I watched so many movies this October. I took part in HoopTober, a Letterboxd horror movie scavenger hunt, and reviewed 31 movies. You can find them at the link. In addition to all the horror movies, I also caught some other good stuff. Here's a few faves. (As always, click the art and you'll find my affiliate link to Amazon if you wish to purchase one of the films.)
The 2018 Halloween is the best Halloween sequel since Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982). And it might even be better than that film, too. It’s a great horror film anchored by a wonderful dramatic performance by Jamie Lee Curtis and no shortage of scares. I would’ve liked Halloween more without a dumb, short-lived subplot, but I still love the movie for what it is. Brutal, funny, and not lacking in something to say, it’s one of my favorites of the year.
You can read a full, detailed review of the film at CityOnFire.
Holy shit. I cannot remember the last time I saw a movie so full to the brim with dark, depressing, horrific imagery. You hear of movies that are an 'assault on the senses' well this was an assault on the soul. It's also an amazing piece of storytelling and a fantastic film. I doubt I will ever watch it again, though.
I think we need a new movie like Threads and The Day After to remind modern audiences of the horrific cost of nuclear war. Not to exploit our fears but to inform and upset us. The threat of nuclear holocaust has not diminished since these films were made. In many ways, the threat has intensified with bigger bombs and crazier world leaders. People need a reminder now and then of the threat these weapons pose.
Upgrade is the definition of cool. Creative camera work, badass action, and a dark sense of humor. It's the movie that the live-action Ghost in the Shell should've been. Oh how I wish I'd been able to see it in theatres. Instant cult classic.
SORRY TO BOTHER YOU
Sorry to Bother You is amazing. Like post-Ferguson Vonnegut. Funny and also heartbreaking. Sci-fi America and immediately recognizable 2018 America at the same time. It's an entire world in 2 hours. A must see film. Don't let anybody spoil it for you.
First Man is great -- love the back-and-forth between thundering noise and complete silence. A Simple Favor is one of the most delightful surprises of the year. A Star is Born is a beautifully acted drama that's going to win a ton of statues. The Hate U Give is one of the year's most important films and features what should be a star-making performance from Amandla Stenberg.
At CityOnFire, I reviewed Jeremy Saulnier's chiller Hold the Dark, Gareth Evans' badass horror movie Apostle, and the kickboxing/prison true story A Prayer Before Dawn if you wanna give those reviews a look.
Technology of the super connected, social media world can be intimidating for writers when we're trying to craft our perfect plots. Today at Scriptophobic, I talk about embracing technology in our storytelling instead of being afraid of it.
It was my pleasure to speak with Kendall Reviews around the time of the release of my new book IN THE SHADOW OF EXTINCTION: A KAIJU EPIC. In the interview, I talk about the novel, my writing process, and a few favorite books and movies. Check it out!
I got away for a week this September in order to recharge the mental batteries for the months ahead -- they will be trying months politically, creatively, and mentally. I returned just in time to see a Supreme Court nominee yelling about beer, so it's safe to say I needed that time away, it was helpful. My goodness, this year is so strange.
Also watched some good movies.
Aneesh Chaganty's SEARCHING is excellent. The pursuit of truth is more compelling than the truth revealed but that's a minor complaint in what is otherwise a great mystery and one of my favorites of the year. Don't dismiss it because you sense a gimmick movie. It might indeed be a gimmick movie, but it's also much more. John Cho is fantastic. Good stuff. (I wrote about the film's use of technology for Scriptophobic and that should be going up on the site soon.)
The Day After
THE DAY AFTER is amazing. And oh so depressing. It has this docudrama style that sets it apart from other disaster films. The result is chilling. I seriously got emotional watching it. Hard to believe it was made for tv. A stunner.
Atsuko Hirayanagi's OH, LUCY! is a wonderful dark comedy/drama featuring one of the best performances of the year from Shinobu Terajima. I wrote a full review over at City on Fire.
