NFLX2019 April 19th: Someone Great

Someone Great. Jennifer Kaytin Robinson. 2019. ☆☆☆☆★★

I’m like totes caught up with the Netflix (this movie was released today), so I’m watching other movies on the side. But since they’re not really uh conceptual? then I’m not blogging about them, for which everybody’s happy, I guessing.

But I’ve discovered over the years that it’s really handy to have an external log of the movies I’ve seen: If not I just forget whether they’re any good or not.

The nightmare is over! I started a new “slush movie” blog! Which is a web log of movies with or without comment.

You’re welcome.

BUT HERE WE ARE BACK AT THE NETFLIX BLOG SERIES!

So what’s this then? It’s one of those modern comedies about young people, and from the title there’s probably romance involved.

I enjoy the performances of the central actors… They’ve got a kinda semi-raunchy lighthearted vibe going on. Less successful are the dozens¹ of Daily Show/Saturday Night Live guys who show up in minor parts.

And the jokes OK, but they’re not gut busters. I did love the horrified look on the fashionishta’s face when she felt a denim jacket: “It’s so crunchy. Is that NEW DENIM!?”

(It was somewhat confusing, though, because the denim jacket she was touching was a very well-worn, soft vintage one. I guess the prop/costume person didn’t get the note.)

The script has the usual signs of being generated for Netflix: There’s a random walk of elements (a pot movie with young women, and this time the Wise Black Man Giving Advice (and selling drugs) is RuPaul).

I like it.

In the final third it predictably crashes badly when they try to engineer The Serious Last Act.

I see that some reviewers question why this isn’t a TV series instead, but to me it doesn’t feel like a TV series at all. The structure is totally movie, and the cinematography is definitely a step above. The colour grading (or something) is a bit weird, though: You have a super-saturated scene, and then we switch to the reverse, and then everything’s washed out, and then back again.

——-

¹) Not accurate.

This post is part of the NFLX2019 blog series.

NFLX2019 April 12th: The Perfect Date

The Perfect Date. Chris Nelson. 2019. ☆☆☆☆★★

I think imdb says it perfectly:

i think this in one of the many netflix-production that will place itself in the basket of inrecognition, unless you like social network-work, and the freshnes of new juicy fruits entering the silver screen with beauty and galore . i think the cast does a decent job, with acceptable acting, but the story are to innovative anb the characters are too boring,so its lack of sting makes this flick a bit benign. the concept of ideas are good but a bit spoiled on the fun. the filming are ållreit, but the timeline and quantities of customers makes it a bit blurry.

ANYWAY!

This is a mvoie that wants to be a zany Cary Grant/Katharine Hepburn screwball comedy. Only in 2019. And I’m not sure that it fails. I mean, not completely. The actors have got it going on, and the characters are fun. None of the lines are actually really literally funny, but there’s plenty of amusement going on.

The physical comedy bits made me smile a lot, and the montages are perfect.

As usual I’m totally at a loss for how old people are supposed to be in these movies. Several of them mention being in high-school but look like they are in their mid-20s and act and speak as if they’re in their early 30s. It’s odd.

It’s a pretty weird movie, and it’s one of those that gets better as it goes. It’s very 2019 with all the apps and the ridic jobs.

This doesn’t feel like an algorithmically generated movie, so it bucks the trend of these Netflix movies. Instead it kinda out of the left field, and I love that.

The fun kinda pauses in the third act. They decide that they have to get real at the end. I hate that.

But then they add a fun ending. Yay.

So: It’s a bit uneven, but I really admire the sheer kookiness of it all. I smiled a lot, but I didn’t laugh.

This post is part of the NFLX2019 blog series.

NFLX2019 April 12th: Who Would You Take to a Deserted Island?

Who Would You Take to a Deserted Island?. Jota Linares. 2019. ☆☆★★★★

A Spanish Netflix movie! I am exite!

But… well, there’s good bits. They’ve gone for a very low-makeup look for the actors (you can see every pore), and the actors are pretty good. Especially the women. But it’s difficult to get into this movie: I mean, what’s it even about? It’s a bunch of pretty and pretty young people talking and flirting with each other, but the dialogue feels pretty awkward and unnatural. And not in a heightened reality way, but just… well… awkward.

The cinematography is pretty off-putting: It’s all done with a very mobile camera: It’s either a steadiccam or just some guy with an Iphone. It’s not shakycam per se, but the camera is never not shivering and moving.

