Lost Japan

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Lost Japan is an ode to an idealized, forgotten, and headily cultural past, written by an inveterate literati to whom pure artistic beauty is one of the loftiest goals imaginable. In this book we see the gentle beginnings of bugbears for the author that in time would evolve into the strident arguments of his masterwork- ‘Dogs and Demons: The Fall of Modern Japan’. But where that book is fiercely angry and relevant, this one is reverent, gushing, and more than a little soft around the edges. Lost Japan was first published in 1993 in Japanese, a collection of biographical shorts …

Looking for the Lost

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Looking for the Lost is one man’s swansong for the ancient vestiges of rural Japan, a multi-threaded tramp through history and culture in search of something perhaps impossible to find. Our narrator Alan Booth rambles on foot through some of the remotest hills and valleys in the country, legend-tripping the paths taken by various historical figures. He is invariably exhausted, blistered, and sodden with rain, mocked by school-children and construction workers, set upon by alternatingly fierce and friendly mama-sans, in whose company he is witty, gently drunk, erudite, and hailed as a bit of a celebrity in the karaoke booth. …

The Raw Shark Texts

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The Raw Shark Texts is an experimental idea of a story in book form. The raw ingredients encompass just about every sizzling modern experiment of a story that preceded it: a pinch of Fight Club, two sprigs of the Matrix finely chopped, three cupfuls of House of Leaves, a smattering of Cryptonomicon, a generous dose (at least 6oz) of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind infused with essence of Memento, all whirl-chopped in a blender, salted with textual decoration, baked in a easter-egg kiln and served up à la mode. What am I talking about? Well, I’m talking about a …

Doomsday – 0.5/5

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What a load of garbage. Doomsday is an adolescent male’s mash-up fantasy of a bunch of other post-apocalypse SF-type movies, executed abysmally, with some of the worst writing I’ve seen.  Take large chunks of 28 weeks later and Escape from New York, mix liberally with dashes of Mad Max, Resident Evil, and Lara Croft, throw in a little Alien- set the whole thing in some 80’s vision of the future (2023) with both cannibal hedonist street punks AND medieval knights living in castles, and this is what you get. We open with a lot of voice-over, similar to 28 weeks …

The Mist – 1/5

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Frank Darabont directed the Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, and now The Mist. It’s a story about a dense white mist that rolls down on a small American (Canadian?) town, bearing all kinds of nasty critters within it. Well- I didn’t like it. I didn’t believe it. It wasn’t so much the SF- though the spouting of garbage like ‘interdimensional rifts’ should only be done with proper preparation, and only if necessary, and in this it wasn’t either. Rather it was the characters acting like idiots, wimps, and cowards. The hero starts off like a hero. He takes fairly fast action, …

Eastern Promises – 2.5/5

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A movie in which Viggo Mortensen pretends to be Russian. Slow, with a core of exploitative horror. Slow acting, slow speaking. Nothing much to care about. Some disturbing visuals, seemed gratuitous- they showed us because they could. The bath-house scene everyone raves about- just made me feel like his attackers were pretty stupid, like WWE wrestlers. One-note, a slow simmering Cthulhu-like horror underneath the thin skein of normal reality- overdone I felt. The movie coasted along thinking itself important and valuable. The twist- I felt ludicrous, and unnecessary. 2.5 out of 5. Watch it only if you have nothing else …

The Golden Compass

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Garbage. I’d heard from various reports that this movie wasn’t good, so my expectations were already lowered, but still it completely underwhelmed. It had none of the dread of the book. None of the ominous thick sense of foreboding. It was by the numbers, over-lit, over clean, overly orchestrated garbage. What a shame. The book is amazing. The book evokes real emotion. I don’t remember precisely, but in the book I feel we follow Lyra fairly exclusively. It is the world from her point of her view. And so- it is a world full of mystery, intrigue, deception, and also …

The West Wing

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I got done a few days ago watching my way through the whole of the West Wing. That’s 7 seasons, 22-24 episodes per season, 45-ish minutes per episode, so some 160 episodes, some 100-odd hours of TV. That’s a lot of TV time. Imagine if I’d been writing all that time?! Anyway- I really enjoyed it. It was like being with the crew of the Next Generation’s Enterprise again. The West Wing is the ship, the staff are the crew, and the adventures come to them in the same way the Enterprise went to the adventures. Politics, action, even military …

Into the Wild

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I first heard about the book ‘Into the Wild’ from my Global Issues teacher, when I was taking a Gap Year in a US high school back in 1999. She said I reminded her of the main character- Christopher McCandless. At the time I didn’t know what that meant. I didn’t know anything about Christopher McCandless. I wondered why she compared me to him, generally I thought it was a positive thing- she said he was a bright young guy who sucked the marrow out of life- but there was an edge to it that I didn’t quite understand. I …

There Will Be Blood

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A movie about a psycho. A psycho so badly damaged/deranged/lunatic that he can’t love anything, can’t value anything, and drives everyone and everything away from him. It’s hard to say much more because to say much more infers the ending. When dealing with such a bastard- is there any hope of salvation? Of atonement or forgiveness? Well, I won’t say. But I’ll go so far as to say that both atonement and forgiveness pre-suppose contrition. And in this man we see no contrition. We see only black madness staring back out at us. We see someone so afraid of failure, …