The Shape of Water—A Cold War Era Fairytale

The Shape of Water movie poster

The Shape of Water is the story of Elisa, a mute woman who works as a cleaning woman in a top secret facility. One day they bring a fish monster into the lab, and Elisa falls in love. Directed by Guillermo del Toro, and written by del Toro and Vanessa Taylor.

Warning: full frontal nudity, female.

1—Once Upon A Time

Where to start talking about The Shape of Water? It’s a slow simmer, rather than an action-packed romp, but the pacing is just perfect for what it is. I was never bored. The imagery is beautiful, starting with an underwater apartment scene. We meet Elisa and get to know her routine—wake up, masturbate, cook eggs, go to work. And then her routine is disrupted by a scream and a man coming out of a room bleeding from the stumps of his fingers. Continue reading “The Shape of Water—A Cold War Era Fairytale”

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Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales—Twisty Yet Predictable

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales movie poster
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Dead Men Tell No Tales is the latest in the Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise. It follows Henry Turner as he truest break his father’s curse by enlisting Jack Sparrow and Carina Smyth to find the Trident of Poseidon.

1—Tone

The special effects were spectacular, of course, and the soundtrack is great and follows the music of the rest of the series pretty closely. The tone, creepy and adventurous, is pitch perfect Pirates of the Caribbean. Continue reading “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales—Twisty Yet Predictable”

Every Heart A Doorway—Dark and Lyrical

Every Heart A Doorway by Seanan McGuire book cover
Every Heart A Doorway by Seanan McGuire

Every Heart A Doorway, by Seanan McGuire is the tale of Eleanore West’s Home For Wayward Children—that is, children who went through a magical door to another world, and then ended up coming back. The children no longer belong to the world they were born into, their parents think they’re crazy, and so they come to Eleanore’s school. Except someone has started murdering them.

1—Every Story Has to Start Somewhere

And this story starts with Nancy arriving at Eleanore West’s Home For Wayward Children. Nancy went to an underworld, The Halls of the Dead, where she learned to be slow and still. She’s desperately trying to hold onto her stillness in this world so fast and bright. Every child at Eleanore West’s Home For Wayward Children is trying to hold onto the survival skills they learned in the world they went to, hoping that they’ll find their door again and get to go home. Though Nancy’s roommate Sumi says, hope is a bad word. Continue reading “Every Heart A Doorway—Dark and Lyrical”

Caught Dead Handed—Psychics, Witches, and Murder in Salem

Caught Dead Handed by Carol J. Perry A Witch City Mystery book cover
Caught Dead Handed by Carol J. Perry

Caught Dead Handed by Carol J. Perry is the first in the Witch City Mystery series. Told from the first person point of view of Lee Barrett, we follow her as she returns home to Salem, Massachusetts and becomes a TV psychic—and finds out she just might by psychic for real.

1—The Mystery

Lee gets her new job at WHICH-TV as host of Nightshades, where she introduces old movies and tv shows and takes calls from viewers, after the previous host, Ariel Constellation, gets killed. There’s another murder in town too and Lee is convinced they’re connected. What’s more, she’s started to see visions in Ariel’s obsidian ball. She’s also adopted Ariel’s cat—and witch’s familiar—O’Ryan. Continue reading “Caught Dead Handed—Psychics, Witches, and Murder in Salem”

The Resurrection Game—Family is Bloody Business

The Resurrection Game by Michelle Belanger book cover
The Resurrection Game by Michelle Belanger

The Resurrection Game, by Michelle Belanger, is the third Shadowside novel. An urban Fantasy told in first person perspective, it follows Zack Westland—the mortal name of the Anakim angel Zaquiel—as he battles one of his own brothers bent on revenge for an act Zack doesn’t remember committing.

1—Memory Troubles

Zack’s lack of memory is still getting him in trouble. He’s apparently done something to one of his Anakim brothers named Tashiel that’s set Zuriel on his hellbent quest for vengeance. Zuriel has sworn to destroy Zack’s life, to kill all those close to him. It starts with a woman named Marjory, a woman very important to Zack if for no other reason than she holds some of the keys to his past. Now Zack is looking for Marjory’s daughter and hoping he finds her before Zuriel does. Continue reading “The Resurrection Game—Family is Bloody Business”

Star Wars: The Last Jedi—I’m Conflicted

Star Wars: The Last Jedi movie poster
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Star Wars: The Last Jedi continues the adventures of Rey, Finn, and Poe as they battle the First Order for the fate of the universe. Things don’t go so well this time.

1—Thrilling

The fights, both between people and between starships, are great. They all have that sense of awe and danger. Partly this is the choreography and effects, but it’s also that each fight has consequences. People die and fates change. Continue reading “Star Wars: The Last Jedi—I’m Conflicted”

American Gods Season One—Intense

American Gods
American Gods

Based on the book by Neil Gaiman, the tv series American Gods follows Shadow Moon after the death of his wife and hiring by the mysterious Mr. Wednesday. As Shadow and Wednesday cross the American landscape meeting with old gods from across the world and preparing for war with the new gods, the narrative intercuts with other stories, including that of Shadow’s undead wife.

Warning: full frontal nudity, both male and female.

1—Spectacular

American Gods is a beautiful show. Every scene bursts with color and atmosphere. Even the dark scenes are rich in hue. Every piece seems well chosen to convey the story being told at that particular moment. The effects are gorgeous, but more than that the symbolism is really well-chosen. Some of the imagery is of a giant bison with flaming eyes, dandelion fluff that goes up into the clouds and turns into snow, and a noose made out of a spinal column. American Gods does spectacle well. Continue reading “American Gods Season One—Intense”

Grave Witch—Intriguing

Grave Witch by Kalayna Price book cover
Grave Witch by Kalayna Price

Grave Witch by Kalayna Price is an urban fantasy told from the first person perspective. It follows Alex Craft, a grave witch—that is, a witch who works with the dead, shades, ghosts, souls, corpses—as she tries to find a serial killer who carves strange glyphs into their victims’s skins.

1—Faery Tale

The world changed when the Fae came out of the closet and revealed themselves to humans—literally changed, as in pockets of reality opened up new land. In one of these new places is Nekros City, the city where Alex lives. There are all kinds of Fae, the differences of which aren’t important in this book but I suspect will be in later books in the series. Alex ends up partnering with one from the FIB—Fae Investigation Bureau—when it turns out the glyphs the killer is using are Fae. Continue reading “Grave Witch—Intriguing”

Doctor Strange—Good Second Half

Doctor Strange movie poster
Doctor Strange

Doctor Strange is the first Doctor Strange movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (actually, as of this writing, it’s the only one but I’m assuming they’ll do more). It follows Dr. Stephen Strange as he looses the use of his hands and goes to Nepal to try to get the use of them back and instead finds a sect of mystic sorcerers.

1—The Effects

Let’s start with the good. The special effects in this movie are fantastic, in both senses of the word. They did a great job with the special effects, of which almost the whole movie uses. The effects themselves are also fantastical, with folded cities, portals through space and time, and a living cloak with a sense of humor. Continue reading “Doctor Strange—Good Second Half”

Stardust (the Movie, Not the Book)—Fun But Not Free of Problems

Stardust movie poster
Stardust

Stardust is a romantic fantasy adventure movie based on a book by Neil Gaiman. It’s follows Tristan as he crosses the magical wall that separates his little English village from the magical realm of Stormhold.

1—Beautiful Movie

Stardust is a gorgeous movie with excellent set design, special effects, and editing. The music is often big and bold but also appropriate to each moment. Continue reading “Stardust (the Movie, Not the Book)—Fun But Not Free of Problems”