We have definitely amused ourselves in doing this particular set of reviews. It was fascinating to see the Scotts’ style over a few (um, four) decades.
A: not one I’ll rewatch endlessly, but beautifully constructed.
Ridley – Blade Runner (1982)
A: I will never ever think this is as good a film as all those 80s boys think it is. 30 min of awesome flying; the rest is stupid love story.
Ridley – Gladiator (2000)
Ridley – Robin Hood (2010)
A: as above.
The final in our Great Scott! reviewing adventure.
A: Basically this is our reward for getting through the others. We saw it twice in the cinema…
J: Mars has never been rendered more beautifully.
A: or realistically. I love that this is not the first mission, but well into the history of Martian exploration.
I also love the banter. And that the Commander is definite in her commitment to safety because THAT’S HOW IT SHOULD BE.
J: If this was really a NASA mission that whole conversation about aborting or not would not happen.
A: I think being on a different planet is going to have an impact on attitudes to command structures.
I love the cinematography of the storm.
J: Yup, it does a really good job of intense and frenetic without being shaky cam or hard to watch.
A: There’s a touch of the ‘do we sacrifice everything for one man’ but I like the grim reality of … no, of course you don’t. Continue reading →
This book was sent to me by the publisher, Tor.com, at no cost. It’s out in July 2017.
The Laundry, which has several novels about it now, is a secret government agency that’s a bit like the Men in Black but more high-tech because the Scary Things in the Night are often accessed via maths and/or technology. Computers may well summon extra dimensional beasties. Bob Howard started as a tech guy who fell into the Laundry accidentally and now he’s a fairly significant player in the organisation, although still a bit hapless sometimes. In this novel, someone from Outside (of the world) is trying to take over via minions and the very 21st century method of privatising government operations.
There’s unlikely alliances, dastardly deeds, unfortunate deaths, spy craft, domestic difficulties, desperate last-minute decisions, and some rather silly jokes. There’s also exasperation at the short-sightedness of governments and some deeply unpleasant actions on the part of the villains.
I’ve read a couple of the Laundry Files books and short stories in the past. When I first read them, I didn’t realise that they’re kinda Lovecraftian… because I am no connoisseur of Lovecraft. So that’s the first thing to know: if you like Lovcraftian stuff (with humour) and you haven’t read this series, you probably want to check it out.
If you loathe Lovecraft and all his derivatives, just stop reading now; it’s fine. This isn’t for you.
Not sure? Well that’s where I fit too. I wouldn’t deliberately read a Lovecraft homage, but – obviously – I read this. In terms of horror, it’s not so horrible. I mean bad things happen but the levels of violence aren’t any different from a lot of science fiction or fantasy. And there’s no creeping horror here – that is, I didn’t ever get tense and worried about what was around the corner, which is what puts me off a lot of horror. (I don’t enjoy being scared.) And you definitely don’t have to know anything about Lovecraft to read the book, since I have a passing knowledge of some names from his books and that is it.
Prior knowledge of the Laundry Files is useful for reading this, but not completely necessary; there are a few ‘as you know, Bob’ bits that basically fill in details of how the agency works. It does flow directly on from the previous book, which I haven’t read, but I managed to be going on with it.
It definitely kept me entertained, occasionally grossed me out, and half made me wonder if I shouldn’t go back and read more of the earlier ones…
Getting through Great Scott!
A: And so we come to the only film on our list that neither of us has seen. This promises to be interesting. I have an abiding fascination with Robin Hood: both visually (I will quote the animated version at you; I don’t care if you disapprove of my adolescent love of the Costner version) and academically (Stephen Knight’s history is awesome). So… I’m a bit scared.
J: In ye olde times …
A: Yikes look at that font.
So, 12th century eh. Blanchett already being forceful, with a bow? I’m pleased. A flaming arrow!
