I’ve never been particularly quiet about my love for Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse novels. As infrequently as I post here, I’ve still managed to rave repeatedly about these books – most notably here. I have no shame when it comes to bragging that I’ve been a part of this fandom from the very beginning, bringing others into the fold when I can.
Yet, in spite of, or perhaps because of, my love for the books, I really wasn’t holding out much hope for the upcoming Netflix adaptation. I was worried it would follow other YA novel adaptations into the CW-esque cheesy teen melodrama territory, the variety where editing, slow motion segments, and musical cues are used to compensate for absolutely horrid writing and acting. Too often, especially when it comes to fantasy and sci-fi, adaptations are nothing more than a shitty show cosplaying as superior storytelling.
But I tell ya what, this first look at Shadow and Bone is fucking dooooooooooope!
I told you in the final weeks leading up to the first season of Game of Thrones (although I never, ever imagined just how obsessed the world would become with that show), and I’m telling you now: if this trailer is a true indication of this adaptation‘s quality, prepare to meet pop culture’s next big obsession. We’re talking memes and gifs and shipping and crushing and cosplaying and character fan clubs and gasp-inducing episode endings and widespread agonizing while we wait for season two! [Oh, and if the Game of Thrones comparison scares you, because we got burned so badly, the endings of these stories are already written. No inherent risk of your favorite show go through a nightmarish death spiral before your very eyes.]
For realz, tho. The Grisha scenes were *chef’s kiss*, and getting to see the Crows in action warmed my little nerd heart. Also, I’m pretty sure this means the portion of the series set in Ketterdam will all be prequel to the Six of Crows duology, which means entirely new heists-cons-thieving-etc. from Kaz, Inej, and Jesper!! Fuck yes! [Update: turns out, this is absolutely true!!!]
As I’ve had time to reflect – aka, pace with antsy and impatient expectation since this show doesn’t come out until late April – the takeaway from this trailer that encourages me most were the many brief flashes of scenes that will make fans swoon. Not over-the-top fan service, but nods that let those already initiated know, “Hey, we get what you love about these stories and characters. We’ve got this.”
My only complaint is that it wouldn’t have killed them to release the show two weeks earlier for my birthday.
Have you ever been in the middle of watching a movie and realized you’re watching one of your new favorite films? The credits haven’t even rolled yet, but you know – like really, really know – that you’re watching an all-timer. It only happens to me once in a very great while, and there are only a small handful of experiences in life that bring me as much joy
I’m delighted to say that magic struck again for me last week as I watched Tampopo for the first time, and instantly fell in love.
The movie is an ode to food that weaves isolated vignettes around the core story of Tampopo and her sad little ramen shop. It had me from the very first scene and never let me go.
The various vignettes mine comedy from the modern human relationship to food, with all the beauty, community, absurdity, artistry, and sensuality it brings to our lives – often with a focus on the more food obsessed among us. From the recurring scenes of an epicure gangster and his lover, to the band of homeless men who are actually gastronomic geniuses, nearly every minute strikes gold.
Then, the central narrative is like SevenSamurai, but instead of a ragtag group of ronin, it’s a ragtag group of amateur food lovers; and instead of helping poor farmers fight off bandits, they’re trying to help a woman create an amazing ramen shop; and instead of a sweeping action epic, it’s a hilarious comedy.
There’s sex, death, crime, family drama, joy, jabs at sociocultural roles and assumptions, and lots of glorious silliness. Also, as I discovered when I looked up the cast after the fact, Ken Watanabe was in the movie the whole fucking time!
You should watch Tampopo. Or we should watch Tampopo together virtually. Or after quarantine we can all watch Tampopo in the same room. Or, better yet, all of the above, in whatever order suits you. What I’m saying is,please watch Tampopo.
Somecrazyhow, it’s already February, and we’re nearing the 11 month mark of being trapped in our homes!! That’s quite a bit of time we’ve all had to watch, binge, read, and play all of the things.
We can finally say that the end is in sight, like, for really real, but even as the vaccine rolls out, getting back to some semblance of normal is still a long way off. So, I guess you’re still going to need some quality titles to keep you sane and keep you company, and it’s been a while since I shared any sweet, sweet RtM recommendations.