And the colours are all washed-out and everything looks like it’s happening on a sunny Sunday morning.

Most of the Netflix movies I’ve watched for this blog series have had a pretty obvious audience: “If this is the sort of movie you like, you’ll like this movie” all the way. Except the Indian movies, which are somewhat baffling.

But I can’t really pinpoint an audience for this either. It has no obvious hooks, and just kinda seems to meander aimlessly… That’s a thing I normally like, but I wonder whether the filmmakers promised “we’ll make a movie that Pedro Almodovar fans will like!” and then didn’t quite know how to deliver.

Or… are they going for Tennessee Williams? I think they are!

It doesn’t help. The “shocking” “reveals” during the Night Of Truth are… well… positively medieval.

Andrea Ros is good, though.

This post is part of the NFLX2019 blog series.

New Music

Music I’ve bought this month.

My plan to cut down on buying new music to give me more of a chance to actually listen to what I’m buying is showing results! Plot twist: I haven’t listened to any of these albums — I’m still trying to catch up with the stuff I’ve bought earlier.

*sigh*

jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Laraaji&album=Arji+OceAnanda+Dallas+Acid jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Blaupunkt&album=Blaupunkt jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Laraaji+%26+Lyghte&album=Celestial+Realms jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Pregoblin&album=Combustion jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Drew+Daniel%2C+John+Wiese&album=Continuous+Hole
jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Ossia&album=Devil's+Dance jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Jay+Glass+Dubs&album=Epitaph jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Rema+Rema&album=Fond+Reflections+(1)%3A+Demos+and+Demolitions jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Rema+Rema&album=Fond+Reflections+(1)%3A+Wheel+in+the+Roses+(Extended) jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=LCD+Soundsystem&album=Freak+Out+Starry+Eyes
jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Xiu+Xiu&album=Girl+with+Basket+of+Fruit jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Irreversible+Entanglements&album=Irreversible+Entanglements jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Melanie+de+Biasio&album=No+Deal jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Matmos&album=Plastic+Anniversary jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Thighpaulsandra&album=Practical+Electronics
jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Bobbie+Gentry&album=The+Girl+From+Chickasaw+County+(1)%3A+Ode+to+Billie+Joe jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Bobbie+Gentry&album=The+Girl+From+Chickasaw+County+(3)%3A+Local+Gentry jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Cosey+Fanni+Tutti&album=Tutti

CCCB: The Fall of Hyperion

I’ve done too many almond-based goods, so I thought I’d try my hand on some profiteroles with this recipe. Approx. Because I didn’t really want the chocolate part.

Most of the recipes stress how “simple” this recipe is… but it has the normal number of ingredients.

What’s simple, perhaps, is that it uses something as er usual as water as the ingredient that’s supposed to make the dough grow all fluffy in the oven. I mean, most things use either yeast, baking powder/soda or whipped egg whites, but the idea here is that it’s a quite wet dough, so the steam will make the dough puff up. We’ll see!

So you bring the water/butter mixture to a boil…

… and then dump the flour/salt/sugar mixture into it…

And then beat it around until it forms a dough. Then let it cool.

And then add the eggs, a bit at a time, until it reaches a properly semi-runny consistence.

The recipe said to pipe the dough unto a baking sheet, so I did that, but if I ever make this again, I’m not doing that. Because the dough is just so sticky! It pipes well, but I got dough everywhere when trying to get the tip out of the piping bag. Other recipes said to use a couple of spoons instead, and while that doesn’t give as regular-shaped puffs, I think that’s to be preferred.

Not that these are very regular, either.

And up they pop! It works!

Puffy!

Perhaps I over-baked them a bit.

But what do they look like on the inside?

Huh! That’s kinda weird. I didn’t think they were going to be that devoid of interiority (that’s a word).

Well, while they cool down I can pick out a book to read…

As usual, I’m choosing from among the oldest unread books I have. Eenie meenie oh who am I kidding.

I’m postponing that Ulysses as long as I can.

So this week it’s The Fall of Hyperion by Dan Simmons, and I know exactly why I’ve avoided reading this book for more than two decades: I loathed Hyperion.

Why did I buy this one? Because I’m stupid.

I remember whinging and moaning about Hyperion on the interwebs somewhere… was is rec.arts.sf.books? Or somewhere? At the time Simmons was considered a pretty hot ticket, and I just couldn’t understand why everybody else didn’t realise that Hyperion was trash: It’s the Decameron written by a moron as a fixer-upper “novel” of dreary short stories.

