Monday, December 21, 2015

Night Shift Review


Initially, I wasn't sure how to review this first collection of short stories.  Should I talk about each individual story, or just give a general overview?  The latter makes sense, but even the most thorough overview will fail to mention several positive and negative aspects of the stories.  I ultimately decided on the former, since any general overview would be just as long as mini-reviews of each short story, since I would want to mention all of them anyway.

Jerusalem's Lot is the first story, and it was, at the time, a previously unpublished one.  As 'Salem's Lot is one of my favorite King novels, it was nice to adventure back into that fictional part of Maine.  This story goes back in time to 1850, to a small town near Jerusalem's Lot and the family history associated with the abandoned town.  While it is a great story - I'd venture to say it is the scariest of the collection - it creates several plot holes for the novel.  For 'Salem's Lot is abandoned, and great pains are taken to mention no people or creatures have returned to it since the incident that caused the abandonment to happen.  How then, does the town come about?  Vampires are present, so why do they leave, paving the way for Barlow?  Still, a great start to the collection.

Graveyard Shift is the next story, and I didn't really care for it.  Dealing with a group of workers trying to clear out the area under a textile mill and the unusual rats they encounter, the story lacks anything resembling a likable character, nor do the motivations of the characters really make sense.  Once the main pair makes it to the deepest part of the underground passage, King does create a horrific ending, but that's about all to recommend to it.

The next story is Night Surf, which is what inspired The Stand (Captain Tripps is mentioned, though details of the disease differ).  Like the unpublished Jerusalem's Lot, the longer novel is much better, and like Graveyard Shift, most of the characters here are unlikable.  In fact, the only real reason to read this one is to see the beginnings of an idea forming for the novel.  Otherwise, one that could be easily skipped.

Next is I Am The Doorway which is great little sci-fi story about a flyby of Venus that has a rather horrendous side effect on one of the astronauts.  While the writing lacks the grace of later King works, the overall story is a stellar one.

The Mangler follows, and I love it for its rather unique premise (demonically possessed press machine from an industrial laundry) and its rather bold structure.  The story starts in media res, with the death of a laundry worker, then goes backwards to explain how the machine came to be possessed.  The story zigzags back and forth between the present and past, which is brave for a short story to do, but King manages to pack quite a bit into this rather short piece of work.

The Boogeyman is next, and it is one of the weaker stories in the collection, in my opinion.  Dealing with a father talking about his various encounters between the Boogeyman and his children, it lacks any sort of buildup, and the ending seems to be trying a bit too hard.  Another one that could easily be skipped.

Fortunately, another of the top tier stories follows it:  Grey Matter.  The story follows a group of men who go to check on a friend who has changed somewhat after drinking some bad alcohol.  King does a great job building the tension in this story, and the ambiguous ending serves it well.

Next is Battleground, which, while not scary, is still a fun piece about a hit man who, after his latest hit, has revenge visited upon him in a most interesting way.

Trucks comes next, an interesting tale about vehicles coming to life and attacking humans.  The prose here is much simpler than most of the other stories, and the story lacks some finesse that many of the others do, even the weaker ones.  Still, the story is solid.

Sometimes They Come Back is the one story that, to me, really needed to be a full length novel.  The story feels rushed, and while explanation for the ghostly visitation the protagonist receives isn't necessarily needed, some inkling of what caused it would help in a major way, as well as an explanation for how he deals with said visit.  Even with its rushed nature, the story has numerous plot holes, and might have been served better if certain subplots had been cut to lengthen other parts of the story.

The earliest work of Kings in the collection is Strawberry Spring, a story told in first-person about a series of murders from the character's past during a strawberry spring.  Another of the strong stories, it lacks a bit of the punch of the top tier ones, but the ending strikes just the right chord and makes it a must-read.

The Ledge follows, and it is more of a thriller than a horror story.  I'd rank it in the upper tier also.  Dealing with a man trying to run away with a mob boss' wife, King takes a simple premise and makes it absolutely terrifying.

