Weird month. Busy month. Stupid month. But not a bad month for movies.
Let’s start things off with LOGAN LUCKY. This is director Steven Soderbergh’s return to filmmaking after a brief ‘retirement’ and I’m happy he’s officially back. It’s not wrong to say that Logan Lucky is the redneck Ocean’s Eleven (Soderbergh directed the Ocean’s trilogy), but I feel that undersells it. This is a hilarious film. Daniel Craig deserves all the love he’s getting for his offbeat performance as a southern explosive’s expert, but the entire cast is really good, particularly Channing Tatum and Adam Driver. It also manages to find something to say about being poor in a capitalist country. One might find issue with how the twists unfolded if you look at it too closely, but I was having too much fun to care. It’s a blast.
Hirokazu Koreeda's AFTER THE STORM is a lovely film. Honest, sad, and often quite funny, too. My favorite performance from Hiroshi Abe, who plays a lovable loser we're rooting for even though he may not deserve it. And Kirin Kiki is wonderful. A movie full of wit and wisdom.
FREE FIRE. "Boys, knock it off!" That was so much more fun than I ever would've expected. Copley and Hammer are the MVPs. A dark comedy about a gun deal that goes bad, devolving into everyone shooting at each other in an abandoned warehouse.
DOBERMAN COP. A culture clash action movie with Sonny Chiba, a pig, and a dash of Dirty Harry. You can read my full review at City on Fire.
MISSISSIPPI GRIND is California Split by way of Alexander Payne. I quite liked it. A realistic look at gambling addiction that not only works as a character study but also helps the viewer understand the addiction’s highs and lows. Ben Mendelsohn is great and Ryan Reynolds gives what is perhaps his best performance out of a Deadpool mask.
THE FINAL MASTER. A kung fu drama from the writer of Wong Kar Wai’s The Grandmaster. It crosses off a couple interesting characters too early but it's a very strong film overall. Fantastic finale. Read my buddy Martin Sandinson’s review at City on Fire for more.
And finally, SONG TO SONG is my favorite Terrence Malick film since the beautiful Tree of Life. (Haven’t seen his IMAX doc yet, though.) Malick, who made only a handful of films between the 70s and the 00s, has entered his most prolific and experimental phase of his career recently. I’ve not been the biggest fan of his new, largely unscripted films. To the Wonder is like an extended perfume commercial and I still don’t know what to make of Knight of Cups. But Song to Song works for me, not least of all because the characters actually interest me this time around. Rooney Mara and Michael Fassbender are great. And extra points for casting Val Kilmer as an insane rockstar.
That’s it for August. Until next time.
Hey all! I recently finished what I hope will be the final draft of my epic kaiju novel, In the Shadow of Extinction. However, I’ve decided that I want to get a few more last minute opinions on the story from beta readers before releasing it to the public.
So, what I’m doing today is I’m reaching out to ask if you’d be interested in being a beta reader for my novel? Being a beta reader simply means reading my book and telling me what you think at the end. I’ve even written up a handy little questionnaire for you. I want your honest opinions! Our talks will be private and respectful. In the end, I’ll add your name into the special thanks section of the book!
In the Shadow of Extinction is a globetrotting sci-fi adventure that spans over fifteen years. When kaiju rise from below to take over the world, humanity’s efforts to fight them back are undone by war and divided interests. When the dust clears, it’s a world of man no longer. A diverse cast of characters—heroes and villains alike—must learn to survive in the shadows of the leviathans that now rule over the earth.
The book is complete at approximately 190,000 words. I will provide the novel in your favorite ebook format (and help you load the file onto your device if need be!). I’d like beta readers to finish the book and get back to me by October 15th, which gives readers about seven weeks with the book. If it takes you longer — or if you decide that the novel is just not for you — that’s okay, simply let me know.
If you’re interested, please contact me and provide me with your name, age, gender, favorite genres to read, and reason you're interested in being a beta reader. First time beta readers are fine! The book is only available in English, so being an English reader is a necessity, I'm afraid.
I would love to have your readership. Thank you for your time!
Today I’m happy to share with you the cover(s) for my upcoming novel, In the Shadow of Extinction: A Kaiju Epic.
