Shorties #18

The holidays are almost here! Time has become more precious than ever! Let's bang out some Shorties!

#1: Mortdecai: I knew going in that this was one of the worst-reviewed movies of 2015. But I'm always trying to make new friends in the neighborhood, and a recent acquaintance had invited me over for chili and a movie. How could I argue when he picked this out? So, I was boxed into watching a movie I fully expected to suck. And guess what! It did! Mortdecai stars Johnny Depp, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Ewan McGregor. It's supposed to be a charming romp through the world of art theft, but it's painfully unfunny. Half the movie is Depp's character talking about his mustache in an inexplicably goofy accent. It was a pretty excruciating experience to sit through, but hey. At least the chili was good. (Grade: D+)

#2: Song of the Sea: I was mostly interested in this 2014 animated film because I really liked director Tomm Moore's first film, The Secret of Kells. The animation style of Song of the Sea is just as hauntingly beautiful, if not more so. I just got through saying I don't really watch movies for style over substance, but here we are at another exception. Song of the Sea is about an impetuous young boy who is generally annoyed by his younger sister, but when she starts manifesting strange behavior, the two of them go on a quest to save the spirit world by freeing some mystical fairies. The story is fine, but the visuals are the real reason to watch this movie. It is simply gorgeous. (Grade: B+)

#3: Fables Vol. 3: Storybook Love: I've been continuing with my cautious foray into comic books, but while the Archie series continues to impress, this latest volume of Fables fell flat. Whether we're following Jack as he spars with Death or some random reporter named Tommy Sharp, the stories just couldn't grab me this time around. Not even Bigby and Snow White hunting the fugitive Goldilocks could stop me from yawning through the whole issue. I'm not sure if I'll continue with the Fables series, or just wait until the next episode of the game comes out. (Grade: C)

#4: Hunter x Hunter - Seasons 1 & 2: Speaking of entertainment worlds that I have no experience with, I decided to try out a little anime. A friend recommended this show that's streaming on Netflix, and I agreed to give it a try. What a pleasant surprise! In Season 1 of Hunter x Hunter, we follow a group of new friends who are going through an intense test to become Hunters, the most respected profession in the world. Their motivations vary wildly, but they band together to beat their competitors and make it to the end of the test. Season 2 is post-test, and focuses in on two of the crew, Gon and Killua. They enter a series of arena fights to make money, and befriend a trainer who promises to teach them to harness more mystical powers than just raw strength. For an anime newbie like me, this was a perfect entry into the genre, and I'm looking forward to starting Season 3. (Grade: B)

#5: The Halloween Tree: I know we're past the Halloween season, but I couldn't resist this brief 1972 novel by Ray Bradbury. Eight friends get ready to go trick-or-treating, but realize that the coolest member of their gang, Pipkin, is missing. They catch a brief glimpse of him, but he seems deathly ill. Soon after, they meet the mysterious Mr. Moundshroud, who whisks them off on a journey to teach them what Halloween is really all about, giving them hope that they can save Pipkin in the process. It was a lot like those shows purporting to teach kids the real meaning of Christmas, but given that it's Halloween instead, this was a lot more fun. Just reading it gave me the sensation of standing in a windy graveyard, with lengthening shadows all around me. Bradbury was a master of writing atmosphere, and this was a terrific sandbox for him to play in. (Grade: B+)


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