- Onibaba (1964) – Oct 8 and 9 at 7 PM and 9 PM
- Kuroneko (1968) – Oct 15 and 16 at 7 PM and 9 PM
- Kwaidan (1964) – Oct 23 and 24 at 7 PM only
- Hausu (1977) – Oct 29, 30 and 31 at 7 PM and 9 PM
Batman Live is a combination of live theater, Cirque De Soliel, special effects and a jumbotron. I’d say 70% theater, and 30% of the circus stunts you know and love – trapeze, balancing, tumbling, rope climbing, ribbonwork, stilts and more. The show had some of the most amazing stage effects I’ve seen. The batmobile looked great, and the rocket launcher was incredible. Real fire and pyrotechnics make any stage performance better. Neil Simon should make a note of this.
But the best prop in the show was an enormous LCD panel that took up the entire backdrop, probably three stories high, and in the shape of the batman logo. This was used to great effect, for not only a backdrop for each scene that included motion (ex: Wayne manor got closer as characters walked toward it.) It also provided video transitions between scenes including some animated sequences.
Batman Live won’t change anyone’s life, but it was an amazing show. Obviously, those who like comic books and cartoons are going to enjoy this more, since it is less of a Circus themed with Batman characters, and more of a Batman play spiced with circus tricks and FX. If you have kids between six and sixteen who enjoy action cartoons, this is a great way to introduce them to theater. Older theater-goers will find this a refreshing break from Shakespeare.
Real horror is much more insidious and simple. It’s everyday life. It’s Real. It’s your neighbor, and I don’t mean the recluse at the end of the street. It’s the friendly one right next door to you with the new car and the nice lawn. It’s the girl at the front desk who wears gaudy, floral print dresses and smells of marijuana and greets you every morning with a lopsided smile. It’s the clean-cut bartender who you didn’t even get a good look at, but who just took your drink order.
It’s the chance encounter of a moody teenager and an old, blind man fishing on the bank of a stream in Ireland.
Writer/Director Randal Plunkett gets it. He calls his short film Walt an “Irish Fairy Tale Horror” film.
James suffers from neglect at home, until he meets Walt. Walt encourages him to learn how to fish, but he is not all that he seems.
As I watched the trailer for Walt it seemed like a charming tale about real people. Hopeful. Maybe even heartwarming. That is… until around the :49 second mark. Watch the trailer for yourself. You’ll feel it. The shift in the music. A sense of wrongness, although everything on the screen seemed fine. Normal.
Then, around the 1:00 min mark, the words “We die a bit to live again” come on the screen. And then you know. This is not right. Make sure to watch to the very end of the trailer.
Walt weighs in at 25:00 minutes, and like the trailer, it takes its time, drawing you in, letting you get emotionally invested in the characters and their relationships, and letting the words “this is a horror film” percolate in the back of your mind. The story is simple, as a fairy tale should be.
Walt was filmed at Dunsany Castle estate in Ireland. Most of the film takes place outside, where lush trees and rolling greens border a gurgling, rocky creek. John E Regan excels as Walt, a cheerful, blind retiree, spending his days fishing in the stream. Cian Lavelle-Walsh plays a troubled teen named James, and Sorcha Lavelle-Walsh has a smaller part as James friend from school, Shane Kennedy and Hannah-Leanne Crowley play a couple schoolkids. That’s it.
Technically, the movie is very well done. Nice, clear picture and clean sound. ADR, foley, sound fx, and score are all high quality. I only wish there were some wider shots of the gorgeous Irish countryside. I think Randal should put a helicopter on his Amazon wish list.
The only weakness I can find is the same thing that makes the movie so frightening: it builds up slowly, and some may not be used to that. I felt paranoid for the first half of the film, waiting for something to jump out, and watching for signs foreshadowing the horror to come. The sense of wrongness is there, but very subtle. As I said, this is what makes Walt a real horror film. When the horror happens, it isn’t a gory blood-fest explosion of Quentin Tarrantino violence. This is a Fairy Tale after all.
Five people and a riverbank, and Randal Plunkett pulls together an Irish Fairy Tale Horror film that not only won the best drama award at the LIT film festival, but would give Stephen King nightmares. So for a refreshing change, put away that overblown Hollywood horror film and give Walt a watch.
Barbara talks with the MNSpec writer’s group about her experience with the publication process of picture books — from original concept, to working with editors and illustrators, to marketing and getting the word out.
