September Medialogging
By Dwip September 30, 2014, 8:39 am Comments (0) RSS Feed for this post

Not so many books this month, I’m afraid. Combined with the just completed 22 part series on my Europe trip in 2004, this has been a pretty visual month, though one I have a lot to say about – we’re trying something new this time around, with breakout posts for the two Highlander series. We’ll see how it goes.

YTD stats:

March: : 4 books; 4 fiction (1,450 p.) / 3 videos; 1 movies (2.6 h.); 2 TV seasons (15.2 h.)
April: : 5 books; 1 graphic (136 p.); 4 fiction (1,269 p.) / 1 videos; 1 TV seasons (6 h.)
May: : 8 books; 5 graphic (1,352 p.); 1 fiction (465 p.); 2 non-fiction (829 p.) / 2 videos; 2 TV seasons (11 h.)
June: : 17 books; 5 graphic (1,584 p.); 12 fiction (4,483 p.) / 1 videos; 1 TV seasons (4.8 h.)
July: : 7 books; 6 fiction (3,221 p.); 1 non-fiction (576 p.) / 7 videos; 1 anime series (10.6 h.); 4 movies (7.7 h.); 2 TV seasons (10.5 h.)
August: : 2 books; 2 non-fiction (894 p.) / 3 videos; 1 anime series (10.8 h.); 2 TV seasons (20.5 h.)
September: 8 videos; 3 movies (6.3 h.); 5 TV seasons (48.1 h.)

Year to Date: 43 books; 11 graphic (3,072 p.); 27 fiction (10,888 p.); 5 non-fiction (2,299 p.) / 25 videos; 2 anime series (21.5 h.); 8 movies (16.6 h.); 15 TV seasons (116.0 h.)

Details for September after the jump.

09/05/2014 Russell Mulcahy, et al., Highlander (2002 Anchor Bay DVD, 116 minutes – Personal collection, 2007)

Highlander is a strange film. It’s absolutely rife with problems, starting with the fact that most of its plot makes absolutely no sense, nor do half the things the characters do. What ever happened to the whole police investigation thing? What in the hell could Brenda and Conner possibly see in each other? Why is there a solitary Nazi wandering around in the middle of the night with an MP40? Who can say.

This is a film with bad picture quality and even worse sound editing. Most of the film is murkily black, grainy, and painfully low budget. With the exception of the soundtrack, the voices and effects sound like somebody’s playing them over a 1970s PA system. Most of the swordfight noises sound laughably fake. The only bright spot is the Queen soundtrack, which is epic, contains some of my favorite examples of their music, and is inserted at all the right spots in the film.

The acting is generally terrible, though not for lack of trying. Sean Connery, while able as always to chew scenery with mastery, is the least convincing Egyptian turned Spaniard in the entire history of Egyptians or Spaniards. In turn, while playing the Spaniard, he has a far better Scottish accent than Christopher Lambert playing the most French Scotsman of all time. Lambert in particular is rather terrible as a movie star with his limited English, coming off as a creepy stalker with a particularly bad sense of comedic delivery. That said, Clancy Brown as the Kurgan absolutely steals every scene he’s in, and ends up being a truly great B movie villain, simultaneously threatening and absolutely, completely over any semblance of the top.

This is a film that’s so impossibly a product of the 80s, so filled with synth, hair spray, and RAWKing action sequences that every time I watch it I inexplicably wake up the next day with a permed mullet and a closet full of jeans and leather coats. I cannot in good conscience reccomend it as a good movie.

And yet.

And yet, somewhere at the bottom of all the plot holes, audible under all those awful sound effects, beneath that awful French-as-Scottish accent, maybe just a little bit highlighted by all the rock music…

There’s something there.

This is a story about people living forever. There’s a god damned Egyptian masquerading as a Spaniard who lived in Japan three hundred years before Christ, and there’s a god damned Scottish highlander who can talk about 1783 being a good year because he was there. There’s a story in there about what it’s like to love and lose and interact and draw apart from people a dozen times, about seeing firsthand places and eras we only dream about. It’s powerful stuff. There’s a hell of an adventure in there.

Maybe they should have made a TV series out of it.

09/13/2014 Bill Panzer, et al., Highlander: The Series, Season 1 (2002 Anchor Bay DVD, 1078 minutes, 22 episodes – Personal collection, 2007)

Breaking with precedent on this one, we’re going to break this out into its own seperate blog post. We may be reaching the limits of what these booklog posts can accomplish.

09/13/2014 Steven Moffat, et al., Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor (2013 BBC DVD, 75 minutes, 1 episodes – Corvallis Public Library)

In sitting down to write this up, I suddenly realized I haven’t touched Doctor Who since May, and frankly I’ve forgotten most of Series Seven by now. So trying to remember what was going on was a bit fun.

So, this is the big one, the one we’ve all been waiting for. Doctor Who does the Time War. Multiple Doctors! Rose returns! Stuff! Things! Excitement!

And, yeah, I dunno. It was fun. The action bits were fairly action-y, multiple Doctors was fun, the Bad Wolf thing was a bit contrived, John Hurt would’ve made a really cool Doctor but Jesus Christ I miss David Tennant, thank God Matt Smith is on his way out…

…and man, I think I’m just about done with this show. As fun as the whole thing was, I tire of unnecessary B plots, self-congratulatory wanking, and the A plots not making a god damned bit of sense. Perhaps I’m being unnecessarily harsh on what is after all the 50th anniversary show, but man, aliens in rubber suits and hand wavey timey-wimey stuff just ain’t doing it for me anymore.