Well, good news – for all three of you reading this – the wait is over! For your consideration, here are five things I loved in January to help you fill the hours you’ll still be trapped at home for the next few months – not new releases, but things I enjoyed for the first time.
Watch! Read! Enjoy! Or don’t. You know, do your thing or whatever.
The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin
In case you haven’t heard yet, N.K. Jemisin is pretty incredible. And you don’t have to take my word for it, as she is easily the most celebrated and decorated speculative fiction writer of the last decade.
If you’ve already read her work, you know it’s powerful, fresh, socially resonant, and constantly surprising. If you haven’t, it’s time to start.
In short, The City We Became is the story of six people who become the personifications of New York City – the five boroughs, as well as the City as a whole – in order to fight an ancient evil hellbent on destroying NYC, followed by our entire dimension. As is the case with all of her work, I’ve never read anything like it before, and I can’t wait for the next installment in the series.
The book is an expansion of one of my favorite short stories from her award-winning collection, How Long ‘Til Black History Month, which is another great place to start if you’re a neophyte. It’s a great way to get a sampling of some of the remarkable places her imagination takes us, and it, too, is an award winner. Then again, it’s a bit redundant to call an N.K. Jemisin book ‘award-winning,’ because they all bring home hardware.
The Last Dance
And speaking of bringing home hardware, I finally got around to watching this docuseries that so many – even some non-sports fans – freaked out about last year. With all that hype, it still exceeded my expectations. I threw on an episode late one night, and it took a concerted effort to resist bingeing the entire thing well into the morning.
Jordan’s golden years covered my pre-teen through mid-teen years, and revisiting how special that era was for sports fans brought me more joy than I’d expected. As a Knicks fan, Jordan was the bane of my existence, costing the Knicks multiple NBA Finals appearances. Still, I’ve always known I was blessed to be witness. For a time, Jordan ran the world, becoming a global phenomenon no other athlete ever has, before or since.
The be honest, I’d come to take for granted that the real reason I think Jordan is the best ever is purely the generational. He was the icon of my young life, so, obviously I’ll be partial to him, right? Watching The Last Dance showed me that my opinion has nothing to do with a mind’s-eye blurred by nostalgia. Jordan was every bit the god I remember him being.
Another critically acclaimed, universally adored documentary I finally got around to, Apollo 11 takes viewers through the days surrounding the first moon landing, but using only video and audio from the event – no commentary, no talking heads, no narrative tom-foolery for effect. The result is a beautifully crafted, immersive look at one of the most remarkable moments in human history.
If you think there is no way that a collection of newsreel footage and glorified home movies and audio edited together into a seamless whole could be absolutely captivating entertainment, Apollo 11 is ready to prove you wrong.
This celebrated 1988 Dutch film takes viewers on a dark journey. The story centers on a man’s obsessive attempts to discover what happened to his girlfriend, who went missing when they were on holiday three years earlier. The story not only follows the obsessed Rex, a man now incapable of healthy relationships or living a normal life, but also the unlikely killer and his voyeuristic curiosity about Rex’s unyielding need to solve the mystery. It’s a beautifully crafted piece of cinema, with a haunting ending you won’t forget any time soon. Or ever.
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
I love some good Gothic horror, and Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s newest novel is exactly that. The story follows protagonist Noemí Taboada as she investigates the seemingly deranged and desperate letters received from her cousin, which plead that her life is in danger and that voices speak to her from the walls. Noemí must travel to the once glorious mansion where her cousin lives with the mysterious and reclusive family she’s married into.
Ghosts? Gaslighting? Supernatural evil? Vengeful houses? The eternal residue of tragic romance? It’s Gothic horror, so it could be any or all of the above (it’s not all of the above).
Mexican Gothic is a dark, twisted story full of mystery, creepy atmosphere, ancestral curses, and (possibly) otherworldly peril… sooo, Gothic horror.
Also, when looking for an image I came across Kelly McMorris’s fan artfor the book, which I quite liked!