Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Forming some theories. Give me time.

I'll post more details tomorrow.
So I've finished the book. Reading all the blogs I can. Trying to find out what to do if the Slender Man is coming for me, as Bleakley assures me he is. The paranoia is getting worse and worse. My curtains remain drawn. If you're in more danger the more you know, then one thing that won't help is me getting a good look at Him again.

Oh look, now Bleakley's got me doing it too.

I'm working against the clock now, and I don't even know what I'm working towards. A way out, a way to stop him, maybe even a way to get Kari back. But the alternative is terror and death.
pg. 181:
"The Willow's age is, unfortunately indeterminable, but throughout human history, as you have seen in this section, there is evidence of His contact with the world's civilisations. The spate of recurring incidences within the East Sussex area, however, is a problem which has baffled parapsychologists and cryptozoologists for years. Poultergeist-botherers and the desperately gullible, however, are laughably ill-equipped to deal with an existential horror whose presence almost predates written word. Thus, it is left to me to make my own, decidedly better-informed speculation, based on my years of research.

I believe that He comes after people who know too much. East Sussex was the site of one of the more well-publicised early sightings following the development of national communication, and thus, every so often, one happens upon too much information, learns too much, and another spree commences. This damned group includes me, and now includes you, dear reader. I can only hope that in delivering you to Him, I can drive Him away from me, as even now, as I write these words, I can see Him, out of the window in my office. He's perfectly still, His featureless face staring up at me. I've grown calloused to the ache, over the years since that one night, and I write this hoping that He comes after you, neglecting to take my life. My sanity is slipping, and soon it will leave me, but the sorrow of years has dulled the sting of this trauma. I welcome it, and merely wish for the nightmare to end.

I am sorry, and hope that in trapping you I have given you the tools to defeat Him."

That bastard.

Monday, 30 May 2011

"I don’t know what I need but for no apparent reason I’m going terribly south. Nothing has happened, absolutely nothing, but I’m still having problems breathing."
 - House of Leaves

In the days since I started reading this book - though in actual fact before then, since Kari was taken - I've changed a lot. I've not left my house in three days. Not gone to work, not seen any friends - they all stopped coming. My floor is covered in rubbish, empty drink bottles, anything I could eat or drink without having to cook it. I don't like being out of the little sanctuary I've set up for myself. I'm under no illusions; I'm not safe anywhere, and if Daddy wants to kill me, he'll do so, and me being in my bedroom won't stop him. But it's comforting.

The copy of House of Leaves that Kari cried all over has become something of an obsession, as you may have noticed from the last few posts. That and the Zampano-esque tone of writing Bleakley adopts - a little too self satisfied, and ultimately wrong on many counts. Everything that's left of her is in those little watermarks. I've never been so scared of losing something as I was in those few days before she was taken and now I have, and all that fear isn't just anticipation. I've lost her. I find myself having to face the yawning chasm of her absence, confronted with a sense of tearless, voiceless loss. Abstract, nameless loss.

She's gone, and the enormity of that truth is enough to swallow me whole.

So I keep reading my book, and slowly forming my theories, hoping that maybe, just maybe, understanding will make things better. I'm still too scared to open my curtains.
pg. 151:

"And the black-clad ones could hover, in vision, but not registering in the slightest, until one thought to look for them. While this lead to common depiction of ninja, it also could be an influence from the Walking Willow. A more concrete one within Japanese culture, of course, is the Noppera-bō, or faceless ghost.

(Picture in page, same one taken here from Wikipedia - Simon.)

A faceless being, depicted here in fine clothing. The similarity should be obvious, and even to this day, sightings persist. The Japanese concept of the ghosts of people enacting their grudges on the living seems to be a rather close fit for the Willow.
He has been here a very long time. And I fear that He will be here for a very long time to come."
pg. 148

"Of course, His preference for children is the most obvious, and perhaps the most worrying of all His traits. When adults are attacked, it is usually because they saw something, they heard something. But the children are attacked, and slain, with no apparent pattern. It would appear that He prefers children.

Michael Pulman, aged 9, was taken on the 12 July 1994, having walked into his parents room to tell them that the tree outside his room was not right, that he'd looked for a good long time even though his eyes hurt, and that he thought that the "tree has too many branches."