I met Emma Bull at the 4th St Fantasy Writer’s Convention a couple years ago, and aside from being an inspiration and a great writer, Emma is also a spitfire and a sweetheart. I was saddened to hear boingboing.net report that both Emma Bull and Steven Brust were in the hospital having operations on the same day.
For those who don’t know, both Emma and Steven are both Speculative Fiction writers from Minnesota. They were in the now defunct folk-rock band, Cats Laughing, and they are also members of the local fiction writers’ group known as the Scribblies, who founded the 4th Street annual Writer’s Convention. Their combined writings pioneered the Urban Fantasy genre, especially Emma’s War for the Oaks, which is set here in Minneapolis.
Now you probably guessed that Urban Fantasy Authors and Health Insurance go together like Coffee and Fish, which is to say, they do not. And although Steven Brust reports he does have some health coverage, I suspect having a defibrillator installed in your chest can’t be cheap or comfortable. And unless Emma has her own self-funded health care plan, I bet her thyroidectomy is going to take a bite out of those Urban Fantasy royalties.
Fellow author Scott Lynch has volunteered to forward profits from his pay-what-you-want book Queen of the Iron Sands to help with Emma and Steve’s medical expenses, and probably get them more financial relief than buying their individual works, but every little bit helps. Prayers, comments, positive thoughts, links to cute dog/cat videos on youtube, etc… But just as importantly, you can help by spreading the word. Emma and Steve deserve it, and I’m sure they would appreciate it.
There will be a release party for Sky-Tinted
There will be some food available, although I suspect “food” might mean something different to speculative fiction authors. So, consider there will be snacks available.
I’ll be there from noon till 4PM. I have no idea if there is any structure to the event, so come and go as you see fit. There will be copies of the book available for purchase, and most of the contributing authors will be there to sign and give readings.
Hope to see you there!
Writers never really go on vacation, but I recently took a 5-day trip into the Boundary
Five days without a shower wasn’t nearly as bad as five days without Diet Coke. Taking these luxuries away for a few days really makes you appreciate them when you return to civilization.
But there were items that significantly improved my camping experience, and made the trip much more luxurious than it could have been. Make sure to bring these things with you to make your camping experience more like a vacation than homelessness.
Self-publishing vs. traditional publishing–FIGHT!
Those interested in the music can download “The Last Song” from Jagged Spiral’s debut album, Days From Evil free on bandcamp:
Spider-Man has always been one of my favorite superheros. While I’m thrilled to watch super-hero franchises like Batman and Avengers continue to grow more impressive over time, it kills my inner-child to see the Spider-Man franchise go the other way, falling from a must-see superhero origin film Spider-Man
Needless to say, I was pleased to hear the series was being rebooted. The good news is that The Amazing Spider-Man does well overall. Marc Webb CTRL-ALT-DELs the Spider-Man mythos, but carefully and wisely avoids some well-established facets of the initial trilogy, while taking some chances with others.
Andrew Garfield looks the part and does a great job of playing Peter Parker, just like Tobey Maguire did. Emma Stone nailed down the girlfriend role of Gwen Stacy, just like Kirsten Dunst nailed down the part of Mary-Jane Watson.
The choice of The Illusive Man (aka Martin Sheen) …um or was that Martin Sheen (aka the Illusive Man)? Either way, Uncle Ben was good. His voice is priceless.
The choice of Sally Field as Aunt May was disturbing. Rosemary Harris was a LOCK for Aunt May in the original Spider-Man movie trilogy, so it was disjointing seeing her with black hair. Aunt May’s hair is grey. Sorry to fuss over this, but I’m pretty sure it was grey decades ago in the first spider man comic book. They shouldn’t have messed with it. Sally Field didn’t do much for the character except give some sympathetic looks, but that was about the extent of the role given to her in the script.
Dennis Leary was a nice surprise. I really bought his stern police-chief role. He’s come a long way from ripping off other people’s stand-up routines.
I’d like to point out that there were two characters that were left out of the film, one being Mary-Jane Watson, and the other being the head of the Daily Bugle, namely J. Jonah Jameson. And rightfully so. Those two characters were so very, very nailed into the public consciousness by Kirsten Dunst and J.K. Simmons, that to try and recast them would have been a poor idea. It was very wise to leave them out and give us some distance from the other franchise. Those characters can be rebooted later on.