The Death of Stalin
From the creator of VEEP and IN THE LOOP comes one of the darkest dark comedies you'll ever see. THE DEATH OF STALIN is a hilarious, rapid fire political comedy about the days following the death of Joseph Stalin. The screenplay is brilliant.
My Young Auntie
MY YOUNG AUNTIE is now one of my favorite Shaw Brothers films. An absolute delight. "Lady power, very fierce!" My only real complaint is that Kara Hui disappears in the finale and the men take over, which is a shame because she's definitely the best thing in the film. Otherwise, I loved this.
This week at Scriptophobic, I speak about how writing apocalyptic fiction and screenplays can be a valuable outlet in our chaotic world. Click the image to read more.
One of the popular concepts of kaiju storytelling that isn’t often translated when the genre crosses the Pacific is the idea of a link between monster and man. You see this in Ultraman, the 90’s Gamera trilogy, and an assortment of other tokusatsu entertainment. The closest we get to some approximation of that in Western Kaiju is the link between man and machine as seen in Pacific Rim and (the Americanized) Power Rangers. Raffael Coronelli’s Daikaiju Yuki is one of the only examples I can recall of the man/monster concept in an American kaiju tale. It’s a refreshing new take on the kaiju novel with an old school twist.
Daikaiju Yuki takes place in the distant future after our world succumbed to nuclear war and the advent of the kaiju. The world we know is something of the distant past. Now most the world is split into four warring nations, some simply looking to live in peace and others vying for superiority on a global scale. The new weapons of mass destruction are the kaiju. The nemesis nations have used their links with kaiju (a giant bear and a giant bird, in this case) to destroy armies and cities as they continue their conquest. Our heroine Yuki is sent to a temple to check on the progress of raising her nation’s kaiju, Narajin. As she sneakily inspects the temple, Yuki accidentally performs the task necessary for linking her body/mind/soul with that of the kaiju, thus waking the giant lion god from its deep slumber.
There are stumbles and self-doubt as Yuki tries to talk her way out of the enormous responsibility she has inherited. The kaiju Narajin, seen as a god to many, believes that Yuki is worthy to be sharing the fight to save the world with him. They communicate telepathically, as depicted with lots of italic text, giving Yuki (and the reader) the lowdown on how the kaiju ‘pantheon’ works and their role in the world. Yuki and the kaiju then march across the globe looking to unite others like them in preparation for the coming battle.
Daikaiju Yuki is enormous fun. It’s like an anime take on kaiju storytelling, with a big cast of characters and new details explored with each new chapter/episode. I had pleasant flashbacks to Saturday morning cartoons like Digimon and Sony’s Godzilla: The Series (the movie sucked but the cartoon was good, yo). The heroes that Yuki meets along the way are a diverse bunch, each with big personalities (there is an emphasis on diversity which I took great joy in. Yuki is a lesbian kaiju superhero badass and I love her). There’s big kaiju rumbles on a regular basis and the monsters are each original and easy to take a liking to.
The novel is a little on the short side this appears to be by design. A sequel and a spinoff are already available. I will be reading them both shortly. In a time when kaiju fiction is going through a surprise boom of popularity, many authors (myself included) have used the opportunity to tell dark tales that mainstream kaiju entertainment was reluctant to give us. Coronelli goes the other direction and embraces the fun and fantasy of kaiju spectacle. Ishiro Honda, who directed a number of the best Godzilla movies, frequently used the kaiju threat as a way to bring people together to accomplish common goals. Honda believed in the good of mankind. Daikaiju Yuki is similar in that way. Evil accomplishes much in its time on earth and even the people who mean to do good are not without their faults, but ultimately if we find a way to come together then perhaps peace will win out. I dig it.
August has been a loooong month. I released a book this month! Maybe you've heard. But I saw some damn good movies and the best of em were all 2018 releases, so that's cool. (As always, if one of these movies sounds cool to you, click the affiliate links to go to the film's Amazon page.)
FIRST REFORMED is brilliant. A masterpiece of cinema. Paul Schrader's best since AFFLICTION. It's WINTER LIGHT meets TAXI DRIVER and the combo works so much better than you'd ever think. A drama about faith, human connection, and an apocalypse of our own making. I love it.