The Lawnmower Man is next, and it is, frankly, an incredibly weird little tale.  I'd say it is skip-able, but I have the feeling that it is one either loved or hated for its weirdness.

Quitter, Inc. comes next, and it is the one of the other previously unpublished (at the time) works.  It deals with a man who decides to quit smoking, with the aide of a rather forceful company.  It works great as a standalone piece, and honestly could have been expanded to novel (or at least, novella) length, but loses nothing being a short story.

I Know What You Need is the next story, and the first (and only) to feature a female protagonist.  She deals with a young man who always seems to be there with what she needs, and the darker side of the romance that follows.  King seems uneasy writing this character, with some of the clunkiest dialogue occurring between her and her roommate, but still manages to tell a solid, if unspectacular, story.

Children of the Corn is probably the best known work from this collection, if only for the many movies, but it really comes across as a dud.  Again, the characters are unlikable, and King has them make dumb decisions repeatedly throughout.  The movie fleshed it out and managed to improve upon the premise, but overall, this is a weak story.

The Last Rung on the Ladder is a more emotional short story, dealing with grief and regret.  It deals with a fateful day in the life of two siblings, and the tragedy that befalls one once they start to drift apart later on in life.  It almost seems out of place amongst all the other stories in the collection, but it provides a nice break.  It is another that had been unpublished prior to this collection.

The Man Who Loved Flowers battles with The Boogeyman for my least favorite of the collection.  Following a man who is 'obviously experience spring love' it is short, uninspired, and has a terrible ending.

King again visits 'Salem's Lot with the short story One for the Road.  Unlike Jerusalem's Lot earlier in the collection, this one creates no plot holes, though it does allude to the ending of the larger novel.  This one deals with two men who know how The Lot has 'gone bad' and their attempt to help a man whose family is stranded there.  It's one that definitely should be read after 'Salem's Lot, as it compliments the larger novel, rather than creating problems.

The last work to be featured is also one that was previously unpublished:  The Woman in the Room.  It follows a man who has a terminally ill mother and his grief and anger at her condition.  Like The Last Rung on the Ladder, it isn't a horror story, and feel a bit out of place in the collection.  It is also an odd choice to finish with, as One for the Road would have been stronger and more circular (ending with a 'Salem's Lot companion piece after starting with one).  It lacks the emotional punch of The Last Rung, and the collection fizzles to an end.

How I Would Rank the Stories:
Quitters, Inc.
The Ledge
One for the Road
Gray Matter
The Last Rung on the Ladder
Jerusalem's Lot
I Am The Doorway
The Mangler
Strawberry Spring
Battleground
I Know What You Need
Trucks
The Woman in the Room
Night Surf
Children of the Corn
Sometimes They Come Back
The Lawnmower Man
Graveyard Shift
The Boogeyman
The Man Who Loved Flowers

Stats:
Pages:  504
Movie?:  Several have been made into movies:  Quitters, Inc. and The Ledge are both in the film Cat's Eye, Children of the Corn, The Mangler, Trucks became Maximum Overdrive, and Graveyard Shift.  A movie shares the title of The Lawnmower Man, but has no relation.  Trucks was again adapted for TV, as was Children of the Corn.  Sometimes They Come Back also received a television adaptation, as did Battleground.
Dark Tower?:  The Salem's Lot companion pieces would be considered part of it, but most of these are standalone.
Child Deaths?:  One gets turned into a vampire in One for the Road, several die in Children of the Corn and in The Boogeyman, and one dies in flashback in Sometimes They Come Back.
Penis Talk?:  Surprisingly, none, though I may have missed writing one down.
Grade:  I'd say it averages out to a B, maybe a B+

