This Week in Geek (15-21/11/10)


Loads of stuff this week. I really splurged. In the Doctor Who category, there's Series 5, but also a lot of audio: The soundtracks for last year's Doctor Who specials and Torchwood Children of Earth, which I got not because I thought the music from those was particularly iconic, but because I get them all as a matter of course. Even if I don't wind up listening to them night and day, I'll still be using them to score improv scenes and role-playing sessions. Never a waste. I also got the audios of Doctor Who's Lost TV Episodes, vol.1, which includes Marco Polo, The Reign of Terror, The Crusade, Galaxy 4, The Myth Makers and a bonus interview disc. Much cheaper in this format than getting them separately. I'm that much closer to being able to do an episode of Who a day and never missing a beat (NOT a promise).

For my Asian cinema soirées, I got a number of films: Shaolin Mantis, Forbidden Kingdom, Three Kingdoms and Warriors of Heaven and Earth. I also bought Sherlock Series 1 (which I loved), Scott Pilgrim Saves the World (being the only geek who hasn't seen it yet), Dollhouse Seasons 1 and 2 (turning into a Joss completist here), and Douglas Coupland's newest novel, Player One.


DVDs: Though spiritually Band of Brothers' sequel, The Pacific shows an entirely different reality. If the first HBO mini was about a victory against oppression, this one was about the trauma of war. Where BoB contrasted the war experience with familiar surroundings (European cottages), The Pacific is an alien hellhole filled with mud and rotting bodies. It follows three key Marines whose experiences were well documented, which does mean we jump around a lot more than in BoB and that you shouldn't expect kamikaze planes or the atomic bomb to show up. A worthy successor, and perhaps more experiential than it is narrative, The Pacific won't put a bounce in your step, but it will make you think. You can choose to watch each episode with a 2½ minute historical context, and the extras include interviews with the real-life survivors featured in the mini, a making of featurette and another on the historical and cultural influences that had an impact on the war in the Pacific. A nice, well-executed package with a handsome metal box to match BoB's.

Invisible Target was this week's Kung Fu Friday selection, a Jackie Chan-style police thriller featuring the next generation of action stars (Nicholas Tse, Wu Jing, Shawn Yue) as well as Jackie Chan's son Jaycee (who does not call himself an action star - he still manages to take a lot of hits, so he's a chip off the old block). The three cop heroes don't actually team up until the 45-minute mark, but this doesn't mean the movie's slow. It gives many characters a background, yes, but doles out a lot of action while doing so. A lot of great stunts and fights, even if the plot is a rather straightforward. There are tons of extras on the 2-disc release too. The commentary track features not only expert Bey Logan, but three of the film's English-speaking stars. The director also gets a chance to speak over footage, such as over the deleted scenes (sadly, this means we don't get access to the original sound or subtitles) and the storyboard comparisons (in the only format I've ever liked for this type of feature). There's a making of featurette and another on action choreography, both in Chinese, and interviews with the director and many of the stars (half and half Chinese/English), as well as footage from the premiere. All told, there are at least 3½ hours of material other than the commentary.

Music: How do you "flip" a music CD? Well, by reading the liner notes while listening to each track in a single sitting. I did this for Murray Gold's latest Doctor Who soundtrack, a 2-disc release that covers the 2009 specials. Four stories and two whole discs? As you might imagine, every possible cue is included, as opposed to the variety and "medleys" of previous releases. I never thought the specials' music was all that memorable, personally, and a good listen to the CD confirms that impression. There's maybe one good, distinctive tune per special, with The End of Time providing a little more (in fact, the bulk of it, using up an entire disc. The Next Doctor has its Christmas bells, and Planet of the Ood a jaunty theme. Not very much from Waters of Mars. The End of Time reengineers some beloved themes (like Gallifrey) and adds touching Ood songs to the list of must-haves. Gold's liner notes are sometimes enlightening, are sometimes about how a certain moment made him feel, but usually only tell you which scene the track scored. If I wasn't a completist, I'd have skipped this one.

Hyperion to a Satyr posts this week:
II.ii. New Arrivals


De said...

I haven't seen Scott Pilgrim either. It's been on my to-do list since August :-/

Austin Gorton said...

Excited to hear your thoughts on Scott Pilgrim and Dollhouse.


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