I felt that Simmons tried to be Gene Wolfe, but without any of his intelligence or talent.

But I got into an argument with a person that didn’t seem like a moron, and somehow they talked me into buying the followup, because that’s an even better book, according to them.

And, moron that I am, I did. I mean, there’s a gazillion books by authors that I already love that I don’t have time to read, so that’s a very stupid thing to do.

And then I didn’t read it, of course, because .

But now I have to. Perhaps it’s an awesome book!!!!1! I now wipe my mind of all prejudices. This may well be a brilliant book. Perhaps I was mistaken back then or read the book with the wrong attitude.

Deep breath… no prejudices…

OH GOD I HATE IT ALREADY.

But let’s read the first two pages together.

Well, the first thing we notice is that it’s set using a font size that’s way too teensy for me, so I can barely read it.

The other is… that… it’s not horrible?

OK, I’ll try out my new Kobo e-Ink reader, and here’s a mini review: e-Ink is as horrifying as ever: The resolution isn’t high enough, so the typography is all janky, with stems disappearing and there’s an uneven greyness to the text. But I knew that e-Ink was horrible… but what about the Kobo? Well, it’s not very inspiring, either. As you can see, the side lighting is very, very uneven, with the left margin there being 2x lighter than the middle. And the page-turning buttons require way too much force: I’ve now got a permanent ridge on my right thumb from hitting it. And the battery life is pretty bad: I can’t read the entire book without recharging a couple of times.

Other than that, it’s got some nice features. Nice feature 1: I don’t have to shop from Amazon. 2: I can alter what buttons go next/prev and where to tap on the screen to proceed. If I had my druthers, I’d want to be able to tap anywhere to go forward, but it doesn’t allow that. (And then just use a physical button to go back, which I never do anyway.) 3: Err… I think that’s it…

Oh, yeah, Simmons. I find that I’m more forgiving now than I was twenty years ago. Or perhaps this isn’t as horrible a book as the first one.

Simmons’ writing style is a bit on the florid side, but it’s not upchuck inducing. It flows quite well, even if he has a tendency to repeat himself redundantly with repetitions that are repetitive and redundant. The structure of the book is straight-forward, and while I had forgotten the plot of the first book completely, Simmons filled me in gamely, and without resorting to too many As-You-Know-Bob scenes.

No, what’s annoying me this time around about Simmons is that all his characters are straight out of the time the book was written. Or perhaps a decade before. This is a society set, er, I guess a thousand years into the future or something, and it has fabulous technology like teleportation which allows humanity to spread throughout the galaxy, and fabulous AI, and fabulous everything… and all the characters behave, 100%, as they would in the 80s: From micro bits like the above, to all their conversations and concerns.

So we get characters making casual references to, say Lincoln, and nobody says “eh?” It’s like somebody today dropping Baldwin of Boulogne into conversation and people nodding sagely.

Also note: The cruelty in her eyes has now spread to her lips.

*sigh*

And he has a 35mm camera. Because of course he does.

This insistence that all these technologies don’t change society goes from annoying to eye-roll inducing: Here’s the backstory on one of the protagonists: He’s from a well-to-do family… but he was sent into service to pay off the family’s debts (!)… as a bonded manual labourer!

There are so many levels of not-making-even-slightly sense here that you have to wonder whether Simmons does shit like this just to piss even people with two functioning brain cells off, so that only complete morons will finish his books? I mean, this is a society with magnificent AIs and robots, but… to pay off debts? This guy’s sold off as a manual labourer slave?

If it’s a huge amount of money, how can you make that much money as a manual labourer? I mean, how can somebody else make that much money off of you being a manual labourer? If it’s a small amount, why not just become a waiter instead for a few years?

THERE”S NO LEVEL THIS CAN MAKE SENSE!!1!

When the book’s not pulling moronic crap like this on the reader, it’s stopping us in our tracks waving THERE”S FORESHADOWING HERE!!! HERE!!!! LOOK!!! Like in the conversation where the general poo-poos the idea that they don’t know where the Evil Attackers are, and I assume all readers went “oh, OK, they’ve already invaded the entire galaxy and are just lying in wait, sub-light-speed, even if that means they’ve been planning this for a few hundred years”.

And guess what happens a few chapters later.

*sigh*

Simmons is just so bad at world building and plotting. Basically everybody else who writes galaxy-spanning space opera has a better grip on the mechanics.