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Stephen King Book List

(in order of publication)
Carrie
'Salem's Lot
The Shining
Rage
The Stand
Night Shift
The Long Walk
The Dead Zone
Firestarter
Roadwork
Cujo
The Running Man
The Gunslinger
Different Seasons
Christine
Pet Sematary
Cycle of the Werewolf
The Talisman
Thinner
Skeleton Crew
It
The Eyes of the Dragon
The Drawing of Three
Misery
The Tommyknockers
The Dark Half
Four Past Midnight
The Waste Lands
Needful Things
Gerald's Game
Dolores Claiborne
Nightmares and Dreamscapes
Insomnia
Rose Madder
The Green Mile
Desperation
The Regulators
Wizard and Glass
Bag of Bones
The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon
Hearts in Atlantis
Dreamcatcher
Black House
Everything's Eventual
From a Buick 8
Wolves of the Calla
Song of Susannah
The Dark Tower
The Colorado Kid
Cell
Lisey's Story
Blaze
Duma Key
Just After Sunset
Under the Dome
Full Dark, No Stars
11/22/63
The Wind Through the Keyhole
Joyland
Doctor Sleep
Mr. Mercedes
Revival
Finders Keepers
The Bazaar of Bad Dreams
End of Watch

BoMM: Alma's Discovery vs. Clever Girl

Your Champion


VS



The Case for Alma's Discovery:
Brokeback Mountain is filled with quiet, seminal scenes.  While "I wish I knew how to quit you" became the film's most iconic, the scene where Alma discovers her husband secret is a powerful moment.  Her slow walk away from the door into the kitchen is acting perfection, heartbreaking and terrifying at the same time.

The Case for Clever Girl:
Muldoon presents himself as the ultimate hunter throughout the run of Jurassic Park.  When the velociraptors get out, he bravely tries to hunt them down, only to be tricked - leading to this iconic line.




Which do you pick?

Alma's Discovery
Clever Girl
Poll Maker

The Stand Review


So, the hardest decision to be made when re-reading this Stephen King novel was which version I was going to read.  Should I get the original hardcover from 1978?  The updated paperback from 1980?  Or should I go with the 1990 version, which updated the story from 1980 to 1990 and added 400 extra pages of material cut from the initial release?  Ultimately, I went with the 1990 version, mostly because I already owned it, but also because I wanted what Stephen King originally wrote before editors asked him to trim it down.

And make no mistake, this is a thick novel: My copy checks in at 1439 pages, over double what The Shining reached.  Part of this expansion is due to the nature of the book:  As opposed to a small enclosed area (like The Shining, or Rage), The Stand tracks multiple people across the entire United States as the deal with a superflu that wipes out 98% of the population.  A far-reaching apocalyptic novel cannot be hastily done in a tidy sum of pages.

And what's amazing, is that the book could easily have expanded more.  While we do get to delve into the inner thoughts of numerous characters, both good and bad, there are still many prominent characters that don't get much in the way of attention from King.  In fact, Ralph Brentner's lack of character development despite being one of the main 4 sent to make the final stand is one of my biggest critiques.

Still, King rather effectively explains how the superflu starts spreading, and why it doesn't get stopped.  Most novels (and many movies, to be honest) never explain how the world reached its post-apocalyptic state, but King believably explains it from start to finish.  One of the most harrowing sections of the book deals with Stu Redman escaping a government facility trying to figure out the virus they created, and it wouldn't be half as nerve-wracking if not for the groundwork King had laid earlier.

And The Stand is filled with many such moments.  Larry Underwood's trip through the Lincoln Tunnel is (to me) the single most vivid in its terror, but one could just as easily argue for the impromptu appendix removal, Randall Flagg's meeting with Nadine Cross, or even Trashcan Man's interaction with The Kid.  There is an embarrassment of riches when it comes to well crafted moments of horror.

The novel does have its flaws though.  As mentioned above, several characters are prominent without ever really getting delved into (Ralph Brentner might be the worst, but Sue Stern suffers just as much), Randall Flagg, despite having several chilling scenes scattered throughout the novel, never truly feels like a threat, at least not in the way the Harold Lauder does.  And more world-building for Las Vegas would clarify how Flagg maintains loyalty despite having a much crueler disposition than Mother Abagail.

Still, after the shitshow that was Rage, anything would be welcome.  The Stand, thankfully, is pretty great on its own.

