I just started Scott Lynch’s Red Seas Under Red Skies, the second book in his Gentleman Bastard series. It reminded me to tell all of my friends who read this blog that they should read the first book in said series, The Lies of Locke Lamora. Really accessible and well written, and to make a crude comparison it’s basically Game of Thrones meets Ocean’s Eleven.
Scott Lynch is funny, engaging, and does a fantastic job weaving together a yarn about a group of conmen in a fictional world largely inspired by Renaissance Venice.
There is no way to do justice in a brief summary, but basically this is the gist:
Locke Lamora leads a band of conmen, the Gentlemen Bastards. They pretend to be a small band of thieves of no note, but are really the most successful thieves in all of Camorr, constantly breaking a truce between organized crime and the powers that be that lets the criminal element keep working as long as they don’t steal from or harm the most powerful families. Lamora is the Thorn of Camorr, stealing vast sums from the rich who are supposed to be off-limits, yet using his considerable skills to remain anonymous, disappearing with his Gentlemen Bastards after every job.
While planning his biggest heist yet, the intrigues of the city threaten everything the Gentlemen Bastards hold dear, most importantly their lives, when a mysterious new figure starts bumping off some of the most influential crooks in an attempt to target the Capa who ruthlessly runs all organized crime.
In the best heist film style, Lamora is forced to play all the players against one another in the hopes that it can get him and his friends out alive. I do feel the need to say one more time, it’s basically Game of Thrones meets Ocean’s Eleven, so I’m not promising everyone gets out alive.
Read it. Or don’t. But read it.
I’m a sucker for revenge flicks. We’re talking shamelessly violent, reactionary anti-hero shit. Have you ever met someone who actually enjoyed Mel Gibson in ‘Get the Gringo?’ I have. He’s been staring back at me in the mirror ever since the first time I saw the film.
If I were ever tasked to pitch a movie script guaranteed to be seen and celebrated by millions, it would go something like this:
Posthumously gifted a puppy by his deceased wife, a retired hitman with nothing to lose seeks revenge on the gangsters who kill his new, four legged friend.
If I was feeling particularly ballsy at the pitch session, I would require that the part of the retired hitman be played by Keanu Reeves and that we make Willem Dafoe and John Leguizamo play a couple of his friends.
Why? Because I fucking say so, that’s why.
I realize that this sounds crazy, but this is EXACTLY what I think happened when two of Keanu’s stunt doubles from the Matrix trilogy created, and pitched, John Wick.
Don’t believe me? See the trailer for yourself:
Not only is this film clearly the most important film of 2014, but there’s apparently already talk of a sequel. And if it’s not titled ‘John Wick 2: No Kill Shelter,’ I’m going to lose my damn mind.
January is over, and so far I’ve been back to my usual movie watching. Reunited with my first love, and it feels so good.
One of the very best films I’ve seen so far this year is John Michael McDonagh’s Calvary.
The film opens with Father James, a small town priest, hearing confessions. An anonymous parishioner promises to kill him the following Sunday, because the man was raped by a different priest as a child. The film then follows Father James attempting to come to terms with his life and vocation, while deciding if he will leave town, defend himself, or accept his fate.
Calvary works with the efficiency of an assassin. There isn’t a wasted frame in the film. Especially in terms of the film’s dark humor. Brendan Gleeson is one of the most under-appreciated actors alive. He’s even better in Calvary than he was in McDonagh’s previous outing, The Guard.
The depth and subtlety of both the writing and the performances are captivating, and the acid humor, anger, and tenderness are all so impeccably delivered. These performances are enhanced by how visually beautiful the film is. The cinematography is really photographic. The camera doesn’t move. Wonderfully framed shots are set up and that is where the shot is held, frame after perfect frame. The fact that the camera isn’t moving leaves the viewer alone with the gravity of the moment.
You should watch this one.
Today, I unsubscribed from the dvd/Blu-ray side of Netflix. I’ll keep the streaming side, but gone will be the days of getting that briefly iconic red envelope in the mail. I know I’m one of the dinosaurs, part of a quickly shrinking number of folks who still subscribed. Still, a big part of me is sad to leave.
2014 hasn’t been a great year for Roused to Mediocrity. I couldn’t honestly say it’s been a particularly great year for me either.
Part of the reason for the lull here at RtM is that I’ve been doing far less this year in terms of culture consumption, and without much to show for it on the other side. Books are the only form of culture and story I’ve engaged as usual, but movies and music and whatnot have been way, way down. I feel the absence quite a bit.
I didn’t know this until I spent most of this year ignoring this blog, but I’m a better reader when I’m writing for Roused consistently. And by ‘better reader’ I mean I see the things I enjoy more clearly. I’m better at noticing things that are beautiful and true when I am regularly writing about shit here. It keeps some part of my brain sharp when I’m always wondering how I can frame ideas in a short blog post that might get someone interested in something I think is worthwhile. The part of my brain that functions better when I’m writing here is one of my favorite parts, and in a brain as dysfunctional as mine, that means something.
As I wrote above, this hasn’t been a great year for me. I feel beset by failure and futility on all sides. I’m stuck, thwarted. Every part of my life is in grind mode all at once, and I have to keep pouring energy into things with nothing to show for it. But Emily reminded me tonight how much I’ve loved writing words out into oblivion here on RtM. It can be another source of discouragement, sure, but it also helps my mind function better.
My first attempt at blogging in earnest was at the now defunct VOX sometime in the mid 2000’s, and with a few pitstops in between I eventually ended up at Roused to Mediocrity. I quit and come back time and again, which is embarrassing, and I have no reason to think that won’t continue. Still, nearly ten years of quitting and returning means something. I’m not sure exactly what it is I’m afraid of or hoping for, but I do know that (this sentence feels insane to type) this blog makes me a better version of myself.
Here’s to more Roused to Mediocrity, and a better 2015!
I expected to like it, but I LOVE it. It was a genuine struggle for me each night to not start another episode and just stay up all morning binge watching. The first season, now referred to as American Horror Story: Murder House is such a great haunted house story. Now I’m halfway through season two American Horror Story: Asylum.
I like everything about the show, but the acting is the most impressive to me so far. Across the board the acting is solid, Evan Peters and Frances Conroy quite notable, but everyone takes a back seat to Jessica Lange. During her first scene I had the same moment I had seeing Kevin Spacey in the first episode of House of Cards, in which I realized it was a performance I could watch forever. It isn’t just great acting by Lange, there is something magnetic and uncommonly captivating about the performance. Genuinely remarkable.
At this rate, I’ll probably catch up with the show before the current Freak Show season finishes.
If you haven’t seen AHS yet and there is any chance you can watch a horror themed show you should watch it immediately!
This was a really weird year. So much transition, so many things to distract me and keep me over-occupied, and way too much procrastinating and whatnot on my part.
I need to be writing again.
I am finally no longer working 7 days a week (at least for the moment) and I need to be writing every single day again. Something’s been holding me back, but it is time to get my shit together and get back after it. I like writing in lots of different ways, and while I am always at war with myself over Roused to Mediocrity (because let’s be honest, no one reads it) but I miss Roused. I miss sharing things I love, writing my way down random cultural rabbit holes, and raving about things that seem unappreciated… just in case anyone stops by to see it. I can’t do the full “Lists of 2013” because I simply missed too much this year culturally, but I am going to do a few installments of abbreviated lists in some form.
We’ll see how it goes.