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final ‘dark night rises’ trailer.

For those, like Vulture, who seem confused that Catwoman seems to be at least partly on Batman’s side, that’s completely normal. That’s the way its been in comics for some time. Catwoman is still a thief, but there is an alliance of sorts between her and Batman much of the time. Nolan isn’t breaking any ground here, or pulling anything out of his ass. That much, at least, is canonical.

Also, this trailer is fucking awesome.


sukiyaki western django.

Sukiyaki Western Django is the marriage of two of my favorite things, samurai films and westerns. Well, I suppose I love good westerns, I’ve seen some pretty awesome ones, but I’ve also seen some really terrible ones. Anyway, the two have always been close cousins from different continents, with the most iconic spaghetti westerns: The Dollar Trilogy, featuring The Man with No Name (whose giant poster sits watching over my right shoulder as I write this), based on the most iconic samurai film, Yojimbo (whose smaller image also looks over my right shoulder as I write this).

Well, in a twist that would make George Michael Bluth swoon, Takashi Miike brought the cousin genres together, merging them into one entity. Conventional wisdom says that the spawn of two cousins is a really bad idea, but in this case it was a great idea.

Weird scenes featuring Quentin Tarantino aside, this movie was a frenetic, weird, quickly paced joy-ride. Beautifully shot, the film is full of a colorful and engaging marriage of popular samurai and western imagery.

I mean, seriously, I think I might redo my entire house to mirror the decor of the small western samurai town in the movie. If you see me tomorrow walking around wearing a samurai sword and a six-shooter, don’t be surprised.

The primary narrative for the story is set against the backdrop of a faux mix of The War of the Roses (just like Game of Thrones) and the “the historical rivalry between the Genji and Heike clans.” Like Tarantino’s own films, this film has no desire to hide the huge mash-up of homages and influences that make up the whole. This means critics either love it or hate it. I love it. I love watching homages to my favorite scenes unfold, seeing the way Miike crafted scenes mirroring his favorite moments from films like Django, Once Upon a Time in the West, A Fistful of Dollars, Pale Rider, Shane and especially Yojimbo, lots of Yojimbo, all the way down to the duel between one guy with a gun while another only has a samurai sword. Sheesh, just writing that sentence makes me want to watch every one of those movies again. Except Django, I wasn’t a huge fan of the original Django.

The only downside (aside from the ill-advised Tarantino-as-actor scenes) was that the actors all spoke english, with affected ‘western’ accents. The result was that much of the time I didn’t understand what they were saying, but this was easily solved by throwing on the sub-titles, which I’d expected to do before realizing the dialogue was in english anyway.

As far as Eastern Westerns from the last few years go, it wasn’t as unique, beautiful, and awe-inspiring as Jee-woon Kim’s The Good, the Bad, the Weird, but it was still a really fun way to spend two hours.

And, in other Django related news. I was pretty fricking excited last week when my friend Josué sent me the link to the first images, via Entertainment Weekly, from Tarantino’s Django Unchained. So many exciting movies coming later this year!


the five-year engagement.

I loved The Five-Year Engagement. 

I thought there was a pretty good chance I would like it. I’m already a huge fan of Jason Segel’s writing and co-writing (with friend, Nick Stoller), with Forgetting Sarah Marshall and The Muppets. The cast is great, with stars Emily Blunt and Segel himself backed up by hilarious folks like Chris Pratt, Alison Brie, Mindy Kaling, Rhys Ifans, and Brian Posehn.

For some reason, I didn’t expect to be moved by the film’s sweetness the way I was. In hindsight that doesn’t make any sense, because as Emily pointed out when we were walking out of the theater, Segel is great at writing a smart, insightful core inside raunchy silliness. His insight into human foibles and relationships was on display again in The Five-Year Engagement. I’m actually really impressed that he nailed long relationships so well, being that he isn’t married himself.

This was the anti-rom-com. It’s not about finding the perfect person and living happily ever after, it’s about finding a person you love and deciding you’re going to make it work through all the bull-shit and imperfections of life.

