week, I devoured Cormac McCarthy's The Road in two days. Simply put, it is fantastic. Somehow, I had no idea going into it that it was a Pulitzer winner (amongst many other awards) and an Oprah Book Club entry, just that there was a film adaptation coming out soon and it was supposedly amazing. Well, if John Hillcoat even gets 10 percent of the source material right, it'll be in Best Picture contention at the 2010 Academy Awards without a doubt.
The Road is a haunting read. I switched from unsettled to relieved, horrified to overjoyed, and mystified to overwhelmed in the span of mere pages. McCarthy can reduce me to awe repeatedly as I traveled the way with his story.
Since finishing it, I have racked my brain for a novel I either enjoyed more or just thought was better. I came to three realizations. The first: no, I'm near-certain that I haven't read a better novel. Second: I don't have a top-5, top-1o or any other "top" list when it comes to novels. I can rattle off my five favorite movies, comics, bands, and pizza toppings without a second thought, but I somehow never thought about novels in this way, or at least it had been so long since I had, I'd forgotten which ones would have made such a list. This leads me to my final realization: I have a new number one now.
I feel silly even trying to explain what it's about. I won't be able do it justice. You may not even think it's possible that you could enjoy such a narrative as basic as I'd have to boil it down to in order to ensure you're spoiler-free. Instead I will say, just read the damn thing.
Soon enough, I expect to be inundated with trailers, positive reviews and, if it's a slow news week, cable news segments discussing how to either avoid the setting in which the book is set through adopting more green technologies or how maybe the rest of the world devolve to that point, but never Americans.
While I don't have any words to summarize it, this image (above) from the film captures what I think I would attempt to say.
So why review this here? The Road is certainly not a low brow piece, but it does deal with some of the classic genre fic that we love here at LowBrowMedia. However, it treats that genre with literary grandeur. To me, that is what more fiction from the high and low brow worlds should attempt to do a little more often: steal some tricks from the other.
As for my second bullet point last week, I only got around to completing half of it, and sadly it was a bit of a chore. Choke (2008), an adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk's novel of the same name.
The movie alters it's tone rather liberally from absurd comedy to some fairly intense drama, which doesn't really work. Sam Rockwell is perfectly cast in the lead as the creepy, yet charming sex addict whom the film follows and does a fine job with the material, but he's pretty much the only worthwhile highlight in this one.
Wait for a 4 a.m. showing of Choke on HBO in a few years when you can't sleep to check it out if you must.
I also started watching season one of The Shield this week, a show that's been on my list for many years. I have mixed opinions on it. Sure, it was good and probably really floored people in 2002 when it came out, but I cannot help but compare it to the far-superior cop drama The Wire.
Full disclosure, I adore The Wire. Not only is it the finest cop/street life show I've ever seen, it's also flat-out my favorite show of all time, with only the grand opus that is Battlestar Galactica giving it a run for the top slot in my Best TV Shows list. Sooooo... you could say it has an uphill battle ahead of it with me. It's not fair, but it is what it is.
That said, I've liked what I've seen thus far enough to keep watching and, since it went on for seven seasons, it probably gets a little better deeper into its run. At least that's what I'm hoping. Other than the Commish, I didn't recognize any of the other actors, so I have no idea who's going to get killed, move on to other projects off camera or anything like that.
I'm hoping for more Dutch screen time since I know I'll get plenty of Vic awesomeness. That guy just makes me feel better for being a tall, awkward white guy.
Further updates on the show will come as I finish watching each season.
After starting off my week with a bang, it ended at another high point after seeing the brand spankin' new District 9 (2009). I was completely enthralled by this film. There's quite a bit of understated humor mixed with realistic, situational politics and human nature. Oh, and things get blowed up. A lot.
I'm not really sure what other movies to even compare it to. It just feels unique. It does tease a bit with your expectations based on the Michael Bay flicks you've seen and uses the techniques of Cloverfield to much better use. The international cast helps the impression of originality, because you know a Will Smith isn't going anywhere in the first act of Independence Day. There is no A-list performer in District 9 (to my knowledge). Not recognizing anyone gives my mind the freedom to allow for any possibility; something that can't happen in a Hollywood production.
I love how our heroes emerge, how they interact with each other and how it all wraps up. It was a complete movie that doesn't try to be a franchise like so many others, like Jumper, have been in recent years.
I do have a few nit-picks with the structure of it, but they're nothing as egregious as, say, a Saving Private Ryan that distracts you from enjoying the movie. Since it's still so new, I don't want to relay that info just yet. I probably will down the line as the film settles in my mind a bit.
But see this movie. It was great and certainly worth the big-screen experience.
The "I LOVE Science" Moment of the Week:

Behold! The shape-shifting condom! (via Popular Science)

Thank you, Mormons!
Coming up next week:
I'm on vay-cay this week, so the potential for me to be busy is there.
  • I'm hoping to polish off Greg Rucka's Private Wars, the prequel comic Star Trek: Countdown to the latest movie, and Batman: Dark Victory from Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale.
  • On the Netflix front, I may finally get around to The Foot Fist Way and also have The Killing of a Chinese Bookie in my clutches now.

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