10 September 2014

Quickie Review: THE ONE I LOVE (2014)

If I had it to do over, I'd Netflix this one but I definitely wouldn't pass it up. If you liked 2012's Safety Not Guaranteed, you'll probably like The One I Love. There's something to be said for a movie that resists being described in other reviews because to do so even in the slightest would spoil it.

Other reviews have noted similarities to (and the film actually name-checks) The Twilight Zone, and it does so as more than simply a code for "something freaky's going on here." The film's plot absolutely feels like something out of a Richard Matheson episode. And of course, I can't even reference which Matheson episodes came to mind as I watched this, because spoilers.

The one thing this film has over a Twilight Zone episode is the feeling the film's resolution leaves me with, which I can only describe as the same feeling described by Bruce Sterling in his oft discussed and debated definition of "slipstream," namely "...a kind of writing which simply makes you feel very strange; the way that living in the twentieth century makes you feel, if you are a person of a certain sensibility."  If slipstream is that form which is, as it's said, "some degree of the surreal, the not-entirely-real, or the markedly anti-real" then I'd definitely call this a slipstream film.

03 September 2014

Quickie Review: FRANK (2014)

I admit it, I watched this film because I caught the trailer a week or so ago at the local art house theater, and was captivated by the head...

Inspired by Chris Sievey's persona of Frank Sidebottom and the time the co-screenwriter Jon Ronson spend in Sievey's band, the film is about far more than the eponymous character wearing a big head, in the same way that any (good) band is more than the sum of its parts.  Frank shows the complexity of the chicken-and-egg question about the origin of creativity. And then it complicates the question further by throwing in the the added dimension of collective artistic expression; this is about a band, after all. Think of it as a po-mo version of The Commitments where you spend less time cheering for band, and more time going back and forth between "WTF?" and "Huh, that's kinda deep."

I don't think it's spoilery to say the band breaks up.  C'mon, it's a band movie--when was the last time a movie band didn't implode? But Frank might surprise you a bit with the whys and hows of the breakup, and might also surprise you with how the breakup leaves you feeling.

01 September 2014


BITE: An Anthology of Flash FictionBITE: An Anthology of Flash Fiction by Katey Schultz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A good number of pieces here actually didn't hit me the way I like flash stories to hit me. Possibly I'm a little inured to that these days. And yet when I considered each piece and what I took away, I discovered a few stories with layers of subtlety. Yes, I realize not every piece of flash fiction has to slap me in the face to be effective. And yet, it was a little difficult for me to distinguish some of the slower-burning pieces with pieces that only fit the flash rubric in terms of minimal word count. Those latter pieces might be complete stories, but they could've been told--might as well have been told--in two or three or five thousand words. There were gems from some of "the usual suspects" in flash fiction that I like to read: Bruce Holland Rogers, Tara Masih, Sherrie Flick, Tom Hazuka, et al. But my joy at reading those stories was tempered by the ones that didn't impress so much. I'm rating this 4 stars, but it's really closer to 3.6 for me.

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