May 6, 2013

Motivational Growth – Darkly Funny and Deliciously Icky

Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 2:03 am
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The Mold knows, Jack. The Mold knows.

Ian Folivor (Adrian DiGiovanni) hasn’t left his apartment for months, and he has no interest in doing so until his television, lovingly named Kent, dies in the middle of a rerun-marathon. The loss of his source of entertainment makes Ian question his life and decide to take action. With two parts household bleach and one part sulfuric acid, he attempts go out in a chlorine gas induced, disgustingly glorious end. But due to an unfortunately placed vent and a bit of bad luck, he wakes up on the bathroom floor.

Ian is welcomed back by the mold on his bathroom wall, voiced by Jeffrey Combs, and things take a serious turn for Strangeville.

Motivational Growth is written, directed and edited by Don Thacker, and is the result of one singular idea coming to fruition. Everything in the piece, from the dialogue to the special effects, fit together and make for a compelling, funny and icky whole.

When it comes to the story itself, it’s clear that Thacker wanted to leave things open to interpretation. As we follow Ian down the rabbit hole, we abandon the concept of time and space. The story makes several logical leaps, and it’s not always clear what the relationship between Kent and The Mold is, or what is going on. For the most part, this is good, but the score and the animated sequences, so clearly inspired by 1980s/90s video games, left me wondering if there was another dimension to this piece that I missed.

I enjoy bizarre tales and I like that Thacker wasn’t afraid to let us jump to conclusions, but I believe the story would be stronger if the reason for Ian’s seclusion from society was revealed to the audience. Without an explanation, Ian’s retreat into his cave did not make much sense. I also found it problematic that he could afford to stay in there for months on end without a job. It’s difficult for me to sympathize with a character that is privileged enough to sit on his ass eating take-out for six months without financial strain. I just wanted to yell at him to get the fuck out and do something. Once I got past the set-up, I began liking the character, almost despite myself. But with a bit more set-up, I could have rooted for him from the start.

It must also be mentioned that this is very much a character piece, resting on DiGiovanni’s performance, and he does not disappoint. His delivery of the lines had me laughing out loud, and his desperation once The Mold pushed him far enough past his comfort zone had me cringing.

The choice to use puppets, real special effects and animated sequences fit the overall look and feel of the film, and the story. Scenes that could have seemed fake or over the top with CGI, were made tangible and poignant by the use of retro effects. In general, the movie looked very good.

The dialogue was sharp, the humor pitch black and the story absurd. I’d keep my eyes open for this twisted coming-of-age story, guys. It’s worth seeing.

I got to watch Motivational Growth before it’s Norwegian release date so that I could review it on this blog. A European release date has not been set yet, but keep your eyes peeled.


March 8, 2013

Damsels in Distress

Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 5:17 pm
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In honor of today being the International Women’s Day and all, I give you Anita Sarkeesian’s first video in her series of discussing women in video games: Damsels in Distress part 1.

It’s interesting, it’s enjoyable, and it’s about video games. The internet doesn’t get much better than that, ladies and gents.

Happy International Women’s Day!

August 8, 2012

Do You Read Sutter Cane?

Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 9:12 pm
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What is it that makes some lines stick? Is it the jolted shock of a well-placed comma, the tightness of the prose, the hidden beauty in the smallest words?

Some books and movies have one or two of those memorable lines. Others have none. And a few choice works have many. In the Mouth of Madness, by John Carpenter, is one of the films that I can quote even though I haven’t seen it for a decade. Some of the lines aren’t that good, but they stick. For years.

Alice Munroe has a tendency to get at least one unforgettable line in with each short story. That’s a gift. Park Chan-wook’s vengeance trilogy only has one, but what a line. I’m sure you remember it, but let me refresh your memory anyway. Remember this: “Be it a rock or a grain of sand, in water they sink as the same.”

Some sentences hit just right and stay with you forever. If I can craft just one of those in my life, I think I’d be happy. If it was the opening line to one of my novels, I know I would be.

April 21, 2012

Pet Peeve of the Day: Gender in Gaming

Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 10:37 am
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I’ve just backed my first kickstarter project: Shadowrun. Shadowrun was the first urban fantasy book series I read, I was obsessed with the RPG and it was the setting for one of my first short stories, so when they asked for backing, I was in.

