New Fiction 2019 – January

Geek Love by Katherine Dunn (1989)

This novel was the sort of dissonant, well-performed journey that seems possible only in a dream, and yet, I think, here we are. We’re in this time of strange, unbelievable events, and sometimes it’s nice to imagine something could magically sweep through and end the madness.

Mary Poppins Returns dir. Rob Marshall (2018)

It’s more of the same, a safe bet by Disney, and I smiled more times than I could count. Blunt is a cheekier Poppins than fans of the original might be used to. I mean, she’s great, she’s your cool aunt, she’s all our cool aunt, so yes I’m glad she returned to shake things up and remind us to sing.

The Bone Collector dir. Phillip Noyce (1999)

At first you think, wow, Denzel, this is some boldass docility, but then you remember that Washington is the sort of actor with a movie star smile, and you realize ah, yes, of course this is perfect, it’s all smile and attitude. The murders are gnarly, the puzzles are weak, but it’s good to add another piece of Washington oeuvre to the lexicon.

American Gangster dir. Ridley Scott (2007)

So hey, why not another? It’s not the strongest turn by either lead actor, but an interesting story and the kind of thing you can’t believe was happening in this, our United States of America. But it did, and it does, and the notion of good cops and bad guys being complicated figures doesn’t quite matter when you see the bodies left in their wake.

Glass dir. M. Night Shyamalan (2019)

It was a bit of extra information, Shyamalan’s epilogue that ran too long. The premise is cool but it’d be better if it was a series of interviews until the end. An HBO series, maybe?

Escape Room dir. Adam Robitel (2019)

I thought, “damn, this is like watching a video game,” and I don’t like simply watching video games. Level one, level two, and so on. And now horror movies anticipate sequels? Ya don’t gotta do that.

Parks and Recreation (2009-2015)

I love The Simpsons, at least those episodes of my generation, and this was a nice take on the sitcom that builds up a town instead of just its core cast. Some jokes, especially those repeated comments about Jones’s beauty, fall flat, and will be among the takes people bring up about the show in the coming decades. Plaza is probably the one I like most for her character’s begrudging acceptance of kindness and sympathy.

The Punisher – Season 2 (2019)

Should I like this guy? I don’t want to, and so I don’t think he’s doing anything noble or worthy of a hero. But then, you don’t have to like someone to appreciate well-executed revenge. This is Revenge City and I’d hang out here again.