And even though he was scared his parents told him to go back to his room. He just wanted to crawl into bed with them, and feel safe. Why, oh, why did they not understand that there was a man in the tree outside his room, and that the man's arms looked almost like branches?

And so Michael was sent back to his room. And his parents have had to live with that for every waking moment of our lives, and it tears them apart even now. His mother, of course, was taken later, but his father was not. Whether or not he is the lucky one is debatable."

It stops there for three pages before talking about the dress of stage hands in kabuki theatre. How this book ever got past an editor is beyond me.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Pg. 127:

"And if he lacks eyes, oh, how does his gaze weigh down on us so?

For our gaze upon him does us greater harm still."

You see what I mean about over-erudite crap?

I'm finding it harder and harder to buy that Bleakley even thought that what he was writing about is real. The whole thing is a little too Navidson Record-ish, and, like The Navidson Record, I'm worried that the joke's on me for trying to make sense of this dreck.

"Nor have contemporart (sic) sources failed to provide incidence of the Walking Willow. Jay Smith, a security company call centre worker, provides the following testimony:

"I read and listen to a bunch of alarms every night. A large majority of them are false alarms. A small handful of those false alarms are just the ones that get me thinking. These small handful of alarms are ones when people either press their panic button or call to complain that their alarm hadn't sounded.
In the first instance, we get a lot of "A man standing at our door, not responding to us."
"A tall man at our window."
"There's a man wearing black in our yard. Just standing there."
And in the second instance, it's a case where a person is either coming home and sees someone in their home, or worse..."

(Mr. Smith coughs throatily, and when he starts again, his voice is cracked and hoarse.)

"...or worse, they wake up and see someone in the hallway..."

(The audio clip reveals a loud, wavering inhale from Mr. Smith)

"...someone in the hallway, always just standing...while their system is...armed.
And in at least three instances, there have been actual alarms where the police reported to us that they saw an individual in a home. A tall, white male in a suit."

Police have chalked this up to thieves wearing suits because appearing middle-class and employed makes them look less suspicious while casing or robbing a building."

And yes, I've changed the layout. For reasons which should be obvious. This is no longer Old Celluloid.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

"Corners, however, only reveal more corners, and Jed’s light only targets ashen walls, though soon enough they all begin to detect that inimitable growl, like calving glaciers, far off in the distance, which at least in the mind’s eye, inhabits a thin line between where rooms and passageways must finally concede to become a horizon."
 - House of Leaves

So between reading the book and reading various blogs, I've noticed a few rather odd differences between "Daddy" and the Slender Man as the rest of you know him. The foremost is the lack of what many blogs refer to as Proxies, or Revenants. Many other encounters seem to have had human...servants? Worshipers? Puppets? working on behalf of the Slender Man, something which I've seen no evidence of with the Slender Man, or with any of the case studies in The Walking Willow. Perhaps as a related point, "Daddy" seems much more aggressive than other incidences of The Slender Man. Some "Runners" have been staving off death for months, even years. Whereas Kari

The differences are troubling. They reduce the degree to which we can predict what'll happen next.

That's all for today. I'm gonna attempt to sleep. I make no guarantee. Still hoping that HE hasn't caught onto me yet.
Pg. 106:

"It helps not to think of Him as a physical entity, but rather as a quantum occurrence. Many cases of His malevolence have occurred near-simultaneously on opposite ends of the world, yet to suggest that there is more than one seems gauche. It seems instead that He defies the temporal and spacial planes we inhabit in some way. Of course, this draws a contradiction; His interaction with the world is physical, yet His nature is not. The dividing line for this appears to be observation. When He is observed, He is anchored to the physical world; when He is not, He may defy whatever rules he pleases. The act of observing an action alters the result. Quantum mechanics states that this is so*."

* This is actually untrue on anything other than an atomic level. This is something people assume from the Schrodinger's Cat thought experiment, which many theoretical physicists have refuted entirely. Similarly, people tend to misunderstand Heisenberg's Uncertainty principle to mean this, but that states that it is impossible to accurately measure two dependent statistics - that the closer you observe one, the less possible it becomes to accurately observe the other. Again, misunderstanding of the Double-Slit experiment gives a similar conclusion. Bleakley's knowledge of physics is...at best, fuzzy.
Pg. 104:

"The isolation is not physical, not always, but rather, existential. Once He has laid His gaze upon you, you are alone. No-one can help you, no-one can save you. All efforts to do anything other than submit are in vain. Surround yourself with police. Lock yourself in the most secure place possible. It will do you no good. The world may as well be empty, save for you and Him.

