The Lake

Yesterday, I would have said I wasn’t interested in watching The Lake. Mostly because I didn’t quite know what it was. Though the fact that Julia Stiles was in it was going to mean that sooner or later I was going to watch it whether I wanted to or not.

Tonight was sooner. After about three minutes I was so glad that I had been taken on the journey.


The Dead Don’t Die: When Allegory Is Too Real

When I watched The Dead Don’t Die, I was in near the right frame of mind with nearly correct expectations. I haven’t watched a lot of Jarmusch movies. In fact, I don’t even know if I’ve watched any. For about a year I had a copy of Deadman sitting on my shelf. A friend had loaned it to me. I cannot for the life of me recall if I watched it or not. I think I at least started to, or was that just the trailer?

[Spoilers Ahead]

Lack of Jarmusch experience aside, I had an idea of what to expect when one of “those kind of directors” decides to do a zombie movie. What I wasn’t expecting was a story that kinda mostly goes nowhere. Some things happen. There’s the illusion of time passing and progression. Then I began to realize that we’re still at the beginning of the movie. 

And then it was over.

While I’d enjoyed my time watching, all the actors were fantastic. The banter between Murray and Driver is what did it for me. For years Adam Driver has reminded me of a real life Napoleon Dynamite and I finally got to see him do something close.

However as the night and the next day drew on, I found myself becoming more and more frustrated by the pacing of the story. Each time the characters put it all together and seemed to answer the call to action, the very next scene would be them putting it together all over again. They hadn’t necessarily forgotten about the zombies or the things that had happened. Out of laziness or shutting down due to being overwhelmed, the call to action had been put on hold. 

I headed off to the internet to find views that aligned with mine to bolster my opinion. It was my duty. Luckily, it was not hard to find disappointed people with unfavorable reviews on the internet. I’d found my echo chamber on Rotten Tomatoes and had my stance validated within minutes. 

The next day I was audibly complaining to my wife. She was doing her best to appear that she was listening while thinking about anything else. I was in the middle of complaining about the call to action when I finally figured it out. The behavior of so many characters in the movie is exactly how we’ve been handling climate change. Each time they decided to do something, to answer the call to action, they didn’t do much. Certainly never enough. Horrible things kept occurring. People kept dying. Yet, no one could actually get their act together and deal with it. Chloe Sevigny’s character became so less irritating as I realized most of us are feeling her fear and powerlessness. She bought a hybrid to do her part. Driver’s character drives a smart car. Neither are very effective in curbing what’s happening. 

In that one brief moment my opinion of the film changed. If the reviews on the internet are anything to go by, a lot of people haven’t had that moment yet. Instead thinking that poor pacing is an issue with the writing. Instead, it’s allegory that is all too real. 

Have All The Big Science Fiction Or Fantasy Series Already Been Made Into Movies Or Television Shows?

Have all the big science fiction or fantasy series already been made into movies or television shows? That was a question posed on The Book Riot Podcast. With television shows for Foundation, The Wheel of Time, and The Lord of the Rings all coming out soon, as well as Dune, and so many other series having already made the transition, it was an intriguing question. 

Now, I love fantasy books and I was basically talking to the podcast as an interviewee whose mic was on mute. Especially as some of what I thought to be obvious choices hadn’t been listed. I understand that the question took into account how well known and “cool” the series is. Along with how much content there was to convert to the visual mediums. 

Below are a few of the series that came to mind:

Conan, done the right way. If you’ve read Conan you know what I’m talking about. Conan was a testosterone fueled barbarian of a man. But there was so much more going on in that melon of his. Conan is thoughtfully stoic and an ultimately unsatisfied and unhappy man. Questioning the world while carving out his place in it and striving to leave a legacy. Yes, he had muscles and killed whatever needed killing. But he also had some deep thoughts about life and what it is to be human, though more specifically, a man. 

A straight translation would be a bit toxic by today’s standards. Not to mention racist. That’s why I think it would be poignant to view Conan through the lens of men’s mental health. Focus on his thoughts and gain a better understanding of his actions. Conan deserves the subtle treatment after all the short attempts that, while entertaining, miss the mark. 

Malazan Books of the Fallen is actually the first series I thought of in regards to the initial question. While it may not be a widely known gateway to fantasy, it is just ever so slightly beyond the threshold. The main series is voluminous, being comprised of ten huge books. With several other series and novels supporting it. The first book was a movie script at one point in time. 

The setting and cast is sprawling. There are many vibes and beats that are similar to Game of Thrones. Yet, there is a humor that wasn’t present in A Song of Ice and Fire. There isn’t so much hopeless drudgery going on either. There is definitely magic in the world! It’s been there the whole time, it didn’t go anywhere. There are many different types and boy do people know how to use them. There are so many characters, magic users and others alike that can be described as, “Badass.” How could there not be when people are ascending into godhood while other gods are dying. Did I mention that the series has been completed? 

The Black Company was written well before the Malazan series and served as a huge inspiration. Almost a little too much. As in imitation is the sincerest form of flattery too much. Don’t have to take my word for it though. Read The Chronicles of the Black Company around the same time you read Gardens of the Moon. What I’m getting at is, if Malazan seems too ambitious, go with The Black Company.

The Black Company is often credited with a couple of accomplishments. The first being, bringing fantasy to a human level. These characters aren’t chosen ones, but simply soldiers for those chosen types. For a quick reference think Rogue One. The second is having characters that aren’t heroic by default, in fact they follow quite an evil path. The Black Company is a band of mercenaries. In this case, they’ve been hired by an evil wizard named, The Limper. They fight a campaign as per his wishes. What’s interesting is how the first book is written as war journal. Other books in the series take on a more traditional third person point of view.

Dragonlance came to mind a little more slowly than it should have. It’s well known enough and has the most content to adapt from. I remember having a discussion with one of my friend’s dad who was at least his kid’s age older than I was, and how he had read tons of Dragonlance. For me that was amazing to stand in the presence of an elder nerd. The series has been around since the eighties and has a large ever replenishing group of readers. Maybe it didn’t make The Book Riot list because it’s a shared world. However, the core books were written by the same people.

The cast and stories are contained. Focused sharply on eight characters that mainly stick together the entire time. No need to have to trace lineages and allegiances. Dragonlance may be too straight forward by today’s standards, but it’s also something the younger folks could watch as well. 

Is there a series you think I left out?