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Fall Review Roundup

Here's a brief, non-inclusive list of things that have happened since I wrote my last review: I had a birthday, Jason had a birthday, the seasons changed, I shot my first wedding, and my daughter was born.  I also read five books and saw three movies.  Here are some quick takes, just to help me get caught up:

The Wise Man's Fear: After such a strong debut and after waiting impatiently for as long as I did, I was a little worried that the second installment of Patrick Rothfuss's Kingkiller Chronicle wouldn't live up to my hopes. I needn't have worried, though--this second chapter may be even better. I'm not sure how Rothfuss will be able to wrap up this series in just one more book--there seems to be so much story still untold--and I'm sure that it will be years yet before I get to find out, but, man, I'm hooked. (Read 6/26/11 - 6/30/11.)

Manhood for Amateurs: I received this as a birthday present from a friend of mine who has very good taste in books, and who paid me the incredible compliment of telling me that she chose this for me because it reminded her of my writing. Having read it, I can kind of see what she means, in that the essays in this collection are about the same sorts of things that I tend to think and write about: fatherhood, American culture, pivotal moments of his youth and young adulthood. The difference is in the quality of writing--it almost seems impossible but his prose is both unmistakeably in his voice, so particular to himself, but at the same time so resonant and familiar that it felt like he was reading my mind. Suffice it to say, if you enjoy the stuff I write here, you will love this book. (Read 7/6/11 - 8/15/11.)

Cars 2: It seems thin praise, but mostly what I can think to say about this movie is that it's not as bad as everybody said it was. Sure, there wasn't much to it, a lot of the milieu didn't make sense, and the first movie was better. But it was a fun little diversion, and Jason liked it enough that he's still talking about some of the characters three months later. (Viewed 7/9/11.)

Winnie the Pooh: I wish I could tell you more about this movie, but I fell asleep about 20 minutes in, and didn't wake up until the credits rolled. What I do remember seemed a little smug in its postmodernity--the movie is presented as a book being read, and it breaks the fourth wall several times by having the characters interact with the printed text of the book--but the characters were mostly as I remembered them and Jason liked it. ("Viewed" 7/17/11.)

Storm Front and Fool Moon: One of my co-workers loaned me the first two books in Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series, and I tore through both of them in three days. They were, as he presented them, quite fluffy but very fun reads. Urban fantasy isn't typically one of my favorite genres, but I enjoyed the characters and the fast-paced, action-mystery plots, and I'm looking forward to picking up the rest of the series one of these days. (Read 8/16/11 - 8/18/11.)

The Lion King: Ever since we got that CD of Disney songs for Jason, I've been excited for him to see The Lion King, and he's been excited as well. When it came to theaters in advance of the Blu-Ray release (I could go on and on about how much I hate the whole concept of the Disney Vault, but that didn't stop me from snapping up the Diamond Edition as soon as it became available) we headed over to our local cineplex, where we found that the only showing at a good time for us was in the 3D theater. Which is unfortunate, because this movie was really not well-served by being re-done in 3D. Let's leave aside the argument that 3D is gimmicky and distracting and potentially migraine-inducing--the bigger problem is that the 3D version is way too dark. This is a movie that is all about bright, beautiful, cinematic scenes, and to have it all smothered and dulled by light-eating 3D glasses is just shameful. It looks better on my TV at home, and that's just not right. (Viewed 9/17/11.)

I do have one more book left to review, but since I just finished it a couple of days ago I'm going to let it marinate a bit more and give it its own post, hopefully next week.  Until then, have a happy Halloween!

Just a little administrative note: I'm no longer part of Amazon's affiliate program, so I no longer receive a commission for sales through links on this site.  The links are there now only as a convenience to you.

Comments

JT:

Just a head's up, man: every link in this post after the first two is broken. Extra http's, and some of them preceded by http://sakeriver

Holla!

Teshi:

Concerning Winnie the Pooh-- it's bizarre you hear to describe it as postmodern. The original Winnie the Pooh animations included all those features and it wasn't a postmodern gimmick, it was lovely.

For your viewing entertainment and education:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dbyO-iPb7xo&feature=related

Nothing pompous, just delight.

TheTick:

I was just coming here to say what Teshi pointed out. They got away from the storybook stuff as years went on, but the earliest movies had the narrator/characters interacting with the book itself stuff.

Mike Sakasegawa:

Well, perhaps "postmodern" isn't quite right in this case--I admit I had forgotten about the older movies' use of that device. I'm not sure that it's entirely wrong, though. Certainly those movies don't predate postmodernism as a literary and artistic movement. "Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day" is from 1968, but postmodernism is generally thought to have begun during or just after World War II. And the use of metafictive elements is something that was, if not invented by postmodernists, certainly popularized by them. It's a little hard for me to imagine that a filmic device that specifically foregrounds the dual filmic and literary nature of the story wasn't at least influenced by postmodernism. And I also don't think that postmodernism precludes playfulness, though I would agree that the Winnie-the-Pooh movies don't have the ironic or bleak edge that you'd normally associate with postmodernism. (How many times can I use that word in one comment? Postmodernism.) In the case of the new movie, though, in the context of the 60's films this shows to be less about playing around with the medium (a distinctly postmodern kind of thing to do) and more about nostalgia. OK, or maybe I'm just talking out of my butt. (As an unrelated side note, I really need to put in the ability for line breaks in comments.) (And thanks for the catch, JT. I've fixed the links now.)

Puffy Treat:

I was very pleased that they based the new film on actual A.A. Milne stories not used in the original 60s and 70s features.

O wouldn't describe it as smug. More joyfully sweet.

And Craig Ferguson made a great Owl/

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