You are alone. The only thing that matters is you and Him and the ache."

Friday, 27 May 2011

"ſtairs! We have found ſtairs!"
- House Of Leaves.

I've found myself clinging to the book like a life preserver. It makes me feel like I'm doing SOMETHING, even if all I'm doing is reading a book, which, frankly, I'm amazed got published. While the sources purport to be factual, the author has chosen to arrange them, not in chronological order, as would have probably been an actually good idea, but instead in some bizarre order known only to Bleakley himself. It's also loaded with fanciful conjecture, bizarre imagery and, at times, a jarringly antiquated vocabulary. There's clearly no desire to present facts objectively, with Bleakley instead choosing to let his sense of theatricality run amok. It's a difficult read, much denser than it needs to be. But one thing is easy to ascertain; This Walking Willow is Daddy.

I can't believe I'm saying this crap.

The Walking Willow is Daddy, and I'm almost certain that they're both now better known as the Slender Man. Though, with that last link, there are a few rather jarring differences. I'll go into further detail once I've read further into the book. I might also re-read Kari's blog, if I can face it.

But this goes back a long way, longer than I think any of us have given it credit for. Daddy has been doing these things for a long, long time.
pg. 99:

"Only one factor of His appearance changes throughout the time He has been stalking this earth. His clothes, though always black, have not stayed the same over the centuries. His attire has, however, always been similar to that associated with groups and professions holding influence and power over the people of the time. Men of war. Men of religion. Men of business. Is it any wonder that, in many cultures, Death Himself is a skeletal man dressed in black monk's robes?

This does, however, raise a troubling question - how old is the Walking Willow, to have potentially influenced humanity, not just in the periods documented here, but further back into the base of human history? Is He a man? A lineage of men, stretching back centuries, in a secret order of murderers? Or is he something else? Something, not just older, but Old, like a hand reaching out from antiquity to claw at the throats of the living?"

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Just came across a picture of a nineteen year old girl who was killed by...by the Walking Willow, by Daddy, by the Slender Man, by whatever. She's lying against the wall of an alleyway in Brighton in the 1920s. Her arms are grey from the bruises caused when her arms were...stretched, I guess. Her legs are the same. There's a huge, gaping hole in her stomach, revealing the back of her ribcage. The skin on her torso is sunken into the skeletal structure. Her organs are arranged around her.

I think of Kari. She's Kari's age. She even looks a little like her.

I feel sick.
From pg. 35:

"During this period, the Walking Willow would find many victims falling under His gaze. In 1806, a Mr Simon Gladwell wrote a letter to an old university friend of an experience he had had while wandering through what would later become Gilderage Park, Eastbourne with his brother. His brother, who had developed neurosyphyllis (sic) and had consequently had his mental health deteriorate rapidly, was largely hidden from public view at the time; the Gladwells were a reputable, well-to-do family who had grown rich off of the Industrial boom. However, Simon Gladwell's father was dead, and his stern reign over, and he felt his brother should be treated with some dignity. He writes:

"I had never seen Peter so lucid. The colours of the flowers seemed to stimulate his mind in ways which I had not seen in the many months since his illness began. I felt good, I must confess, about permitting him to experience what he had not for a very long time.

But after a while, he stopped, his eyes finding something beyond the horizon. He stood, fixated for a while, before shrieking and cowering in fear. Thinking he had had some kind of episode, I rushed over to my brother's side. He grasped at my coat and started telling me that he had seen a creature on the horizon. While his words were drowned beneath sobs and moans, the occasional word or phrase was audible - things like "thousands of eyes" and "writhing limbs". Clearly, this was a symptom of his mind's disease, but what was alarming was his ludicity. This was not one of his wanton ramblings from back in his room, I am quite sure of it.