Because this is a long book, I’ve decided to give the reader the option to read as they go. The plan is to release the complete omnibus as well as in three separate volumes. As such, there are four covers in total, all just a little bit different so that they feel like one text but different enough to stand out when put next to each other.
In the Shadow of Extinction is a globetrotting, 15+ year epic about kaiju rising up from below to overtake the planet. The Complete Omnibus encapsulates Parts 1, 2, and 3.
Part 1: The Ring of Fire begins with earthquakes and volcanoes erupting across the globe. Then, from out of the ash, come giant monsters that cannot be stopped by modern weaponry.
Part 2: The New World picks up fifteen years after the close of Part 1. It is now the age of monsters and humanity must fight to survive in the shadows of giants.
Part 3: Humanity’s Last Stand throws our heroes, villains, and monsters together in a battle royale that could very well decide the survival of our species.
In the Shadow of Extinction has been a labor of love for me over the years. I’ve always wanted to write a kaiju novel and put my own particular spin on the subgenre. The kaiju featured on the cover -- wonderfully drawn by the artist WAFALO -- is my main monster, the Tyrant. There are other monsters, too, but those will be kept secret for now!
I’ll be sure to let you know of any release dates, review opportunities, and pre-order information in the coming weeks and months.
If you're interested in being a last minute beta reader, please see my other blog post!
“Post-truth is pre-fascism.”
What Timothy Snyder's On Tyranny attempts to do is to look back and say, See, this sort of thing happened before, and look at how horrible that turned out. We like to think of all that is happening in 2017 as “unprecedented.” I know I pick up on the word all the time ever since Trump misspelled it as “unpresidented” (I still think that should be the title of the book about his removal from office). To say that some of the madness we’re living through today is unprecedented in American politics is often true. But we can look beyond our borders, delve into the histories of our international allies, and consider that they’ve seen this sort of crap before. On Tyranny is a 128-page pocket book for the resistance, offering warning signs of trouble ahead while offering wisdom on what worked and what did not in the past.
Snyder suggests that Trump is a tyrant, or at the very least, that he wants to become one. The president is a man who is quick to anger, slow to condemn hate, praises dictators, despises free press, discriminates against people based on where they come from and what they worship… the list goes on. Snyder’s book gives twenty lessons on how you can see the change happening and what you might do to stop it. There are basic lessons like ‘Believe in truth,’ dark chapters like, ‘Be calm when the unthinkable arrives,’ honest and direct lessons like, ‘Beware the one-party state,’ and deeper thoughts like, ‘the politics of inevitability.’ To Snyder’s credit, in addition to telling about history’s missteps with far-right politics, he also makes time to point out how the far-left committed similar evils.
“The president is a nationalist, which is not at all the same thing as a patriot. A nationalist encourages us to be our worst, and then tells us that we are the best… A patriot, by contrast, wants the nation to live up to its ideals, which means asking us to be our best selves… A patriot has universal values, standards by which he judges his nation, always wishing it well—and wishing that it would do better.”
Some of the warning signs that Snyder presents us with have already come true and are now in the rear-view mirror. But there’s still time to make things right. America is a country of laws, not a country of men. We’re a democracy, not a personality cult. We’re a nation made up of better people than the one we regrettably elected to lead us. We’re not going to repeat the worst of history… well, I hope not, anyway.
(This review was originally much longer. More of an angry, politically themed ranty blog post than a book review. I edited it down without censoring myself as well as I could.)
This review was cross-posted to Goodreads. You can buy it on paperback or ebook from Amazon and wherever fine books are sold.
Just a quick post today. I wanted to link you to my latest film review at COF...
DOBERMAN COP. A culture clash action movie with Sonny Chiba, a pig, and a dash of Dirty Harry.
You can read my review of the film and the new Arrow Blu-ray at City on Fire.
I’m sad to report that Haruo Nakajima, the man that was Godzilla, has passed away at age 88. Nakajima had not acted in a film since the 1970’s and you may not recognize his face from the films he’s been in, but that’s because he was often wearing a hundred pounds of rubber in most his films roles. Japan has become known for its man-in-suit kaiju cinema and Nakajima was one of the first to ever put on such a suit and trash Tokyo for our enjoyment. He played many of our favorite monsters over the years, most notably Godzilla, but also Rodan, Varan, Baragon, and one of the mushroom people in Matango. In addition to his suit acting, Nakajima was a stuntman and had bit parts in multiple films, including a few Akira Kurosawa films like Seven Samurai (he played a bandit who gets struck down by Toshiro Mifune in the woods) and The Hidden Fortress (he was one of the soldiers sworn to protect the princess).
