Masochism, Macbeth, Mayors, Marvel and More: My May Movie… Notes.

Missives? Anyway.The Duke of Burgundy: Lush flick about two butterfly researchers and their dominance/submission relationship. Some early scenes made me wonder if this would be about attention as submission--the submissive gaze, the gaze of service, as the gaze which most truly knows its object--and I'd super still want to watch that movie, but that definitely is not what this is. Then later when the twist is revealed I was like, "Ugh, I hope this isn't just going to be a movie-length … [Read more...]

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“Famous Monsters of Filmland”: I review Tim Powers’s new novel

for AmCon: The novels of dark fantasist Tim Powers often flow out of weird, grim moments in real history: the strange encounter of a fox and an English spy; the long lit matches burning in a bloodthirsty pirate’s beard. Powers’s latest book, Medusa’s Web, got its start when Powers encountered one of these disturbing little bits of trivia: Rudolph Valentino received Last Rites twice. Why? To answer that question, Powers spins a tale of family secrets and Hollywood ghosts–and an otherworldly, addi … [Read more...]

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The Rise and Saul of Practically Everything: Some movie and tv notes

Well, I've started Better Call Saul. I'm only through five episodes. I watched I think the first three seasons of Breaking Bad, hating Walter and sort of myself the whole time. Saul is more my speed. The main character is that one character type that will always, always get its claws right into my heart: the dutiful sleazebag. Make somebody both really sleazy and really willing to serve another human being, and I am there for you. (I had some sort of formative experience with Grantaire as a … [Read more...]

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Beauty Is the Beast: Melinda Selmys’s Horror Anthology

A vampire, in the depths of the Soviet Lubyanka prison, knows he will live when Stalin's empire is in the ash heap of history. Two nervous philosophers argue about whether the zombies gathering outside have a valid alternative deathstyle. A melodramatic nihilist decides to revolt against Nature itself--and wins, and learns what lies beyond Nature. Supernatural totalitarians try to co-opt an artist.Melinda Selmys has a gift for the startling, illuminating idea. Against Nature, her … [Read more...]

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“Out in the Fields with God”: I vvatch “The VVitch”

for AmCon: “What went we out into this wilderness to find?”With that resounding, iconic opening line, The Witch announces that it may not be what you were expecting. Writer/director Robert Eggers’s “New-England folktale” may have been marketed as a horror movie, but horror is only one of its genres–and not the most prominent. The Witch is a family tragedy and a religious drama, and these elements are even more successful than the horror-show aspect. more (and here is a... probably-drunk pos … [Read more...]

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“Stephen King’s Doubt”: I review “Revival”

for AmCon: There’s a cheap rhetorical move you see a lot in religious debate, where the God-pusher retorts, “But don’t you ever doubt your doubt?” The hero of Revival, Stephen King’s 2014 novel of loss and obsession, could reply in tones of trembling horror: “All the time. God help me, I doubt my doubt all the time.”King has always loved to wring horror from Americana: the bad hot dog, the classic car, the prom. In Revival he takes on the Methodist Youth Fellowship, where, back in the mid-’6 … [Read more...]

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Kissing Covens: I watch “The Sisterhood of Night”

Despite the title, spooky cover, and synopsis (ARE OUR TEENS IN A WITCH SEX CULT? HAVE GAYS BURGLED BRITAIN'S SWANS?) this is not a horror film. It isn't an update of The Craft, although in some ways its atmosphere is reminiscent of that movie. It's a modern riff on The Crucible--the Deadly Doll called it "The Teencible"--based on a short story by notable male mammal and odd duck Stephen Millhauser.And it's also the closest fictional depiction I can think of to what it was like to be in Riot … [Read more...]

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