Stats:
Pages:  1439
Movie?:  A miniseries in 1994, nominated for six Emmys, winning two.  Supposedly there is a movie in development... or a series of movies.  It has been in development hell for 5 years now.
Dark Tower?:  Yes.  Randall Flagg is a recurring villain from the series, and the Ka-Tet briefly interact with part of the Captain Trips world.
Child Deaths?:  Lots, since the majority of the planet dies, but King does go into details involving a few.
Penis Talk?:  Yes, up to and including the thinness of a character's semen after masturbating.
Grade:  A-

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Battle of Movie Moments

Previously TV has a wonderful feature called King of Disparate TV Things Mountain where random props, moments, etc. from various TV shows battle it out.  The winner of that day's voting faces a new challenger each day until it loses, or until it hits 10 wins and is retired.  I've decided to do something similar, only with movie moments,  While mine will not be daily (we're going with a weekly theme here), it will follow the 'winner stays until defeated/10 wins' aspect, as well as allowing user submissions.

For our inaugural vote, we have..



Church Fight (Kingsman: The Secret Service)

VS

Alma's Discovery (Brokeback Mountain)


The Case for Church Fight:
Sometimes a movie shocks you with violence, and sometimes it does it with an amazingly choreographed fight scene.  Kingsman combines the two for a brutal moment in a church where the villain causes everyone to go into a rage and start attacking each other.  Highly trained Kingsman Harry Hart is also there and adds to the carnage.

The Case for Alma's Discovery:
Brokeback Mountain is filled with several quiet, seminal scenes.  While "I wish I knew how to quit you" became the film's most iconic, the scene where Alma discover her husband's secret is a powerful moment.  Her slow walk away from the door into the kitchen is acting perfection, heartbreaking and terrifying at the same time.



Which do you pick?

Church Fight
Alma's Discovery
Poll Maker

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Rage Review


This is a famously hard book to find.  Due to an association with several high profile school shootings in the late 80s and early 90s, the book was taken out of print.  For awhile you could still get it as part of The Bachman Books, but it has since been removed from that collection also.  Thank God, for it ended our long national nightmare and no school shootings have happened since.

Now that the sarcasm is out of the way, I will admit to being perturbed at the difficulty in getting this to read.  Fortunately, I was able to purchase an older edition of The Bachman Books that contained it, and for the not-at-all reasonable price of 60 dollars.  All so I could read a less-than-stellar book that is overly linked to similar real-life events.

And I cannot emphasize enough that this is not a good book.  It's readable, thanks to King's character work, but only insofar that the characters are interesting, but not explored that well.

The novel loses me fairly early, when Charlie Decker, whose viewpoint we follow through almost the entirety of the story, shoots two teachers and only one student screams while the others are silent.  None of them try to escape or run or in any way act like normal people do during such an event.  The entire class just calmly sits there.

Now, I understand that King wanted to have people there for Charlie to use as a kind of therapy group, but it reads false right from the start.  And that false start permeates every interaction throughout.  The slap fight between two girls that Charlie forces is resolved with no explanation, and the climax, where the entire class attacks another student, makes no sense.  At no point does King illuminate why Ted Jones, a popular student who recently quit the football team, would suddenly be set upon by his classmates.  While a type of Stockholm Syndrome comes about in the room (with only Ted unaffected), there is no build to the final confrontation.  It just happens so the novel can end.

Released under the pseudonym Richard Bachman, this was apparently King's first written novel, though I can understand why it wasn't initially published.  Carrie explores stigmatization in high school much better.

Stats:
Pages:  163
Movie?:  None, probably because of the school shooting association.
Dark Tower?:  No, though I doubt any of the early Bachman titles will be associated with the series.
Child Deaths?:  Surprisingly, no.  The only deaths are the two teachers at the beginning.
Penis Talk?:  A girl talks about her boyfriend's penis and a random stranger's she picked up at a bar.
Grade:  D

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Shining Review


The film version of this book is widely considered one of the best horror films ever made.  While it initially was a bit of a box office and critical failure (Shelley Duvall - the single best performance in the movie - got a Razzie nomination for her troubles), critics slowly came around, and now it is a go-to for comparisons in style and tone.

