Movies of the Last Year (pt. 2) – rundown and conclusions

Second part of this post about the films I’ve seen this year.

Best Picture

Well, how about I count down in reverse order: Continue reading

Movies of the Last Year (pt 1) – my awards

I don’t normally watch a lot of new films. I like film in theory, but in practice I find it hard to make myself sit down and dedicate time to a film – an hour of TV feels like a cheaper price (even if in practice one hour can turn into two or three). And when I do watch a film, it’s usually something from years ago – a favourite, or a classic that I’ve never seen. There are, after all, just so many films out there.

But this year, one way or another, I’ve managed to end up seeing a bunch of new things, including a few that are in competition for the Oscars this weekend. So for once, I can actually share an opinion!

So far as I can remember, in the last year (give or take) I have seen nine new films: the Oscar-nominated The Imitation Game, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Birdman, and Whiplash; and the non-Oscar-nominated (well, non-big-prize-nominated, a couple have got technical nominations) Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Robocop, Edge of Tomorrow and Guardians of the Galaxy; plus Calvary, which doesn’t really fit in with any of the others.

So, on the basis of the above, here are my own opinions on some of the key prizes on offer on Sunday…

Or you can skip through to part 2 for my ranking of these films, and some final words.

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tough-travelingTrue Love

Love has often not been Fantasy’s strong suite – unsurprisingly, perhaps, for a genre for so long primarily marketed at geeky teenage boys. As among many geeky teenage boys, there was sort of an apprehension that love was incredibly important and solved all your problems, but not really too much idea of what exactly it entailed. The love of Aragorn and Arwen, for instance, or of Rosie and Sam, was ideal for a fantasy novel: signposted from the beginning so as not to be a cause of any anxiety or confusion, then conveniently absent while all the exciting stuff was going on so as not to get in the way, and finally dealt with once and for all with a marriage at the end of the book, because as we all know real life ends with marriage…

…but along the way, the genre has produced the odd interesting pairing. Some truly moving; others, just truly disturbing. Here, in accordance with this ‘Tough Travelling’ meme that I keep meaning to participate in but never quite get around to, are a few that I can think of.

All are variants on the idea of ‘true love’ as presented in Fantasy; some may be more loving, or more true, than others. The meme calls for five… I ended up with 13. Well, 14, technically. But then I do way fewer than 1 in 3 of these, so I reckon I’m still in deficit…

Warning: beyond this point lie moderate spoilers for the works of Tolkien, Feist, Wurts, Weiss, Hickman, Eddings, Abrams, McCaffrey, Abrams, Hobb, Jordan, Green, Donaldson, Pratchett, Gentle, and Nyx Smith…

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How I’m currently organising my SF&F on Goodreads…

Something monumental has occured: I have started to organise my Goodreads books by genre.

I tried doing this once before, when I joined GR… but I found the ad hoc categories I’d picked deeply inadequate, and rather than slowly reforming them I just scrapped them all in a fit of pique.

So now I’ve created a different set of ad hoc categories without adequate forethought, and I’ve no doubt it’ll all be different this time.

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Carpe Jugulum, by Terry Pratchett

Just one part of my mammoth Complete Discworld Reread project…

By the twenty-third book in the Discworld cycle, Terry Pratchett is some sort of crop rotation system, regarding his subjects. Granny, Vimes, Susan, Rincewind, Granny, Vimes, Susan, (Vimes), Rincewind… OK, so Jingo dropped in an extraneous Vimes, but the pattern’s pretty clear and inevitably the next book had to be Granny. [And after that, it’ll be Vimes. The Truth will plop in out of sequence, but then it’s Susan and Rincewind again, before the new Maurice book takes the place of Granny…]

So we get another Witches novel for Discworld #23, almost as a matter of course. The problem is, as with The Last Continent, it’s not clear that Pratchett really had any great plan for this installment. Or rather, that’s the superficial problem. The deeper problem is that it’s just not clear that there is anywhere at all for these characters to go from here.

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