Looking up to where his eyes had rested, I saw no monster, no entity which matched his wild gibbering. My second glance, however, revealed to me that, quite some way away, a man stood, almost at the edge of the tree line of the forest. He was tall, taller than any man I've seen outside a circus. Thin, and bald, and pale, with ill-defined features - in fact, were you to ask, I could not tell you what his face looked like at all. I appear to be rather drawing a blank. His clothes were alarming as well; he was wearing fine, fashionable clothes which betrayed a background of wealth and importance. I must have looked directly at him for a good thirty seconds, his origins or his identity quite unclear to me. Suddenly, I noticed a sharp stabbing pain behind my eyes, a most awful headache. Wincing, I looked down to my brother. Whatever had terrified him had done it's job; he had seemingly retreated back into madness, away from the fear which had hurt him so. He simply lay there, face down, drooling onto the wet earth, and breathing deeply. I looked up again, only to find that the man had gone, disappearing into the woodland."
"Come morning I found the day as I have found every other day — without relief or explanation."
 - House of Leaves

I've got the book in my hands. I've not given it a proper reading, but it's largely a compilation of primary sources commenting on the Walking Willow, as Bealkley calls it. They date back centuries, all the way back to the 1600s in and around East Sussex, with a few from other areas which date back even further, though the book is more tentative about these sources. They all describe, and I'm quoting here, "A tall, shadowy figure, pale, bald and faceless, wreathed in shadow. He at first appears to be a large, emaciated figure, finely clothed and with an indistinct face. But as his contact with his victims progresses, he reveals himself to be a far more terrifying figure, throughout the area's history, and beyond that, the world." Sounds familiar.

This just raises more questions.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

"It’s a nice idea but it reeks of hope. False hope. Not all complex problems have easy solutions; so says Science."
- House of Leaves

This Slender Man thing is looking to be a dead end. I've been reading all day, and it's going to be very difficult finding any accounts of the Slender Man which are real. Some are so fantastical that, to be honest, it's drawing doubt onto the more convincing ones just by their being there. I don't know. It seems to fit but until I've figured out some kind of Litmus test, I'm putting the Slender Man theory on hold.

In the meantime, I've got another lead. I've been reading up on the "crackpot book" the article in the paper mentioned. Informed with the supernatural element, it seems more up the right alley. It's called "The Walking Willow; A Legacy of Murder Throughout the Ages" and was written by a H.R. Bleakley. It was apparently called this because of an old British folk tale that willows were sinister beings, that they would stalk travellers. It's supposedly about a long spate of murders spanning four hundred years around this area. And, interestingly, only forty copies were ever made. It was going to be properly published, but the publishing house withdrew after a spate of...you guessed it, headaches. They immediately sent round a message to other publishing houses that the book was "cursed". As a result, the author had to have it self-published, sinking every penny he could spare into getting those forty books published. Before he could order another printing, Bleakley disappeared, the "curse" having gotten to him. This...was in 1999. That should give you an idea of just how weird this case was. A "curse" in that well-known time of enlightenment, the Nineties?

I'm going to get the book rented tomorrow. They have a few copies in the library, apparently after feeling sorry for the author, not least for having the name Bleakley in this day and age.

That's all for now.
"Keener intellects, however, now regard scientific conjecture concerning the house as just another dead end. It would seem the language of objectivity can never adequately address the reality of that place on Ash Tree Lane."
- House of Leaves

Days of fear and sadness have gutted me, made me feel empty. I continue to do nothing as the girl I love has been abducted by a murderer whose capabilities confound any measures to stop him. Lay in bed. Lights off. My friends have been round to visit as though I were in hospital. They're aloof, awkward. Dealing with their own emotional messes over this. Anyone with a basic sense of pattern recognition would assume that...well, optimism is hard to come by. And so I'm lying in my bed with the curtains drawn and the lights off and I'm remembering the cute little smile that would always break across her face when she got embarrassed, and her big blue eyes, and the softness of her lips and how when we held hands, I could always feel her heartbeat. How she was always so strong, always such a strong young woman, even though her body was frail. I remember parties where we just hung out together, being far too boring for the other guests, and the first time we slept together, and the first few conversations where I realised just how much smarter than me she was, and the last kind words we said to one another. And how much I love that girl, how much I always loved her, and love her even now, even though she's gone, maybe forever. How I never got the chance to tell her that anything like as many times as she deserved.

And I remembered, there is something I can do. She's smarter than me, she was always smarter than me, and that's quite something, and she had felt that she was forced to come to the conclusion that Daddy wasn't human, wasn't...something we, as a species, understand. And I tried to rationalise this, I tried to explain it away, but rationality led me nowhere Trying to be rational was useless, because whatever it is that Daddy is defies rationality. Kari knew that that Daddy was something else, but didn't know what. The effect on video cameras. The fact that Kari seemed to have a dream predicting a little too much about Joey's death for comfort. The fact that he could get past any obstacle in his way. The ache. The ache that seemed to be there whenever anyone got a good look at him.