And the movie is wildly overrated.

When I say Duvall is the single best performance (and it is a great performance, in my opinion), one could argue that I am damning with faint praise.  Almost every other performance ranges from terrible to occasionally adequate.  A few scenes do manage to be creepy (the twins flashing between 'Come play with us' and their dead bodies is unnerving), but overall the film is now overpraised.  The slow 'build' is barely there (Nicholson acts like he is ready to murder his family from the beginning, so not much to climb from) and the pace doesn't so much as build tension as it tests the patience of the viewers.

Now, this might seem a long-winded way of saying the book is so much better, but the book is so much better.  This book is terrifying, with King growing into his trademark imagery and character work to create a living hotel - not a creepy place but a malevolent being.  Jack Torrance is not an unhinged maniac like in the film, but a likeable man easily possessed by the hotel due to his own failings and inner demons.  Really, the relationships between all of the family makes the inevitable breakdown of the unit all the more terrible and frightening.

And the scares scattered throughout work much better in the imagination.  The movie only really got the woman in room 237 217 correct (side note: the hotel where the movie was filmed asked that a new room number be created lest guests refuse the room after the movie came out).  They cut out some of the better scares: the dead wasp nest that comes to life, the topiary animals, the playground... I could go on and on.

Oh, the topiary animals.  Without spoiling it for those that haven't read the book already, the sequences where Jack and Danny separately interact with them are some of the most frightening moments in the book.

The family unit is extremely well written also.  Wendy, Jack, and Danny are all fully realized characters, with very human flaws and motivations.  The decision Wendy and Danny make to stay is such a pivotal moment in the book , and it works so well because of King's early work exploring the characters' love for Jack while also examining the motivations of the characters themselves.  The rich detail into each one's personality serves the narrative well.

King had written an excellent book in Salem's Lot, and somehow managed to improve in every way possible going into his third novel.  A masterpiece in writing.

Stats:
Pages:  683
Movie?:  The overrated 1980 film discussed in the review, a miniseries in 1997.  The miniseries won 2 Emmys and was nominated for one other.
Dark Tower?:  Unless Doctor Sleep ties it in, this book is free of the Dark Tower
Child Deaths?:  While the prior caretaker is referenced as murdering his family, no children actually die during the book.
Penis Talk?:  Yes, though nothing of note about it.
Grade:  A+

Friday, November 13, 2015

'Salem's Lot Review


I read somewhere (probably in one of Stephen King's introductions, though it might have been an interview) that, after the success of Carrie, Mr. King brought two ideas to his editor - or his agent, the memory is fuzzy for sure - for his next novel.  Whomever it was said they preferred the vampire idea, but without enthusiasm.  They were worried that King would be labeled a 'genre' writer and limit himself in future works.  Fortunately, King took that risk, and wrote a pretty awesome book about vampires invading a small town in Maine...

To call 'Salem's Lot a vampire novel is severely limiting, however, as it is more about small towns and how they work - the dark secrets they keep and pass on.  To accomplish this, King greatly expands upon not only the number of characters, but how deeply he looks into their lives.  Primarily focused on Ben Mears, King delves into all sorts of major and minor characters and what makes them tick.  He creates this small town's character by looking at the histories of various residents.  Whether it is the child-beating young mother in a trailer park or the rich town selectman involved in shady real estate dealings, King doesn't just pull back the veneer, he rips it off and envelopes the reader in the thoughts and emotions of any resident he focuses on.

The result is a portrait of a a town in shambles, perfect for the dark invasion that occurs when Barlow and Straker come to town.

And we have to discuss Barlow.  While I have far too many King books to read to say he is King's greatest villain, he is damn near the top.  For a character that doesn't appear until the latter half of the book, he still radiates menace once he does arrive.  His chilling intellect and patience is unnerving, made all the more formidable by his strength.  Straker pales in comparison, though he does an adequate job as the 'front' man for the business venture that sets up the introduction of the two into the town.

