Tag Archives: writing

Film Review — Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

Director Doug Liman brings us a masterful adaptation in the truest sense of the word.

Edge of Tomorrow 1

Time is a precious commodity in any film, but especially so in one that spends the majority of its run recycling scenes and settings as the primary means of advancing its story. There are many risks associated with this narrative technique, the most obvious of which is your audience growing bored of stale settings before your story has come full circle. Edge of Tomorrow, however, laughs boldly in the face of these concerns and masterfully exploits every last moment of screen time spent with its audience.

Based on a Japanese light novel—Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s All You Need is Kill—the film takes place in a near-future Earth setting during a war with an unknown alien species. Sound familiar? Don’t worry. Most of the story movement here centers around our protagonist, who makes a habit of dying, only to wake up at the start of his final day amongst the living. The final product is oozing with originality and boasts a pace that begins steadily enough, but quickly takes off at a dead sprint that it maintains for its entire duration.

There is no time for hand-holding here.

Narrative ground is covered quickly and intelligently, and director Doug Liman works under the assumption his audience is sharp enough to keep up, filling in large time gaps with precisely measured dialogue and action. The audience doesn’t need to relive this day in full every single time our protagonist does—so we don’t. It’s that simple. The presentation is quick, but always leaves viewers with just enough information to follow what’s playing out before them. Liman truly takes full advantage of this story’s relatively complex structure, developing the plot in a fashion entirely unique to his work. Many changes are made from the source material, but they are almost unanimously for the better, and there are an equal number of homages—such as the Americanization of protagonist William Cage’s name from the original’s Keiji Kiriya.

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Music Preview – Meg Myers’ Make a Shadow EP

What is it about Meg Myers?

Make a Shadow

Those close to me (and those who pay any attention to my social media posts) know that I’m a pretty big fan of Meg Myers. Her music is a bit of a departure from what I’m typically playing on road trips, so many have inquired what exactly it is that has me hooked. A mention from Mike Shinoda first brought her work to my attention, which should come as no surprise to the aforementioned groups, but what’s kept me coming back for more?

To be honest, I’ve had a hard time nailing that down myself. It might be the dark tone displayed in so many of her songs, her admittedly twisted charm, or maybe it’s the fact that she originates from the same areas of East Tennessee that I grew up in. I couldn’t say for sure, but I personally feel it has something to do with the way she blends up so many genres into a sound that she has effortlessly crafted as her own. It’s a sound that I loved in “Monster,” the track originally shared by Shinoda, and one that I’ve continued to love as it’s evolved in her latest releases.

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Film Review: Oblivion (2013)

Kosinksi’s labor of love brings us an inspired hybrid of classic and new age sci-fi.

If you’re not familiar with the name Joseph Kosinski, there’s a pretty good chance that’s about to change—and for good reason. He directed the 2010 Tron: Legacy, and he’s the guy who worked on the original Gears of War trailer set to Gary Jules’ “Mad World” back in 2007. His most recent work, however, was on the 2013 film, Oblivion—which he wrote, produced, and directed.

In case you’re not in the loop with the backstory here, Oblivion was originally written by Kosinski as a graphic novel circa 2005, though it’s often been more adequately referred to as an “illustrated novel.”

There’s only one problem with the original work: it was never published.

At least, it hasn’t been published yet. As of this writing, there’s supposedly a text write-up floating around out there with a relatively substantial amount of concept art to accompany it. Some of the artwork has made its way online, but that’s been the most of it thus far. There is still a chance of a future release, however, which would make for an interesting situation—the source material being released after the film, both of which were handled primarily by the story’s original creator.

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TV Review: Arrested Development (Season Four)

A little more development would have been welcome after the infamous seven-year wait.

I know I’m not alone when I say I’ve been waiting a long time for this. Unfortunately, I also know I’m not alone when I say that rarely have I experienced such disappointment from such a highly anticipated event. The worst part about this disappointment is that the material here is by no means bad — it was just far too fragmented.

As a disclaimer, this is not a strictly negative review; think of it more as constructive criticism. I truly am thankful to Mitchell Hurwitz and all the involved cast and writers for working to bring this show back, and I’m curious to see what (if anything) happens from here.

When confirmation of the fourth Arrested Development season was announced, I was excited, but I didn’t get my hopes too high. I knew that the show was going to be different, so I made sure to keep an open mind. My initial fear was that this would simply be a handful of episodes that rehashed the same jokes we’d heard so many times over the years. Strangely enough, however, the final product was disappointing for exactly the opposite reasons — one of which was a complete lack of the classic running jokes.

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World Building

English: Cyclic progressions of the universe

English: Cyclic progressions of the universe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Every time I sit down to write lately, I can’t help but think, “What have I gotten myself into?”

My focus recently has shifted from my short stories to the novel I’ve been working my way around to for a long time now. A couple of the stories that I’ve felt especially attached to, I finally decided were too big for the medium I had originally written them in. I have to expand both of these, though to what extent, I’m not entirely sure yet.

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A Boyle Burial

“I hope you are dead, friend.”

