Why ‘Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close’ only whimpered at a distance

MJG and how to fix it 25 Comments

I went into this movie with a great deal of anticipation after being wowed by the trailer; a lean and emotionally charged montage of a young boy’s epic journey around New York, set to the pulse-thumping, heart-string twanging strains of U2’s ‘Where the Streets have No Name’. Even from that trailer alone I was getting choked up. The very notion of it, this hopeless but hopeful quest, the urgency the boy addresses it with, the uniting of all these various people through loss and the promise of regrowth- seemed a no-fail winner. But it failed. I’ll explain why shortly. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close tells the story of the near-Aspergic boy Oskar Schell, whose father (Tom Hanks) handled his social …

Why Pathfinder lost its way – book review

MJG All Reviews, Science Fiction

★★ Orson Scott Card’s books vary enormously in quality- when he’s good he’s genius; tying intricate plotting with fascinating inner monologues, cumulative story development, and a real sense of threat (a la Pastwatch, early Alvin Maker, early Ender and Bean), but when he’s bad he’s atrocious; padding his ‘stories’ with bantery filler, gross over-explanation, and a distasteful kind of sexualized potty humour. Ugh. His latest fantasy/sf novel ‘Pathfinder‘ falls into both camps, though not in equal measure. In short, it was disappointing. Pathfinder tells the story of Rigg, a boy with the ability to see the paths of all living things backwards through time, kind of like the silver slug trails in Donnie Darko. This premise is certainly the most …

Why Haruki Murakami’s ‘1Q84’ is all Q and no A

MJG and how to fix it 9 Comments

For years now I’ve been waiting to read Haruki Murakami’s latest magnum opus 1Q84. It was released in Japan two years ago, it came out in Korean a year back (when SY read it), and now it’s finally come out in English- one massive tome 900 pages long, some 400,000 words in length, comprised of three books, which I’ve spent the last few weeks plowing through. And, it’s kind of genius. With some very long stretches that suck. I’ll qualify that in a minute. First I’ll tell you what it’s all about. There’s a boy and a girl, Tengo the writer and Aomame the hit girl, who held hands once when they were ten years old and were deeply affected …

Pros / Cons of Life in Japan #1 Walking

MJG Japan, Pro / Con 28 Comments

City-walking is both an art and a science. As any seasoned city-walker knows (I’m looking at you, New York), success depends on an endless stream of complex crowd-motion algorithms executed with the balletic grace of Neo slow-dodging bullets. Like a persistent spermatazoa wriggling for the egg, we city-walkers waggle, chicane, and drive our way through the crowds of human dreck that litter our path. However in Japan, more specifically in Tokyo, all those fancy commutation computations may be rendered inert by a single oblivious breed. CON? THE WALK-IN-FRONTER Everybody knows there are two (or more) lanes on the sidewalk, just as there are on the highway. One side is for the slow-walkers, the other for overtaking. Extreme over-takers may even …