January 2019 Roundup

I’ve decided to be more positive in 2019. I’ll still be talking about my media consumption, but I’ll focus on the media I enjoyed and skip past those I don’t have much to say about or perhaps didn’t enjoy as much. I’m still going to talk about representation, though, as it does feel like it’s slowly but surely improving. Hopefully, those will veer towards positive representation.

I’ve had a very busy birthday month with not quite enough writing time, not quite enough anything time, but despite that I seemed to have found time to read a solid chunk of books.

Writing

I’ve not written as much this month as I’d hoped, mostly due to the aforementioned exceptionally busy month. I’m still working on Codename True Blue and have some good ideas on how to develop it.

Books

Markswoman by Rati Mehrotra was a fast-paced fun read with a fantastic setting. South-Asian setting with detailed world building about assassins of the Order of Kali. They have magical blades, live in a world that is steeped with ‘old world’ technology and their internal politics tears them apart.

Markswoman cover
Markswoman

I’ve had Blackfish City on my to read for a while & I wasn’t disappointed. Orcamancers, politics, environmental issues, class and society, so much more. It’s a deep, complex story that is dense and complex but blossoms into an exceptional story of a huge post-climate change floating city.

Fog season by Patrice Sarath. It was good to rejoin Yvienne and Tesara back in Port Saint Frey. They had been very busy in the first book and it was great to see how that played out in Fog Season. I have a lot of time for these sisters, especially now that they have even more independence and autonomy, and it was fun to see them truly grow once free of the shadow of their parents. I always love heists and deftness of hand and when there is an added sprinkle in hints of magic, it’s exactly right for me. Lots of fun and action and drama with a very satisfying ending.  I’m looking forward to what happens next.

I also powered through Jade City by Fonda Lee, Artemis by Andy Weir, Witches of Lychford by Paul Cornell, The Armored Saint by Myke Cole, Fire & Blood by George R.R. Martin, and a couple of The Expanse novellas.

Films

Stitching together a universe from Unbreakable and Split, Glass with it’s 20 million budget does a lot more than most Marvel films do with their 130-330 million. It’s a drama mostly based in a single location, a psychiatric hospital, and Shyamalan uses that confined space to ratchet up the tension and suspense.  

Glass deconstructs the mythology of superhero comics which seems very timely with the current domination of the box office. There’s a lot of love for the genre, as well as a strong understanding of what is wrong with it. While Mr Glass mostly talks about comics, Shyamalan also recognises the extravagant formula of superheroes films. There are no floating cities/giant beams of light blasting the sky/massive CGI battles here and it’s a stronger film for it.

It changes Unbreakable’s duality of tension between Glass (Samuel L. Jackson) and Dunn (Bruce Willis) by adding in Split’s Crumb (James McAvoy). These three characters end up confined together, examined by expert Dr Staple (Sarah Paulson) who believes they suffer from a superhero delusion. Unbreakable clearly explained that humanity has always aspired to greatness and Dr Staple’s job is to show them that this is all that is happening.

With Casey Cook from Split, Mr Glass’ mother and Dunn’s son from Unbreakable all returning to Glass, they form the emotional core of the film. Their familiarity and sense of grounding added depth to the ending, giving us glimpses of the trios inner lives.

Glass
Glass

While it’s not perfect, it is definitely more interesting, thought-provoking and challenging than most Marvel films, without the multitude of forced jokes. If you enjoyed Unbreakable and Split, then I think you’ll enjoy Glass.

Thanks to my partner researching for a novel, we got through a number of heist films this month. Oceans 12 and Oceans 13 and the British Hatton Garden film King of Thieves were good, strong heists with some great ideas. The Thieves, a South Korean film from 2012, really stood out as unique with multiple heists and character flaws and emotional choices. It was excellent.

We also watched The Hate U Give. I adored this book, told everyone I knew to read it, so I was hopeful that I’d enjoy the film. It was wonderful. The story is simplified a little, but it retains Starr’s brilliant growth and journey, her family moments, the strength of the marches and protests. I wonder if KJ Apap will ever be cast as the man of colour he is, though.

A Simple Favor is a fun film that just oozes the charm of the two leads. It’s almost a B movie with the ridiculous plot, but there are dark humorous moments that really dig into working mums versus stay at home mums. It does feel like the film was originally about the two women falling into a weird obsessive love, but they added in the husband later. The ending is deeply flawed, but I did enjoy the journey.

A Simple Favor
A Simple Favor

TV

I’ve been catching up with season two of Black Lightning which is still good fun. We’ve not quite finished the season so I’ll talk more in February, but I have some hopes about Jennifers character arc.

Season 3 of The Good Place was once more filled with many laughs and much witty commentary but it felt a little more directionless than the previous two seasons. The difference between Eleanor’s bad deeds and the other three has always felt vastly imbalanced, but it doesn’t help that here Eleanor swings between good and not so good, choosing to actively harm people with her destructive tendencies. I hope her growth continues so we see less of it.

The Good Place
The Good Place

It’s clear that season 2 of Star Trek Discovery has a new showrunner. Gone is stylish Bryan Fuller and back to a more Trek-staple Kurtzman. It’s full of ticking clocks and big smashy action. I wasn’t super happy with the treatment of Landry and Ash Tyler in season 1, so I’m watching to see how Ash Tyler plays out now.

The Magicians has just started up again for season 4 and we’re loving it. It’s only two episodes in, but both have been very strong. I’m excited and looking forward to more. Plus, they got renewed for season 5 before the first ep was out! So lots more in the future, too.

Games

I foolishly thought that now I have a PS4 I might try other games, like Spider-man, to stop me letting the console turn into a dusty doorstop like the last one once I finished RDR. What I hadn’t considered was that I might still be playing Red Dead Redemption 2 because it is just that good.

John Marston

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