J: More ye olde times …
A: Robin Longstride, eh? That’s different. But it’s still Richard not-so-lion-heart’s time. AND we’re actually on crusade with Rusty! (wait, not crusade – this is France, surely, with Richard more interested in running French bits than his English territory)
J: So basically it’s Gladiator … gosh I hope it’s not as slow. I wonder if they will show the archer’s paradox… slow motions arrows n all. Continue reading →
In which we are seven years old! Get yourself some delicious cake and settle down to our International Women’s Day episode. You can get us from iTunes or at Galactic Suburbia.
What’s New on the Internet?
Post-mortem on the first Octavia Butler book club hosted by Twelfth Planet Press! We had such a great time talking about Wild Seed.
Next up: Fledgling on April 2 2017.
Aurealis Awards shortlist is out.
CULTURE CONSUMED: REPEAT THE TITLE OF YOUR CULTURE
Alisa: Ken Liu; Women of Letters; The Arrival; Canberry; Courtney Milan – Trade Me & Hold Me.
Tansy: Younger, Hidden Figures, shout out for Kickstarter campaign for new card game featuring the art of Tania Walker: The Lady & the Tiger.
Please send feedback to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow us on Twitter at @galacticsuburbs, check out Galactic Suburbia Podcast on Facebook, support us at Patreon and don’t forget to leave a review on iTunes if you love us!
TELL US ABOUT YOUR CAKE! IF YOU ATE CAKE WITH THIS PODCAST, WE WANT TO HEAR ABOUT IT.
My beloved says that the whole movie is about the woman. And from a plot point of view, that’s true; Pitt’s character is all about saving her, and she’s the reason for the break-up of the bromance (uh, maybe this is part of my problem with it…).
The more I thought about Elizabeth Hadley, the more I realised that she is a sexy lamp. While she has apparently done some things, they mostly happen off-screen. At best, she’s a sexy lamp with a post-it note to assist with passing on some information. She’s a MacGuffin – only there to give the (male) characters something to argue about and then go get. She has zero motivation of her own within the plot, she has zero agency, she has next to no character development.
… and this is why it will never be a favourite movie.
Spy Game – 2001 – Tony Scott
J: We’re entering into risky territory tonight for both of us. Me because I’ve always rated Spy Game among my favourite films, but perhaps have never watched it critically… Alex because she ‘hates Spy Game’ and always refuses to watch is with me… until this project dictated… Someone is going to walk away with their tail between their legs.
A: I haven’t seen this in… ten years? All I remember is that I loathed it. I don’t even remember why, now, but I’ve been avoiding rewatching it for all these years. And now I’m going in. The things I do. Maybe things will have changed. Maybe there will be tears. Continue reading →
This novel was sent to me by the publisher, Bloomsbury, at no cost. It’s out in March (RRP $15.99 paperback/ $11.99 ebook).
At the end of Because Ollie mother has died and he and his doctor are setting out on a road trip to meet other ‘freaks’… while Ollie wears what is basically a hazmat suit, where he is the hazard. Moritz has confronted his anger and the damage he did to Lenz and is trying to figure out how to deal with Owen.
By necessity, Nowhere Near You is quite different from the first book. Ollie is meeting people, so there’s that aspect – new people to talk to, and about, and new experiences – and of course he’s also interacting with electricity, which is a whole thing in and of itself. His sheer joy at experiencing a city and all the things that ordinary humans take for granted is a crazy delight to read. While Moritz is still at home, he’s interacting with new people too as he goes to a new school and meets… some good people, and some very dodgy ones. Again, of necessity, these new experiences change the two boys, and not always for the better. Both of them have incredibly awful experiences that reinforce their tendencies towards self-blame and depression, although again they both work hard to encourage the other. As they change they also have to confront aspects of each other that don’t always fit their view of the friendship, and I deeply appreciated Thomas’ care for her characters and desire for honesty in the way their friendship develops and overcomes those problems.
