Month: October 2011

Star Trek: Vanguard: Open Secrets

I won’t lie and call this a masterpiece, but it is an extremely enjoyable and brisk read continuing the fun fun fun that is the Vanguard series. The noble T’Prynn: forever locked in a Katra battle with the devious Stel from a koon-ut-kal-if-fee gone wrong! The righteous Diego Reyes: on trial for a crime he’s defiantly proud to admit he committed. The calculating Chel, Ambassador Jetanien, slurping fetid soup and trying to negotiate back channel deals between the Federation, the Klingons, the Tholians and. . .who else? The enthusiastic Ming Xiong, a young scientist and researcher put in harm’s way to discover the truth behind the mysterious Taurus Reach Genome. And, etc etc. It’s a lot of fun, if you can’t tell. Reading Trek fiction with your pals Kirk & Spock (or Picard or whomever) always feels like a little bit of a put-on. The expanded universe stories do it for me. I’ve already got Book 5 in the series. . .but may not jump in right...

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The FP (2011), Trost Bros. A-

Seeing The FP for a second time (and the first time sober) I was somewhat shocked to discover that, hey, there’s actually some smart stuff going on here. Beyond just giggling at the ridiculous speech (the vernacular is as peculiar as an episode of Deadwood) you can study the frame and see it exploding with creativity. A Civil War leitmotif runs through the entire picture, as do very amusing “faked” old computer graphics and tongue-in-cheek sound cues. It’d be easy to shrug The FP off as a gimmick movie – and, yeah, death by Dance Dance Revolution is campy and weird – but it is really hard to make something like that watchable for more than 15 minutes. The performances, particularly Art Hsu’s and Caitlyn Folley are so good and so funny that they actually don’t just stay funny, if that makes any sense. . ....

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Deadwood, Season 2, A

Over 1 week has passed since I concluded Deadwood Season 2 and I am, frankly, still in a state of awe. I think the thing that really does it for me is this: it isn’t about the story. It isn’t even really about the characters, because I’m not sure how many of them (other than Bullock, Swearengin, Joanie Stubbs and The Widow Garrett) are really growing or evolving. What I find so mesmerizing is the sense of tableaux. Taking these people and putting them in very ephemeral situations within a greater context and watching them buzz about. The great gimmick, of course, is how any given scene can volley back and forth between base vulgarity and utter beauty in a flash. There will literally be a man wallowing in shit or a drunkard plowing a prostitute, and then an unpredictable right turn into the genteel and emotional will appear without warning. Unlike, truly, anything I’ve ever seen on television there is a profound theatrical artistry on this show. If I had to sum up what has happened in the first two seasons, well, I could get into the nitty gritty of the soap opera, but, really, nothing has happened other than “slow civic progress.” And that’s why the show is so...

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Mimic (Director’s Cut) (1997/2011), Guillermo Del Toro, B-

I never actually saw this before now, so I can’t compare the “director’s cut” to the theatrical one (to hear Mr. Del Toro speak, it is quite different.) I’ll say the first half is quite enjoyable (liked the kids!) then once it becomes “group trapped in a place with a monster attacking” it became less interesting. Also: Mira Sorvino. Kinda….awful, huh? Overall, though, a fun enough way to spend two hours. Charles S. Dutton is very...

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Jordan Hoffman is a New York-based writer and film critic working for The Guardian, Vanity Fair, Thrillist, Times of Israel, NY Daily News and elsewhere.

He is the host of ENGAGE: The Official Star Trek Podcast, a member of the New York Film Critics Circle and challenges you to a game of backgammon.

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