Monthly Archives: January 2013

Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey

Urban fantasy is well known for being a cess-pit of terrible writing produced by stunted, illiterate racists. It’s possibly the single most worthless genre in all of fiction. So of course when I was offered a copy of Sandman Slim by the proprietor of  Requires Only That You Hate I jumped at the chance. Partially this was due to the front cover blurb describing the book as a “dirty-ass masterpiece” which is quite possibly the least appealing endorsement I’ve ever seen. I feel like I should be wearing gloves every time I pick up my eReader.

It turns out “dirty” is a pretty accurate description of this thing, but not in the way I think Richard Kadrey intended.

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Django Unchained and the Caucasian escape hatch

I saw Django Unchained today. I have some thoughts on it.

This is going to be short because I’m suffering from a wicked cold and am theoretically supposed to be studying for exams at the moment. Much like with Far Cry 3 it will going to consist of a positive review and a somewhat less positive take on the aspects of the movie that made me feel a bit uncomfortable (which will have spoilers by the way).

So, the review. I liked it! I liked it a lot. Quentin Tarantino is one of those film makers whose output I have consistently enjoyed even though I can’t stand to look at or listen to the actual director himself without wanting to reach into the screen and pull his eyelids off. All of those things that Tarantino does- deliberate anachronisms, adoption of low-budget 70s/80s film-making styles (spaghetti western and blaxploitation in this case), long taut conversations where one or more characters doesn’t know that another character knows something they aren’t supposed to know culminating in a brief orgy of ridiculous violence, really damn long running times that you don’t notice, an ending that gets a little too goofy for its own good- it’s all present and accounted for here and while I didn’t have quite as good a time as I did with Inglorious Basterds I still enjoyed the movie tremendously. I don’t know what sort of rapport Tarantino has with his actors but he’s consistently able to get excellent performances, even when featuring people I haven’t found particularly impressive in non-Tarantino roles (see: pretty much everyone in Kill Bill). Cristoph Waltz is once again getting the lion’s share of the attention, but it was Jamie Foxx’s portrayal of Django that really impressed me. He goes in for a wonderfully subtle performance  that seems to have been lost on some reviewers, playing Django as a character so emotionally repressed that the bulk of the character’s internal rage and desperation is communicated solely through his eyes.

There were some aspects of the movie that alienated me slightly. The visual flair that Tarantino showed with Inglorious Basterds, and in particular an appreciation of the use of colour, is only partially present here as the movie takes place largely in plantation manor houses that have adopted a sort of antebellum gilded age aesthetic that I personally found a little hard on the eyes. The dialogue also isn’t quite as smart here, with none of the verbal show-downs matching any of the really good ones from Basterds. And like I said, Tarantino’s habit of getting a little carried away toward the end of his movies is in full effect here, with the last half hour of the movie dropping a lot of the character depth and nuance in favour of shoot all the guys, which is fun and wonderfully cathartic but ends up making the movie feel slightly less than the sum of its parts.

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