I’m surprised that I haven’t heard many people talking about the new anthology Stories: All-New Tales, edited by Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio. I bought it for my Kindle last week and the stories thus far have been uniformly very good-to-excellent. So far I’ve read Roddy Doyle’s terrific “Blood,” about a man who is trying to hide his sudden craving for blood from his wife, “Fossil-Figures” by Joyce Carol Oates, about the divergent lives of twins, one of whom tried to consume the other in utero, “Wildfires in Manhattan” by Joanne Harris (an author previously unknown to me) about Norse gods living in Manhattan as ordinary humans (somewhat), “The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains” by Neil Gaiman, a revenge myth involving a dwarf, “Unbelief” by Michael Marshall Smith (an assassination story with a twist) and “The Devil on the Staircase” by Joe Hill, in which the text is laid out like stairs for much of the story. Next up is the Joe R. Lansdale entry, and that’s still only scratching the surface.
I posted my review of Villain by Shuichi Yoshida last night. I’ll be working on my The Passage (Cronin) review this week.
We watched the French film Father of My Children (Le père de mes enfants) this weekend. The main character is an independent movie producer (loosely based on Humbert Balsan) who runs Moon Films…or rather, it runs him. His nearly fifty movies have some critical success, but no financial success, so his twenty-year-old company is perpetually on the verge of collapse. He has a loving wife and three daughters (the eldest of which is played by the star’s real daughter) who play second fiddle to the demands of his company all the time. He’s always on the phone (sometimes on more than one phone at once) and his hands barely touch the steering wheel when he drives because he’s juggling phones, cigarettes and everything else. Though the company’s financial troubles are mounting, he is in complete and utter denial. He’s still picking up the tab for expensive dinners. The budget for a film directed by a moody, unpredictable Swedish director (loosely based on Lars Von Trier) is running out of control. Then something happens midway through that will come as a complete shock to anyone who doesn’t know the story of Humbert Balsan. The film then switches gears to focus on the wife and daughters. In typical French film fashion, the credits roll unexpectedly. However, we found a lot to discuss after the movie was over. The director expertly observes things and lets the viewer come to conclusions. Things aren’t divulged through narrative or dialog that serves no purpose. Definitely worth watching.
Matt Smith’s first season as Doctor Who is almost at an end. The episode that aired in England this week, The Pandorica Opens, is set in large part at Stonehenge, which is appropriate given that it’s the solstice. The episode ties together all the questions that have been asked throughout the season, and even acts as a Greatest Hits of itself, bringing back Van Gogh, Liz X, Churchill and, most importantly, River Song, who leaves the Doctor one of her typical messages like something out of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Another scene is reminiscent of the cantina from Star Wars and the tributes continue with Raiders of the Lost Ark theme music playing while the characters descend into the Underhenge. It’s all one big mashup that culminates in the mash-up of all mash-ups, a who’s who of every major villain the Doctor has ever faced. To be honest, I was working on the theory that the Doctor was already inside the pandorica. It’s good to see everything that’s been set up begin to pay off. Rory’s return was welcome, though how his final actions will be resolved remains to be seen. No previews for The Big Bang at the end of the episode, so we don’t even get a hint. A terrific finale for a mostly excellent season.