Mixed Media, Sunday 29 March 2015

Last Saturday evening Fiona, Abi, and I went to the Arena to see Jupiter Ascending . Forget the negative criticism – it’s a more than decent sci-fi action romp. Some of the editing is rough, and it felt like there were bits of storyline missing, or cobbled together from spare footage. But it’s such a glorious world, inhabited by lushly bonkers characters that I didn’t mind at all.

The world of the story feels so much bigger than what you see on screen. For example, when Jupiter is being shepherded through the inheritance process by an android, and being thwarted by bureaucracy at every opportunity. There’s a rich background of fashion, class, and mores embedded in the scene where the two androids face off, but it doesn’t get used anywhere else in the film. I think it would be worth watching again to see what else I missed.

I found it interesting how the film echoed one of the questions posed by the Wachowskis in The Matrix: why are we here? In both films humanity was put here (our modern world that might not be the real world) for a reason. In both cases the answer, when revealed, is grim and scary. But Jupiter and Neo make completely different decisions about which world they are willing to fight for, and return to.

Also: fantastic special effects and simply amazing chase scenes. This is a film to love, if you’re willing to give it a chance.

Fiona and I had planned to go to see Insurgent at the weekend as well, but some live music got in the way on Sunday afternoon. We went on Monday evening instead. It was okay; not as strong as Divergent. It’s a bridge to the end of the trilogy.

Taking my own advice about watching more romantic comedies instead of dark and violent thrillers, I watched The Brothers Bloom on my flight across to Edinburgh this week, and Chef on the way back. Loved both of them. I was thoroughly imnpressed by Rian Johnson’s first film Brick, and also by Looper a couple of years ago, but Bloom managed to pass me by. Which is curious, because it’s exactly the kind of con-man/heist-y flick that I like. It’s a sweet film, with lots of Edgar Wright-ish visual touches.

Chef is downright adorable. Jon Favreau is brilliant in all his roles, as writer, director, and lead. Throughout the film I kept expecting the plot to take turns for the worse, so that our protagonist could sink deeper into trouble before bravely fighting his way back, but it’s not like that. In the scenes where you think something bad is going to happen, it turns out okay, because people are quite nice. It may be unrealistic, but it’s full of heart without being schmaltzy. It’s about people doing what they love, finding their passions, and being okay with who they are. I came off the plane smiling WHICH IS RARE.

Comics: I finished the last two volumes of Ex Machina. It’s offers a clean ending to the story, but the way it wraps up the parallel-dimension storyline felt abrupt. There had been hints leading up to this point, and of course it’s the big pay-off to the whole question of “who and why?” that underlies the series, but it just felt hasty to me. Now that I have all ten volumes, I think I’ll have to go back and re-read them in a single stretch. That may change my mind.

Volume 2 of Chew didn’t light my fire (pity), and volume 1 of Casanova is also leaving me cold — I haven’t even finished it yet (surprising, given how much I tend to like Matt Fraction’s stuff).

On my way to Waverley Station on Friday afternoon I stopped in at Forbidden Planet on North Bridge and picked up volume 1 of Trees by Warren Ellis and Jason Howard. I don’t remember where I heard about it, but it sounded intriguing. It is. I’ll be looking forward to the next volume.