Archive

Archive for September, 2010

Some Good Books, Films, Shows, etc.

September 21, 2010 Leave a comment

Oh hello there.

I suppose the few people that read this blog have been wondering where I’ve been. Not a whole lot, aside from work and trying to get serious with my fiction writing. I haven’t had a lot of free time, so I admit I’ve been neglecting the blog lately. However, I’d decided to change that. I’m going to try to blog more casually. Not every post will be as groomed as my “Good Books/Shows/Games/Whatever” posts, though I do still intend to do a few of those in the near future, but you can expect updates to be less… nonexistant than they have been recently.

So, while I was off the blogosphere, I happened to consume a fair amount of media. Unfortunately, I don’t have that much to say about most of it (although there is one exception that I fully intend to do another “Good Shows” segment about, but I did want to mention my brief thoughts on a few of the books, shows, and films I’ve watched recently.

Books

  • The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss: I’m a huge fan of the fantasy genre and I’d heard so many recommendations about this one that I had to pick it up. I’m glad I did, because it’s probably the second best Heroic Fantasy book I’ve ever read (the first spot belongs to Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson). It’s the story of a man named Kvothe, a legendary wizard and memetic badass in the world he’s in. Everyone tells highly embellished stories of his exploits, but most people are under the impression he’s dead or just a legend. In fact, he’s currently working at a bar. Eventually, a chronicler finds him and persuades Kvothe to allow him to record the true story of his life and exploits. He then tells how his family was killed by a mystical group of assassins who are shrouded in myth, how he eventually studied at the University and learned magic, how his reputation as a hero and badass started to grow, and all in all how messed up his life can be at times. If all this sounds familiar, it is. A lot of the framework of the story is fairly archetypal, but it is by no means bad. This is actually one of the best examples of an archetypal story told well that I’ve ever come across. Most of the story is told from the first person perspective of Kvothe, who is a funny and you really feel a connection to him. The world is very well developed, having its own religion and customs woven into the plot, avoiding the pitfall of having pages and pages of ancient lore the reader cares nothing about that occurs in a lot of fantasy, and most of the characters are well developed and likable. It’s the first book in a planned trilogy and really my only main complaint is that the first book doesn’t really resolve a whole lot about the main “plot” of Kvothe’s story, so I guess the story left me wanting more. But still, that’s a minor complaint. If you love fantasy, you should definately pick this up.
  • The Catcher in the Rye: If you’re the kind of person who knows anything about literature, odds are you’ve heard of this book before. It’s a well loved classic, after all. I’m not all the way through it just yet, but I am 3/4 into it, and I’m really enjoying it. I wasn’t sure if I’d like this book since a lot of “classic” literature I’ve read before has been a mixed bag for me (for example, in school I absolutely loved reading the Count of Monte Cristo, Animal Farm, and Fahrenheit 451, but I did not like Great Expectations at all. I do understand that it’s basically Charles Dicken’s deconstruction of his own work and get the point of it, but I still found it boring most of the way through), but I wanted to check this book out in an effort to read more classics. I’m glad I read this book, since its a very well done first person POV story. The interesting thing about the book is that it doesn’t really have a plot. It’s basically the story of this kid and what happens to him after he’s kicked out of school. Holden, the kid in the book, has nothing but contempt for most of the world and everyone he comes across. He comes off as kind of a brat, but I found it easy to connect with him. I think every teenager or every adult who remembers being him will connect with his worldview, that he’s just misunderstood and everyone around him is an idiot or a “phonie,” when in reality he’s basically just a cynical teenager. It’s a fun book and you really get a sense of the character’s voice reading it. Like I said, I haven’t completely finished it, but I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve read so far.

Films

  • Inglorious Basterds: I really should have seen this movie before now, but to be honest what I heard about it didn’t appeal to me much. Luckily I managed to catch the movie on Showtime. It’s a really great movie and a lot more complex than I thought it would be. It’s an alternate WWII history story with two interconnected plot threads. One is about a Jewish girl named Shoshana whose entire family was killed by a Nazi nicknamed “the Jew Hunter”. She eventually runs a theater where a new propaganda movie is being premiered. Since the big players in the Nazi government will be there, including Hitler, she uses this as an opportunity to plan her revenge. The second plot is about a group of guerilla Jewish-American soldiers called the Basterds whose mission consists of “Step One: Drop in France. Step Two: Kill every Nazi they come across in a brutal fashion.” Eventually, they become embroiled in a plan to infiltrate the aforementioned Nazi movie premiere and assassinate the Nazi leaders. There was a lot more to this movie than I originally thought, since I thought it would just be about these guys killing Nazis the whole time, but the movies more complex than that. The Basterds come off as almost as bad as the Nazis a bit and I was surprised to find myself a little uncomfortable rooting for them. The main villian, the Jew Hunter, is really fantastic and the guy playing him was a great actor. It’s not historically accurate at all, which will be pretty clear by the end of the movie, but it is fun. It’s got enough moral ambiguity in it and drama that I was surprised that, while it isn’t the deepest movie ever, it had more depth than I thought. I still don’t like it as much as Pulp Fiction, my favorite Tarentino film, but it was a lot more enjoyable to me than Kill Bill and his other movies, making this my second favorite movie by him. All in all, a great movie. It is violent, but there’s not quite as much as you would think. Check it out
  • The Shawshank Redemption: Yes, I know its a bit shameful to admit, but I’ve actually never seen the Shawshank Redemption before now. Which is bad, considering its on TV like every weekend. I’m not going to say a lot about it since pretty much EVERYONE else on earth besides me has seen this movie before, but I will say that after seeing it, it is now definitely up there with the Dark Knight, the Big Lebowski, Goodfellas, Spirited Away, and my other favorite movies of all time.

Shows

  • Adventure Time: Yes, I’ve talked about this show before, but I just wanted to mention it again. Adventure Time continues to deliver and is currently the only show I bother watching on TV. I don’t really watch a whole lot of TV nowadays, although I do get a lot of TV shows on DVD, but Adventure Time is the one show that I make sure I don’t miss. It continues to deliver, the characters are fun, the world is like D&D on a sugar high, and it manages to sneak in almost as many dirty jokes as Animaniacs. Almost. Please watch this show.
  • Daria: Like I said, I do watch a lot of TV shows on DVD and, on a whim, I picked up the complete series of Daria. I had only seen a few episodes of the series, but I really enjoyed what I did see so I thought it was worth a look. And I’m glad I did, since I have a lot to say about it. However, I think I’ll save that segment for next time…

Look for another installment of Good Shows coming soon. I think it should be obvious what the next one will be about. Until then, have a great day.

Advertisements
Categories: Books, film, Good Stuff, tv