At first glance, there are relatively few similarities between Brick and The Brothers Bloom. Brick is a self-consciously dour noir film about ruined masculinity. The Brothers Bloom is an ostentatiously colorful heist film about the power of stories. There seems very little that one can conclude about things like Rian Johnson’s style based on them. This is, of course, pretty much all a director can hope for after their second film. Make two similar films or, worse, more or less the same film twice and you’re pigeonholed. Make a surprisingly dark high school noir and then turn around and make a quasi-Wes Anderson heist film, on the other hand, and you’re well on your way towards seriousness.
Brick was a good film. The Brothers Bloom, on the other hand, is a great one - one I instantly fell in love with when it finally came through Gainesville on its meandering limited release tour. Looking back at it, I realize it must have been a small and quiet influence on TARDIS Eruditorum, with “there’s no such thing as an unwritten life, only a badly written one” getting to the point a solid year before “we’re all stories in the end; just make ...
It's the sort of week where the Waffling's a day late, basically. The extra work of Doctor Who S10 has me typically behind on everything, and I'm scrambling to get back going on things. (I'm working on long-term fixes for my workload, but they're necessarily long term.) Anyway, in light of the fact that I'm awful and behind on everything I can't really complain too loudly that we're $17 a week shy of me doing Game of Thrones reviews, but I figure I should be clear that those look like they're not happening and like I'll get to actually watch the show with Jill consistently.
But I did want to mention some other Patreons. For instance, Sam Keeper's Patreon, from which you can get her fabulous new book on Star Wars. Or Jack Graham's, which is $14 away from dragging him kicking and screaming back to watching Doctor Who. If you don't decide to throw money at the likely doomed Game of Thrones goal, well, those are great places to throw it instead. (Of course, you could also just fund all of us. But I know ...
At long last, here is Part 1 of an extra-special Shabcast, in which I am joined by the brilliant Sam Keeper, of Storming the Ivory Tower, to chat about Star Wars, with particular emphasis on Rogue One.
Very pleased with this one. There were some technical difficulties with it, but I've hammered it into eminently listenable shape.
Part 2 next week.
Here are Sam's articles on Rogue One:
and here is her announcement of the upcoming (expanded and revised) collection of these essays (plus bonus content).
I sit down with one of my favorite nonfiction writers, John Higgs, to talk about The Doctor Falls. Then, after a brief secret message from the future, I interview him about his new book Watling Street: Travels Through Britain and its Ever-Present Past, a psychogeographic tour of the oldest road in Britain. One that, notably, runs up Shooter's Hill and through Northampton. You can download that here, and you can buy Watling Street on Amazon here. It's not got a US publisher, so if you're US based you'll have to import it. It's worth it.
Cheating a little bit this week as I teased and released this video two weeks back, but because of E3, the Elder Kings livestream and Zelda (not to mention the effort it took to record this video), plus some personal stuff, I couldn't get a second video out in time for today. I wanted to do a video on Titanic: Honor and Glory's new demo, which just came out, but given that thing is 6 gigabytes and I have joke Internet, downloading, installing and learning it in time to record, edit and upload a video on it wasn't going to happen in a week. Did get some stuff on the Steam Summer Sale, and hopefully some of that will show up on the channel someday soon.
But hey, this should still be new to many of you.
A "superplay" is what we used to call a tool-assisted speedrun without the tool assits. It's what we did to hone our focus back before people could add hacking tools to video games. It is a finely tuned runthrough of a video game level based on personal familiarity with and mastery of a game's mechanics and layout ...
I first encountered the work of Rian Johnson while reading about Terry Gilliam’s My Neighbor Totoro remake Tideland on Wikipedia, where I stumbled across the factoid that Johnson had declared it and Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain to be the two best films of 2006. This claim was notable for being A) self-evidently correct and B) a completely insane statement that nobody but me would actually make. And so I was immediately fascinated by this previously unheard of filmmaker and decided that, on the basis of his taste alone, I’d check out his existent film, a high school noir called Brick. (Also, it was only like $5 on Amazon.) Since then I’ve followed his career on the general logic that he was going to get really big some day. Which, sure enough, he did, so let’s put that knowledge to populist use. (And I’ll just spoil it up front, my favorite Johnson film is The Brothers Bloom, my least favorite is Looper.)
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Brick is that it isn’t funny. Sure, there are moments that are humorous - the recurring urgent discussions about who people eat lunch with, for instance, or any scene whatsoever with the Pin’s mother ...
There’s probably a few people who wanted something more like Blink (or, more plausibly, The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang) out of Moffat’s last finale, but it’s hard to imagine what more you could actually ask from it. It’s an episode that has at least one big moment catering to virtually every sensible aesthetic of Doctor Who and one or two of the dumb ones too - the rare thing that manages to solidly delight both GallifreyBase fandom and queer Tumblr fandom. (Although the Moffat Hate crowd is managing to treat Harold’s misogyny as the voice of the author because of course they are.) Entirely separate from any questions of ranking or comparison, it’s self-evidently successful as a finale, anchoring Series 10 as firmly in the “good” column.
Now for comparisons. The obvious point of comparison is The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End, the equivalent “finale before the era-ending regeneration” story from the Davies era. It’s not that it’s quiet per se - it’s a multi-Master story, after all. But it’s quiet in comparison. Its defining decision, in many ways, is having the Doctor’s big speech be delivered to Missy and Harold, a quiet speech about kindness and decency in which the Doctor ...