Monday, September 28, 2009

_The Time-Traveler's Wife_ , "Howl's Moving Castle", and other old reviews rescued from MySpace

(Originally posted on 3/22/06.)
When I started my old MySpace blog, I was on the hunt for a decent book. I had quite a few disappointments, even giving up on books that had been highly recommended to me. So I halfheartedly pick out a book I'd seen at the Library for some time now that looked kind of interesting, Audrey Niffenegger's The Time-Traveler's Wife. Go figure, it ended up being the first book in a long time that, about three chapters in, I had to do the Neverending Story thing with. (Neverending Story thing = Locking oneself in an attic and finishing a thoroughly amazing and engrossing book in one go. You know what that's like don't you?
Don't you?
I am a nerd.)
This is a book that made me laugh, it made me sob, it made me blush, and it made me shudder and - this is the kicker right here - the f___er made me think. And best of all, it made me think in the same way that my favorite truly thought-provoking fantastic fiction made me think. It takes a worn out fantasy concept and treats it with all-out seriousness, daring to ask what living with this fantastic element would really be like. (What I mean by this is, for example, that we learn the sometimes kinky, more often heartbreaking, and darn near always hellishly confusing and upsetting ramifications of quantum sex.) Imagine a good mash-up of "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind", "The Sixth Sense", and "Memento". It's an emotional and mental workout, but it is well worth it.
And if I haven't sold you yet, there is the fact that your secret loathing of Bob Seger's "Old Time Rock-n-Roll" is finally vindicated in this book. Yes.

I must now heap praise upon Hayao Miyazaki's "Howl's Moving Castle", which is on DVD this week. Now, If you're ever going to trust me on any movie recommendations, trust me on this. The Studio Ghibli films are Anime for people who don't think they like Anime. Everything Disney nailed in their heyday can be found here. I highly recommend you check them out.
"Howl" is Miyazaki's latest triumph. Dude must be sick of hearing that. Doesn't he get bored of making superior movies? The characters are absolutely delightful and I love how there are more interesting things going on in any given background painting than some animators put into an entire feature. (It's almost poignant seeing the "Chicken Little" teaser trailer on this DVD.) That said, it might not be the best place to start for newbies; I say start with "Kiki's Delivery Service". It's my favorite (if I have to pick) and the most easily accessible of his films. From there, watch "My Neighbor Totoro" (one of the best children's films ever and just released on DVD), then try "Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind" and "Princess Mononoke" (two of the great action-fantasy Animes of all time), and then "Laputa: The Castle in the Sky", "Howl's Moving Castle", and "Spirited Away" (surreal fairy-tale fantasies). And keep an eye out for "Little Nemo" - an underrated Studio Ghibli production but one of my favs.
Incidentally, I have to mention something about "Howl" that I find very, very strange: some critics have said that the plot is too convoluted. Honestly, I didn't find it any more hard to follow than other Anime. Whatever, dudes. Next you'll be complaining that chocolate tastes too good or something.

I got two strange animated films from the fifties at an evil supermarket for a dollar. They were "Panda and the Magic Serpent" and "Adventures of Mr. WonderBird". And they were actually pretty good.

And finally, I watched "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" on DVD. Dad and I both agreed that it was pretty good. We also both agreed that, although we know the work that the person in charge of condensing the "Brick" Harry Potters into films has cut out for him, it was very strange some of the things left out. The SPEW subplot is an obvious example. But where was the payoff to the Rita Skeeter subplot? And for cryin' out loud, how come we didn't get to watch the Quidditch World Cup or how the other Triwizard Champions battled their dragons? Honestly, as I was reading the book all those years ago, I was secretly thinking to myself, "You just know J.K. put this in because it'll look kickass in the movie." The more I think of it, the more disappointed I am...
I might have fully transformed into a Harry Potter nerd right there. Hang on...
Iorek Lives!!!
That's better.

I've rescued a few old posts from MySpace and they'll be popping up over the next month.
And, there's a new review at The New Realm. Starting next month, there will be new reviews (or shamelessly recycled features with some new material) every week!
AND, I've uploaded a bunch of new art (and older art that I'd unintentionally hidden from myself earlier this crazy summer) at Flickr. Here is a sample, and you may consider it blatant foreshadowing of a future article:

4. Revenge of the Nibblers

In sillier news, did you get Oak's Letter yet?

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