Reviews of things You didn't ask for

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I don't generally talk about the stuff I'm reading. This is for several reasons. I don't think that you would be super interested in Such titles as "Apprenticeship in Thinking" and "Perspectives on Socially Shared Cognition". Nor do I suspect that you are all aching for conversations on "Situating Constructivism" or "Describing the Bricolage: Conceptualizing a New Rigor in Qualitative Research".

Well - actually, maybe you are. If that is the case, feel free to email me and I would happily drag you into the bizarre academic world that one portion of my brain now habitually inhabits. Seriously. I can now talk your face off regarding the concept of the "bricoleur" and it's place in both teacher education AND qualitative research AND how I am planning to weave this into a paper I will be writing for my first major research conference paper presentation as first author.

Nope. Not dragging you into that room. In fact, lets lock that door for the moment and put the key in this drawer.

About a month or two ago, I realized that my pleasure reading - my pleasure watching had dwindled down to nothing. This, by historical measures, does not bode well. My mind must engage on a variety of levels and when it strips away anything that I feel as "pleasurable" to only "work" or "distraction from work" there are bad things on the horizon. Possible relapses into places of coal darkness and thick mud sludge.

This time, I caught myself before submerging too deep. I made lists. This is my first line defense to feeling overwhelmed - making lists of things that I should do. Things that I feel like I need to get done to feel like I am accomplishing something. Things that I know would make me happy. Reading and Watching Movies/Shows are some of those things.

So first up: The books and graphic novels/comics:

1. Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Linddqvist (book)

To tell you that this book has stayed with me in a viscerally way would be underestimating the power of this text. I had seen the movie first, and the movie - while able to stand alone as a piece of art - seemed to be missing something in my eyes. There was more to this story, I knew. Much, much more. I found it all in the book. It is beautiful in the most painful way possible. The author was able, in my estimation, to craft a story about the utter isolation and exploitation that occurs as we walk the line between child and adult. Plus, it is a vampire story. Which kicks it up a notch in my eyes.

2. Post apocalyptic Graphic Novels : The Walking Dead , Fell, Desolation Jones , The Watchmen, Area 51, Wasteland , Y: The Last Man , American Virgin , 30 Days of Night ( and it's successors) and just starting Preacher.

Most of my non-school reading time has been consumed with the graphic novel/comic genre. I like well crafted stories, with mythological and sociological contexts. I like smart shit. The Walking Dead is by far one of the most gripping series I have had the pleasure to actually FOLLOW. All right - yeah. Its a zombie apocalypse story. But so much more. It takes elements of the evolution of the zombie story genre ( Nods to Romero, I am Legend, and 28 weeks later) and makes a story of who we are, how we must evolve and survive in the midst of the failure of trusted institutions. Wasteland is another that I have deeply enjoyed and is evolving.

The others are series which completed before I discovered them, or ones which fade in and out of existence given the author/artist ability to find time for them ( I am talking to YOU Fell and Desolation Jones)

3. The True Blood Books.
Cheesy, yep. Kind of smutty sex books with vampires and werewolves? Yep. But a smart commentary on social, gendered, sexual orientation and class divisions. Actually, Yes. And Super easy to read.


First, a disclaimer. Dawn is a wicked movie snob. She goes for "foreign" films. She LIKES subtitles. The more subtitles, the better, in fact. This has driven Terrance to no longer view films with her, as she has tricked him into 3 hour Mandarin movies. While Terrance is in the living room enjoying "The Transporter 3", Dawn is pondering the depth of human experience in the bedroom with the texture and reality of Korean film.

Actually not really. Dawn has been seriously grooving on the J-Horror and K-Horror genres. Being a pretentious snob, I refuse to see American remakes of films. The grudge? No, thanks, I'll take Ju-on.

Here they are:
"Let the Right one In" - see book description. In swedish. Fan-fucking-tastic.

"The Host" - Korean. Currently winning awards. View of the US and manipulation of information through Korean eyes. Parental love and devotion.

"Hansel and Gretel" -Korean. My current fave. May have knocked out "Let the right one" in as my favorite. Dark Fairy Tales are my love.

