Rupture: Movie Review

Posted in Fiction, Reviews, Things You Should See with tags , on August, 2017 by melendwyr

I am so often disappointed by small, independent films that I find it noteworthy when I come across one I approve of wholeheartedly.

So I recommend ‘Rupture’.  It’s not what I would call a perfect film, but perfection is often boring and hidebound, and this certainly isn’t that.

A single mother interacts with her young son, unaware that her home is filled with secret cameras and strangers follow her car.  After she drops off the child with her estranged ex-husband, she is abducted and taken to a bizarre facility by inappropriately genial and empathetic captors… and things get weirder from there.

I particularly appreciate the use of color to create tension and atmosphere – really well done.  I didn’t feel the musical background was always used well – too much heavy-handed dissonance can draw a viewer out of the experience if there’s no obvious reason to feel tension in a scene, so going to that well too early in the film is a mistake.  But it’s a small matter, and I only care because I enjoyed the movie enough to nitpick.

‘Rupture’ is unrated, and must have had a very limited distribution, but it can likely be found at various streaming services and temporarily at Redbox kiosks.

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Good news, everyone!

Posted in Blogging, Uncategorized on June, 2017 by melendwyr

Now there’s a title that will inspire dread in every geeky heart…

On the plus side, I have steady work now, which means I no longer have to worry about starving to death on the streets.  On the negative side, it’s kept me so busy that I haven’t had much time to devote to my all-important hobbies, like gardening or occasional blogging.

Hopefully I can manage to get more of those things in.

What color was the Emerald City?

Posted in Fantasy, Fiction with tags , , on February, 2017 by melendwyr

No, seriously, think about this for a moment.  In L. Frank Baum’s original work, what color was the Emerald City?

Your first thought will probably be ’emerald green’, and your second will probably be that there’s some kind of trick here.  There is.

In the book, the Wizard didn’t know how to make a city where everything was green.  So he made a city that was totally pure white, and told everyone that they had to wear green glasses to prevent the dazzling glare of the ‘green’ city from blinding them.  They quite naturally saw everything as being green once they wore the colored lenses, but because they were gullible, they were taken in by the Wizard’s explanation.

Of course, making a White City is even harder than making an Emerald one.  So there’s a great deal of irony in the fact that, in attempting to deceive everyone into thinking he had made a lesser accomplishment, he made a greater one.  There are also many associations to be made in the real world, but that’s another story and will be told another time.

Also, the Slippers are silver.  But I don’t know that they’re symbolic or emblematic of anything.  If the movie makers hadn’t wanted to show off their color technology quite so much… oh well.

Okay, let’s try this again…

Posted in Blogging on February, 2017 by melendwyr

I had been holding off on doing things like blogging while I was trying to find work.  Then I found some and was too busy to start it up again.  Now I’m looking, again, and I think I’ll try some different strategies.

I don’t know how regular updates will be, but there will be some, in the near future.

What Women Want – 50 Shades of Grey’s ancient pattern

Posted in Fiction, Politics and Society, Things You Should Hear with tags , , , , , on February, 2015 by melendwyr

For years, people have been gushing over the novel 50 Shades of Grey, and now that it’s a major motion picture people are gushing about that.  Praise or condemnation, it doesn’t much matter – either way, people are talking about it.  It might not be quite true that there’s no such thing as bad publicity.  For people.  For ideas, for memes, that seems to be the literal truth.

I’ve been monitoring how the book is discussed in various male-dominated circles, and my overwhelming impression is that the people claiming to explain the ‘true significance’ of the novel just aren’t getting it.

50 Shades is a combination of two kinds of fantasy: sex-without-guilt, which like the ‘rape’ commonly found in romance novels permits women to enjoy forbidden/tabooed sexuality without being responsible for breaking the social codes – basically having the cake and eating it – and the fantasy of having a man be so obsessed and emotionally tied to the woman that he can be induced to change his bad-boy nature.

It’s the same basic pattern found in lots of romances. The only difference between this and the standard bodice-ripper is that as more and more forms of sexual expression have been normalized, more extreme practices are needed to give people the frisson of transgressing what’s ‘good’. Go back far enough, and sex we’d consider tame and standard would be kinky and shocking.

Readers get to be titillated by the forbidden, then released from guilt about enjoying the forbidden by having it be treated as a shameful male crime – “It’s not my fault, he tempted me” – then given what they really want.

And what is that, exactly? The medievals knew perfectly well.

Go read Chaucer’s ‘The Wife of Bath’s Tale’.  Or better yet, go listen to Professor Corey Olsen’s Fairie and Fantasy lectures about ‘Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnelle’ and ‘The Wife of Bath’s Tale’.  And consider how the basic pattern of those works compares to the structure of 50 Shades.

The Phoenix and the Firebird

Posted in Uncategorized on February, 2015 by melendwyr

It’s been nearly a year since I did much of anything with this blog.  Sometimes I’ve had nothing to say.  Other times I’ve had plenty to say in other venues, and didn’t bother repeating it here.

Perhaps soon I will think of something worth posting.

Skin Game

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on May, 2014 by melendwyr

Jim Butcher has written fifteen books in his Dresden Files series, not counting the short story anthology.  The latest, Skin Game, was released today.  I’ve picked up a copy.

Butcher’s skill at spinning yarns has increased steadily since his humble beginnings as a creative writing student crafting a genre crossover between noir and fantasy as a class project.  He was twenty-five then.  We’ve had one book a year since then.  And each has been better than the last, with a possible exception for the pivotal novel Changes – not because it is lacking, but because it marked a watershed moment in theme for the series, and so cannot be adequately be compared to its surrounding works.

The new novel?  Extraordinary.  New mysteries are hinted at, subtle premises established more than a decade ago are revealed in a new light, old beloved characters are brought back in thoughtful new roles.  Instead of sprinting from one supernatural disaster to another, desperately trying to keep Chicago in one piece, Harry Dresden has had a lot of time off… to the point of sanity erosion.  Being left alone almost of the time on his unmapped island in Lake Michigan hasn’t done a great deal for his mental stability.  He’s so lonely that he’s taken to chatting with the entities imprisoned beneath the island, something he had previously lampshaded as near to criminally irresponsible.  But his old nemesis and new boss Mab, Queen of Air and Darkness, shows up with a task for him to  perform, and she’s not going to take ‘no’ lightly.

I can’t decide which delighted me more:  the plot turns and developments which I didn’t see coming, or the one I successfully called many years ago.  So very satisfying.