Once again the locations are deeply important, as both Ollie and Moritz interact with their places and try to understand their literal and figurative places within society. Other people become more important as they reject their hermit ways; again, parents of various sorts – biological, adoptive, foster – and various levels of emotional connection. It’s the other kids who are most interesting, though. Ollie meets some of the other experimental kids, and although you could probably read their various ‘disabilities’ as metaphorical I liked Thomas’ deadpan way of dealing with them: here’s who they are, what they can/not do, and they are real in this world and deserving of respect. Moritz mostly meets people who are ‘normal’ (caveats etc) and what I realise, on reflection, is that all of these people – experimented on and not – are as equally likely to be messed up, frustrating to know, or a complete joy, as each other. They’re individuals. I liked that a lot.
Also once again, there’s a lot of secrets that rear their less than pleasant heads over the course of Ollie and Moritz’s communication. And once again they both have their anger and both eventually deal with it. I really like how Thomas shows that being angry with someone doesn’t have to mean the end of a friendship. I think that’s about the most powerful aspect of the whole thing. Oh and also that being different doesn’t have to be the worst thing ever.
This was a delightful diptych and I look forward to seeing what else Thomas produces over the next few years.
This book was sent to me by the publisher, Bloomsbury, at no cost. It was published in 2015 and they have sent it to me now because the sequel has just been published, and they were sending that to me as well. NICE MOVE BLOOMSBURY VERY CLEVER.
I had forgotten just how much I like an epistolary novel. I mean, I adore Freedom and Necessity possibly beyond reason, but that’s a pretty special case. Turns out it works nicely here, too.
Ollie and Moritz start sending letters – yes, actual letters, because Reasons – when Ollie is given Moritz’s address by his doctor. Ollie is a hermit for medical reasons and Moritz has a number of issues of his own such that while he’s not quite a hermit he’s definitely anti-social. Over the letters, the two develop a tight bond that’s mostly based on honesty, although their trust is tested at several points. They both keep secrets for a number of reasons – some good, some dubious. They take it in turns to be utterly depressed, often with good reason, and attempt to encourage one another. With varying degrees of success.
Look, yes, this book presumes that 14 and 16 year old boys are capable of and willing to write letters to strangers. It also presumes that said boys are willing to occasionally be emotionally open. These things can indeed be true. These things are not the least probable aspects of the book.
Ollie and Moritz’s letters are neatly separated by different fonts, which is a technique I have to admit to loving, as well as by tone. There is little fear of mistaking one for the other: Ollie is exuberant (usually) while Moritz is more formal. Their personalities are very different, due to their childhoods and their homes and their experiences. They make a lovely contrast. There are other characters: parents – biological and adoptive, loving and uncaring (those two sets do not always match); love interests; visitors; casual bystanders. The locations form a key part of the stories, as Ollie and Moritz (literally) navigate their worlds. But really it all comes back to the two boys.
This was an excellent novel. It’s YA… and I guess it has other genre elements but explaining those would be spoilers, so… just find out for yourself.
And we’re back to Great Scott!
Gladiator (Ridley, 2000)
James has never seen it before; Alex hasn’t seen it in a very long time.
A: Opens by telling us how mighty the Roman Empire is at its height – ¼ of the world’s population!!! Marcus Auerlius is about to fight the last of the ‘barbarians’… and then we cut to a hand in the wheat, and then Rusty in furs on a battlefield. OOH FOREBODING.
J: Standards, horses and the Crimson Tide music.
A: I like the movement from focused on one man to then showing the entire army. It’s a lovely effect. And the Roman army does look appropriately awesome.
Oooh Germans being evil. “People should know when they’re conquered” indeed.
The different accents from the actors is going to be hilarious across this film.
J: Shot on Super 35 Kodak film, interested how muted real film can look these days, especially for overcast / natural light scenes.
A: I like how dirty this film is, in battle especially.
J: Ruuusty, sounds like he’s just had a couple of cans down the local pub… ‘At my signal, Unleeash Hell’ … Is he auditioning for Croc Dundee ? He couldn’t sound more Aussie. Continue reading →