So I've been doing some digging.

And the first conclusion I've come to is that this "Akinil" guy who kept commenting on our blogs is a dick.

Somehow, he knew exactly what Daddy was. I don't know how, but he hit the nail right on the fucking head, and he just came by at the wrong time. He told us what it was, and sounded like a conspiracy nut doing so, and so we wrote him off.

So sorry, Akinil. You were right. I guess sorry for the "dick" comment above too, though I'm just about to justify that. You could at least have linked us to some information, you know. We would have read it, and maybe understood. Instead, you...well, you ranted about things over 8 feet tall confusing him. It's hard to tell the difference between people who sound like madmen and actual madmen, you know. But the...

Right, to explain, does anyone know what happens when you type "tall suit thin long arms no face" into Google?

A whole load of fashion advice, and a whole load of stuff about an entity called the Slender Man. Tall. Thin. Suited. No face. Kidnaps children. Goes after witnesses. Arson. Murder. Paranoia. Stalking.

But the thing is the wealth of information on him. If you dig even slightly you find hundreds of cases on Slender Man incidence. It's hard to know where to start. Most are probably fictional, some may well just be the rantings of madmen. But I'm going to see what I can find. Get through as many of these accounts as possible. See if there's a way to maybe, just maybe, get Kari back.

That's all for now, folks. Feel free to call me crazy in the comments.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

It's been over two and a half days since she was taken. Over 61 hours have passed. She was there, and then she wasn't. It's still weighing on me. I know she's not confirmed dead. I know I should maybe hold out hope. I know. I know. I know. I know.

Kari's family is back in Eastbourne. The police figure that, now Kari's gone, they're probably safer. I went over to check up on them earlier - they always liked me. I almost expected them to be glad to see me. They weren't...displeased. They barely registered I was there. Fear and sorrow so dense as to have weight, like old clothes soaked through. A tearless, weak-voiced sorrow.

They had her stuff with her. Her suitcase. My copy of House of Leaves. There was a little bit on one of the pages where small circles were ruffled, watermarks. Her tears.

It's not getting any better.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Kari's disappeared.

At about 03:00 yesterday, cameras around the perimeter of the house started malfunctioning. Some gave off intense static, some just shut off, although the only ones which malfunctioned were within a dozen feet of one another, granting a short pathway through the camera perimeter. Shortly thereafter a fire started in the house she and her family were holed up in, near the room Kari slept in. The guards safely managed to get everyone but Kari out of the house. At some point between her and her sister being woken up and being led out of the building, she vanished. No-one's even sure precisely when she was there and when she wasn't. When the fire brigade got there, they immediately sent people in, but could not find here. The blaze had spread abnormally fast, and they could only check so many places. When it was extinguished, however, they searched again, and couldn't find a body. They searched and searched. In the meantime, during the evacuation, perimeter cameras started malfunctioning in a straight line again, this time in an order moving back out.

Daddy: 4, us: 0.

Kari's parents were distraught. In their sorrow, they lashed out at the police, calling local and national news outlets to let them know that the police in charge of this now-famous case had failed. That was how I found out, at about 10:45. Do you know how it feels to find out, to be glibly informed by arranged dots on a screen, that the girl you love has been kidnapped by a killer?

Powerless. Shocked. Appalled. Sick, to the very bottom of your stomach. Scared. Confused. Alone.

I broke down in the middle of the college library, sobbing away in front of a computer. Weeks and weeks of fears confirmed. It was five minutes before anyone came to check what was wrong. I cried myself to sleep, and I couldn't bring myself to get out of bed until late this afternoon. I feel...empty, like if I engage my feelings at all I'll be overwhelmed again. Operating on the shallowest possible level.

Kari's gone.

Well, she'd been gone for weeks, but not like this, not so totally, utterly. Gone. Absent. She's left us, whisked away by a tall dark stranger, and the last time I saw her, she was kicking me out of her house after noticing that video was up. She was furious, cursing. I was failing utterly to explain my actions. The last time I heard her voice, it was over the phone, trauma and exhaustion stripping her voice of emotion. Relaying the specifics of her day. Sidestepping my questioning of how're you doing? The last thing she ever said to me - I think she was describing Him. Her Abductor. Daddy. And now she's missing. Gone. Totally. Utterly. And if I ever see her again, it'll probably be her corpse.