Then I watched the pitch video (you know, the please-give-us-all-your-money video), and I got the distinct feeling that it wasn’t aimed at me. I haven’t analyzed all of it, but I know the sentence that alienated me completely: “I love making games and I’ve been making them for a really, really long time. You may have heard of some of them, or maybe your dad has, games like…”

1. Way to make me feel old. I’ve heard of the games he mentioned, so I must be old enough to have kids backing these projects.

2. Or maybe your dad has. Your dad. Not your parents. Not your mom. Your dad. Because girls don’t play games, right?

Now, of course, I buried these peeves and still backed the project. I love Shadowrun, and I’m not going to let the uncomfortable feeling in my tummy telling me that he’s not pitching this game to me dictate whether or not I support it. After all, I know I’ll love this game, even if its creators think that only (old? young?) men will.

Then I got update message number 8 in my email inbox. Along with other news, it said that if you back the game with $60, you get a special backer tee-shirt. Sweet, I thought. Maybe I should back for more money, after all I’m in love with this game, and how cute would I be in a backer tee-shirt. Let’s take a look at them.

You probably already know what’s coming, right? That’s right: three nicely designed tee-shirts, all of them for men. No girly tees. Now, I know there are girls working on this project. I saw them far in the background of the pitch video. Don’t you think they’d like a tee-shirt that fits? In fact, have you ever been in a position where all the participatory tee-shirts are designed for women and men just have to live with it? I didn’t think so.

It’s not so much the fact that I want everything to be catered to me (although I’d love it if mainstream cinema was), it’s the fact that I feel like they haven’t given my demographic a thought at all. The girl gamer is expected to suck it up and wear menswear, ignore problematic gender issues in the games they play and accept that their entertainment will be aimed at others. And I don’t think that’s fair.

This is not a call to arms for fluffy bunnies and more interactive versions of playing house, I love shooting zombies as much as the next person. What this is, is a call for gaming companies to realize that they already have a whole group of people willing to back their projects, but they’re not pitching to them.

I could go into an even longer rant about this, but Bob from the escapist has covered the subject really well in five minutes, so I highly suggest you watch that.

April 8, 2012

Words That Make You Shiver

Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 10:33 am
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I am an insect that dreamt he was a man and loved it, but now that dream is over, and the insect is awake.

Some lines stay with you. They could be in a movie, a book, a song, but the mix of words and sentiment come together so well that it sends shivers down you spine.

A single grain of rice can tip the scale. One man may be the difference between victory and defeat.

It might be lighthearted, or deadly serious, but you remember it. Citations of these lines will make you smile, or tear up, or shiver. Something about these lines just stick.

God isn’t supposed to be a hack horror writer.

So what is it about these lines that force a reaction from us? I believe it has something to do with build up. It’s not so much the words themselves, but the stories they embody. The lines I remember are usually the ones that contain the story, or at least a major part of it.

Now for wrath. Now for ruin. And the red dawn!

Or, of course, the lines that define a character.

Well, my days of not taking you seriously are certainly coming to a middle.

Regardless, they are lines that stand out because they contain much more than the words themselves. They tell the story.

What words make you shiver? And can you place each quote in this post?

March 25, 2012

Contemporary Art is Online

Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 7:07 pm
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I used to love going to galleries. Every summer, my parents would bring our family to another part of the world and introduce us to a new sculptor, painter or performance artist. I was wowed by Antoni Gaudi, Salvador Dali and Edvard Munch, I was enticed by Ferdinan Finne, Anna Ancher and Gustav Klimt, and I was bored by a multitude of others.

I don’t know when my taste changed, but somewhere around my early twenties, I stopped going to art galleries. Not a conscious choice, life just got in the way, and I stopped earning enough to go on vacations. Somehow going to museums in my home town felt odd.

But when a friend of mine asked me to join her at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts yesterday, I didn’t feel like I could say no. After all, I used to adore going to galleries, and the exhibition of contemporary Canadian painters was free.