Malachi Boyle ran a graveyard on the edge of town. Old Man Malachi, they called him. It was an old establishment, and many a resident had been laid to rest there by family members. He supposed so many wished to see their loved ones off in such a location for the same reason they chose to live in this small town; it reminded them of a simpler time.

English: Lychgate, St Malachi's, Hillsborough ...

English: Lychgate, St Malachi’s, Hillsborough The lychgate, at St Malachi’s parish church 860205, with the walled cemetery 554464 beyond. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Olde Boyle Cemetery had been the family business for generations. Holding with tradition, every grave had been dug by the hands of a Boyle, and each had been filled by the hands of a Boyle. It would always be that way at Malachi’s cemetery.

“What relief you must feel, gone from this world… You have been released from such torment. I pray that you linger no longer.”

Malachi thrust his shovel into the dirt and allowed it to fall down onto the coffin below. Inside that coffin was a man whose graveside ceremony had been held a few hours earlier. As Malachi stood shoveling the earth over his remains, the sun had already fallen below the trees in the west. Being a small town, it did not take long for all its residents to learn the circumstances of this man’s death. A suicide throws a town like this into a furious fit of whispers. He was already well aware of the news, of course; he always enjoyed when talk of his work reached his ears. They all spoke of how sad it was, how he had left behind a wife and child, and how he had all but abandoned them by the end. Whatever he had done in his life, he would be remembered for his increasingly selfish acts—his final one most of all.

Malachi cared naught for any of that, however. All he cared for at this stage was seeing to this man’s proper burial, preparing him for his eternal rest. Malachi was very practiced in this sort of thing, and it always left him with a sense of fulfillment when it was done.

“Dead… Dead… Oh, I hope you are truly dead.”He paused as he shoveled off more dirt into the hole, listening. The dirt and rubble rained against the wooden lid with a dull rapid-fire impact. He could swear he had heard something else from below. Looking around, he saw that he was still alone. After watching the coffin for a few moments, he went back to shoveling dirt, satisfied that all was quiet. That was when he heard the unmistakable thud that came from inside the coffin. He froze where he stood; there was no doubt this time.

Though Malachi was an elderly man at this point in his life, he certainly did not lack for strength. The dirt had not yet overtaken the coffin’s top, so Malachi promptly bent down, grabbed one end of the rickety wooden box, and hauled it—and its resident—out of the hole onto level ground. Sweat dripped from his forehead as he bent over the coffin, hesitating. Finally, he gathered his courage, reached down, and unlatched the box. In one quick motion, he raised the lid and stepped immediately back, brandishing his shovel before him in a defensive stance.

Artist: Pawel Kuczynski

The man’s corpse inside was still. It had been cleaned up, but the funeral had clearly been of the closed-casket variety. The gunshot wound had left the remainder of his head in an awful mess. Malachi did not move for several minutes. He stood there, simply staring at the body and allowing the body to stare back at him. A gentle evening breeze kicked up and rustled through the surrounding willow trees; it was allowed to run its course and slowly die back down before any further movement occurred in the cemetery.

Finally, he willed his legs to carry him forward once more. He got down on one knee over the body’s resting place and cautiously raised his hand toward the man’s neck, the shovel still gripped tightly in his other hand. As he did this, his eyes drifted up to the mess still held by that neck. It nearly could have passed for a small, squat, caved-in watermelon, were it not for the human facial features that remained. The thought drifted from Malachi’s mind as his index and middle fingers pressed against cold flesh. No pulse. That didn’t make sense, however. He knew what he had heard.

Carefully, Malachi dropped to both knees. His pulse pounded and his knuckles turned white around the wooden shaft of the shovel. He eased in warily and rested his head against the dead man’s chest. A heartbeat. It was unmistakable, and it confirmed his fears.

“No!” Malachi jumped to his feet and brought his shovel down into the corpse’s neck, parting flesh without a moment’s hesitation. “You’re dead, you’re dead, you’re dead!”  His face was red, his blood was boiling. He raised the shovel and thrust it back into the man’s pale and lifeless flesh repeatedly, cleaving through muscle and biting into bone. When he was finished, the neck no longer held its prize that it insisted was a human head.

Gasping for air, Malachi checked his surroundings. There was still nobody to be seen, especially in such darkness. He could, however, make out a few rows of the surrounding headstones. His breathing began to calm and a grin crept easily across his face. He took great pride in his work. The job was not without its risks, of course. He was often afraid that one of his released, his freed men, would not truly have left the torments of life behind. It would be less than desirable for one of these individuals to squander his gift, to cling desperately to the familiar constraints that came with the realm of the living. The bond between Malachi and his clients was a special one, and for them to share their secrets just would not do.

Malachi’s gaze returned to the man’s remains. Once he had caught his breath and his blood had sufficiently settled, he closed and latched the lid. He stood up, pressed his foot against the wooden frame, and shoved the box back into its hole. He returned to shoveling dirt into the grave with calm, steady strokes. “Oh, friend. You are gone from us now, I think.”

MTSU Collage Magazine