AM I MISSING SOMETHING WHEN IT COMES TO “THE KILLING”?

The Killing promotional posterI’m writing about the US version of The Killing, which remade a three-season Danish television show of the same name because Americans are shitty about reading subtitles. (OMG you want us to read?!) I live in Seattle, where the remake is set. People compared its plot to Twin Peaks—young, well liked (white) girl is killed and viewers watch as the lives of those whom the murder has affected start to unravel. People clamored for a third season after it was cancelled at the end of its second season, and Netflix was stepping up.

So I thought, sure, this sounds like it’s up my alley. However, having rage-quit this show about half a season in, I do not understand all the five- or even four-star reviews on Netflix. I’d give the show one star for the interactions between Linden and Holder, and maybe one more star for the acting—although damn, did some of the side characters’ actors really bring the show down!

However, never would I give this show more than two stars. Never would I recommend anyone see it, unless I hated that person, I guess. The characters were inconsistent and the writing opened up way too many doors through which the plot just kind of waved rather than stepped.

***I’ll try to avoid big spoilers, but there will be little ones.***

***That said, please don’t worry about spoilers because you shouldn’t watch the show anyway.***

The Initial Plot
The show’s main thread is, obviously, the murder of Rosie Larsen and the subsequent police investigation by Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos) and Stephen Holder (Joel Kinnaman). Linden is set to leave her job with the Seattle Police Department in order to move down to California with her soon-to-be husband, taking her young teenage son with her. Holder is transferring from Narcotics to Homicide to replace her. We also see the Larsen family’s attempts to cope with their grief as well as some back story regarding Rosie’s life and her father’s former shady work history. The third main thread consists of the ups and downs of city councilman Darren Richmond’s election campaign. Read more

OVER-THINKING “TRUE DETECTIVE”, SEASON 1

Note: I wrote this post before seeing the last two episodes of the premiere season of True Detective.

Season 1 Promotional PosterThe first season of HBO’s True Detective, starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, follows two Louisiana State Police Detectives who recount an old and strange homicide case from nearly twenty years ago. Some portion of the increasing interest in the show stems from an io9 article calling attention to dialogue and visuals that reference Chambers’ 1895 short story The King in Yellow, to which horror author H.P. Lovecraft refers in some of his own stories in the 1920s.

A handful of Chambers horror short stories refer to a fictional book in circulation—or outright banned in certain countries—that compels in-story characters to read it as soon as they lay eyes upon it. Act I of the The King in Yellow is the only act ever quoted in Chambers’ stories. Acts II and III supposedly contain epiphanies so enormous and so horrific that characters are driven insane…if they don’t die of some kind of heart attack first.

The eponymous King in Yellow, who holds a power and visage too great for the human mind to endure, is most easily associated with insanity. Decades later, Lovecraft wove this same theme of forbidden knowledge into his own stories.

Perhaps many potential viewers of True Detective were starved for a high-caliber, serious TV series that deftly and compellingly played with such Lovecraftian concepts—a sort of “magical realism”—so the io9 article’s sound of alarm galvanized these viewers into giving the new HBO show a shot, and even put Chambers’ original The King in Yellow on Amazon’s bestseller list, which io9 itself quite happily reported.

I am one of those viewers. I liked a lot of things about David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, a replacement for which I had (have) yet to find, and a well-done TV series that messed with your head sounded like something right up my alley. Read more

YOU CAN LIKE PROMETHEUS, BUT ONLY IF YOU ACKNOWLEDGE IT HAS PROBLEMS

Update (2/12/2014): Hi! I originally posted this review on June 10, 2012, but a recent prompt on io9, which asked its readers to come up with a disappointing film that had an amazing trailer, put this film back in my mind. Prometheus was among the suggestions in the comments, and since the film’s release, some fans of the film have been staunchly defending it. A couple of replies to the commenter who suggested Prometheus simply stated, without further comment, that they “liked the film anyway”, which is totally fine by me. I like some pretty messy movies myself.

One of the comments, however, included a link to a fan’s half-hour-long video claiming it debunks all of the complaints about the film, stipulating that it would do so without using anything outside the film itself. However, the video relies not only on the film’s pre-release marketing videos, but also on behind-the-scene extras and interviews. I could barely get past the part where the video condescendingly reminds the viewer of just what a plot hole is. Another commenter bizarrely stated that “picking on plot holes” isn’t a valid way to criticize a film, which is patently false. An incoherent script makes for a bad movie. Characters shift personalities, lack logical motivations, and make completely irrational decisions. Telling me things make sense when you see the extras (and even then, they still don’t) is not valid. As one commenter put it:

Having the chef tell you about the recipe he ‘wanted’ to make, doesn’t make ill matched, overcooked, or absent food any better.

The film must stand on its own. Therefore, I have reworked and significantly lengthened my review in order to break down the film’s shortcomings more thoroughly. Read more

ROMANTICON 2013

Romanticon 2013I’m a small fish in an ever-more-crowded pond. Self-publishing and the growing acceptance of erotica means more authors, more choices for readers and the greater need to market oneself, so I love attending my publisher’s annual convention where I can network with other authors, meet readers and—best of all, have a ton of fun!