I just want her back.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Kari sent me a text message in the night, at about 3:05. It just reads:
"He moves oddly. That's the worst part. His limbs judder back and forth like he's seizing, but he moves fluidly, like a tiger stalking its prey."

I've spent the past hour trying to call her. But she's not picking up. She's not picking up. She's not picking up. She's not picking up.

I spent some of that hour being sick.

Waiting for more news.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

In other news, Kari isn't answering her phone.

I'm scared.

Summer Wars

I'm not sure if you'll be aware of this - I certainly wasn't, not having been a fan since I was nine - but the Digimon tv show has had some absurdly good staff involved. For instance, the guy who wrote a recent series, Digimon Tamers, was also responsible for the landmark cyberpunk anime Serial Experiements Lain, a rather creepy, mind-screwy show, which may explain why the big bad of Digimon Tamers was essentially Cthulhu. Seriously - sleeping god who may wake at any time and destroy the world in doing so. That's the plot.

Another example is Mamoru Hosoda. The director of the first and second Digimon movies (released over here as parts one and two of The Digimon Movie, if memory serves), he would later go on to direct a very different anime movie, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. A gorgeous art anime, it details perhaps the smallest, pettiest, most human use of time travel ever committed to film, as a teenage girl both uses her newfound time-travelling ability and learns to live with the consequences. The film drips with a serene nostalgia which Japanese coming-of-age media seems incredibly adept at invoking (What Scott McCloud called "Aspect-to-aspect" shots are probably what does this) - think Haruhi Suzumiya, or the more tranquil moments of  Evangelion or (whips out geek-cred) the original visual novel of Tsukihime. It's also tightly plotted, smart, well characterised an absolutely worth your time, and it won a huge amount of acclaim in film critic circles. For his next movie however, Hosoda took his career backwards. His latest film, Summer Wars, is basically a deeper, artier version of the second Digimon movie.

Here's my point: Summer Wars is the story of a world in which all of humanity's efforts in AI, computing and social networking have been funnelled into one great big online society, OZ. Everything from online games, to shopping, to government infrastructure. Seemingly most modern human communication goes through OZ. Eventually, however, it's taken over by a malevolent AI set on destroying OZ and reducing the world to digital ruin. In the meantime, our heroes have to restore the system from the inside, battling the AI. In the meantime, a satellite falling to earth provides the ticking clock. Digimon: Our War Game...does all those things. Even the art style is the same - the digital world is stark white and everything has a red outline. Yet Summer Wars appears to be something else - a cool idea that Hosoda was unwilling to let be wasted on a Digimon movie.

First off, to get it out of the way, the art here is amazing. Madhouse always was one of the best animation houses, maybe after UFOTable and Ghibli, and while this movie's cartoonier and less extravagant than those two, its simplicity gives it a strange resonance which also showed in The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. The animation is bizarrely fluid in a rather surreal way, like bodies are a little more formless than in real life, but it still looks good. On top of this, the OZ scenes are gorgeous - bright colours, an excellent aesthetic and deft use of CGI.

The plot and characterisation is also very strong. The main character, Kenji, plays the typical unassuming hero, but this is thrown through some interesting twists and turns, and LOVE MACHINE, the enemy AI, presents an interesting antagonist. Ultimately, this film also includes resonant themes which concern it as a film which is essentially about social networking - about communication, and about what happens when it is cut off. The chaos in both the real world personal lives of the characters and the OZ-based melodrama all comes from isolation of people in an age of digital communication - relying on the internet to connetct them. In the end, however, it is this connection which proves a source of power (Again, EXACTLY like in the old Digimon cartoon), making this a less cynical take than, say, The Social Network. The whole thing comes off as a celebration of the connectedness that internet communication has brought us overall.

As The Girl Who Leapt Through Time was before it, Summer Wars is a great addition to the anime canon. I cannot wait for Hosoda's next film.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011


It's easier judge Thor than it may at first seem: one movie having to act as its own movie, as a prequel to the imminent Avengers supercrossover and as an Origin story introducing not just a new Superhero, but it turns out, a highly unfamiliar mythology to a crowd of viewers who don't know what they're getting themselves in for. Fortunately for us all, us reviewers especially, it manages to succeed in all these fields.

