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Friday, October 23, 2015

September 2015 Review Roundup

As part of my effort to read more women and Canadian authors, I've returned to the works of Margaret Atwood. In September that included her 1993 novel The Blind Assassin, a tale of two sisters, one who died young, one in her final years looking back on a turbulent life. The Blind Assassin itself is a novel within a novel within another novel, a soft-SF scientific romance at that; I find it interesting how Atwood users SF tropes here for her own purposes. She's clearly fond of the genre, despite some grumblings from that community about her supposed attitude to science fiction.

September's other standout reading experience was Jane: The Woman Who Loved Tarzan, which I've reviewed here.

After a run of solid-to-sublime Philip K. Dick novels in July and August, I stumbled a little with The Unteleported Man, which is still a good book, but not quite up to the standards of his acknowledged classics. It probably doesn't help that The Unteleported Man is an incomplete version of another novel, Lies, Inc. I'll have to read that one to see how it compares.

September's reading also included the final two-thirds of Jo Walton's alternate history "spare change" trilogy, three Peanuts collections, a better-than-average Star Trek tie-in (J.J. Miller's Takedown), and The League of Regrettable Superheroes, which I thought was a little unfair to Doll Man, but still amusing.

In September I screened the rest of the films cut together from The Man from U.N.C.L.E. television episodes, along with a pretty eclectic collection of film noir, musicals and Best Picture nominees. The worst was certainly Super Fuzz, about a cop with super-powers; badly shot, badly directed, painful dialogue, the works. On the other hand, I found Arch Obler's The Bubble utterly mesmerizing; it's a 3D picture about three people trapped in a town suddenly surrounded by a glass bubble (see Stephen King's Under the Dome for the same concept). Obler does a lot with a small budget; the film is creepy, with an atmosphere of slow, creepy suffocation perfectly in keeping with the given scenario. Excellent 3D effects, too. 1929's The Broadway Melody, a Best Picture nominee, is frankly pretty dull by today's standards, and even I found it a bit of a slog, despite my love of musicals and slower-paced fare. Ishirio Honda delivers dependable Japanese giant monster/space adventure fun with The H-Man and Battle in Outer Space; I never get tired of his work. Murder, My Sweet is one of the best Philip Marlowe movies, with Dick Powell as the hard-boiled private dick in a story with plenty of wonderful noir dialogue, betrayal, fear and cynicism. Great stuff. The Italian Connection serves as an interesting ancestor to Pulp Fiction, given its pairing of ice cold black and white hitmen. Plus Henry Silva gets crushed by a junkyard grappler, which I found amusingly macabre. 

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