2013 was Ellora’s Cave’s fifth Romanticon, held at the McKinley Grand in Canton, Ohio. Some attendees arrive on Wednesday to get settled, but Thursday night’s Meet ‘n Greet is where the convention really kicks off. I’d post pictures, but I carry travel stress in my stomach and couldn’t make it downstairs without looking like Quasimodo. Boo!

Last year as well as this year, attendees grab a drink, sing some karaoke or dance, and catch up with old friends as well as make new ones. The hunky Cavemen are also in attendance, so they provide a ton of incentive. ;D Read more

TODAY’S CLIMACTIC ACTION SCENE IS BROUGHT TO YOU BY A DEAD HORSE

Iron Man 3 PosterIron Man 3 (2013) is the sequel to the sequel to one of the most successful of the superhero films that have come out of Hollywood in the last decade. While it is vastly more entertaining than Man of Steel and has fewer plot logic problems as well as far fewer tired references than Star Trek Into Darkness, it still suffers a couple of major flaws. Overall, the film’s merits (great acting, witty banter and a willingness to subvert or avoid certain tropes) outweigh its flaws, but all three Iron Man films heavily rely on Robert Downey, Jr.’s charisma to carry them, which he does admirably.

That said, definitely wait for the scene after the end-credits.

Spoilers ahead… Read more

ZACK SNYDER MAKES GREAT TRAILERS BUT TERRIBLE MOVIES

Man of Steel posterWhere do I start when it comes to reviewing Man of Steel (2013)? Who do I blame for a film that nearly made me walk out of the theater? I mean, I have a relatively low bar, you guys. I’ve only ever walked out of two movies: The Portrait of a Lady and House of 1000 Corpses. Certainly Zack Snyder deserves some blame, but so many of these summer blockbusters have the grubby fingerprints of studio execs all over them. They deserve some blame, too.

Screenwriter David S. Goyer and producer Christopher Nolan also deserve their share of the blame. I’m not sure who green-lighted that “stand-with-you-in-the-sun” speech they lifted from Grant Morrison’s All Star Superman, but it’s confused when in context and silly in its softly whispered bombast. Then again, Superman as a film franchise wasn’t untarnished before Man of Steel. The Christopher Reeve films were incredibly hokey at times. Maybe we movie-goers were just too naive to think this time would be any different. Let’s cut off a small slice of the blame for ourselves for shelling out money for this POS movie.

The film is simply unsuccessful in its attempt to make a “grittier, darker” Superman in the same vein as Nolan’s Batman films—a trend I’d really like to see stop with Man of Steel. The writers didn’t take the time to establish all the things they wanted to put in the film—when they tried, they did it wrong—and in the end you as the viewer are exhausted and maybe a little sick from the overly long and brutal climactic action scene. Most of the acting was good and the visual style adopted for Krypton was unique, but this film is not even worth renting. Don’t see it. Ever.

I’m serious.

Spoilers ahead… Read more

EVEN IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN “STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS”, YOU’VE ALREADY SEEN IT

Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)I will freely admit that when I saw Star Trek Into Darkness (2013) its opening weekend, I had a highly enjoyable time. But it’s kind of like when you go to a party with all your favorite friends and a fridge full of alcohol: riotous at the time, but you regret it in the morning. An even better simile (not one I came up with) is that Into Darkness is like a magic trick, distracting you with pretty visuals while they fake a miracle. And it seems that most of the film’s reviewers didn’t realize it.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. If you haven’t yet seen Into Darkness…well, you have. Without “spoiling” the movie, though, I’ll just say the character arcs were contrived and repetitive, the plot was a series of set pieces strung together with no more than whatever first came to the writers’ minds, and the ending was completely silly and horrifying. However, the acting was good and the spectacle was…well, spectacular!

Spoilers from here on… Read more

PROGRESS IS PROGRESS

I’m over at All Romance’s ARe Cafe today talking about striking the right balance in a horror erotica.

I’ve surpassed the 25K mark on my own horror erotica WIP. After reworking some plot in order to let my characters be themselves rather than trying to squeeze a square peg into a round hole, I’m pretty satisfied with how it’s turning out so far. Not only does this promise (in my head) to be a pretty disturbing horror erotica, it’s the first BDSM story I’ve ever written, so it’s quite challenging. I’m determined to get it right—as much as I can at least—so some days I only eke out a few hundred words.

They’re the “right” words, though and I would rather come back to my WIP every morning reading something I’m mostly satisfied with than a few thousand words that’ll probably get cut in a rewrite. I wish I were blessed enough to slam out 2K before lunch and then another 3K in the afternoon, but progress is progress and I gotta say…so far, despite all the challenges, this has been my favorite story to write so far. It’s hot and angsty and dark—and I friggin’ love it!