First off though, let's get my only real problem with Thor out of the way. Thor tells the story of the titular Norse god, whose hot temper ends up reviving the Norse Pantheon's war with the Frost Giants, prompting his banishment. Now, if you spat whatever beverage was nearby onto your computer screen, I'm going to assume that you're aware of even the very first thing about Norse religious beliefs, because yes, they butcher it; once again, they make an entire ancient mythology analogous for Christianity. Asgard is Heaven, Odin is God, Thor is Jesus (Spoilers: complete with getting sent back to earth to sacrifice himself, when he is revived as a God) Loki is Lucifer and the Frost Giants are, I dunno, Hell's forces (which is almost clever - Hel, as it was known, was an icy wasteland). Also, banished for inciting war? Viking heaven WAS a constant war - they'd fight all day and feat all night. War was their heaven. And Thor having to grow out of his hotheadedness? I know it's a stock plot, but the real Thor was the original berzerker - his crazed violence was a virtue! If you have even a brief knowledge of world mythology (how I spent my primary school years), then the MST3K mantra will do you well here, as well as the knowledge that this was all Marvel's fault, not the filmmakers'. Plus, it has some fun additions; Gungnir and Sleipnir make an appearence with Odin, which is something.

Anyway, this has ended up as one impressive film. Shakespeare specialist and supposed actual Thor geek Kenneth Branagh takes on directing duties, and his theater chops really lend the Asgard-based side of the story bombast and style. Let's just say that the scened involving most of the Asgardians aren't exactly part of a kosher diet. But it's pulled off with real mythic gravitas, making the Earth scenes seem small and dainty by comparison. Indeed, if there was an actual substantial criticism of the film, it's that the Earth-based side of the story is that oldest of the stock plots, the fall from grace and quest for redemption, and without the sumptuous theater stylings of the Asgard side, we simply don't have anything to distract us from the derivative storyline. It's predictable every moment we're on Earth, and only when we're in Asgard is it trutly its own story. And unlike Iron Man or The Hulk, there's not much in the way of secondary subtext. This isn't a movie about the destructive nature of power or anger issues, it's just about a Magic Viking, and while this isn't a bad thing, it's that much less in terms of actual human drama to distract from the tried-and-tested main plot.

However, while the story has been told a thousand times, it's the telling of it here which is exemplary. The lead performers flourish with their roles - Anthony Hopkins as Odin is awesome, and on a less ironic level than the rumoured Brian Blessed casting. The relative newcomer Chris Hemsworth makes a convincing action lead and makes some very good dramatic turns, plus his neck is thicker than his head, which reminded me of George Fisher and made me happy. The real dramatic heavy lifting falls to Tom Hiddleston as conflicted antagonist (and first Avengers villain, hint hint) Loki, who is the only one in the cast who can get across his character's conflicted emotional state without bellowing, so kudos for that. Natalie Portman is always welcome on screen, of course, here playing The Love Interest, though Black Swan may have spoilt us in the categories of both "Natalie Portman as an actor who can take on big roles" and "Natalie Portman as an actor who is willing to make out with other girls on camera" and both are absent here. And I know that this has been discussed endlessly, but Crowning Moment of Awesome to Kenneth Branagh to casting Idris Elba as "the whitest of the gods" Heimdallr. I'm always game for pissing off some white supremacists, especially the unfortunate failed abortions who take a Germanic bent to it.

Aside from the performances, the visuals excell as well. The realisation of Bifrost, Asgard, and Yggrasil's place in the Marvel Multiverse are all stunningly realised, with every bit of Thor's $150m budget on show. The set and costume design is gorgeous, and is another example of Marvel's total lack of shame over the charming goofiness of superhero outfits (see also: Yellow costumes in X-Men again!). Every costume here is a perfect simulacrum of the comic's equivalent, and they all look spectacular. The action scenes are well shot and choreographed, though they do occasionally delve into special effects clusterfuck, especially when Thor's carde are fighing the Frost Giants near the beginning (de-powered Thor's fight scene near the middle more than makes up for this).

One last note - they've taken a hell of a risk with the after-credits section here. The film gets by largely with only a few nods to the shared universe - aside, obviously, from the increasingly visible S.H.I.E.L.D - but the relative obscurity of the big reveal at the end left, I think, everyone in the cinema except me stumped. But let me just say - AWESOME. (And I love the new name too. The old one was a little lame. Also, maths references ftw!)

