Wednesday, May 22, 2013
The Raid : Redemption I wasn't sure I believed all the hyperbole. However this might be the best action movie ever. Cross hard-boiled with Carpenter's Assault on p.13 and spice it up with the brutality of Rambo IV. I’m not going to say much because it seems I was late to the party. If you like brutal and over the top action movies and have not seen it then you need to. Hollywood could learn a lot here.
Chickbassist by Ross E. Lockhart 109 pages paperback Lazy fascist Chickbassist is a short and sweet novel just crossing the line between novella and novel. In rock and roll terms it is a very solid EP, one where every song is destined for the setlist devoid of filler. This is a passionate period piece of early 80’s rock and roll that flow with a prose rhythm. Lockhart has a way with words most on display in Track 10 (Chapter if you’re a stickler) which an almost poetic piece about warming up on drums at a band’s practice space. The book is mix tape dictated by Lockhart. I was lucky enough to see Lockhart read from that track at Bizarrocon here in Portland. Since I had a functioning tape deck I still use from time to time I was given a copy of the soundtrack the author made as a mix tape. I am sure he has a setlist some where and you can track down the songs on youtube or Itunes. It doesn’t hurt the effect of the novel for sure. The story of many characters who fade in and out of the story the main characters are Eden Locke the IBenz playing bassist for a band called Heroes for Goats, a Trans woman named Terrri and a rocker named Robbie Storm to name a few. There is a reggae band on the rise, a Grrrl band full of Jennifers named Jennifer Army and several other interesting settings in this short novel. The period stuff is done gently and effectively in a powerful opening chapter meant to sync up Eden’s life to her favorite tape that has Velvet Underground’s White light/white heat on the A side and Live at Max’s Kansas City on the B side. I loved the effect of this chapter, but that leads me to what makes this a solid 5 for 5 star book. The effect it has. In the hands of someone less assured of their use of language this might be a boring tale. It’s not, Lockhart catches lightining in bottle by grabbing a hold of the raw feeling and energy of the era and buttering it up with all the smells pleasant and unpleasant of a pre-internet rock and roll. Chickbassist would be a great opening act for Robert R.Mcammon’s rock and roll novel The Five. Doesn’t matter how you get to the show but this is cover charge worth paying
Monday, May 20, 2013
Gone South Pocket books Paperback 391 pages Gone South is a part of one of may favorite literary sub-genres. Weird Crime, adding horror or bizarro elements to a crime novel almost always works for me. This is one strange southern gothic crime novel but it is so perfectly with brutal and beautiful moments it is hard for me to imagine anyone not enjoying it. Opening with an amazing first line… “"It was hell's season, and the air smelled of burning children...." It is the story of Dan Lambert a Vietnam vet who is having a rough go of it. He has leukemia, his wife kicked him out, he can’t find work and now the bank wants to take his truck. He tries to reason with the loan officer and stuff goes well south. He didn’t mean to kill the guy things just got out of control. So he takes off. The bank puts a reward on his head and before long every two-bit bounty hunter in Louisiana is after him. The characters in this novel are vivid and interesting including A bounty hunter named flint who was recruited out of freak show(he has a third arm, well actually he has a little twin brother he absorbed before birth) and his Elvis impersonator partner. Well trying to escape Dan has an adventure meets up with a young woman disfigured by a large birthmark and they journey together as she is looking for a healer. Dan doesn’t believe in the healer known as the bright girl but as they travel deeper into the bayou the journey continues to get even stranger. McCammon is one of my favorite writers and may be the best pure story teller writing genre novels. He gets compared to King, but he is far more consistent than King. He milks the south setting in this book to create a novel that is unsettling , funny and at times charming. Is it McCammon’s best? No and that is the scary thing. Fans of weird crime should not miss this one.
Saturday, May 18, 2013
Space Battleship Yamato So a few years back Japanese director Takashi Yamazaki made an above average sci-fi action movie The Retunrner. It involved alien invasion, time travel and giant transformer robots. It is not exactly high art but I enjoyed it. So I decided a few days back to look up what he had done since. Recently he made this film and I wanted to see it. SBY is based on a classic Anime show, it has been updated and made live action here in a highly entertaining space opera. With awesome CGI space battles, dog fights and a slightly dark tone it is pretty much like a Japanese BSG. Here is the set up. The earth is almost dead after a war with an alien species. A battle in orbit of Mars may have been the last stand. A message sudden arrives telling the humans that solution to the radiation on earth could be found on a far off planet. So on desperate mission to save humanity Battle Yamato heads into deep space to try and save humanity. Fans of Japanese anime science fiction like Robotech/battle of planets can’t really go wrong. I really thought this movie was fun. Fantastic space battles, and an interesting story. Sci-fi fans check it out.
Thursday, May 16, 2013
Casshern Film review Casshern is an amazing Japanese sci-fi film remaking a classic 1973 Anime. This film mixes a classic Anime feeling with a steampunk feel and it looks often like Terry Giliam designed a lot of the sets and fictional equipment. This film takes place in alternate history where a block of Asian nations and Europe just finished a war that lasted 50 years. A Japanese scientist discover something he calls neo-cells which he uses to create Neo-sapians super humans. The government tries to exterminate them. Thus begins a battle where the evil Neo-sapians resurrect the robot armies of Europe and Casshern fights them to try and save the day. I saw this film when it came out in 2004 at the Asian film fest in San Diego. Shortly after that Dreamworks bought the U.S. Rights but only released the film on video. I believe they re-edited it slightly to try and make the story more clear. This is a really neat looking movie that requires a strong suspension of disbelief but as a super hero sci-fi movie it is pretty impressive. I think the movie pretty enough to watch without even following the story it looks that cool. Check it out.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
My Kingdom Film review So serious Kungfu fans know that the roots of Wuxia cinema pre-date film with the long tradition of stage operas. Three of the biggest names in Kung fu movies have their roots in Peking Opera. Famously Sammo Hung, Jackie Chan and Yuen Biao were classmates in one of the schools which have reputation for brutal methods. Jackie Chan is not here, but Yuen Biao has a great cameo in the opening duel scene and Sammo Hung has an excellent job directing the action. My Kingdom is the story of two young Opera actors who are training under their master played by Yuen Biao. Their master is disgraced after losing a duel challenge from a big city stage actor. When they go to Shanghi and challenge the man who disgraced their master they become stars in the big city. Soon the stardom effects the brothers. At the same time a series of murders incite a mystery. The stage fights are amazing and the best thing about this movie. The story is confusing; characters behavior changes in nonsensical ways just to move the plot. In the end I can’t tell you this is a good movie, but I can say that the amazing stage duels by Peking Opera actors are cool as hell and worth seeing.