Simmons stresses how obscure christianity are in the days of the book, but it seems like half the characters are either christian or are deeply intimate with the entire mythos. And, as I suspected when I started this book, the plot slowly reveals itself to be all about religion, which, of course, I find to be a snoozefest.

Oh, well, back to finish the cream puffs…

I’m filling the puffs with whipped cream, but I’ve got various things to add different flavours to the cream. I’ve got cloudberry syrup, liquorice powder ans ammonium salts.

I got this piping tip today: It’s really meant for piping jam into Berliners, and I’m not sure it’s going to be a good idea to use that long spout for cream… takes a lot of pressure…

Whip it.

Well… that seems to work: The cream makes it through the spout.

It does work! Creamy!

But that long spout thing just took too much effort. I switched to using a regular tip, but used the long spout to tap the holes into the puffs.

I did one quarter with plain cream, and then one quarter with this cloudberry syrup I’ve never seen before. I love cloudberries, but using them in many ingredients is a pain: They’re 80% pits, and while those pits are crunchy and edible, that crunch is not something you want when you don’t want it. Which is almost always.

But this syrup had a full, sweet, intense cloudberry flavour, and went perfectly with the cream.

For the last two quarters, I did liquorice extract: One with salmiak and one without. I may have dumped slightly more of this stuff than is healthy, but it’s very yum.

There! All filled up! Piping them was a pain at first, because I didn’t know when they were full, so I burst a couple. But then after a while I got the hang of feeling when it felt full by how it expands slightly, and then it was OK.

So how do they go with the book?

Mmm… that’s a lot of liquorice. The shell is crispy and pretty tasty, but it’s definitely a bit on the overdone side. I should have baked them perhaps five minutes less, I think.

Oh, wow. The cloudberry cream is divoon. Incredibly tasty, especially in these puffs.

Back to the book: The christian sub-text to the book is pretty evident throughout, but when he goes into over exegesis mode you can but sigh.

But…

I don’t really hate this book, I find. Sure, it’s painfully humourless, and sure, all the characters sound and act exactly the same (even if they’re described as being oh so different), and sure, the christian stuff is really grating.

But it also has some pretty good plot twists that I didn’t see coming, and I found myself eagerly wanting to know what’s going to happen next, even if I was pretty sure that whatever’s going to happen would be pretty stupid. If you just switch your brain off and let go of any expectations that this is going to be, like, smart, it’s a pretty entertaining read.

Keith Giffen / K. K. Kitten

I finally read the second volume in IDW/Eurocomics brilliant reprinting of the Sinner series by José Muñoz and Carlos Sampayo. It was was published about a year ago, but I somehow missed it.

One of the shorter pieces in the book, Over Some Drawings, seems to call out for more attention than it got. I thought surely the twitters and the blogs had to be all er atwitter about this story, but I googled and the only mention I could find was on a Swedish language blog.

So:

This story is about a South American comic book artist, José Martinez, who feels that an American comic book artist is plagiarising him:

So he’s travelling to meet up with him…

… and break his hands.

This is interesting beyond the story itself because the plagiarism thing is true: A super-hero comic book artist called Keith Giffen spent several years in the 80s bewildering his fans by drawing in an exiting, fresh style that seemed to come out of nowhere. And then The Comics Journal did an exposé and demonstrated that Giffen’s panels were swipes, line by line, from José Muñoz’ panels.

In this story, Muñoz’ analogue José Martinez confronts the American comic book artist, here called K. K. Kitten.

Kitten first defends his swipes as “inspiration”…

… and then absolutely refuses to apologise because swiping Muñoz’ style was a commercial mistake.

The story has two endings: In Alack Sinner’s dream, Martinez seems to kill Kitten, or at least beat him up bad.

In reality, as Sinner finds out from a newspaper, Kitten killed Martinez.

It’s hard to tell from this story whether Sampayo/Muñoz are just goofing around, or whether Martinez’ feelings are representative of their own feeling on the issue. The “real” ending seems to suggest the latter, I think, but the depiction of Kitten as living in a mansion and smoking a pipe seems to suggest the former.

Perhaps nobody’s talking about this because nobody bought the book? It’s a great book: Some of the mid-period Sinner stories dissolve into confusion, but this volume has two very well-made and satisfying classic noir stories. And Muñoz artwork, as always, is just transcendent. I give it all thumbs up: One of the best collections of comics released last year.