For a show that’s about having fun, I’m not having any fun anymore. I’d rather go watch Highlander instead. I’ll give The Time of the Doctor a shot, but I’m rapidly reaching an end here.

09/21/2014 Bill Panzer, et al., Highlander: The Series, Season 2 (2003 Anchor Bay DVD, 1060 minutes, 22 episodes – Personal collection, 2007)

As with Season 1, I’ve broken my commentary out into a seperate post.

09/26/2014 James Cameron, et al., Avatar (2010 20th Century Fox DVD, 162 minutes – Personal collection, 2010)

I’m one of those people who never actually saw Avatar when it was in the theaters. I’m told I missed quite the experience visually. That may be so. Certainly it looked spectacular on DVD, with my only complaint being the animation on the CGI characters was fairly obvious. Be that as it may, Avatar is still the stunning technical achievement everyone says it is.

Everyone is also right that everything else is, at best, uninspired. If you’ve seen Dances With Wolves you’ve already seen a better version of this story told with more compelling characters and more nuance.

No, wait. I’m being too kind. I’ve seen sledgehammers less blunt than this movie, and an army of jackhammers is probably not as loud as the message this thing is trying to convey. Speaking as a fairly liberal environmentalist kind of guy, this is the sort of movie that confirms everyone’s worst fears about Hollywood liberals. I’m frankly astonished that this movie was made by the same guy who did the first two Terminator movies.

So, to recap, the Waffen SSevil corporate Yankee space imperialists set up a base on a rainforestworld inhabited by peaceful aboriginal tribespeaceful aboriginal blue cat people in order to drive everyone onto reservationsmine for, no joke, unobtanium. Shit happens, Our Hero joins up with the blue cat people, everything looks amazing as hell, and somehow the blue cat people triumph over the forces of evil with the help of all the forest creatures that were trying to eat them earlier in the movie plus copious amounts of 10 foot long armor piercing arrows.

Literally none of this makes any sense. The characters are cardboard cutouts with nothing to say about the complexities of real people or real colonialism, and any of the actors who make a go at depth get summarily shut down by the soul crushing plot. In real history, everyone who tried to go up against even so much as the repeating rifle ended up like the poor dead samurai in The Last Samurai. The logic of arrows versus armored glass would seem to explain itself, and did I mention the wildlife was trying to eat everyone previously.

The sole saving grace of this movie was that it allowed us to snark it by rewriting the aerial scenes into a flying lizard version of Top Gun.

And it was pretty, I guess. So there’s that.

09/27/2014 Philip Noyce, et al., Salt (2010 Sony Pictures DVD, 100 minutes – Personal collection, 2013)

This is the best mid-1990s post-Cold War action movie 2010 has to offer, which I presumably means it’s the only post-Cold War action movie 2010 has to offer, but never mind that.

Secret Soviet sleeper agents kidnapped as children, assassinations, parkour, lots of action, this is good old fashioned action movie fare that works quite well as long as you don’t pause to think about any of the things actually going on on screen, such as a woman using her bare hands to fast slide down an elevator shaft without so much as a hangnail or why any of these people would do any of these things.

It does have the virtue of being easily snarkable while watching with your friends, which I assume is why they make movies like this. So it has that going for it, I guess.

09/27/2014 Steven Moffat, et al., Doctor Who: The Time of the Doctor (2013 BBC online video, 60 minutes, 1 episodes – Netflix)

Saw this via Cole’s Netflix because he was tired of ranting at me about watching it.

This was…a charming little episode. Wasn’t really as high stakes as all that, and everything was very contrived, and frankly I think everyone involved has been phoning it in for a while now, including me, but it was still fun. Disembodied Cyberman head for best new character. Enjoyed the Amy Pond shoutouts.

Fun, but it was time for Matt Smith to go. And I think maybe it’s time too for me to go, at least for a while.

09/29/2014 Vince Gilligan, et al., Breaking Bad: The Complete Fourth Season (2012 Sony DVD, 610 minutes, 13 episodes – Corvallis Public Library)

Season 4 of Breaking Bad is mostly about the fallout from the cliffhanger of Season 3. We know there must be a showdown between Walt, Jesse, and Gus, maybe all of them in different combinations, maybe with Hank thrown in too.

I confess that the first half of the season was pretty slow going, as it focused on the meth family sitcom that is the White family, with its attendent focus on very awkward comedic moments. I’ve talked before about how hard it is for me to watch those, so while said moments are extremely well done, they also kind of hurt a bit. Most people probably don’t have this problem.

Once things get back to the lab and the ongoing power struggle, however, things kick into high gear. This is top notch, seat of your pants storytelling, and there were several times I expected a whole lot of death to happen very suddenly. Once or twice I even got my wish. The two part finale is frankly amazing, and despite the fact I had been up all night to watch the first half, I knew I was going to stay up to watch the second.

There’s so much more I want to talk about, but instead I’ll just say that Breaking Bad really is just about as good as everyone says it is.

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