The Scarlet Gospels

Clive Barker’s long awaited book, The Scarlet Gospels, is finally in the hands of fans.

Focused on Pinhead, of Hellraiser1 fame, and Harry D’Amour, a private detective in several of Barker’s works, it was eagerly awaited. Barker would revisit and expand the mythos and reveal what was merely suggested in prior works. The story sets Pinhead in motion, with Harry D’Amour and allies seeking to oppose and witness what occurs.

It’s a disappointment. It isn’t a bad book, but it isn’t up to the standards of previous work from the author. And after years of hints and anticipation, it’s a much smaller book than expected. Teased at 243,000 words in manuscript form by the author, the final published form is significantly shorter. It feels as if a much longer work simply had large sections lopped off, leaving snippets of details unexplained. It’s unpolished compared to much of Barker’s work, and seems intended to set up a series rather than designed to tell the tale and wrap up questions.

It was not bad. It was not great. I just expected more.

★★★☆☆


  1. With the story focusing on the canon details of Hellraiser and Pinhead as written in Clive Barker’s work, rather than the extended movie franchise. 

Tammy

Watched Tammy.

The plot follows the titular Tammy, played by Melissa McCarthy, as she screws up, decides to take a trip with her grandma, Susan Sarandon, and grows up a little. Nothing especially new, but a reasonable premise that has resulted in some pretty solid movies over the years. But there has to be a reason to follow along beyond “what will the idiot do now?” and absent Chris Farley’s sweetness and likability or something similar, it’s not very good.

Weird movie. Melissa McCarthy and Susan Sarandon lack some essential chemistry, everything feels like Tommy Boy meets Joe Dirt with an added dose of meanness. There’s some genuinely funny bits, but almost every moment of the movie is cruel.

Can’t recommend this movie to anyone. It’s not even bad enough to watch for how bad it is.

★☆☆☆☆

47 Ronin

Watched 47 Ronin on Tuesday.

I really enjoyed it. No, it wasn’t historically accurate. Yes, it plopped a white dude in the middle of a quintessentially Japanese story1. Yes, it added a romance subplot. Yes, it added magic and fantastic elements. It was still fun.

The movie is problematic from a cultural appropriation and erasure standpoint. It fails to get major and minor details about Japanese life, society, language, or customs right. It warps a story about duty and honor into a love story. How much of those details are capable of being meaningfully conveyed to an audience without a pre-existing background in Japanese folklore, culture, and history is debatable.

For all of that, it was a rip-roaring fun movie. I do wonder how much the director’s2 intended cut would work and how different it would be from the current final product. Keanu Reeves was solid, nothing special, but not a drag upon the movie either. This is less an attempt at a historical epic, than someone using the bare frame of the historic event to create a fantasy film.

Highly recommended.

★★★★☆


  1. See this wikipedia article for more background. 
  2. Carl Rinsch reportedly intended for Keanu Reeves to be less central to the movie. 

Arsenic and Old Lace

Watched Arsenic and Old Lace last night.

Liked it a lot. I’ve mixed feelings on the actual play because it’s done so often and has ossified into a hoary old stale set piece so much of the time, but the movie was excellent.

The humor of it all works excellently with the cast. There’s just something about those two sweet old ladies.

★★★★☆

Gravity

Gravity was fantastic.

The craft is immaculate.

Sandra Bullock was well cast. Alfonso Cuarón brought his style to the job. The movie is crisp and tight. If it were any longer, it wouldn’t hold up. Any shorter, and the tension and suspense wouldn’t have the time to work the magic. And there is a magic to it.

The sole flaw is the fact that it can only be seen for the first time once.

Highly recommended.

★★★★☆