The only part of my life that consistently makes sense is my marriage. It’s not perfect, Emily and I aren’t perfect for each other, and we let each other down all the time. Yet, we also decided that we are going to make this work, and neither of us has any desire to imagine what life would be like apart. We’re in this together, and while people try to make marriage mean so many things in this world, especially conservatives, it’s not really all that complicated. Our marriage just means choosing to love each other every day, to support each other every day, to forgive each other every day, and to look out for each other before everyone else, including ourselves. I want to do everything I can to help Emily be everything she can be, and she damned sure does the same thing for me. It’s a very good thing, and the only decision in my life I’m sure was a good idea.

This movie resonated with us in so many ways. So many of the details are way off, but the core emotional values the movie arrives at are pretty much where we’ve arrived ourselves.

Also, as a bonus, the movie is pushed forward by the music of Van Morrison, with many Morrison songs, including several covers. Good job on the musical choices, boys!

Oh yeah, and there is an argument between two characters in the film that takes place in the characters of Elmo and the Cookie Monster.

Good times. We laughed, we smiled at the sweetness, Emily poked at key moments of similarity to us. It gets the official Scott Small seal of approval.




the name of the wind. [fictionista.]

Of late, I had been reading lots of books that had decent enough stories, but really weak prose. I won’t name any of said books, because no one really asked, but the prose I had been reading felt like a first draft. There was no polish, no care for the chosen words.

I suppose this may seem a bit hypocritical on a blog that is almost entirely stream-of-consciousness. However, this isn’t my livelihood, and lets be honest, not many people read it. When I finally release my book of fiction to the world, you can be damned sure I will pour over every word until it is exactly as I want it to be. It might not be any good, but that won’t be for lack of trying. Already, I painstakingly rework the chapters that I’ve written with every reading, and I barely feel like I’ve gotten started.

In fiction, the words are the story, the medium. Everything comes to the recipient in the form of the prose. Thus, regardless of what type of fiction it is, whether it is tight, gritty,Hemingway-esque fiction or grandiose, lyrical high fantasy, it still seems like prose is where it’s at. All that to say, I have read many stories lately with distractingly weak writing. For me, this means that no matter how engaging the story arc might be, these stories have no chance of staying with me well after I am done reading.

I really needed to read an author who “brought it” in the word-smithing department. Then, it happened. Lo and behold, I was saved from the mire by a man named Patrick Rothfuss. I checked out The Name of the Wind on the recommendation of my dear friends Josh and Amanda, and I’m certainly glad I did. This is wordy fantasy at its very best. Rothfuss clearly delights in the word craft, which makes his world creation that much richer and deeper.

Rothfuss tells the tale of Kvothe (pronounced like Quothe with a v in it), a world famous magician, musician, and all around badass of legend and myth, who is now a lowly inn-keeper hiding in a dead-end town in the middle of nowhere. Kvothe decides to share his tale with a chronicler, after said chronicler uncovers his identity, and thus we get Kvothe’s origin story in The Name of the Wind. 

Rothfuss is keenly aware of fantasy convention, and weaves in and out of that convention well. There is certainly nothing groundbreaking in the sense that the first book in the series offers nothing truly new, but Rothfuss takes the colors already available to him and paints a picture that’s well worth one’s time.

It’s the sort of writing that has stayed with me in the week since I finished reading it. Great prose reprograms the brain, so that my thoughts fit into the framework the author has created for me, from time to time, in the wake of my reading. This is the case with Patrick Rothfuss.

In The Name of the Wind, one can see the traces of fantasy gods like Le Guin, and of course Tolkien. However, the traces always feel like he is playing with someone else’s idea in a new way, not stealing someone’s creativity and passing it off as his own. This is especially true in the way he uses Le Guin’s particular brand of magic: knowing something’s true name, which gives one power over that thing. Le Guin didn’t create that, but she does it far better than anyone else, and Rothfuss is a remarkably capable disciple in that particular fantasy denomination.

I’m actually sort of surprised that the plan is only for this series to be a trilogy, because the first book goes to such great pains creating a fantasy world, introducing a wonderful new fantasy hero, and crafting a magical mythology. The whole first book is really just laying the groundwork for the story that’s to come, and with over 660 pages, that’s quite the foundation. Hopefully, after the third book finally comes out, Rothfuss will have more stories to tell in the world he has created in The Name of the Wind. 

I’m going to bide my time before I read book two in the trilogy, A Wise Man’s Fear, because there is no definite word when #3 comes out, and I don’t want to spend two to five years in a George R.R. Martin no-man’s-land.