So yeah. Another great win for Marvel Studios, count me in for Captain America, Looking forward to the Avengers. Thor is totally worth your time, especially if you have kids or are a kid at heart yourself.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011


Kari just posted on her blog (http://boxofpreciousthings.blogspot.com/2011/05/neccesary-update.html), saying that she has reason to suspect that Daddy is some kind of alien or something. I appreciate that she is terrified and sleep-deprived, and I'd just like to let you all know that she's really not herself right now. Of course, it seems logical to ascribe monstrous qualities to someone like Daddy, especially when, against all odds, he's found you in witness protection in a matter of days. He would be, to a tired and scared mind, something monsterous. Monsters, after all, are defeated by a big, strong hero at the end of the story. Happily ever after and all that. But the Kari I knew, before all this crap, would never search for answers in the supernatural. She's a science geek, after all. She looks for rational answers. It's scary to see just how far she's fallen, that she's resorting to making him some fantastical boogeyman.

EDIT: It seems she's not the only person looking outside the realms of rationality. There's an article in the local paper today about similar murders that happened throughout Eastbourne's history, based on some crackpot book the article's writer found in the library. A steady stream of them from the 1600s to the 1910s, with spates in the 60s and 90s. If anything sounded like it was made up to sell copies, it's 400 years of  murders. The things people will make up to cash in on tragedy.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Monday, 9 May 2011

The Ledge: Or, Why Hollywould should never be allowed to make a movie about atheism vs theism

Maybe I'm just in a pissy mood right now but the trailer for upcoming thriller "The Ledge" which I just saw over on MovieBob's blog really got on my nerves.

I'm used to the atheist being wrong in movies. I'm used to people with paper-thin reasons for not being religious being instantly converted, with no-one in movies ever having their atheism come as a result of their own reasoning. I'm used to religious people claiming the moral high ground in every fucking situation because they have "moral authority", despite their censored version of biblical morality generally being reduced to "human decency" at best, a faculty which all film atheists are basically without.

But from the looks of the trailer, the whole thing is just going to be a "affair-revenge flick" with religion as its contrived way to give itself an edge. The whole religious aspect is entirely anciliary to the central point of the crazy religious guy just being a pissed off husband, and the cheating protagonist being an atheist is equally so. That's just cheap. This could have been interesting! You could strip all this crap out and still have a well-crafted, B-list-acted take on this subgenre of the thriller. And I only hope that this doesn't end like Frailty, with - SPOILERS
The bad guy having had God on his side all along
or I will lose my fucking wig.

Yes, I'm venting from a certain other issue that's rather upset me. So?

Friday, 6 May 2011

Personal Post II: The Postening


So yeah. That's happened. We're "on a break". I'm guessing this'll be a Friends-type break, where if I sleep with someone else, I'm the bad guy, and if she sleeps with someone else, I'm the bad guy. So essentially what this means is that she's mad and either wants to let me know just how close to a breakup we came, or break up with me in the most drawn-out way possible.

Anyway, fuck it. This is now a film blog again. All this "Daddy" shit is out of my hair now.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Kari's gone. She was whisked away in the wee hours by the police to be rushed into witness protection along with the rest of her family. She rang me at 4:30 in the morning to tell me she was going. Told me not to call her. Didn't tell me her new name or where she'll be, "because you'll just put it on your fucking blog". I'm not sure that her leaving'll help. Daddy's gotten round everything the police have put inbetween him and his prey before. Who's to say he won't do it again? All this means is that she's alone, and away from the people who'll protect her.

Of course, my biggest fear is that, for all I know, she could be dead right now. And I was here, doing nothing.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Kari's best friend, Laura, is coming down from Uni for a few days. She's been panicking as of late. Only being able to talk to her over the phone while all this crap has been going on. We used to joke that Laura loved her more than I did. Either way, they were closer than most sisters I know, and she feel like crap that she hasn't been there for her. We'll all be meeting up tomorrow, at Kari's (not at mine for...obvious reasons), along with another mutual friend. Try and cheer her up, get her out of quite such a morose mood. I know that things are hard, but she's withering away up there in her room. And I feel like I should be doing something.

Personal Post

So he knows where I live. Christ.

Kari's been talking to the police. She'll get back to me soon.