The Fall (2006) Review

As a regular listener of the Fantasy Fiction podcast, it’s always nice to hear opinions and suggestions of people I never met, but who share interests and enthusiasms with yours truly. Enter a movie recommendation, which was suggested long ago by one Dominic, co-host/creator of the podcast: The Fall.

Short Version: See it, but only if you can really sit and absorb it. This isn’t something to watch next to chatty friends or with kids running around.

The Fall is a fantasy movie to be sure, which is what immediately got my attention. I had never heard of the film until then (I type my blogs via printing press in a cave), and though chronologically the episode mentioning The Fall was … months ago, at least … I only recently got a hold of it and, as of this post, finished watching it about thirty minutes ago. Needless to say, it’s fresh in my mind.

To put this movie in the fantasy genre would be most apropros, but it may not be what you think when the word “fantasy” comes to mind. We’re not talking gifted adolescents with forehead scars, magic spells or mythical creatures – common tropes for anything worth reading if you ask me. Nay, we’re talking more along the lines of The Cell (which is next on the list of supposedly artsy movies I’ll be viewing shortly) and Hero. We’re talking sweeping landscapes, powerful use of color (I really kept thinking about Hero for most of this) and a plot that has a little going on under the surface.

Keeping spoilers in mind, this is more of a “you should go see this and judge for yourself” rather than a “this is why I didn’t like it” type post. The plot involves a hospitalized man named Roy, bedridden on account of an accident that may have paralyzed him from the waist down, who tells a series of stories – Scheherazade style – to a little girl recovering from a broken arm. Bits and pieces of the real world plot are revealed in snaps between the fantasy plot, and there’s a little Wizard of Oz sense happening where some characters appear to be inspired by people in the hospital or in Roy’s life.

What makes this movie are the visuals, without a shadow of a doubt. Re: Hero (seriously, if you don’t know which one that is, check it out). But I gotta admit, there were a few moments that had me reaching for tissues.

Nah, I’m just foolin’. I used the collar of my t-shirt while pretending I have something stuck in my eye like a real man.

All in all, you should watch this movie if you enjoy:

  • dual-plots
  • stunning imagery
  • rag-tag teams made up of international heroes
  • memorable, distinct characters
  • stories that help you get over a break-up/loss
  • imaginative costumes, landscapes, locales and props

I found very little to criticize about this movie. It has a foreign taste to it, which to me is refreshing, because I’ve since lost patience for many Hollywood films. At times it might have been a little hard to follow, though – as written over at Rotten Tomatoes:

More visually elaborate than the fragmented story can sometimes support, The Fall walks the line between labor of love and filmmaker self-indulgence.

…and as such I’d guess that this one isn’t for everybody. It certainly was for me, though, apparently enough to go run and write a review about it.

Cheers, and happy writing, dear readers.

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Podcast: Fantasy Fiction

As someone who consumes podcasts on a daily basis, one must scour the internet in search of worthwhile content. Sure I’ve got a list of eagerly-awaited ones and a few that I’m testing out, but almost none of them do I look forward to as much as Fantasy Fiction.

Fantasy Fiction is a podcast by two old friends Dom and Josh who, as fate would have it, I’ve watched on one of my favorite youtube webshows, the Continue? Show. In fact, I first heard about Fantasy Fiction through Continue?’s own podcast, the ContinueCast.

Now, Fantasy Fiction is exactly what it sounds like; weekly reading of short stories set in realms of high fantasy. Keep in mind this is not listening for children, unless you want your kids to grow up totally fucking rad. The worlds invented by the hosts are whimsical and free, borrowing familiar ingredients of fantasy that most of us would recognize, yet the setting and characters – my favorites being Throm and Flyman – are refreshingly unique. Elements of heavy metal can be found and heard left and right, along with an overdose of ridiculous humor, over-the-top-violence, and hysterical one-liners as might be seen in some of the greatest fantasy movies of the 80’s.

Each week, Josh and Dom choose a theme based on listener suggestions and write up a story; an admirable practice. There have been numerous times yours truly had to stifle the laughter lest I draw everyone’s attention at Where They Think I Work. They write their stories and jokes for each other, and it shows – and one can’t help but be drawn into their humor and laugh along with them. Much like the folks over at Continue?, this podcast has come to feel like a couple of good old buddies. That I keep in a tiny box. And listen to with my ear holes.