Since much of the Spider-Man origin story isn’t open to interpretation, this movie feels a lot like the first Spider-Man film Sam Raimi did. Many of the reviewers are pointing this out. I just did too. The theme “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility” is expected, although spoken in slightly different words. Likewise, the line between ‘wall-crawling menace’ and ‘a super-hero that the people need’ is expected to be danced upon. Oh, and teen angst too. That whole growing-up-teen-body-changing-multiplied-by-super-powers thing. And high-school crushes. And jock-jerks. And getting to class on time. Check, check and check. Marc Webb hits all the expected points, while adding in a healthy dose of character development (without the fucking emo, thank you very much) and succeeds in making a movie that would be brilliant… if Sam Raimi hadn’t already made almost exactly the same film ten years ago.
I’m willing to cut Marc Webb some slack. The movie was good. It just didn’t feel very original, because it had to hold true to the mythos AND avoid being a clone of Sam Raimi’s work. But now that the spider is out of the bag, Marc can show us what he can really do in the second and third movies in this confirmed trilogy.
Yep. They were all there, and all as awesome as you would expect. It would be good to see someone else get a shot at doing movie scores in Hollywood though, besides the same three guys….
Spoiler Alert – At the end of the film there is a “cookie” during the movie credits, which shows a shadowy figure speaking with Dr. Connors in his jail cell. Scroll to 1:21 in Trailer #3 to see and hear this mystery man:
There’s a lot of speculation about who it might be. The cell is not necessarily a jail cell, possibly an asylum, medical or science research facility. Possibly even an observation cell at Oscorp. No one says the shadowy figure is a preview of the next movie’s villain, but of course the interwebs are on fire with guesses, wishes and possibilities.
The ONLY facts so far are from Aint It Cool News who spoke with Rhys Ifans (who placed Dr. Connors / The Lizard) He stated for certain that the man in the shadows is NOT Norman Osborn (aka The Green Goblin), but rather someone in Norman Osborn’s employ.
There is an implication that whoever got into and out of Dr. Connors cell must have some kind of teleport ability. The scene has a lightning storm going on at the time, and just before we see the man in the shadows, and just before he disappears, there is a flash of light and the sound of thunder. This made a few bad guys immediately come to mind for me: Electro, Mysterio, and Will-0-the-Wisp. The first two are more likely, since they were more standard recurring enemies, but only Will-o-the-Wisp has the ability to blink or teleport. However Mysterio is a master of illusion, so that might explain it…
I swear I saw a close-up of the shadowy figure kneading a stocking cap in his hands as he spoke, which immediately made me think of Sandman. But the voice was all wrong, and the theatrics of the appearance/disappearance don’t fit that character, and I highly doubt Sandman would start out as an employ of Oscorp. As much as I love Sandman as a villian, if that was what this cookie was foreshadowing… fail.
If you scrub to 1:21 in the trailer above, you can actually see the man in the shadows, and he looks to have very thin and/or greying hair, and a posture which makes me think of The Vulture. Ugh. I hope not. But if there’s a villain who could use some PR image work, it’s the Vulture.
IGN also speculates on who the next Spider-Man villian could be, and they bring up a good point that with an impending Venom movie in the works by Sony, the Man in the Shadows could be the next Venom.
Another possibility is that the mystery man is actually Peter Parker’s own father, who supposedly died along with his wife under mysterious circumstances. Let’s give credit where credit is due, the kid hero fighting against their own parent-gone-rogue worked pretty well for Star Wars, and it can work pretty well here. Just the thought stirs up so many interesting questions and possibilities that I’d chose this option as my favorite.
Sadly, sadly sadly, the movie and the man-in-the-shadows scene in have crazy voices bouncing around in Dr. Connors head, which harken back to Norman Osborn / Green Goblin from the original trilogy. Because we know the man in the shadows is not Norman Osborn, this points again toward Mysterio, who is a master of illusion and can cause people to see/hear things that are not really there. Or it points towards an idea that was better off left alone.
Here’s a thought, perhaps Marc Webb is just smart enough to drop in a cookie featuring a generic man-in-black, then troll the internet looking for blogposts and fanboy reviews like this one, just to see which villains turn up as the most buzz-worthy.
In that case, my guess is Electro, or possibly Mysterio. Either one could fit the man in the shadows, and either one would make a damn cool movie villain that I’d line up to see.
