I am no fan of Martin Amis, but kudos for the truly incredible piece of confessional writing that is his 2011 intro to Ballard’s THE DROWNED WORLD, which goes: I don’t understand sf, I don’t understand Ballard, I don’t understand this novel, I don’t understand climate science, I don’t understand DeLillo (but I do have a crush on him), I don’t understand introductions, and I’m less than 100% on the placement of commas, but I do understand I get paid the same if I pad this out with long quotes, and I do understand spoilers – and to prove it I’ll end with a really big one:
and so anyway it turns out that the best thing about Sir Diddley Squat’s latest xenomorph instalment is that after the prologue – and if you overlook the clunky dialogue, indistinguishability of the ‘characters’, poor grasp of physics, idiot plotting and general boring-ness of it all – most of the first hour is nowhere near as bad as Prometheus (Scott 2012) or, indeed, as the second half of Alien: Covenant, even if the second half is the half in which we get to see Michael Fassbender in a dopey hat, Michael Fassbender play Kurtz as Hannibal Lecter, Michael “you blow into it and I’ll do the fingering” Fassbender finally have a queer romance with Michael Fassbender, and, in the very final shot, Michael Fassbender show off his enormous feet in clown shoes…
and so anyway it turns out the best thing about Overlord (2018) is, as any sane person would expect, the always awesome Bokeem Woodbine, though the second best thing about this very silly film featuring a mission behind German lines in Normandy in the early hours of 6 June 1944 discovering mad scientists manufacturing a Nazi zombie army is the way it poses a mystery every bit as big as how Bokeem “Okay I’ll Be In It, And The Best Thing In It, But Only For 5 minutes” Woodbine makes a living, namely, how in the hell was this film not called D-Day of the Dead
Here’s an interview I did at the fabulous Worlding SF conference in Graz last December:
The Fellowship of the Ring (1954)
Blimey, the idiocy of rural life.
Blimey, the misogyny of rural life.
Blimey, Tom Bombadil. What a twat.
Blimey, this is pedestrian. And I don’t just mean all the walking.
Blimey, these elves are even more insufferable than I remembered.
Blimey, Gandalf’s dead. Or is he?
Blimey, these elves are even more insufferable than the last lot.
So Rivendell is Granta and Lorién The New Yorker?
Blimey, Orcs shoot bows the way Imperial Stormtroopers fire blasters.
Blimey, that Boromir’s a wrong ’un.
Well, that whole fellowship thing didn’t last long, did it?
and so anyway it turns out that the best thing about The Girl with All the Gifts (2016) is not the absence of Sean Pertwee in a scenery-chewing Sean Pertwee role, because if there is one thing this movie needs it is Sean Pertwee in a scenery-chewing Sean Pertwee role, no, the best thing about this movie is one or other of these two slowly dawning realisations: either a) that Gemma Arterton is gradually transmuting into Mads Mikkelsen, who, by the way, was fabulous in his unexpected turns as Tamara Drewe and Gemma Bovery; or b) that what people actually mean when they say that The Girl with All the Gifts is unlike any other zombie movie is that The Girl with All the Gifts is, more than any other zombie movie, almost precisely identical to an underdeveloped, poorly plotted, British ‘not actually sf’ sf drama mini-series…
My essay ‘Dulltopia’ from the ‘Global Dystopias’ issue of Boston Review is now available online – it questions the claims made by Fredric Jameson and Slavoj Zizek about how boring contemporary dystopias are, then imagines these luminaries are right about how boring contemporary dystopias are, and then turns to slow cinema and the examples of Peter B. Hutton’s At Sea (2007) and Mauro Herce’s Dead Slow Ahead (2015), the latter of which I adore.
The essay ends with an allusion to Paul Klee’s Angelus Novus, every Marxist’s favourite angel thanks to Walter Benjamin, but in this context dismisses it in favour of an angel every bit as cool from Albrecht Durer’s Melencolia 1 – she is soooooooo bored and really pissed off and her dog is kinda funny looking.