It’s a new year! Time to watch even more shows and movies, and with the rise of bingeable 10 hour TV movies, I have found myself watching fewer of the 90-120 minute variety. With Criteron launching a movie service, maybe that’ll change.
The Masked City — Genevieve Cogman
Another romp through alternate worlds with the rebellious librarian Irene, and her Sherlock stand-in pal Vale. The world of this book is largely a strange version of Venice, but more than the first book, other world’s tech is sprinkled throughout. I’m starting to doubt that we’ll get a high-tech book in this series, but I still hold out hope. The language is a little too powerful as a deus machina, but Cogman finds ways Irene can’t deploy it constantly, and still manages to provide a level of tension and excitement.
9th Step Station — Malka Older & Co.
This read much like a series of Ghost in the Shell. From the NeoTokyo setting, to the ubiquitous cybernetic body mods, I expected Major Kusanagi to pop up at any juncture. That said, it also ruled. It’s been a long time since I read serialized fiction outside of comics, and the episodic nature made for a fun time. Each author added to the tale, instead of distracting with wild stylistic flourishes. I would happily read another series with Emma, Miyako, and the rest. There were less political machinations that I expected, based on other work from Older, but the story was fun, exciting, and well-told.
Noomi Rapace is a cool, collected bodyguard for a kinda shitty heiress who eventually grows to appreciate her help. Shout out to Indira Varma too, who was great in Luther, Game of Thrones, and now as a potentially treacherous stepmom.
Another great eco-pocalypse movie. Limited cast and locations, but a cool premise overall. This movie was short, but definitely hit many of my speculative fiction check marks. I want to ride an ATV now.
I loved the intense opening scenes of this film, and the scrolling credits—I’ve rarely seen something like this, and it felt brutal and fresh. Sadly the rest of the film felt like an idea that they forgot to film. Was she the devil? Didn’t explore that. Single mom? Didn’t explore that. There was so much buildup with no payoff. Terrorists? Nah. Long song b-roll? Yep. Even Sia couldn’t be bothered to record anything great for this film. Missed opportunity. This could‘be been Wicked and Divine, the movie.
Another film with Tony Kebbell—seeing him in this after seeing him in Hurricane Heist was a wild ride. I think his American accent got better. Also, Kusama seemed pretty obsessed with Kidman’s face throughout this film. This was a intense sad cop/revenge film, with elements from many old sad cop guy films—transformed into something new by letting the old cop be a woman. I really appreciated the Halt & Catch Fire alumni, as well as the always delightful Tatiana Maslany. This movie felt like a different era, and painted LA in a grim, dusty light.
What a fantastic film. In some ways this reminded me of the anime Tokyo Godfathers—which is also about a group of underground folks taking in a child. The way Shoplifters weaved chosen family in with delightful vignettes and outstanding performances by two children was masterful. This felt like a Japan that rarely appears in cinema—a group of folks struggling with poverty, and not sure how to be part of a society that seems to expect them to join in. I will probably rewatch this, and highly recommend it.
I knew going in that this would be a bonkers film, having listened to the How Did This Get Made episode about it, but wow. Everyone in this film except for Maggie Grace is from England or Australia, and their accents are absurd. I feel like everyone got drunk, decided to use an “Alabama accent” and then a movie happened. Nothing that happened made sense, but also it was a hoot.
I’m still not sure what I saw. I think this aims to be a cautionary tale about mob rule, privacy, and misogyny. It’s brutal, graphic, and so full of -isms, I can’t say I recommend it. It’s wild that this movie played in theaters. I’m kinda stoked Hari Nef got to be a mean teen trans lady. By the end there’s a revenge bloodbath that I can’t tell if I was meant to find cathartic, or sad. This is definitely the most misanthropic and nihilistic movie I’ve seen in years.
The masterfully Capricorn books on tidying-up are now a tv show. I watched all 8 episodes while cleaning my house, in one long fever-dream. Many of the couples are amazing, and at least one felt like they were on the verge of a divorce.
Terror in Resonance
An anime from a few years ago. The story is a relatively common one these days, of youth attempting to “wake up the world” through a pointed terrorism. The music from Yoko Kanno is outstanding but sadly doesn’t appear on streaming services, but is probably somewhere on YouTube.
Into the Dark
A horror-of-the-month series. Each story is a movie-length fright set in the month it premieres, from a murder on Halloween, to a woman dealing with agoraphobia around Thanksgiving. It’s well-shot, and probably worth checking out if you enjoy horror-ish films.