As soon as I set foot inside the place, I remembered what I used to love about going to art shows. The silence of the crowd. The place was as packed as it was hushed. The tension in the air as everyone who went inside quietly committed to a vow of silence made my tummy tingle. It felt like I was part of something truly important.

But of course there’s a but. I looked at the sixty year old pieces that claimed to be contemporary, and I felt nothing. Sure, it was interesting to see how the textures of oil on canvas played with the edges of color and light, but it didn’t move me. Not like this does:

Pumped up kicks:

Look at the beauty of movement in that piece. See how he captures the spirit of our age as well as pushes the boundaries of what I thought people were able to physically do. How is that not art?

Lindsey Stirling’s Crystallize:

Listen to the beauty of that piece of music and tell me you weren’t moved.

Muto by Blu:

See how that piece of art tells a story, a story that gains momentum over time. It is beautiful.

In fact, looking at those pieces of art, hidden on the internet, I can’t help but feel that what we attribute value to has less to do with the merit of the piece, and more to do with society. The silence inside the gallery is a sign of an unspoken agreement that this is art and therefore important. That is what gives us the feeling of awe when we enter the art gallery, not so much the things that hang there.

The real contemporary art is hidden in the mess of youtube, on fan forums, inside blogs and in the shout-outs of social media. So I won’t be going back to the galleries soon. Why should I, when the most moving pieces of art I’ve seen in years aren’t there?

November 28, 2011

I’ve been 16 since I was 12

Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 3:05 pm
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I’ve been watching teen shows since I was about twelve years old, identifying with the main characters I saw on screen.

Imagine my surprise when sixteen year olds are now born in 1995. I was grunge in ’95. My first boyfriend had moved away and I’d just discovered Orson Wells. Suddenly I feel like identifying with the protagonist’s parents. Add to that the fact that the people playing parents in TV-shows now look kinda like the kids in TV-shows from the eighties and early nineties. I mean, compare the ages of the actors in Beverly Hills 90210
and Buffy: the Vampire Slayer
with the cast of Pretty little liars.
Don’t they look small to you?
(Sure, so I just checked their ages on IMDB, and American television is still casting much older actors in the roles of teenagers, but still.)

Thank goodness I have The Vampire Diaries, where I can imagine being part of a Gothic romance set in modern day, and the main characters are all pretending to be between seventeen and twenty-three, but in fact are between twenty-five and thirty-two, and they look it.
Hell, one of the seventeen year olds is two years my senior. This makes everything better.

What do you think? Does watching YA television make you feel old?

November 21, 2011

Twilight: a retraction

Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 3:11 pm
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I admit it: I’ve been a hater. I, like so many around me, have mercilessly mocked the Twilight book series for content, writing style, and the religion of the author. But you know what? I’m officially changing my mind. I actually like outdrawn over-the-top gothic romance stories, as does over 100 million others according to the sales of this series worldwide. I think anything that can sell like that has a certain appeal.* And even if I didn’t like the first book enough to buy the rest at Walmart ($4.99 each), I still think it’s completely okay that others do.

It’s time to admit that even though young girls might learn some questionable lessons from this book series, they will learn a lot more questionable things from television, computer games, and the people around them. People know the difference between fiction and reality. If you’re really worried, then make sure your kids watch Buffy: the Vampire Slayer as well, and that they read other books in addition to this one, like Collins’ The Hunger Games and Atwood’s A Handmaid’s Tale. I read Orwell’s 1984 when I was nine. Changed my life by shaking my trust in the state as an institution.

I might not agree with the sexual policies of the Twilight series, or find the idea of stalker love appealing, but I don’t read books just to agree with them. If that was the case, I’d never be able to stand Shakespear’s Romeo and Juliet (unnecessarily tragic stalker love with borderline pedophilia thrown in) or Süskind’s The Perfume (about a serial killer searching for a scent of his own), and don’t even get me started on the morals of fairy tales like The Little Mermaid or Bluebeard. So what if Meyer is a mormon? I don’t care if she’s a duck as long as she gets kids reading. We all know that best selling authors make the world better for all us struggling ones. Keep making people flip pages Stephanie Meyer!

*I’m not changing my view on Dan Brown, however. Sorry man, I have to agree with Steward Lee on this one. (And I still hate the twilight movies. No one can take that away from me.)

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