This Week in Geek (4-10/04/16)

Buys

I got Cubicle 7's last (for now?) specific Doctor sourcebook for the DrWho RPG - the 11th Doctor's, obviously. I'm kind of sorry this won't be happening anymore.

"Accomplishments"

In theaters: Eye in the Sky is a tight military/political thriller about a drone strike operation - yes, only one - taking place over a short lapse of time, but requiring the input of a large ensemble cast, among then Helen Mirren, Alan Rickman (his last full-bodied performance), Aaron Paul, and Barkhad Abdi (from Captain Phillips). Movies are usually very glib about drone strikes, either using them as faceless plot points or as having comedy pilots who think of it as a video game. The premise here is pitched so as to create the perfect situation to highlight the ethical issues, while also presenting the absurdist bureaucracy involved in giving approval. It both makes the drone strike personal and emotional AND cerebral in its contrast of the people on the ground and those who get to see the action on a computer/tv screen. Tense, darkly funny, ironic... Don't let the fact that Wolverine Origins' director made this put you off.

DVDs: Atom Egoyan's The Captive really wants to retread elements of The Sweet Hereafter and Exotica, but doesn't manage those films' resonance. But even when Egoyan fails, I can't help but find him interesting. The story of a young girl, kidnapped by a kiddie porn ring to be a lure for other kids, and the search for her by both her father (Ryan Reynolds) and the cops (including Rosario Dawson), while based on a true crimes story that happened in Ontario, is neither lurid not truly emotional, which will disturb many. And the ending is by no means satisfying, because that's not what Egoyan is interested in. His focus is how little Cass' kidnapping affects the people in her life, the community, and the people who have had her for the last 8 years. Egoyan also adds a layer of paranoia to the story, making you wonder just who is in on the "ring", but the oddness gets to be too much and the artful ambiguities - like wringing captives out of "stories", or the pattern recognition power of one of the cops - don't really find resolution. A conversation piece, so long as you don't need it to end the way a police drama does. The DVD includes Egoyan's usual strong commentary track, a short making of featurette, a few deleted scenes, and an alternate ending.

Warning, the following review of Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation will self-destruct in 5 seconds. It may already be gone. Sorry about that. But in any case, is it really that important? There are no DVD extras on this thing, and I already wrote a review for the movie when it came out in theaters. You can find it in this fragment that somehow survived the auto-destruct. Put your analysts on it. I don't think I changed my opinion since and it was a fun flick to rewatch some months later. Since Ghost Protocol, Mission: Impossible has really become the best version of itself. Frankly, it's because it took all this time to turn into a team franchise rather than a one-man show, which is closer to the original source material and my main gripe with the first three movies. Anyway, this would have been the natural end of the tape. Hopefully you read it in the 5 seconds allowed.

Hua Shan's Soul of the Sword has a formulaic Shaw Brothers plot, but an atypically lyrical, atmospheric and lusty filming style that adds a lot to it. It is the tale of a swordsman obsessed from boyhood with becoming the "King of Swords" by beating the resident, black-clad, masked master. On his journey, he'll fight many swordspeople and inherit a sword haunted by the soul of the last duelist's love who committed suicide with it after he was beaten. And it seems that he's a dead ringer for the duelist, and he's drawn to a woman who looks just like that lost love. But are they doomed to repeat that history, or is he walking a darker path? A very strange film with a tragic undercurrent sometimes at odds with its cartoon action. Not to say the action beats aren't strong, because they truly are, but they get jokey at times despite the story's overall tone. A visually rich delight, it's hard to believe this was made by the same director as Super Infra-Man.

Books: I talked up "Voilà pourquoi cette fille n'est pas ta mère Tome 1" ("And That's Why That Girl Isn't Your Mother vol.1") by improv colleague Justin Guitard not too long ago (see here), and now I've read volume 2, which takes us through the narrator's loves while he was 18 to 21. University is a big element, as is an after-graduation trip, and we meet a dozen more women who didn't not turn out to be his child's mother. The stories are longer, but not necessarily more to my liking. I miss the narrator as a child, making sweet discoveries, as he's grown into a bit of a letch. I find his attitude towards women irksome, but of course, he's not done growing up. And in a bid to make the book seem longer, Justin's publisher has fattened up the font and boosted the page count. It doesn't look as good. A minor point, but there you go. Still some fun stories in here, and a little more drama than in the comedy-filled previous book. We'll see just who IS your mother in September.

Gaming: Played a game of Fiasco using the Salem 1692 playset, a tale of young girls (Hot or Not's DJ Nath and frequent Lonely Hearts contributor Amélie) corrupted by a creepy warlock (me) despite the best attempt to put them back on the right track by their teacher (Art-Girl) who once frolicked with the local coven herself. In the end I was most taken with the sweet emotional relationship between the sisters, who came out on top through sisterly trust and love; and with the ambiguity of the two adult characters, leaving the backstory open to interpretation. Was the slimy Josiah lying or telling the truth? Did the schoolteacher really poison the girls' mother when they were younger, and if so why? We had our ideas and shared them after the game was over, but multiple interpretations were possible. I love that kind of thing. MVP, once again, is Nath. Always good - and surprisingly varied - and I'm sure it helped that both she and Amélie were/are History students. I just acted like I was in The Witch or Outlander, myself.

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