Fantasy Fiction does exactly what I had been searching for in a podcast for some time – stories written by folks who simply love fantasy arguably as much as I do. They aren’t snobby reviewers, hoity-toity authors, or holier-than-thou literary critics. These are guys who’re out to have some fun, and from what I’ve heard and read, that is how some of the best comedy is created. Perhaps most importantly, for myself anyway, I’ve found inspiration and a sort of “clean slate” state of mind after listening to their wacky antics. It’s been remarkably helpful with my own writing.

You can find Fantasy Fiction at iTunes and Youtube, though my podcast app of choice is Podkicker.

What of you, dear readers? Are there any fantasy-related podcasts you’d recommend?

Podcast: Drabblecast

Anyone who’s read more than a handful of my posts knows that I’m really into listening to stuff in my ear holes. Today’s post is a a shout-out to another of my writing-related favorite podcasts: The Drabblecast.

Plagiarized from their site, the Drabblecast is an award-winning fiction magazine featuring short stories in the genres of science fiction, horror, fantasy, “and everything in between.” The host and primary reader-out-louder is one Norm Sherman, whose distinct voice and witty banter make for excellent listening while I’m at The Place Where They Think I Work. All their episodes can be found free to download on the Drabblecast website.

Aside from short stories though, which can range anywhere between 5 to 20 minutes in length, each episode of the podcast is also prefixed with a drabble – a short bit of fiction consisting of 100 words or less. Often the episode ends with a twabble – a short story consisting of 100 characters or less. Gods, people are imaginative with such restrictions.

Not sure where to start? Here are a few favorites from recent episodes:

Episode #298Flying On My Hatred of My Neighbor’s Dog, by Shaenon Garrity. This is a hysterical take on a revolutionary alternative fuel being discovered that not only succeeds in saving the nation, but promises to extend the limits of human exploration…

Episode #302The Next Logical Step by Ben Bova. I adored this; the story itself has a very good hook about a War Game simulator – and an ending that honest-to-Zeus gave me goosebumps.

Episode #305:  Testimony Before an Emergency Session of The Naval Cephalopod Command by Seth Dickinson. This story taught me a new word and concept (solipsistic). Multiple characters are interviewed in this excellent piece about a trained, weaponized giant squid during the Cold War.

Here’s to Norm, a man doing great work out there on the interwebz. Toss ’em a donation if you’re so inclined. No they didn’t ask me to mention that – and yes I did donate. Ha!

Experience: Thrilling Adventure Hour

On the 11th of October, I sojourned to the Bell House of Brooklyn, NY, eager to see the live performance of a podcast to which I frequently listen.

Anyone familiar with The Thrilling Adventure Hour know what I’m talking about.

The Thrilling Adventure Hour is a podcast that perhaps can best be described as a sketch comedy. The time there at the Bell House, one and a half hours in total, was spent watching a number of voices I’d only heard for the past half-year or so come to life before me.

Now I’m not for knocking anything really, but I’d be lying if I said the severe lack of chairs did not affect my experience there. As a matter of fact, it wasn’t until after I’d crossed the threshold into the building that I realized I’d been to the Bell House once before – some foray mini-concert with a friend, years ago – and I had to stand the whole time then, too. But I digress.

As for the the Thrilling Adventure Hour itself, it was delightful to see the actors perform live before myself and my friends. It’s a funny thing, how the face and body doesn’t even remotely match the voices I’d come to know and love. I was pleasantly surprised to see various folks playing the parts of multiple characters too – I’ve a sort of soft spot for voice actors, you see. Pleasantly surprised, and impressed.

Now, I can’t say I adored every one of the sketches performed. The crowd around me seemed uproarious, so who am I to say? All I do know is that I think it was clever that the show was bookended with its best performances, opening with Sparks Nevada: Marshal on Mars and Beyond Belief. I had gone with three folks, one of whom was a longtime listener of the podcast like myself, while the other two had no prior experience. In short, one of those two found themselves having a good time (minus the lack of seating), and the other found the whole charade “Boring as hell.” It was an interesting, if brief, discussion on the way back to the subway.

All in all I can safely say I do not regret going. I’m not a person to really go out there and do things, like concerts (except the one I mentioned just before…) or any performance for that matter. Seeing as the TTAH is based in L.A. and this was one of their rare events within arm’s reach of me, I figured I’d regret not going.

I think I’ll stick to just listening, though, considering the memory was soured by aching knees and less-than-great sound quality. Of course I blame them not for any of this, but hey, if you like them then I encourage you to give them a go live.

Here’s to them doing a great job bringing fun and imaginative characters to ludicrous settings!