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

Mike Gristand 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 …

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

Mike Gristand how to fix it 10 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 …

Why Cars 2 sucked.

Mike GristBook / Movie Reviews 2 Comments

Recently I saw a photograph of utter Thanksgiving Day excess: a duck stuffed inside a chicken stuffed inside a turkey, slit down through the breast so the meats looked like various layers of sedimentary rock. It was gross, a perversion of the form that you would not want on your dinner table- and it made me think of Cars 2. Cars 2 picks up with the duck; an over-boiled 007 pastiche spy tale forced up the tail-pipe of a hick-in-the-city yarn (sidekick Tow-mater), which is then rammed up the tail-pipe of the original turkey- a sweet kids story about Lightning …

Why Jon Cusack’s ‘Shanghai’ isn’t Casablanca

Mike GristBook / Movie Reviews, Featured Story Leave a Comment

The movie Shanghai wants to be a big hullaballooing tapestry of love, espionage and betrayal in WW2 China, woven through with parallels to Casablanca. What we get though is more gold-threaded doily then Bayeux, knitted with great pomposity from dramatic but impersonal threads, few of which we really come to care about at all. In short, it’s empty. Here’s why. Story Jon Cusack plays Paul Soames, an American spy sent to look into the suspicious death of his buddy spy in the Japanese sector of Shanghai, the last Chinese city not wholly under Japanese control in the middle of World …

Why Sucker Punch sucked

Mike GristBook / Movie Reviews 26 Comments

There are 2 main reasons why Sucker Punch sucked. These reasons have got nothing to do with all the half-naked girls, the cartoon violence, or the complexity of 3 nested worlds. No. Director Zach Snyder would be glad to have any of those problems. He’d love it if they were all we could fault the movie on, especially after the success of movies like Moulin Rouge, 300, and Inception. Nope, the problems are much deeper than that. They’re in the bones of the story, the structure. Sucker Punch is the story of Baby Doll, who within the first 3 minute …

The Farthest Shore

Mike GristBook / Movie Reviews, Writing Leave a Comment

The Farthest Shore by Ursula K. Le Guin was the book I was waiting for in the Earthsea series. After the failure of Tombs of Atuan to capitalize on the tantalizing promise of A Wizard of Earthsea, I was desperate to see this book step up to the plate. Ged had to get out there and fight something big, something so large sacrifices were required, something that was threatening the fabric of the world. And Le Guin delivered. Amen. The Farthest Shore tells the story of magic fading out of Earthsea. Reports come back to Ged, now Archmage on the …

The Tombs of Atuan

Mike GristBook / Movie Reviews 6 Comments

I went into this book not knowing what to expect after A Wizard of Earthsea, which was quite a mixed bag. So much of it was narrative summary, and things only kicked off properly at the very end, as Ged went after the Gebbeth demon. Where would the Tombs of Atuan pick up, after all that was done? Well, it picks up somewhere completely different- with a girl called Tenar, who is a kind of Vestal Virgin to the same dark powers that Ged faced down in the first book. She spends her days roaming Atuan’s undertombs, politicking for power …

A Wizard of Earthsea

Mike GristBook / Movie Reviews 6 Comments

I first picked up this book when I was a kid. I read probably only a few pages, then put it down again, thinking it was boring. I recently picked up the whole series of 4 books at the Blue Parrot (2nd hand book store) and decided to give them a second chance.

The Servants

Mike GristBook / Movie Reviews Leave a Comment

This is more like it. After traisping through the self-indulgent waffle-house that was The Lonely Dead, I felt ready to give up on Michael Marshall Smith, but The Servants proves he’s still got it.
That said, I`ve got some pretty hefty reservations to lodge.