I never met Nakajima but those who did describe a charming old man with a genuine love for the fans. He often posed in photos with his back hunched forward and his hands raised. The untrained eye might’ve seen an old sumo wrestler, but fans recognized Nakajima’s Godzilla pose when they saw it. At the Godzilla convention G-Fest last month there was word that he was sick. Those who were present signed a giant get well card and many donated money to aid his recovery. Fans might have seen this day coming, but it doesn’t make the loss any easier.
Nakajima’s passing closes an important chapter in Japanese film. My fellow kaiju fans and I offer the Nakajima family our condolences.
Before we get to some of my favorite new films (some are just new to me, anyway) of July 2017, I'm gonna link you to my two latest City on Fire reviews.
First up we have the new Charlize Theron action movie, ATOMIC BLONDE. It's a mix of first-rate action in a second-rate John le Carre spy thriller. Something of a mixed bag but definitely worth seeing for an awesome action-heavy role from Theron. Read my full review at City on Fire.
And I also have a review for the new Jean-Claude Van Damme actioner, KILL'EM ALL. It's a mess. You can read more at the link.
WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES is amazing. Might be my favorite film of the year. An emotional, thrilling sci-fi adventure. Loved it.
Compliments to Matt Reeves, Rupert Wyatt, and Andy Serkis for making what should soon be considered one of the best, most consistently excellent film trilogies ever.
DUNKIRK is pretty excellent. A tense and haunting war drama. One of director Christopher Nolan's best. Admittedly not much of a history lesson, though. But now I'm inspired to learn more on my own. The non-linear storytelling was unexpected and made for a different sort of war movie experience. Good stuff.
I thought SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING was a blast. Spider-Man 2 remains the best Spidey film but I think Tom Holland is the superior Spider-Man. He's perfect. Michael Keaton was great as Birdman/Vulture, too.
Spider-Man villain wish list for future films: Vincent D'Onofrio's Kingpin, Kraven, Scorpion, and a Venom that's actually scary. Maybe Mysterio. And a Blade/Spider-Man spinoff with Morbius! Dude.
I'm excited about Spider-Man again. Wow. It's been a while.
WE ARE X is a truly wonderful documentary. I didn't really know the band X Japan going in but the doc might've made me into a new fan. It's so good. Manages to be about more than music and becomes a hopeful story about overcoming depression and loss. Also an excellent story about living for your art. Loved it.
Now a few older films that I got to see for the first time over the past month...
Admittedly I've not seen that many Korean War films -- it seems like the one American war we don't see that much of on the big screen anymore -- but THE STEEL HELMET is the best one I've seen. Sam Fuller's drama finds a lost American platoon behind enemy lines as the enemy closes in. Fantastic from start to finish. Great cast of characters. Unexpectedly diverse and respectful for its time. Loved it.
I don't know why it took me so long to finally see Robert Altman's THE PLAYER. It's best known for its cameo-filled cast and an intricate opening shot but it's so much more than that. A great showbiz murder mystery and a wicked comedy to boot.
THE ASPHALT JUNGLE joins the shortlist of my favorite film noirs. Wonderful ensemble cast of characters and a suspenseful plot. Sometimes the originals can be recognized as being influential without actually being entertaining. This one manages to be both hugely influential on the crime drama and an incredibly entertaining movie in its own right.
. . . So that's it for now. In August, we have a few new cool movies coming out that I hope will impress. Kathryn Bigelow's newest film DETROIT hits screens today. Stephen King's THE DARK TOWER finally makes its way to the big screen. And I'm hearing great things about ANNABELLE: CREATION.
Writer of horror, science fiction, and dark fantasy. Lover of books and film. Lifelong Godzilla fan. Reluctant blogger.
Blog notice: mostly this blog is for sharing my thoughts and talking about my books. From time to time I will also comment on books, films, music, sports, and/or videogames. During these times I may use images of the creative works under discussion. I'm posting the images under the "fair use" allowance, for purposes such as criticism, comments, reporting, teaching, and research. If you have any issue with images used on this blog, please contact me and the images will be removed.
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