It’s clear that Sony has plans to not only wipe the Sam Raimi slate clean, but also expand on the Spider-Man universe, and let’s hope they can step up the way Marvel did with the Avengers franchise. If Spider-Man 3 made you give up on this particular superhero, give Mark Webb’s new reboot a chance. This is a classic story done well, and I look forward to see what he does to round out the trilogy.
2012 marks my second time at the 4th Street Fantasy Convention in Minnesota. Last
This year’s 4th Street Fantasy Whatever-it-was was better in some ways, and worse in others than last year’s.
Whoever did the programming this year did a great job of putting together some High Quality Discussion Panels. Of course, this is the primary reason to attend 4th street. The discussions will fill your head with so many ways to improve your writing that even if it doesn’t explode, you won’t be able to implement them all. Bring a notepad, or a device running evernote, or something to jot down ideas.
The audience is another reason. Authors of all skill levels attend this conference, and all the discussions open up (at least part of the time) to audience questions and observations. The panels were slightly more diverse than last year, I didn’t notice anyone dominating the panels, like last year. Of course the Scribblies were omni-present, but I think they originally started the 4th Street Fantasy event, so that makes sense. Regulars include: Elizabeth Bear, Scott Lynch, Patricia Wrede, Emma Bull, Steven Brust, Pamela Dean, and Will Shetterly.
Another thing that remains the same is the Author Social Networking. No, I don’t mean twitterfacebookgoogleplus. I mean actual face-to-face talking with other authors. The downtime between panels. Ganging up with others to take a leisurely stroll to lunch. On Fri/Sat night there is an open music jam, which is primarily traditional folk music, so bring your ukelele.
Registration was the same as last year – to get the discounted price you had to register MONTHS in advance…but the programming wasn’t listed until mere WEEKS before the event. So you pay before you know the programming. Sadly, I’m finding that this is becoming the norm with conventions, but because the topics of 4th Street are focused on speculative fiction authors, there’s little danger in registering early. If you’re a spec-fic author, the content is relevant.
The venue moved to the St. Louis Park Marriott this year, just a block away from the DoubleTree where it was held last year. The good news is that the same great selection of local bars and restaurants is all within walking distance at the West End. The bad news – no inside bar, and the space is much reduced from last year. I particularly missed the merch area where Uncle Hugo’s and other vendors had tables of books and other things for sale, but there was NO room for this at the Mariott. I know selling stuff isn’t the point of the con, but NOT having a venue for book sales at an author convention like this is a shame. But that didn’t mean there weren’t things to purchase….
…because this year, the con instituted an auction that invaded the breaks between panels. The goal of the auction is to raise funds to make 4th street even better next year. But after drinking Diet Coke for an hour and a half, it was frustrating to wait as someone barges in with all the subtlety of a TPT Channel 2 pledge drive, wagging a tentacle-finger, and warning that WE NEED YOUR ATTENTION, PLEASE, so we can auction off another item…
Sigh. I appreciate their efforts to raise some cash to make the con better. It’s going to a good cause. However, I have two meager requests:
I think the auction would net more money with less interruptions if these two requests were implemented. Also, they could accept donations from participants to auction off, not to mention have a higher quantity of things to offer.
On second thought, a raffle with a handful of possible prizes might net them more money, and again, with fewer interruptions.
One more highlight of the 4th Street Fantasy Convention is Janet Grouchy, aka The Poster Girl For Southern Hospitality. Janet. You. Rock!
I was pleased to see that the Minnesota Speculative Fiction Writers’ Group had a healthy turnout. Abra Staffin-Wiebe, Dana Baird, Michael Merriam, Sherry Merriam, Tyler Tork, Rebecca Chesin, and Sarah E. Olson all made the event entertaining as well as educational.
I have no idea if these are existing quotes from a source I’m not aware of, or words people pulled out of the aether, but I overheard all these things from the audience at 2012 Fourth Street:
“Theology exists to control the folk process.”
“I blame the Romantics for a lot.”
“…the magic thingawhowhatsit.”
“Collaboration is a violent agreement.”
“The brighter the light, the darker the shadow.”
“Set up a pattern and break it.”
“A single conflict makes a really dull book.”
and most importantly…
“Author Element HandWavium (symbol: HW) has a half life of about half an hour, and emits confusions as it decays…”