King does a fantastic job on the 'good' side of the equation:  Ben Mears, Matt Burke, Susan Norton, and Mark Petrie are all rich characters with a great blend of heroism and fallibility.  While Father Callahan and Jimmy Cody get less attention to detail than the others, they are still well-written.  And Callahan gets much improved-upon in the Dark Tower books (where he also makes an appearance).

It is slightly disappointing that King fridges Susan Norton, and I feel like he glosses over Mark's grief in the immediate aftermath of what happens to his parents, but these are minor quibbles in a stellar book.  I could easily see this placing near the top of my favorite Stephen King books, which isn't bad for a sophomore novel.  Not bad at all.

Stats:
Pages:  427
Movie?:  2 made-for-TV movies, one in 1979, and the other in 2004.  The '79 version managed 3 Emmy nominations and the '04 version got 1.
Dark Tower?:  Father Callahan plays a rather important part in Wolves of the Calla and Song of Susannah.
Child Deaths?:  Many.  One is sacrificed at the start to allow Barlow into town, and many others are turned into vampires throughout.
Penis Talk?:  Jimmy Cody talks about having an erection while being bitten.
Grade:  A

Monday, November 2, 2015

Carrie Review



(This is for the book, not the movie!)

So, the book that started it all.  One might be tempted to overstate the importance of Carrie as Stephen King's first published book, especially as it was a best seller once it hit paperback.

One of the biggest surprises for me when I first read this novel (re-read for the Great Stephen King Experiment) was how short it was.  One of King's greatest strengths as a writer is how well he conveys imagery and burrows into his characters, but in this early work you don't see much of either.  You get a good feel for Carrie White and Sue Snell, with a bit of work thrown in on Tommy Ross and Billy Nolan, but most characters only get a cursory bit of insight.  Part of this stems from the decision to weave into the story 'excerpts' from fictional works about what is referred to as Prom Night in the novel, a decision that helps the reader see reactions to the event, but which also serves to distance them from fully immersing themselves into the story.

The story does move along quite briskly, with no lags despite the excerpts.  From the start, it slowly crescendos up into the pivotal moment at the spring dance, where it then manages to soar higher as Carrie enacts her revenge not only against her classmates, but also against the town of Chamberlain itself.  King conveys Carrie's rage nicely, and the various 'transcripts' taken from various townspeople capture the confusion and terror quite well.

My only critique, aside from rather thin sketches of the majority of the characters, is the lack of a truly strong villain.  Carrie herself is a tragic figure, so she hardly counts.  King makes you feel as if some sort of showdown will occur between Carrie and Chris Hargensen, but Billy Nolan gets more attention once the actual plan is in motion.  Margaret White also appears to be the villain, but she is mostly sidelined until her confrontation with Carrie after the dance.  Despite that confrontation being especially chilling, Margaret never feels like a true threat, even if she does strike what ends up being a mortal blow on Carrie.

Still, the novel is quite good, and a fine start for what turned out to be quite the career for King.

Stats
Pages:  199
Movie?:  2 of them - one in 1976 and another in 2013, plus a terrible sequel and a made-for-TV version.  Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie received Academy Award nominations for the 1976 version.
Dark Tower?:  No references that I can remember.
Child Deaths?:  The various teens at the dance, possibly some younger ones during Carrie's destruction of the town.
Penis Talk?:  Vague references from Sue Snell and Chris Hargensen from when they slept with their boyfriends, and Margaret White refers to her late husband's as The Devil's Serpent (unironically)
Grade:  B+

The Great Stephen King Experiment

So, I have a plan to read all the Stephen King books in order of publication.  As of this posting, I have read 33 of the 63 that have been published (although number 64 comes out on the 3rd of November, so it will be added to the pile).  As someone slightly familiar with Stephen King at this point, I am going to read the book, right a review, and keep track of a few things (for amusement's sake).

