Saturday, May 23, 2009

Guy Even Watch French Movies (but rarely)

Le Pacte des Loups (The Brotherhood of the Wolf) from Umvd Studios
One of the more amusing descriptions of this movie was “Crouching Tiger; Hidden Werewolf”. It is not a bad synopsis. The movie is, at its core, a werewolf movie with token gestures towards detective work and period piece. It is also a foreign film (subtitled into English) and, worse yet, it is French. With all of this weighing in against it, why would anyone watch? The answer is surprisingly simple: it’s well-done, and it’s pretty to watch.
The movie is not high art but it is artistic. The plot, though simple, is nuanced in places and well-executed. The straightforward nature of the characters clears the way for the viewer to enjoy the visuals and action. A minimum of complicated dialogue negates much of the distraction caused by subtitling a movie. In short, the movie is just plain fun to watch.
The settings are gorgeous, eccentric, and colorful. The cinematography is occasionally a bit too artsy but overall above average and, at times, brilliantly experimental. The fight choreography is on par with the Hong Kong cinema. The acting is solid and does not get in the way of the film. The use of sound effects and music accentuates the on screen action quite nicely. Though easily overlooked, the placement and timing of the subtitles on screen are a masterful technical stroke which makes the foreign film accessible. The viewer is never presented with the decision between reading dialoged and missing a key element on screen and the subtitles do not distract from the natural flow of the viewing experience.
Le Pacte des Loups is not high cinema but it is one of the most enjoyable werewolf movies since the Howling. Even if werewolves do not appeal to you, the fight scenes are a visual blast worth watching as well.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Guys Read About Imperialism

British Imperialism (Gold, God, Glory) edited by Robin W. Winks
In an age when imperialism and hegemony are considered to somehow be intrinsically evil, it is extremely beneficial to examine the actual track record of these institutions. In addition, for a reader of genre literature, especially period adventures, an understanding of the political context of the time can add considerably to the enjoyment of the work.
British Imperialism is not a singular work by one author or with one perspective. It is a collection of essays addressing the issue from a variety of perspectives, differing emphases, and even written at different points in history from essays written within the British Imperial period to modern critics. It is with this widely variety of approaches that the book achieves a fair and unbiased viewpoint of this issue through a balance of extremes. Economic, moral, and societal pressures are each examined as driving forces in the establishment of the imperial colonial mindset. The end result is far from the modern posturing of academic historians who present the matter with a kind of moralistic proselytizing. The book instead leaves the reader with objective information and historical context from which it is the reader rather than the history professor who is left to assess the Empire upon which the sun never set.

Related Reading:
The Fall of Rome edited by Mortimer Chambers
Napoleon III (Man of Destiny) edited by Brison D. Gooch

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Updating, at last

Once again, I update what I've seen the Thin Man reading. (It's not a complete list because I miss a lot of stuff and we live in and out of boxes but it does give you some insight into his total lack of focus.)

Wild Seed by Octavia Butler
Destroyer #44: Balance of Power by Warren Murphy
Predators edited by Gorman and Greenberg
Angel by Garry D. Kilworth
Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand by Sam Delany
Good Neighbors by Holly Black
Stony Man #70: Ramrod Intercept presented by Don Pendleton
How the Irish Saved Civilization by Thomas Cahill
Worlds in Collision by Immanuel Velikovsky
Real Men Don’t Apologize by Jim Belushi
Falcon by Emma Bull
Brave New World and Brave New World Revisited by Aldous Huxley
Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett
Doomstalker by Glen Cook
Heir Apparent by Vivian Vande Velde
Short Story Masterpieces edited by Warren and Erskine