Ethan Hawke is great, one of his best roles. I really like the dramatic actress Amanda Seyfried has become. And Cedric the Entertainer provides a solid dramatic performance.
This is the best 2018 film that I have seen thus far.
The final moments of Spike Lee's BLACKkKLANSMAN left me so emotional. I had chills. I'm sure there were tears. I felt rage... and something like hope, but not quite. The 'hope' comes with it an understanding that the ugliness continues.
It's a sad, angry film but one full of fight. Funny, too. You won't see many better movies this year. A (sadly) timely and important film for 2018.
Chloe Zhao's THE RIDER is a beautiful film. Nearly wrecked me emotionally. A drama about living beyond your dreams. Looks gorgeous, too, so it's a shame that it didn't get a Blu-ray, just DVD and streaming. Shades of Malick.
Mission: Impossible - Fallout
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - FALLOUT is fantastic. Maybe my favorite from the series -- a series which is more reliably excellent than we give it credit for. I was originally against the idea of Christopher McQuarrie returning to direct a second M:I, not because I disliked Rogue Nation (it's good!) but because I liked how each M:I movie had a new director and thus a new style. But now I'd be very happy if he stayed on to direct all future Mission movies until Tom Cruise calls it quits.
You Were Never Really Here
YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE is a stylish, no bullshit crime drama about an avenger with a hammer. Dark yet full of beautiful moments. Haunting, really. I feel like watching it again already. Joaquin Phoenix is amazing.
SWEET COUNTRY is a very good Australian western about racism and white people going to great lenghts to defend a piece of shit. A beautiful looking film about some very ugly stuff. Love the cinematography and the interesting editing. The conflict constantly feels unsafe, like everything is on the edge of a knife from beginning to end.
This week over at Scriptophobic, I talk about the value of looking to international art for inspiration. Click Clint!
I am excited to announce that In the Shadow of Extinction: A Kaiju Epic is now available!
You can find it on Amazon US, Amazon UK, GooglePlay, iTunes, Kobo, and Smashwords today. Additional sellers like Barnes & Noble will be added shortly.
There are paperbacks available, too! The Omnibus paperback will be an Amazon exclusive for now in order to keep costs down, but Parts 1-3 paperbacks will get an expanded distribution and should begin showing up on other sites shortly (I have very little control over which websites they appear on, though). A reminder that the Omnibus collects Parts 1, 2, and 3 into one big book. If you already bought the individual volumes, then you have the full story and will find nothing new in the Omnibus.
I have been working towards this day for many years now. The book's release kept getting pushed back as my plans for it got more ambitious -- and because rewriting it took forever. I've never spent so long on a creative project before. Release day brings with it a mix of excitement, anxiety, and relief. Chances are I'm going to be buzzing on that cocktail of emotions all week.
I am enormously proud of this book, if that's an okay thing to say. I put my all into making it as good as it could be. It's a combo of my love for the kaiju genre (Monster fights! City destruction! Oh no, our fancy sci-fi weapon doesn't work!) and my personal instincts as a writer (Horror elements! Dark! Kinda political!). When I began writing it, the new kaiju boom was still young. Since that first day, we are now experiencing a crazy new wave of kaiju content. It's an awesome time to be a fan. I am happy to finally introduce my story to you all. I also think it'll appeal to readers beyond the giant monster fans, because it has some cool sci-fi, dystopian, and apocalyptic themes.
At the start of In the Shadow of Extinction, I dedicate the story to the artists who created Godzilla and, in doing so, started the kaiju genre. Right now I want to give an extra thanks to my friends and family who helped me along the way. Without your assistance, the book wouldn't be what it is today. You're the best, gang.
I'll be talking more about In the Shadow of Extinction in the days and weeks ahead. Until then, I hope you consider visiting one of the provided links and give the book a look. I really hope you dig it. Please let me know what you think after you're finished! A brief review on Amazon or wherever you bought it would mean so much.
Writer of horror, science fiction, and dark fantasy. Lover of fiction 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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