"El Orfanato" - Spanish - Another dark fairy tale derivative. REALLY very good.

"Infection" - Japanese. This one stayed with me. Actually kept me awake.

"Reincarnation" - Japanese - also very, very good. Shades of "The Shining" but in a context of Buddhist mythology.

"Audition" - Japanese. Slow. Slow. Slow. Good, as a cultural touchstone, but a bit gratuitous.

"Tale of Two Sisters" - Korean. Remade as "The uninvited" in the US - this movie kicks ass

"Memories of Murder" - Korean. An excellent example of the changing of a culture as viewed through the detectives in a serial murder case.

"Antarctic Journal" - Korean. Watched it last night. I really loved this one. Didn't get super reviews, but I found it very textual - very rich.

"Suicide Circle" - Japanese. This one was hard to watch. There is a great many things that I didn't quite understand, as I am not Japanese. There are still things that I am puzzling out about the story.

"Premonition" - Japanese - another good story about life choices and where we end up.

"One Missed Call" -Japanese. This was the only one that I was thinking "Save me from this muddled mess". I am hoping that "Pulse" will be better. I get the whole "Connection and lack thereof through a digital society" storyline but Lord.

"The Eye" - Chinese/Thai. Don't bother with what, by all accounts, is a Terrible remake with Jessica Alba. This was an incredibly well done movie - not graphic at all, but scary. You should also know a little something about Death traditions in Asian cultures, or many of the inferences won't make any sense.

There are other ones in my queue - "Pulse", "Phone", "Spider Forest", "Inner senses", "Cello" - The "Oldboy/Mr Vengence/Sympathy for Lady/Mr Vengence", "Silk", 13 Beloved", Paradise Murdered", "Death Bell", "Rahtree, Flower of the Night", "The Quiet Family" and "Marebito".

So - If any of you had delusions that I wasn't a super geek girl, I think I have effectively dashed these. Either that, or you inexplicably love me all the more.

5 Baleful Regards:

Anonymous said...

Oh you HAVE to see The Devil's Backbone. It's a Spanish horror movie- it's actually the companion to Pan's Labyrinth. And I LOVE Tale of 2 Sisters and Reincarnation. Man, the things you have done for my Netflix cue today- Thanks! I'm putting Infection first on my list.

Dawn said...

Ooooo. A recommendation! I will find this one tonight.

Updated to add that I saw Kairo (Pulse) and I don't think I quite got it. It was S-L-O-W. Made Audition look like a thrill a minute. I fast forwarded through big parts because there was so much silence...and I NEVER fast forward. I suffer through to the end, dammit.

Phone was good - The actors were good and the story was a slight twist, but I admit I was a bit burned out on the Whole venegeful ghost tradition at the moment. I think I am going to turn to the OldBoy trilogy which is less of the "supernatural" horror, as I am having a bit of a fancrush on a particular Korean actor.

On another note, I saw a real film poster for Hansel and Gretel on my way to a pub yesterday - stuck on a wall. My companions tried to peel it off for me, as I yelled "OH MY GOD! I LOVE THAT MOVIE!". And I have heard good things about "Pontypool" which is just coming out in Montreal - a zombie flick.

And seriously. Infection creeped me out. Be warned!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the recommendations. I had never heard of Hansel and Gretel, either. I am totally geeking out in my office, looking them up on IMDB. As for Infection, bring it on! The creepier the better!

Mom101 said...

I am totally printing this out. While I walked away from the slasher genre a million years ago, Ringu got me jonesing for some supernatural fairytales.

Dawn said...

I know of what you speak Liz - I can update to say that The Quiet Family - is a dark comedy, and I actually laughed several times. I have a bit of a fancrush on the actor who plays the Brother in this movie - He is also the Father in the Host, a detective in Memories of Murder and the Captain in Antarctic Journal. Apparently, his next movie is called "Thirst" - I can't wait!

Spider Forest was also EXCELLENT - I kind of knew where the story was going...but the story was so intriguing that I was kept to the end.

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