Number of Pages:  This is rather self-explanatory, and if I decide to add up the total number of pages read, at least I have a record.
Is There a Movie?:  Also self-explanatory.
Is it Part of the Dark Tower Mythos?:  I love the Dark Tower books and King has woven together quite a universe throughout his many works connecting them all together, so whenever references pop up, I will take note.
Do Any Children Die?:  Stephen King has no problem killing children, so this will also be tracked
Is There Penis Talk?:  Stephen King also talks about penis frequently.  This is obviously a 'for funsies' category
Grade:  Because why not?

I consider myself a fast reader, but there will obviously be some time between posts for these, as I do need to actually read the books.  Hopefully the delays will be short though.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

2015 Movie List

The Movies:
1)  Star Wars:  The Force Awakens
2)  Jurassic World
3)  The Avengers:  Age of Ultron
4)  Inside Out
9)  Cinderella
12)  Pitch Perfect 2
18)  The Revenant
20)  San Andreas
26)  The Good Dinosaur
27)  Spy
66)  Krampus
104)  Paranormal Activity:  The Ghost Dimension
106)  Mr. Holmes
111)  It Follows
325)  Maggie
594)  Area 51
Always Watching:  A Marble Hornets Story
Stung

(Numbers are box office rank for the year)

Top 5 Movies:
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Inside Out (winner)
Spy
Mr. Holmes
It Follows
HM:  Cinderella, Krampus

Best Actress:
Amy Poehler, Inside Out
Lily James, Cinderella
Melissa McCarthy, Spy
Toni Collette, Krampus
Maika Monroe, It Follows
HM:  Daisy Ridley, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Actor:
John Boyega, Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Chris Pratt, Jurassic World
Adam Scott, Krampus
Ian McKellan, Mr. Holmes
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Maggie

Best Supporting Actress:
Elizabeth Olsen, Avengers: Age of Ultron
Phyllis Smith, Inside Out
Rose Byrne, Spy
Allison Tolman, Krampus
Laura Linney, Mr. Holmes
HM:  Cate Blanchett, Cinderella

Best Supporting Actor:
Adam Driver, Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Jeremy Renner, Avengers: Age of Ulton
Tom Hardy, The Revenant
Adam DeVine, Pitch Perfect 2
Jason Statham, Spy

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Gleewind: Pilot

So, Glee is ending its run after 6 seasons (2 of those abbreviated).  I, at one time, loved this series unashamedly, but somewhere along the way (specifically midway through the 3rd season) I started to hate the show.  Reading that it was ending made me revisit the pilot to see if the show always had problems, and no:  this show was so very promising at the start.  And I think I am going to marathon it on Netflix (powering through that exceptionally rough patch in season 3) to kind of honor the series for what it was and what it did.

So, the pilot episode:  As far as these things go, it is one hell of a start to the series.  Great character intros all around, excellent song choices, and the show really managed to grasp that outsider feel so many feel in high school.

The Main Players:
Will Schuester:  For the first part of the series, it really felt like this was going to be Will's story.  You lose it a bit later on in the series, but he really was a good teacher at the start of it all.  The episode focuses on his desire restart the Glee club that he was once the star of, and you really feel his passion for it.  Matthew Morrison wasn't always given the best material, but this groundwork that the character was built on is solid, and it is somewhat a shame that he wasn't able to pick up an Emmy for at least this first season's work.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Faves of the Year: 5-1

My favorites of the year, the top 5 (see my selections for Best Actress, Actor, Supporting Actress, and Supporting Actor at the Movie List page)

I should also note that this list is subject to change once I see the slew of movies waiting on deck (Birdman, The Grand Budapest Hotel, etc.)  So enjoy the time capsule that will most likely change throughout the year.

5)  Captain America:  The Winter Soldier

4)  Godzilla

3)  Nightcrawler

2)  Blue Ruin

1)  The Babadook

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Faves of the Year: 10-6

My favorite movies from 2014, from number 10 through number 6.


10)  Under the Skin

9)  X-Men:  Days of Future Past

8)  The Lego Movie

7)  The Rover

6)  Selma